BADAC AGM and Bursary presentations.

The Brewhouse arts centre and cafe/bar has once again played host to the annual Burton and District Arts Council (BADAC) general meeting during which the BADAC Bursary awards 2016 were presented.

Several award recipients gave a concert for sponsors, BADAC members and family and friends in the Brewhouse auditorium.

Being the opening act at an event such as this must be a daunting task but dancer Jessica Woolley, who opened the show with Shut Up and Dance, carried it off well with a routine that was both fluid and spikey and contained some gymnastic elements.

Paige Kendrick-Thorpe treated the audience to an emotional I Don’t Know How to Love Him, from Jesus Christ Superstar, which she grew into as the song progressed. Both Holly Russell, who performed A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, and Libby Bromfield, who sang I Could Have Danced All Night, had very pure voices that were a delight to listen to.

Next up was Olivia Harrison who performed an untitled dance piece. Olivia overcame technical difficulties and performed her piece without music and did really well with some wonderful movement that used the width of the stage.

Shania Gaunt gave us her version of I Can Hear the Bells, from Hairspray, which she also danced to. A very good performance during which she held her American accent very well.

As this was a celebration concert for the bursary recipients it feels wrong to single one person out but I have to say that for me Ewan Bourne stole the show with his cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Only Living Boy in New York which was simple yet mesmerising.

Rebecca Fisher sang and tap danced through The Lady is a Tramp, from Babes in Arms, she was light on her feet and was another performer who kept their accent throughout. Ollie Last was up next in a duet of Me and My Shadow with Wil Pearson and they recreated the Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davies Jnr laid back version really well. Ollie will be leaving Burton in the summer to take up a place studying Musical Theatre at Central Lancaster University.

Another two bursary winners joined together for the next number as well as Abbie Jean-Baptiste and Shannon Smith performed Wings, by Birdy, with Abbie singing and Shannon dancing. The duo really complemented each other.

Wil Pearson, who is using his bursary award to travel to New York with a jazz band to perform on New Year’s Eve, returned to the piano for a stylish version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Ballet was the next art to be featured with a smooth, flowing performance of Etude Lyrique from Ella Price, which is a set piece for Royal Academy of Dance’s Grade 8 examination. Ella is set to use her bursary award to attend a Royal Ballet Summer School and I’m sure she will do very well there.

The evening was brought to a smooth and smokey conclusion by James Vickers, who has gained a place at the Liverpool School of Performing Arts, playing Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me as a saxophone solo that had a sultry nightclub vibe.

Following the performances the Mayor of East Staffordshire and President of BADAC, Councillor Beryl Toon, presented the bursaries to the performers commenting on what wonderful talent we had in the area.

During his speech to the AGM, which preceded the concert  chairman Geoff Thompson paid tribute to BADAC member groups from which many of the performers came by saying: “BADAC affiliated member societies provide their own rich variety of  events and performances. We continue to celebrate the opportunities they create for local people to both enjoy and participate in the arts.

“We thank them for their pro-active contribution to the well being and quality of life in our community. BADAC is proud to serve them.”

Mr Thompson also thanked East Staffordshire Borough Council and the many businesses and groups in the town who donate the funds which enable the BADAC bursaries to continue to help the youngsters to follow their performance arts dreams.

Bill Pritchard.

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