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Arlene Phillips: ‘Shows should hold more castings in the north’

Arlene Phillips says the government proposal will damage the creative industries. Photo: Dan Wooller Arlene Phillips. Photo: Dan Wooller
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Choreographer Arlene Phillips has called on producers to cast and create more shows in the north, to harness the talent and creativity that exists there.

Phillips said that while there are initiatives that see musicals opening in Manchester, these shows often hold their auditions in London, where they will also be rehearsed.

The former Strictly Come Dancing judge said this was a trend that needed to be reversed, by holding auditions in the north and “building” shows there.

Her comments follow ongoing efforts by union Equity to see more shows cast and made in the regions, particularly for television.

Phillips, who was born in Manchester, told The Stage: “So often I do a show that will open in Manchester and you have dancers, from the north, coming to London to audition, and then go back to the north to perform.”

She added: “There is a lot of talent and there are amazing schools in the north, and it’s about putting the different cities there on the map, saying, ‘This is where you can find dancers of all styles and genres’. I think it’s important to say, ‘Things happen in the north’, and that people in London should have to come there, and not vice versa. I think everything around dance seems to be happening in London, especially in musical theatre.”

Phillips was speaking to The Stage ahead of the final of a new competition organised by the Royal Academy of Dance called Moving North. The competition aims to provide equal opportunities to aspiring dancers outside of London aged eight to 18.

The finals for the competition take place on July 18 at the Lowry in Salford.

Phillips said: “We need to work harder to ensure we don’t lose sight of our local talent and potential, especially in the arts.”

She also said that there should be more emphasis on the arts in education, claiming dance in particular can help children with other areas of learning.

“It’s important to give children something that uses the whole body, and not just have them sitting at desks,” she said.

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