Get in step with Ullapool Dance Festival

The all-ages warm-up calss at the 2013 Ullapool Dance Festival.
The all-ages warm-up calss at the 2013 Ullapool Dance Festival.
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The programme is out for the 2014 Ullapool Dance Festival, March 14th to 16th with an increased choice of classes and events including some which are free for everyone to join in.

This year there are more options for ‘mature or gentler’ tastes and also plenty of high energy street dances such as Hip Hop, AfroBeats and Reggaeton.

A number of events are FREE including a Fun Ballet session as part of the ‘Get Scotland Dancing’ scheme to encourage everyone to give dance a go.

And once again all 10-19 year olds have free access to classes due to Cashback for Communities funding.

Try Swing, Waltz, Charleston and join an Afternoon Tea Dance with the highly acclaimed Fly Right Dance Company who have been going down a storm in Stornoway and Inverness.  

They specialise in vintage social dance styles.

Councillor Linda Munro, the ‘Children’s Champion for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross’ will declare the festival open at the Friday night ‘Get Ullapool Dancing’ showcase.

This very popular and entertaining event features professional and amateur performers to celebrate the diversity of dance styles in the world.

Headlining this year are African dance and drummers ‘Mixed Roots’.  

This is the premier of a new company recently formed by skilled dancers Raquel Ribes Miro and Jennifer Ba of Edinburgh who are already well known in the African dance and music scene in Scotland.

They are accompanied by top African drummers and dancers Sam Oko and Erick Mauricio.

They also provide a wide range of classes on Saturday, including Afro-Contemporary dance, Ghanaian Kpanlogo and the chance to try African drumming.

The Friday show features performances from Kinlochbervie and the Ullapool Highland Dancers - whose version of Gangnam Style was the hit of last year - along with the Nairn Youth Russian Dance Group and An Lanntair Youth Dance Company from Stornoway.  

The Festival is keen to represent everyone in the area who has an interest in dance and to cross administrative and geographical boundaries.

This year the festival welcomes Sandra Robertson of Kingussie who is highly respected in the Scottish Step Dance and Traditional Scottish Dance and Ceilidh scene.

She will perform at the Showcase and hold classes for intermediate/advanced dancers in Step Dance and Highland and call the dances at the Ceilidh.

Noel Hernandez, the Inverness-based Cuban and Latin dance teacher makes a welcome return and this time provides Cuban Rumba - very different from the ballroom style - and will challenge some traditional ideas in his free Fun Ballet class.

Noel has taught dancers of the Cuban National Ballet.

The programme is designed for everyone to feel included with classes like ‘Gentle Dance’ which can be done from sitting or adapted to any ability to ‘Baby Toes’ for ages 0-3 with carers run by Dance Artist Louise Marshall of Festival partners Eden Court.

It is an aim of the organisers to make it possible for everyone to take part regardless of any mobility or support needs you may have.

You are encouraged to make contact in advance with any questions or requirements so you can have the best possible experience. Venues are wheelchair accessible.  

The workshop timetable carries age advice for guidance only and everyone is encouraged to choose what feels right for their own ability level.

Organiser Lydia Fiddes said: “There is no expectation to be ‘good’ simply to join in at your own level.”

This year a professionally-run crèche can be provided all day but must be pre-booked by Thursday 6th March.

At Mo Dhachaidh and Lochbroom House care homes in Ullapool the Fly Right Dance Company will rope the staff into dance moves as they entertain residents.

Capoeira is a popular blend of martial art, dance and music making a welcome return to the Festival - try an introductory or an improvers’ session at Lochbroom Leisure Centre on the Thursday 13th taught by Fraser MacDonald of Inverness.

On Saturday night (15th March) there is a Ceilidh with a live band in Ullapool Village Hall which switches around 10.30pm into a DJ nightclub for people who prefer just to do their own moves to music.

A two hour Tea Dance with an essential break for tea and cake is hosted by Fly Right Dance Company with a mini-class in real dance-hall style Foxtrot. By contrast, Ashley Jack, Hip Hop teacher returns to teach in schools in the run-up to the Festival.

Saturday sees a free session to teach everyone a Flashmob routine suitable for all abilities.

This is for ‘The Big Dance Pledge’ which will be performed around the world in May.

During the Festival a new Scottish Country Dance will also be taught by Ruth Clark in preparation for a ‘round the world’ Commonwealth Ceilidh at Midsummer.

This year everyone attending the festival is encouraged to dress up to bring an even more fun and theatrical atmosphere to the event. So even if you have three or four left feet just give it a try!

Ullapool Dance Festival runs from March 14th - 16th and the full programme is available through the festival’s website www.ullapooldancefestival.org which has online booking.  

Advance booking is essential as classes can fill up fast.

Ullapool Dance Festival is produced by Ullapool Dance Ltd. a locally-run not-for-profit company and supported by Awards for All (The National Lottery), Cashback for Communities, The Highland Council, The Macphail Theatre and Eden Court.

For more informationcall 01854 612575 (before Friday 14th) or email ullapooldance@yahoo.co.uk