Litcham High School’s dance studio has the ‘wow’ factor

A state-of-the-art dance studio was opened yesterday at a Norfolk school hoping to energise the creative drive of its pupils as well as its surrounding community.

Litcham High School launched the �460,000 venue with the help of professional dancers from the Matthew Bourne company, who gave workshops for eager students.

The studio has been built to Sport England standards, with a 180sqm semi-sprung floor, mirrored walls and a digital sound system, and includes energy efficiency measures including an air-flow heat pump and insulation made from recycled paper.

The specialist sports college was given a �350,000 grant from the Department of Education in 2009, with the remaining �110,000 funded from the school's capital budget.

Now the construction project is completed, staff hope to build on the burgeoning popularity of dance to reach their goal of increasing participation in physical activities at the school

They also want to make it a community resource which can be used by local groups or individuals who need a venue to run dance courses and workshops.

Headteacher Jeremy Nicholls said: 'We all wanted the new studio to make a statement and get away from the idea that school buildings should only be functional. We wanted that 'wow' factor, and that's what we've got.

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'It provides a professional-standard working space which gives all the students something to aspire to. It is primarily a dance studio, but it can be used for all the performing and expressive arts. It is great for the school and it is helping us fulfil our community role.'

Among the Matthew Bourne dancers at the launch event was Kerry Biggin, who is playing the title role in the Norwich Theatre Royal's current production of Cinderella.

She said: 'I have to say how exciting it is to be here, and how much I wish I had an amazing space like this when I was a young, aspiring dancer at school. It will give so many people an opportunity to really enjoy dance. And it's not just about the physical benefits, but making the emotional, creative and social benefits of dance available to everyone.'

The school will work in partnership with Norfolk Dance and Breckland Council to provide courses to suit groups, including contemporary, toddler dance, over-50s, hip-hop and ballroom. They will start with a series of taster sessions at Easter.