Students from the International Theatre School (ITS), a British-run dance academy in Las Lagunas, have placed first in three sections of the National Dance Competition held in Tarragona last week. The students, between the ages of ten and 17, qualified for the competition at the Andalusian championships, which were held in Marbella in March.
The ITS entered three teams in the competition: Alice in Wonderland, and Walking on Sunshine, in the junior categories; and the Skeletons in the cadet section.
The academy, which was one of 140 schools from all over Spain that participated in the event, walked away with gold medals in show-dance (junior and cadets) and freestyle (junior).
The academy is run by Nicola Jones, a former student at the school who came to live on the Costa del Sol at the age of 11. Although she has faith in her students, she did not expect to be placed first in the three categories they had entered.
"After such a difficult year, this has just been incredible. Becoming national champions is quite amazing really. To place gold with all three groups was very surprising. I had a really good feeling, but there were so many schools participating," Nicola explains to SUR in English.
The school currently has around 100 students who train from Monday to Saturday, although because of the pandemic, rehearsals for the competition also took place online.
"The children also had to practice over the internet and I don't think we would have won if we hadn't have done this. It is very different to organise everything on the screen, but they managed to keep going. They have been amazing," the proud choreographer declares.
The three teams were made up of a variety of nationalities, including British, Spanish, Scandinavian and French. Because of Covid protocol, it was impossible to bring all of the winners on stage at the same time, so Nicola collected the awards, while the children were kept waiting in the dressing room. Nicola, who is originally from Hastings, says she could "hardly control her delight" when revealing they had won gold in all three sections, although she decided to tease the children before revealing their success.
"When we realised that we had won, we went downstairs and told them they had not been placed. When we told them the truth, they didn't realise what had happened. Then they went absolutely crazy: they were over the moon," Nicola says with a hint of pride.
Preparing for the future
Prior to their triumph last weekend, the academy also got through to the semi-finals of the Spanish talent show Tú sí que vales. They have also performed in Disneyland Paris, but they are now preparing to continue with dance competitions.
"I feel so proud of how far they have come. I have taught many of them since they were five or six, so to see them progress into such amazing dancers is just wonderful. One of the most important things is that they all work extremely hard because they are very passionate about their dance," she concludes.