Lancaster’s dancing sisters leap to success

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A childhood full of sequins and sparkle has turned into a growing dance company which is taking Lancaster and Morecambe to new heights.

As soon as the Turner sisters could walk they were in tutus – dancing is in their blood and now their passion is inspiring others to love the art of movement.

Grace Turner, from Lancaster, during one of her aerial dance performances. Picture by Terry McNamara.

Grace Turner, from Lancaster, during one of her aerial dance performances. Picture by Terry McNamara.

Grace Turner, 26, along with her sisters, Lily, 24 and Ellen, 29, set up Turn Around Dance Theatre in 2014.

The sisters, from Arkholme, near Carnforth, aim to create work that touches, moves and inspires audiences whilst also pushing artistic boundaries for the observer and performer.

Grace specialises in aerial dance, dancing in the air through various techniques including a trapeze, aerial silks, tissue, rope, hoops and cloud swing, a wider shape rope.

To her knowledge Grace is the only performer in the area to offer aerial dance classes to the public and the sisters want to bring their skills to rural areas.

She said: “The hardest part is climbing up and getting into the air. Aerial is not about strength but technique, it is all about not wasting energy, there are so many ways of moving around in the fabric.”

“Aerial is a big thing, with cirque du soleil, and programmes like Tumble, it is becoming part of everyday theatre. I want to bring that experience and my skills to cities that don’t have the opportunity for that.”

Grace explains it was competitive growing up as all siblings, including their older sister Emily, was involved in dance.

She said: “If we had any arguments, if one of us got a gold medal, we would still be best friends, we all still love each other.

“Everybody used to joke when we were younger, saying oh you could create your own dance company and we thought no, but now look at us!”

Grace has conquered a lot in the arts and contemporary dance world. She graduated from Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts (LIPA) in 2012, and has travelled across the country and abroad with various aerial/circus companies.

Some of these include Aircraft Circus, London, Fidget Feet Aerial Dance, Ireland, Green Top Circus, Sheffield, Circus House, Manchester, Rogue Play Theatre and a performance at a busy shopping mall in France.

Grace said: “Aerial is part of my life I couldn’t live without. There wasn’t the opportunity to perform aerial growing up. I had a wonderful childhood in a tiny rural village but when I witnessed live circus I was sad I didn’t get to do it earlier.”

Although Grace has been training for four years she explains aerial is dangerous.

She said: “It’s a risky and dangerous profession without training, you don’t have a safety harness because it can get in the way. Most accidents happen when you are getting off the crash mat.

“At first my grandma said, stay safe, but my family know it’s part of my life that I love.”

The sisters have received support using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England to perform The Thief, the Fox and the Phoenix,’ an interactive adventure coming to Lancaster this year.

The FlyAround two week courses take place on June 27 in Morecambe (Regent Park studios) and Kendal (The Lakeland Climbing Centre). Contact turnarounddancetheatre@gmail.com for more.