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Our Brave Sons Forever

Through BeingFrank and Boys Dancing I've been running dance projects for boys and young men for 10 years, so when I took over as artistic lead for Worcestershire's project, I thought that I was ready for anything and everything that the participants from Worcester University, Nunnery Wood, Hagley High, Regency High and W’ireboyz would throw at me… How wrong I was!

Every project in every area is unique - which is what I really love about Boys Dancing - and with it being 100 years since the start of World War 1 it was decided that Worcestershire would present a memorial piece remembering the soldiers that went away to war. Specifically, the dance would highlight the plight of the 250,000 young men who applied to go to war even though they were under the legal age of conscription. Through researching the theme I found myself shocked by the personal accounts, I felt guilt that my life is so easy in comparison and I felt anger - I could not believe that young men, one as young as 12, were sent away to fight. It was as if I, in some way, started grieving for them.

That posed a question for me. If I was affected so strongly by the theme, how were the young men going to take it? If we were going to do justice to the memory of the soldiers, would the boys be mature enough to empathise and give a respectful performance? Well, they answered me on Saturday the 5th April! The show that they presented will stay with me for as long as I live.

Performed at College Hall - part of Worcester Cathedral - and accompanied by a live pianist it was the most emotional piece I have seen presented by a young cast and I was very proud of each and every one of the boys. They created a really fantastic, intense physical dance vocabulary that looked amazing in the space. But it was the way they rose to the challenge of performing the more focused, intimate, emotive dance material that I was impressed with the most. To be frank, it did not come as a surprise because all the way through the rehearsal process they had shown levels of maturity that was way beyond their years. They tackled the difficult subject matter with truth and honesty and the way they empathised with the soldiers and their families by sharing intimate experiences they have had quite literally at times took my breath away.

I would like to say thank you to Rose Beeston and the team at DanceFest for building such a memorable project, I would also like to thank all the teachers and support staff from all the schools that made the project run so smoothly and also congratulate all of the young men involved on an incredible, powerful, emotional performance that was one of a kind! I cannot wait for the film to be edited so I can relive the experience again!

Thank you, thank you, thank you one and all!