Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival
Held in October each year, 2011 saw the 62nd Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival event take place in the Empress Ballroom of the Winter Gardens. A colourful regalia of sequins, satin, hairspray and dancing shoes twirled across the floor, as the annual Adult and Children’s dancing competition is judged.
The event covers Classical, Modern and Latin dance, with emphasis on sequence dancing styles, originality, costume, colour and form. The application of the sequence style to modern ballroom is an example of the impact of this Blackpool competition on the dance world, as this is an innovative twist. Sequence dance is historically older than modern ballroom and involves preset patterns of movement, while the modern dance prides itself on original interpretations of ballroom presets.
For this reason, the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival is the most famous annual competition for sequence and attracts high quality entrants. Sequence dances were invented circa 1800 and retained their popularity, unchanged, until the early 20th century. Subsequently, sequence dancing has become a competitive sport, fitting for a social past-time with a long history.
The dance festival has attracted celebrity entrants. Cheryl Cole is a former famous entrant to the championships, before she was famous. Jonathon Crossley, who is a former World Champion for Amateur Ballroom, and his partner, Kylie Jones have won many competitions. Kylie took part in the first series of Strictly Come Dancing and was partnered with comedian Jason Wood.
While most entrants are from the UK the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival does attract international competitors. It is one of the first competitions on the dance calendar which leads up to the British National Championship and is a good festival to talent spot and watch new routines and sequence dances on trial.
Ballroom is a close knit community, and the social aspect is very important. If you take your place in the crowd you will overhear discussions about fake tans, hair extensions, costumes and sewing, and whether the shoes a dancer is wearing are new or used. Ballroom watchers are seriously into their sport and watch the dancers as steadily as horse-punters study racehorse form sheets.
The Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival is an atmospheric and visual event, with an intensity and pace that is not to be missed.