‘Join the Momentum’, funded by Arts Council England, saw more than 400 performers take part in a mass-performance at St James Park as part of Magic Weekend. 100 performers came from the North-East and were joined by dancers from six Super League Community foundations in addition to dance groups from Yorkshire.

Newcastle High School for Girls and five further dance groups from the north-east were experiencing rugby league for the very first time thanks to the project.

It is the second such large scale performance for the programme following the 2014 Challenge Cup final where 250 dancers took centre stage on the hallowed turf.

The programme commissioned Manchester-based ‘Company Chameleon’ who up-skilled dance leaders at the various dance groups and various Super League club foundations to deliver the ‘Before the Pass’ routine that was performed on both days of Magic Weekend by people ranging in age from 7 to 35.

“It was a fantastic climax to the second phase of the Join the Momentum programme,” said Project Manager, Sarah Elston.

“I was enthused by such positive conversations with Dance City – the North East’s leading development organisation for dance – and how excited they were to present this opportunity to their students that I quickly made connections with groups and schools all over the Newcastle and surrounding area.

“Rugby League Foundations were equally as supportive at the prospect of performing at one of the biggest events in the rugby league calendar and one Foundation was able to use Magic Weekend as a way to launch a brand new dance hub at Oasis Academy in Salford.”

“The Join the Momentum programme was hugely beneficial to our school,” commented Julie Bowman, assistant head of the Creative Arts faculty at Newcastle High School for Girls.

“It gave our girls a unique opportunity of performing in front of 48,000 people as part of a large cast of dancers. The energy and sense of community at the event was electric and gave them memories that will last a life time.”imagesource (6)

In addition to the on-pitch activity, RL Cares hosted a Sports and Arts symposium bringing together delegates from across the country Fields of Vision conference. The conference discussed the impact of the Arts and Sport working together and the vast exploration that is still to be done around this subject including funding, identifying talent and more understanding of the benefits that they too can generate.

Join the Momentum is also set to launch a new cultural partnership with two Arts Bridge organisations in Curious Minds and Cape UK. This will see dance leaders upskilled to become Arts Award Leaders which will enable all young people involved in dance through Rugby League Foundations to gain ‘Arts Award’ qualifications.