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My Favourite Waste Of Time

Twins prepare for emotional farewell in their final WTA dance show

WTA members as Lucy, Aslan and Susan - characters from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

As Wright Theatre Arts (WTA) brings The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to the King's Hall this week, it’s going to be an emotional few days for Lois and Dulcie Bagnall, 18-year-old twins from Menston, as they gear up for one final dance show. 

In the production they are the eponymous Lion and the Witch, in C S Lewis’s classic children’s tale.

The twins have been dancing with Lynne Wright and team at Wright Theatre Arts (WTA) since they were nearly 2 years old, and can’t remember life without their dance family. They had their first roles playing ladybird, flowers, and mermaids back when WTA staged productions at Westville House, before the shows moved to the Kings Hall.

In fact, the twins have been in a previous WTA production of TLTWATW before, appearing in ensemble scenes as maids and statues.  They’ve long since moved on to more central roles, with Lois playing Aslan the Lion and Dulcie as the White Witch in this year’s production, which – emotionally! – will be their last show with WTA.

Lynne reflects: “I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss them and their whole family, who’ve become firm friends. I’ve taught the twins since they came to my Jumping Beans class (now ‘Tiny Toes’) when they were one year old.”

The twins are relishing being at opposite ends of the goodie/baddie spectrum, with Dulie’s evil witch doing battle with Lois’s good Aslan, and there’s a full cast of over 100 WTA dancers, aged from three to 60, to support them.

Lois says: “It’s like a family, in the studio and outside classes too. Even through Covid when we did weekly lessons on Zoom, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t with WTA.  Everyone is always so supportive and dance is a time to unwind during stressful times at school. The classes are full of joy and laughter”.

Dulcie adds: “The friends I’ve made through dance are friends for life.  We see each other all the time, and I love how dance has given me a group of friends brought together through a shared passion.  Dancing is such a welcome break in my week, especially during A-levels!”

Lois and Dulcie have just turned 18. They’ll celebrate with the rest of the WTA family after the show, but on the day itself they marked the occasion by rehearsing before heading out to celebrate – Lynne adds: “That’s dedication and maturity – real commitment to the show and the school!

“They are always the last to leave after any production or open day, staying to help clear up and helping out at Summer School. We have fantastic chats and laugh a lot together. There will always be a place for them at WTA, I am secretly hoping they will come back and teach for us one day!”

Lois does all forms of dance with WTA while Dulcie concentrates on her favourite forms, ballet and jazz. Both girls have favourite sequences in the story but are reluctant to give too much away.  For Lois there is one dance in particular is extremely emotional. Dulcie thinks that the audience will be entranced by the costumes, props and feel of the play, finding it visually enchanting. Both agree that this universal tale is well worth coming to see with your friends and loved ones.  And for those who aren’t used to watching dance shows? The girls have advice for anyone unsure it’s for them: challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone and they’re sure you’ll enjoy the production!"

Excitement about the forthcoming production is evident throughout Wright Theatre Arts. Over the last few years there has been a large increase in boys joining the WTA family.  Jacob Bird , 11, from Silsden is taking on the role of Edmund and has been dancing since he was three. He does ballet, tap and modern. As well as enjoying the feeling of dancing he loves seeing his friends and emphasises how much fun lessons and putting on the show is – he says “Come and see it – it’s amazing!”  Jacob’s friends also enthuse: Aidan Myers says that “It’s really interesting, everyone will enjoy watching it!” while Hayden Bridgen thinks the dance elements adds “a new dimension to the story”.  Jack Greenall loves the atmosphere of putting on the shows: “It’s different from anything else you can do in life and it’s fun, friendly and everyone helps each other”.  For anyone who has a potential dancer in their life, come along to see the show, it’s a perfect opportunity to inspire them to learn to dance and to see what can be achieved.

All this enthusiasm and love of dance is transferred to the stage where the energy and joy is clear to see.  With Easter coming up it’s a perfect start to the holidays.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is at Ilkley’s Kings Hall from the Thursday 21st to Saturday the 23rd of March, with a matinee on the Saturday as well as the final evening performance. Tickets can be purchased at the box office on the day or in advance from https://stagestubs.com/wta-dance-academy/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe

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