Portsmouth Guildhall launches musical theatre competition for schools after Rock Challenge 2020 cancelled

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STUDENTS upset about the cancellation of performing arts competition Rock Challenge 2020 can take heart – as a Portsmouth venue is set to stage a ‘unique’ dance event for schools next year. 

The Guildhall Trust has launched its Dance Live! competition, which will be open to schools from Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West Sussex, and Dorset. 

Students from Mayville High School, Southsea, taking part in Rock Challenge 2019 at Portsmouth Guildhall - which is launching a 'brand new' dance competition.

Students from Mayville High School, Southsea, taking part in Rock Challenge 2019 at Portsmouth Guildhall - which is launching a 'brand new' dance competition.

Workshops on choreography, digital and graphic design, and costume making will be offered to participating schools, with pupils from ages seven to 18 eligible to take part. 

A giant digital screen will provide a backdrop to the performances, allowing the event to ‘embrace an ever-evolving digital world,’ according to Kelly Haswell, the head of marketing at the Guildhall Trust. 

She said: ‘It is a completely new and unique event.’

The competition would be in ‘no way' an alternative to Rock Challenge, she added. 

Rock Challenge, a nationwide competition of school shows held annually since its first performance in Portsmouth Guildhall in 1996, cancelled all events across the country in 2020 due to a lack of funding

The cancelled shows were a 'big loss,’ said Paul Carter, head of Creative Industries at Havant and South Downs College, and schools were ‘keen' to be involved in the trust’s new project. 

The teacher said: ‘HSDC would be really keen to be involved with any activities Guildhall Trust propose.

‘The opportunity for our students to engage in these competitions is really important to the college and our creative students’ skills development, we look forward to hearing more about these exciting proposals.’

A large number of schools throughout the region have contacted the trust regarding dance competitions, according to its CEO Andy Grays. 

He said: ‘We are delighted to announce this completely new and unique event for schools today. We are really excited to see how pupils will express themselves and utilise modern technology with dance and look forward to working with schools on how performance is changing in the modern world.’

Dance Live! will take place in spring 2020 and schools are asked to register their interest for further details at www.portsmouthguildhall.org.uk/get-involved.