Sussex Dance Festival Marks Centenary with Grand Performance

Celebrating a century of dance, the Sussex Festival of Performing Arts is set to kick off its 100th year with a grand performance featuring 500 young talents. This historic festival, a beacon of creativity and inspiration, will see dancers from 24 schools showcasing their skills at the renowned Glyndebourne Opera House in Glynde.

Over the past century, the festival has been a platform for thousands of dancers aged between five and 21, many of whom have gone on to have illustrious professional careers. Jacquie Brunjes, the festival director, fondly recalls the festival’s humble beginnings as the Brighton Competitive Musical Festival, initiated by a local mayor who felt the area lacked culture. Today, Brighton is a cultural hub, and the festival has become a significant part of its cultural tapestry.

The festival’s events are spread across various venues, with solo, duet, and trio performances held at Roedean School, and larger group classes culminating at Crawley Theatre. The Glyndebourne gala is the first event of this year’s activities, followed by the annual festival at Roedean School from April 2 for a week. The grand finale, a group dance, will take place at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley on Sunday, April 14.

This year, the festival will host an impressive 1,800 performances from schools all over Sussex and across the country. All performers at the Glyndebourne opening ceremony will receive a medal in the name of the late Rosemary Carden, a beloved figure in the Brighton dance community and a former principal of The Doris Isaacs School of Dancing.

The festival’s centenary year is not just a celebration of dance, but also a tribute to the values that dance instils in its practitioners. As Jacquie Brunjes puts it, “It’s very much about taking part, it’s not about winning… Those values from dance will hold you in good stead in any career. You need to be able to take the knocks in life.” As the Sussex Festival of Performing Arts steps into its next century, it continues to inspire the next generation of dancers, fostering creativity, resilience, and a love for the art of dance.

Image credit: Sussex Festival of Performing Arts


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