Channel 4 has commissioned Dance School (w/t), a new 8×30’ coming-of-age drama series from Duck Soup Films.

The production will offer 10 industry training placements available to individuals with no previous broadcast experience.

Created by Theresa Ikoko (Rocks, Girls) and Lisa Holdsworth (Discovery of Witches, Call The Midwife), Dance School follows an eclectic group of dance students as they “navigate the intense highs and lows of coming of age in today’s complex world – captured through stories which are as joyful and funny as they are raw and truthful, brought viscerally to life via irresistible dance choreography.”

The drama series will champion characters who have been workshopped (with support from the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF)) and inspired by true stories from inner-city Leeds.

“Dance School is a celebration of resilience, determination, and spirit which never shies away from relevant and hard-hitting themes. The series will shine a light on the pressures young people face but also provide a dynamic and energising insight into the city of Leeds and its people.”

Street casting and recruitment starts in summer and the production will shoot in the Autumn in and around Leeds.

4Skills and the National Film and Television School (NFTS) are partnering with Duck Soup to provide 10 paid full-time placements on the production.

The initiative, tailored to people with no previous production experience, will provide training, mentoring, one to one sessions, career planning and the chance to work on a major production.

Caroline Hollick, Channel 4 Head of Drama, said: “I am thrilled that my very own home of Leeds is the hub of such a brilliant and activating series, bursting with irresistible dance numbers. Dance School is a heart-warming portrayal of the hardships young people are increasingly exposed to, but it’s equally a celebration of inspiring and authentic stories that will resonate with our viewers. It’s important that Channel 4 not only reflects the voices of the nations and regions but also continues to support growth and training to individuals. I’m delighted that by partnering with Duck Soup and the NFTS, 4Skills can open doors to the next generation of emerging talent, ensuring the creative sector remains accessible to all.”

Rebekah Wray-Rogers, Co-Founder of Duck Soup Films says: “We are beyond delighted that Duck Soup’s first drama commission is born and bred in our own city and commissioned by Channel 4 since its crucial move out of London up to Leeds. We have been enormously lucky to collaborate with such an eclectic group of talented creatives to build Dance School and are buzzing with excitement to finally bring this exceptional series to the screen.”

Meabh O’Donovan, Head of NFTS Leeds, said: “The NFTS is renowned for offering world class training and we are excited to bring that expertise to making the series of Dance School a success. We can’t wait to start the search for 10 Leeds based trainees who will train with us and then become an integral part of the crew. If you’ve never imagined film and television as a possible career, come along to a workshop in July, it could change your life and become a gateway to fantastic new opportunities within Yorkshire’s screen industry.”

Jackie Edwards, Head of the Young Audiences Content Fund says: “The Young Audiences Content Fund were delighted to support both the development and production of Dance School.  We were drawn to the inclusive and authentic approach, one that will beautifully reflect an under-represented community in the UK – it is exactly the sort of production that the Fund set out to support.”

Caroline Cooper Charles, Chief Executive and Executive Producer for Screen Yorkshire says: “It’s a joy to join forces with such fantastic partners to support Duck Soup and to bring audiences a story whose heart and soul is rooted in one of our region’s most vibrant cities”

Dance School is a Duck Soup Films production, supported by the UK Government funded Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), which is managed by the BFI to bring new material to audiences 18 and under for regulated TV channels and online platforms; All3Media International; Screen Yorkshire and Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

The series is created by Lisa Holdsworth and Theresa Ikoko, the Executive producers are Rebekah Wray-Rogers, Jessica Brown Meek, Libby Durdy, Theresa Ikoko, Lisa Holdsworth, Kathryn O’Connor and Jessica Straker. It is written by Lisa Holdsworth, Dipo Baruwa-Etti, Kamal Kaan, Zodwa Nyoni, Phoebe Okeowo. Dance School will be produced by Lisa-Marie Russo and directed by Sara Dunlop. Choreography will be led by Sharon Watson & Dawn Holgate. The series was commissioned for Channel 4 by Head of Drama, Caroline Hollick and Commissioning Editor, Rebecca Holdsworth.

Jon Creamer

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