Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts take you around the world

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small Wo

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small World. Photos: Wes Carter - Credit: Archant

You can travel the globe without leaving Ipswich this Saturday thanks to students from the Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts.

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small Wo

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small World. Photos: Wes Carter - Credit: Archant

Big Show, Small World brings Spain, Italy, America, China and many more countries to the Regent stage at 2pm and 7pm.

“We take the audience round the world on a trip which will feature two ‘real’ Chinese dragons,” says Louise Chapman, academy principal. “Starting at the airport, our ‘cabin crew’ do the safety announcement then we visit music and dance from all around the world. We’ve got the theme from Strictly Come Dancing, Kids in America, the younger ones singing Waltzing Matilda is a treat.”

Complete with cork-festooned hats?

“No, we decided 28 small people in hats might be a little bit challenging,” laughs Louise, who started the academy in 1994 and will be seeing three of her longest serving members leave after this show.

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small Wo

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small World. Photos: Wes Carter - Credit: Archant

“They’ve been with me for so long, 15 years... I’ve seen them start school all the way through to taking their A-levels. They’re so helpful, I couldn’t do this without them. Two of them got accepted to dance school, unfortunately one had to turn her place down because there’s no funding any more.”

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“Unfortunately I couldn’t take anybody else while we’re rehearsing for this show but, actually, coming to watch it is a really good way of seeing what we do.”

Taking part in shows can be a real boost for youngsters, adds Louise, teaching them organisation, discipline, working as a team and lifting their confidence.

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small Wo

Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts rehearse for their latest production, Big Show Small World. Photos: Wes Carter - Credit: Archant

“For some of them, the thought of going up there terrifies them... I’ve just seen one of my students whose dad emailed me during the week saying ‘I don’t really know if she’s ready’ and she’s just stood up there now grinning.

“I’ve a lady here today who’s helping to sew. Her daughter came to me and never said a word for years, turned 13 and it was like somebody switched a light on. She was with me until she went away to train full-time and she’s now assistant choreographer on the Hello Kitty tour.”

Talking of costumes, some are hired in and others homemade.

“The Company of Four have helped us out with a lot, they’re fantastic. We’ve brought new ones and we’re sitting furiously sewing others; the older ones also sew a lot of their own costumes.”

The 130-strong cast of two-and-a-half to 18-year-olds have been rehearsing for the show since February. Louise admits she’s a bit bias, but thinks this is their best show yet.

“I’m so impressed. The children who two years ago had to have six older students on stage and copy them all the way through, this year they know their dances and they’re doing all by themselves so it really is huge progress.”

SADPA usually supports Camille’s Appeal, but with the charity now wound down Louise says the company are going to treat themselves this year as a reward for all their hard work.

“If we manage to make some money we’re going to buy ourselves some mirrors because that would be a really valuable asset for us. The show will be a really fun couple of hours. There’s so much people are stressed about, leave it at the door and come have a really good time.”

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