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Newham dancers are having a brolly good time

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:19 15 January 2014

Seg 87 make it look easy, but as reporter Sophie found out, it can be tricky.

Seg 87 make it look easy, but as reporter Sophie found out, it can be tricky.

Archant

Everyone remembers Gene Kelly using an umbrella as the main prop in his famous song and dance routine Singin’ in the Rain.

Now umbrellas are being used by a Newham troupe, who performed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, to thrill audiences with their own dazzling choreographed routines.

Everyone remembers Gene Kelly using an umbrella as the main prop in his famous song and dance routine Singin’ in the Rain.

Now umbrellas are being used by a Newham troupe, who performed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, to thrill audiences with their own dazzling choreographed routines.

But these umbrellas are not your average brollies.

These ones light-up in a rainbow of beautiful flashing colours as they are twirled and whirled around.

They aren’t lightweight either – as I discovered when I was invited to join in and take part in one of their training sessions.

Seg 87 – named after the section of the Paralympic opening ceremony they performed in – reformed last year when they danced at a reunion.

The troupe, who train at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, have since appeared at the Newham Town Show and at school fêtes.

They have gained the rights to use a version of the opening ceremony routine as well as choreographing new ones.

I was given a see-through coat and an umbrella, both of which were used in the ceremony, and taught one of the dance moves by member Barbara Lowe.

The heavy umbrellas had a switch that allowed them to light up in eight different colours, with the performers having to learn complicated light sequences as part of the routine.

Thankfully, I was allowed to leave mine on one colour while I tried to keep up with the steps and umbrella movements.

Barbara, 43, demonstrated the technique of closing the umbrella as it was being lifted up – and after a few tries, I managed to get the hang of it.

She believes the legacy of London 2012 extends far beyond that left by the athletes, saying: “It’s like a family really; everywhere you go you see other performers.

“A lot of us volunteer in other things as well, and the park is like a second home.”

Barbara is also taking part in Legacy 2012, a contemporary dance show featuring performances from 40 cast members from all four ceremony shows.

Derek Moore, 51, performed in the Olympic closing ceremony dressed as a policeman and will be featuring in the show.

He credits his volunteer role with turning his life around.

He said: “Before the Olympics I was quite low, but taking part has really boosted my confidence. I’m a completely different person now.”

He has also performed as part of his Street Party team and is delighted with the public response.

“People come up to us and say they saw us on TV and that they think it’s great we’re carrying on.”


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