Bridport Youth Dance’s 20th anniversary show, ‘Paradigm’, at the Electric Palace, was a tribute to the work that Nikki Northover and her team have developed over the past two decades. 

The ethos and journey of BYD represents excellence in youth dance, not just regionally but nationally. 

Nikki Northover continues to encapsulate the transformative power of dance, illustrating consistent development of the dancers as they progress through the company, developing their artistic integrity, as they emerge into adulthood.

I have witnessed the company's journey for the past 10 years, and many of the young people at BYD develop their love of dance, not just in the arts. 

The confidence, self esteem, body awareness and love of connection these experiences give young people, develop them in whatever areas of life bring them true passion and inspiration. 

The show each year reflects the rhythm of a young persons’ developmental journey.

The contemporary pieces in ‘Paradigm’ by Nikki Northover and Claire Benson focused on the natural and authentic movement of each dancer, developing improvisation and fusing taught material.  

The teachers’ artistry is unique in each piece.  The senior dancers were offered opportunities to create their own choreography, their training visible through the movement sequences, extending each one of them.

Bec Ayles’ choreography with the Street Crew was as ever, fast moving and articulated, illustrating the dancers’ technical abilities and precision in this style.

This is a great feat to achieve, to enable each young person to be seen and valued for what they bring to the dance and enable all of them to be so confident and well rehearsed. 

The costumes mirror this, tastefully put together and colour coordinated with the lighting design.

There were so many highlights this year, all the street and tap pieces beautifully choreographed, give the show a sharpness and a well rounded dance experience. 

The solos of Raffi, Coverley, Charlie and Louis were also stunning. 

But the pieces that have stayed with me are ‘Equinox’ choreographed by Nikki and Louis, exploring transformation and loss.  ‘Locked Down’ choreographed by Claire Benson exploring the movement motifs of imprisonment, being caged and bound, hugely powerful and ‘Heaven’, Charlie and Tilly’s duet, a beautiful piece choreographed by them, expressing the tenderness, complexity and nuance of relationship. 

The Dance Weavers 6, ‘Dancing with Darkness’ was a dramatic reminder of being at Abbotsbury last summer, beautifully filmed and edited by Dan Tucker and a wonderful record of the essence and spirit of that performance.  The dance was authentically visible in every young person. 

Dance does not just develop the body, it develops the whole being of a young person;  every cell, their minds and thought processes, strengthening their sense of self.  Dance informs how we connect and express ourselves to each other and take this expression and communication out into the world. 

Every child should have the opportunity to dance.  It gives us all a language to express how we feel, to come together and celebrate and take this language as a positive force for change. 

Congratulations to you all for another epic show.