By Liam Sloan
The Oxford Times
January 25 2011
YOUNG dancer Joseph Darcey-Alden has tapped his way to success by performing a routine in memory of his grandfather. Eight-year-old Joseph was named the best tap dancer in England after learning a love of music from his granddad John Norman.
Drummer Mr Norman, who died aged 75 in October, was known in pubs and clubs across Oxfordshire for keeping the beat with swing band 42nd Street. So when Joseph took to the stage in the All England Championships, he knew he had to dance to the title song of the hit musical.
And dedicating his performance to his grandfather, the budding Billy Elliot swept away the opposition to pick up the tap dance trophy.
Joseph, who lives in Yarnton and goes to Edward Feild Primary School in Kidlington, said: “I knew that if I got into the finals I wanted to do a dance for Granddad John, so I picked a song from 42nd Street. “I was thinking of him when I was dancing.
“I did not think I was going to win because there were lots of other good dancers there, and I had to beat 12 others in the final. This is one of the first big competitions that I have won, and it was amazing.”
His mother Sarah Darcey-Alden said: “I know how proud Joseph’s granddad would have been. “Because he was a drummer, he would always tap away with his hands at the table whatever he was doing. When we would visit, Joseph would tap away with his feet at the same time, and the two formed a little bit of a double act.
“Even when Grandad John was sat in his hospital bed, Joseph would tap dance for him.”
Mr Norman was a regular in music venues across the county for more than 20 years, playing trad, swing and jazz bands. The highlights of his musical career included beating Cliff Richard and The Shadows in a skiffle competition at The Elephant and Castle, London, and supporting Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames in Hammersmith.
His grandson got his love of dance at his grandparents’ house in Didcot aged just two, when his grandmother Linda showed him her Irish dancing videos. Joseph said: “I remember seeing some tap dancing on TV and watching Billy Elliot when I was about four, and I thought that kind of dancing looked really good.”
Now training at Kidlington’s Dance 10 Theatre School, Joseph has six hours of lessons each week and practices ballet, tap, modern and lyrical dancing every day.
In the British Theatre Dance Association’s All England Championships, held in Leicester, he beat dancers two years older than him to win the tap dance trophy.
Fellow Dance 10 Theatre School students Nicole Faux, eight, Alyssa Linstrom, eight, Charlotte Boyce, nine, and Annie Bell, 10, also made it through to the All England Championship finals while nine-year-old Ilana Kneafsey came runner-up in the ‘song and dance’ category.
Ilana, from Kidlington, has just finished a national tour playing Jemima Potts in the West End show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as appearing in the chorus in English National Opera’s La Bohème in London.
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