A WEST End star is appealing to folk dancers from Denbighshire to represent their country against teams from around the world at Wales’s biggest international cultural festival.
Mark Evans is currently touring the USA in the lead role in the smash-hit musical comedy The Book of Mormon.
But he took time out of his busy schedule – he is appearing in Seattle at the moment – to urge Welsh dancers to step up to the plate.
That’s because it will be strictly folk dancing as the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod introduces a major new dance prize to feature alongside its acclaimed Choir of the World event on the final night of competition this July.
“Llangollen is a wonderful event with a tremendous heritage and it is a great experience to be a part of, whether singing or dancing,” said Mark, from Llanrhaeadr.
“I would urge dance troupes from across Denbighshire to hurry to be involved in this year’s International Eisteddfod and be able to showcase their talent to the world.”
The idea for the Saturday night dance finale is the brainchild of musical director Eilir Owen Griffiths, who wants dance groups from across Wales to pick up the challenge and take on the world at Llangollen this year.
At stake will be the chance to go head to head on the stage with the best in the world for a major new international prize, the Dance Champions International Trophy and £1,000.
“The Choir of the World competition is internationally recognised and we want to elevate dance to the same level by giving it a place on the stage on the big night, Saturday, July 13,” said Eilir.
“We’re hoping to attract more dance groups from Denbighshire and so we have moved the two major dance competitions to the weekend.
“Dance plays a really important part in the Eisteddfod and brings huge colour, spectacle and atmosphere to the event every year with dancers from all over the world in their different costumes.
“We want it to really light up the weekend and have a real impact not just on the Saturday night but throughout the week and especially the weekend.”
The Eisteddfod’s two major dance competitions will be held at the weekend this year with the Choreographed Dance competition on Friday and the Traditional Dance on Saturday.
The winners of each will then dance off for the judges for the title of Dance Champions on the main stage at the Royal International Pavilion in a spectacular finale to the week’s competitions.
“It will start with children’s competitions on Wednesday with the cultural showcase on Thursday, the choreographed dance on Friday and the folk dance on Saturday and now with the added climax on Saturday night when we will crown the Dance Champions,” said Eilir.
This year’s dance categories are Cultural Showcase, Children’s Folk Dance Group, Individual Folk Dance under 16’s, Dancing in the Street, Traditional Folk Dance and Choreographed Folk Dance.
The Eisteddfod has also extended the deadline day for entries to the dance competitions to February 1.
As well as the new dance event there will also be a new Children’s Choir of the World competition; with the winning choirs from the Junior Children’s, Senior Children’s and Children’s Folk Choir competitions competing against each other,
There will also be a Conductors Prize for the most inspiring conductor from these competitions as well as a Music Directors Award given by the festival’s music director himself, Eilir Owen Griffiths.
Another first, aimed at solo performers, will be the Voice of the Future competition, open to under-35s and with a £2,000 prize while the renowned Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy will now include the winners from the Youth Choirs competition.
This year’s event is from Tuesday, July 9, to Sunday, July 14.
For more details go to website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk