World Cup holders dancing to a Warrington tune

Date published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

They are famous the world over for their haka but the dancing will have a decidedly Warrington flavour when New Zealand begin their defence of the Rugby League World Cup trophy with a match against Samoa at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday (October 27, 6.00pm).

Before the world champions and Samoa take to the field, over 500 Warrington dancers ranging from eight to 84 years of age will welcome them to the town with an exciting and memorable dance extravaganza

The arrival of the 14-nation Rugby League World Cup 2013 in Warrington will be celebrated with the ‘March to the Match’ from the town centre to The Halliwell Jones Stadium, a parade that features the ‘Window On Warrington’ dance project.

Window On Warrington is a joint enterprise between Culture Warrington and the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, organised by Janey Moran and Leah Biddle and which celebrates the cultures of Samoa and Warrington.

A number of dance groups from in and around Warrington will take part, including Shootin’ Stars Dance Academy and Angel Dance Academy.

Becky Williams, the owner of Shootin’ Stars, said: “We had our final dress rehearsal this week. We’re taking 10 dancers aged 13 and above, and our performance will be in conjunction with the work Leah and Janey have done.”

The project will also feature children from Wolf Print, an arts club set up by Leah Biddle, the Arts Education and Young People Manager at the Warrington Wolves Foundation to give children with disabilities and behavioural issues the chance to participate in the World Cup.

Leah said: “I set up Wolf Print just over three years ago. It’s run every week and is attended by children of varying disabilities including Down’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.

“We help children develop a number of skills. For example we help develop their flexibility, mobility and coordination whilst offering performance opportunities such as this one.

“We’ll be taking 10 children to the performance aged five upwards and they’ll be taking part in one of the sections which is about the fantastical and Samoan myths and that will incorporate an ‘Alice In Wonderland’ theme.”

The project has been supported by Arts Council England, who have provided the funding with additional backing coming from Warrington Borough Council.

Window On Warrington is not the only dance performance to be featured; Grand Visionary Solutions will lead another 150 dancers taking part in the pre-match routine.

The organisation has teamed up with Jeanefer Jean-Charles, who led the dance at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

Jeanefer said: “I was approached by GVS and they basically gave me a blank canvas to create what I wanted. “The team I have who helped plan the choreography have been visiting various dance groups from the hosting regions.

“They work with four or five groups who then come together and see that they’ve all been working on the same routine and can perform it together on a bigger scale.”

Grand Visionary Solutions’ Gwen van Spijk said: “We approached Jeanefer based on her experience to date – not only her work as one of the mass Movement Directors for the Olympic Opening Ceremony but other large scale and celebratory projects that she has done.

“The RLWC2013 Dance Programme will provide a wonderful opportunity for communities across England, Wales and beyond, to celebrate Dance and make it a key element of the next major sporting event to be held in the UK.”

There will also be spectacular dance performances at the RLWC2013 opening ceremony at Cardiff on Saturday and throughout the 14-nation tournament as part of a £1m project which is supported by Arts Council England through their Grants for the Arts programme, Wooden Spoon, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government.

Tickets for New Zealand v Samoa at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday October 27 (6.00pm) can be purchased by visiting www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or by calling the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013. Anyone who purchases a ticket for New Zealand v Samoa is eligible to get a ticket for the quarter-final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday November 17 for half price.