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How Our Dancing Town captured the imagination of Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 09:32 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:32 31 January 2017

Steve Elias with the performers in York  - (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark Johnson

Steve Elias with the performers in York - (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark Johnson

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TV series unearthed a love of dancing, community pride and the inimitable Yorkshire sense of humour.

Nick outside the fish and chip shop he works in Barnsley  - (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark JohnsonNick outside the fish and chip shop he works in Barnsley - (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark Johnson

You knew it was going to be a tough gig upon seeing the reactions when West End choreographer stated: ‘I want to get Barnsley dancing.’

As part of a BBC series the Welshman was tasked with creating a dance ensemble that enscapsulated the culture of three Yorkshire towns with the locals as the main cast.

He was met with a wall of stony faced expressions from a hall full of former miners and canvassing around the town centre was met with responses such as

‘I can’t, I’ve got to the hospital on June 17th to get a new knee’ or ‘I only dance when I’m drunk. Or in Benidorm’

But, in perservering Steve found a few hidden gems, people who always wanted to dance and never had the opportunity, and some who had a talent for dancing and had given it up for various reasons.

One example was Tom from Woody’s chippy who had competed and trained in his younger years and had a lack of confidence which caused him to quit.

Amos and his sheep dogs in Skipton   - (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark JohnsonAmos and his sheep dogs in Skipton - (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark Johnson

These acts of discovering or rekindling a passion for dancing were to become a recurring theme in the series.

In the second episode, we travelled north to the market town of Skipton, this rural town set on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales couldn’t be of more starker contrast to the industrial Barnsley.

However, the themes remained the same. In this episode it was the farming community and the market traders that needed some strong persuasion.

The standout quote was from a market trader who when asked what he thought about the link between dancing and romance said: ‘They say; if you don’t dance you’ll lose her, sadly she’s still bloody here.’

As with Barsley, Skipton brought tales of those rediscovering a love of dancing and star emerged in the form of local farmer Amos with his stoic outlook on life and deep sense of of community pride.

Jas with his Gatkah group in Huddersfield (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark JohnsonJas with his Gatkah group in Huddersfield (C) Twenty Twenty Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark Johnson

The third episode visited Huddersfield, a town that epitomises the diversity of backgrounds and culture of modern-day Yorkshire and this episode had a vast array of participants, there were boxers, mill workers, free runners, bhangra dancers and even an ice cream van.

The Gatkha dancers from the Sikh community brought drama with their sword dancing while the soca dancers added their Caribbean vibe to the mix.

The series continues with two more episodes when the dancers from all three towns come together in York for a grand finale.

One thing that we’ve taken away from this feel-good series is that despite many what commentators may have said about people from Yorkshire in the past year, there is a sense of civic pride that unites old and young, the rural and the townsfolk, the former miners and the office workers.

We have a diverse community that isn’t as inward looking as many may believe and we haven’t lost our friendliness, our willingness to have a go and more importantly, our unique sense of humour.

Have you been watching Our Dancing Town? let us know your thoughts on twitter @Yorkshire_Life use the #ourdancingtown hashtag.

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