Students Play Their Part in Emotive Performance to Mark World War One Centenary

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Students from the University of Worcester and pupils from five local schools collaborated to produce a moving dance performance in tribute to the young men lost in World War I.

The Boys Dancing project, led by choreographer David McKenna from Beingfrank Physical Theatre, saw three second year PE students work alongside male pupils on the dance piece, entitled ‘Our Brave Sons’.

The project, which culminated in a performance at College Hall earlier this month, was designed to commemorate the bravery and the sacrifice of the 250,000 underage soldiers from Worcestershire who went off to war a century ago.

The three PE students, Stuart Campbell, Tim Cannan and Cory Wood – all of whom had no previous dance experience - have been working with David on a weekly basis since the beginning of the semester.

Associate Head of the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, Lerverne Barber, explains: “None of the students had any dance experience before coming to the University of Worcester, so the fact that they were able to play an instrumental role in producing what was such an emotional and thought-provoking project is a great testament to them.”

“The idea behind the project was to remember and pay respect to those soldiers under the legal age of 18 who lied about their age and signed up to fight. There were around 250,000 of these young men; a boy aged 12 even fought at the Battle of the Somme.”

“One hundred years on from the outbreak of World War I, seeing boys of a similar age to these soldiers taking part in this dramatic, powerful production was a very moving experience.”

As well as commemorating the young lives lost in the War, ‘Our Brave Sons’ aimed to encourage young men to take up the ‘exciting, engaging, fun and challenging’ discipline of dance.

Owing to its overwhelming success, plans are now in place to establish a regular boys’ dancing club, which will utilise the University’s expertise and facilities.

Stuart Campbell, one of the trio of students involves, believes that it will be an invaluable experience to prospective participants. He says: “The project gave me better insight to teach and be creative within dance.

“It is a once in a life time experience which has changed my view of boys’ dance and showed me how rewarding it can be.”