NOT EVEN science GCSE exams are getting in the way of a talented troupe of dancing schoolgirls who are determined to win the crown at this year’s Rock Challenge.
Twenty-four girls at Admiral Lord Nelson School have been busy rehearsing since October on their ‘hard-hitting’ performance based around the theme of girl gangs and knife crime.
It is the first time the Copnor secondary school has entered a team for the performing arts event of the year, which aims to capture the imagination of seven to 18-year-olds by providing them with a ‘drug-free’ high through the excitement of live dancing on a professional platform.
The level of dedication is so high that all but five of the girls – including an additional stage crew of 10 – will be entering the first round of the competition tomorrow only hours after they sit a science GCSE module.
Shanice Burton, 15, said: ‘I find science quite a challenging subject so I’ve had to work really hard in lessons to manage both.
‘I love dancing and I can’t wait to showcase what we’ve come up with.
‘The judges will find it hard-hitting.
‘Without giving too much away, the dance explores the rivalry between two gangs – one of them dances hip-hop and the other contemporary – who end up clashing with tragic consequences.
‘Knife and gang crime is not something we have in Portsmouth, but in other parts of the country like in London it’s a major problem and we all need to be aware of the dangers.
‘It’s shocking when you read about the surge in girls who are carrying weapons for their boyfriends who are in gangs.’
Shanice’s co-dancer, Amber Jerome, 15, is also looking forward to the big day.
She said: ‘Even though I’m a confident dancer I’m still nervous about the performance because Rock Challenge is such a huge event.
‘There is the added stress of achieving my target grades, but I’m pretty confident I’ve got the balance right.
‘I hope our dance stands out from the rest because of the subject matter and also the number of really strong dancers in our group.
‘I feel immensely proud to be involved in a competition that is all about promoting young children doing positive things with their lives.’
The team of year 10 and 11 students from Admiral Lord Nelson School will be entering the Southampton heats a month early to avoid clashing with end-of-year exams.
Bethan Woodall-Jones, head of year 11 and dance teacher, said: ‘Even though the competition is around exam time, our year 11 dance students are too good to miss out on the opportunity of entering Rock Challenge.
‘Obviously it’s all about the taking part, but it would be a fantastic to win.’
Karen Barton, dance teacher, added: ‘The fact that 29 out of 34 students involved in Rock Challenge are going for it despite having major exams is a sign of just how motivated they are.
‘We are all so proud of them.’