Royal Hall setting for Harrogate Dance Festival

Pictured front from left are Rebecca Kane, James White and Miriam Dolben of White Diamond Entertainment. Behind are Derek Usher, Paul Mayo, John Lofthouse and Al Brown of the Echo 42 Big Band.

Pictured front from left are Rebecca Kane, James White and Miriam Dolben of White Diamond Entertainment. Behind are Derek Usher, Paul Mayo, John Lofthouse and Al Brown of the Echo 42 Big Band.

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The first Harrogate Dance Festival will rhumba into the Royal Hall in June.

The three-day event will be split into dance themes , and organisers say there is something to suit dancers of all abilities.

On June 28, Katya Virshilas and Pasha Kovalov from popular TV show Strictly Come Dancing will showcase their ballroom skills during the Gala Night, before the Club Latino night on June 29, and the closing Vintage theme on June 30.

The festival is the result of a collaboration of the Echo 42 Big Band, White Diamond and Soiree Presents.

The big band will perform at the event, and trombonist Paul Mayo has been instrumental in bringing the festival to life.

He told the Harrogate Advertiser: “Having been a musician for most of my adult life, myself and my wife went to learn to dance, and James White, of White Diamond, was our teacher.

“We met the Soiree team through him, and then we had the idea of the festival last year.

“We held some test events, after starting to discuss the festival at the start of last year.”

There will be an opportunity for beginners and experienced dancers to take part in workshops and classes throughout the weekend.

Paul said: “I had two left feet when I started, and there is an opportunity for others to learn at the festival.

“It caters for all levels, and if you are an accomplished dancer, there will be plenty to stretch you.

“The Gala Night is very much about getting people on the floor and enjoying themselves.

“The Latino night is less about couples, and more about young singles and social dance.”

A Vintage evening will round off the festival.

Paul said: “It is as much about the clothing and looking the part,

“The big band will appear as a 1940s RAF band.”

The revamped Royal Hall will host the festival.

Paul explained: “The Royal Hall was central to the festival going ahead.

“It has one of the biggest dance floors in Yorkshire.”

The popularity of the show encouraged Paul and the organisers to lure Strictly stars to the event.

He said: “We felt it was important to get them along.

“There is a big dance community in the UK, and the popularity oft he show reflects that.”

See http://www.harrogatedancefestival.co.uk