This is the future of the arts in Shetland. So said Diane Leyland, founder of Feet First Dance, after the triumph of last week’s sell-out dance show.
The 80-strong dance group performed for five nights to packed houses, selling 1,300 tickets and receiving a standing ovation after the final show.
But the group has never had any funding and is entirely self-sufficient, reaching this position by “putting in the hours, selling tickets and building a reputation”, according to Diane, who is also Clickimin’s health and fitness manager.
Last week’s show, Feet First Go West, had travel as its theme and featured numbers from Ireland, London’s West End and the US. Favourites included numbers from Chicago and Oklahoma, and everything was “completely local”, with choreography and production by Leyland and set design and lighting by Keith Morrison.
The only “outside” assistance the group had was from Diane’s daughter Francesca, now studying in London, who helped with some of the choreography.
The show, featuring dancers of both sexes aged between eight and 21, went like clockwork with only five seconds between routines. The 20 backstage crew did a sterling job in helping, with everyone “knowing exactly what to do”.
There were numerous costume changes (costumes that had in many cases been made wholly or in part by the performers), and this year the show included some speaking. This was the first time acting had been used, and, said Diane, it added another dimension to the show.
The “hottest ticket in town” also featured pyrotechnics and some visual effects, and coupled with the high standard of dance made the show a huge success. The group members have been dancing together a long time, said Diane, with the older members helping the younger ones.
And this is the way she envisages will always be sustainable – even if members of the group leave for any reason they may come back to keep Feet First going.