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Inverness dancer tops more than 1000 panto performances

By Andrew Dixon

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Clare Darcy was congratulated on stage.
Clare Darcy was congratulated on stage.

An Inverness dancer has surpassed more than 1000 pantomime performances.

Clare Darcy reached the milestone during the recent festive run of Sleeping Beauty at the city's Eden Court Theatre.

The 33-year-old, from the Highland capital, received a gift from the cast to mark the achievement which comes after being in shows over a period of more than 20 years.

"My first introduction to the joy that is pantomime was when I was seven years old and I was fortunate to be part of the junior ensemble in Cinderella at Eden Court," she said. "That experience filled me with the belief, even at such a young age, that dance was going to be a big part of my life.

"The following year I played the part of Tinkerbell in Peter Pan. I loved being flown across the stage on the high wire but my parents were not so keen – but I survived and so did they!

"I continued to audition for and dance in the junior ensemble and then, at 16, I left Inverness to train in Nottingham at the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama studying musical theatre and graduated from a three-year course with distinction."

Clare Darcy and fellow dancers.
Clare Darcy and fellow dancers.

The dancer teacher, who also runs balloon company Celebrations by Claire, then returned to Inverness and started teaching at TFX Performing Arts Academy. She was still performing, as a professional dancer now, in the ensemble at each pantomime in Eden Court.

"In the past five years it has been a real highlight of my career to be the choreographer for the pantomime," Claire said.

"I have also been the choreographer for many shows at the Empire Theatre and indeed for numerous events across the local area including Strictly Inverness.

"The pantomime is, of course, close to my heart. It has introduced me to so many talented people, including those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, and given me some lifelong friends. It has also been wonderful to have so many of the students that I have taught along the way actually audition and join me on stage with the junior ensemble.

"By teaching locally and then performing here, I have enjoyed such tremendous support each festive period from friends and family and from so many of my students and their parents.

"While I took the decision last year to step away from a regular teaching post I didn’t hang up my dance shoes, I choreographed the very successful Misty's Magical Adventures and I am still heavily involved in teaching participants in this year's Strictly Inverness and I'm looking forward to other opportunities.

Sleeping Beauty cast.
Sleeping Beauty cast.

"Each festive period we play to so many packed houses at Eden Court as the pantomime truly is a feel-good time out for the family, young and old, to enjoy a fun-filled show that lifts everyone’s spirits including the cast!

"In all, I have been part of 20 pantomime runs and just celebrated performing over 1000 shows at Eden Court and was presented on stage with a beautiful painting of the theatre to celebrate. I hope to be part of this ongoing success story for some time yet."

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