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East End dance kids help Macau youngsters beat gambling

PUBLISHED: 14:51 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:30 05 October 2010

Tower Hamlets dance team representing Britain at Macau youth festival

Tower Hamlets dance team representing Britain at Macau youth festival

DANCE performances by kids from London's deprived East End on the international stage are being used to help tackle gambling problems among deprived children in one of China's big cities. Youngsters from Tower Hamlets schools' dance and gymnastics club have been performing in the 11th Macau International Youth Dance Festival. Macau's education authority asked for an interview with the club's coach and choreographers for a TV documentary to encourage Macau's own youngsters to take up dance to avoid gambling, which is a major problem in the former Portuguese colony

By Paul Janko in Macau

DANCE performances by kids from London's deprived East End on the international stage are being used to help tackle gambling problems among deprived children on the other side of the globe in one of China's big cities.

Youngsters from the Tower Hamlets schools' dance and gymnastics club have been performing in the 11th Macau International Youth Dance Festival in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

The Macau education authority asked for an interview with the club's chief coach Bob Bellew and choreographers Tiffanie Sees and Rickey Blackett for a TV documentary.

The 45-minute in-depth interview was about the impact of dance with youngsters from East London "who might be socially or economically disadvantaged."

It is being broadcast on TV in November to encourage Macau's own youngsters to take up dance and get involved in an activity... to avoid getting dragged into gambling which is a major problem in the former Portuguese colony.

The dance and gymnastics club was one of 14 youth teams from around the world selected for the festival.

They included teams from Slovenia, Estonia, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, the USA, Philippines, South Korea, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The Tower Hamlets team, representing Great Britain, started the dance festival off at the 'welcome' dinner with contemporary jazz dance choreographed by Tiffanie. They also took part in a street parade and indoor and outdoor performances.

"The indoor display left all the 16 participants shattered at the end with total exhaustion," said club chief coach Bob.

"The energy given to the 10 minutes routine drained everyone.

"The Minister of Education for Macau came up to me after the show to say how much he had enjoyed our display."

His team is selected from youngsters from various Tower Hamlets schools who practice each week at George Green's Secondary at Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs.

Three were chosen to perform the opening number of the first show at the Macau festival, with youngsters from other countries.

The three, Zoe Jefferson, Billie Daniel and Alex Stephanou, had just two hours to help teach and choreograph the others in the opening number, as well as perform themselves. All three also received a standing ovation for their teaching workshops.

A parade along Macau's main thoroughfare also had the group dancing without music to thousands of spectators lining the streets which included a three-minute Hip Hop display on the stage in the main square.

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