Friday, 17 September 2021
FOUR young tap dancers from South Oxfordshire have been crowned world champions for the second year running.
Astrid Tozer, 12, and Lily Clifton, 15, both from Woodcote, Freya Leyland, 15, from Goring, and Kia Lawrence, 15, from Whitchurch, represented England at the International Dance Organisation’s world tap championships.
The girls were part of a 40-strong national team that competed in the event at Riesa in Germany. They won gold in the junior formation section with a routine choreographed to Ease On Down The Road from the musical The Wiz, based on The Wizard of Oz.
All four were dressed as residents of the Emerald City and wore green and black tights, skirts and tops with green decorations in their hair. Each was presented with a gold medal at the end and the group won a trophy.
Lily and Kia, who are cousins, also danced in the junior small group section, which won for the third time in the past five years with an American diner-themed routine called Heartbreaker.
Lily also performed in the solo and trio sections while Kia danced in the trio and Freya took part in the junior duet.
The four began learning with dance school Dance Connection, which Lily’s mother Sam runs at Woodcote village hall, when they were three. Lily, Astrid and Freya are still pupils while Kia now studies with TPAI in Reading.
The girls are also members of the national tap school Tap Attack, of Swindon, which submits candidates for the England squad, and were part of a 20-strong team that won gold in the junior formation section last year. They spent about six months training for the five-day tournament.
Astrid and Kia partly funded their trip with the £250 they each received at South Oxfordshire District Council’s annual Young Achiever Awards, which celebrate excellence in sport, the arts and citizenship.
Mrs Clifton was in the audience with Leah Davies, who teaches for Dance Connection and choreographed the routine for Tap Attack. She said: “They announce the winners by slowly revealing them on a screen and in reverse order, which is pretty nail-biting.
“When the children found out they’d won, you could just hear loads of screaming and see crying faces. They all got up on stage and sang the national anthem from a podium, which was a very special moment.
“There were loads of supporters in the audience who were all on their feet waving flags. It was quite amazing and I felt very proud as we’ve trained them from such a young age.”
Ms Davies said: “They all worked so hard in the run-up. I can’t put into words how incredible and surreal it felt when we heard they’d won again.”
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