New dance competition is being hosted in memory of first time mum-to-be this year

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A brand new dance competition is being hosted in memory of a first time mother-to-be this year in Northampton.

Dare 2 Dance UK, which is taking place at The Old Savoy, Home of the Deco Theatre on June 23, will give dance schools the chance to showcase their talent while supporting an important cause.

Mother and daughter duo Toni and Tayla Sherman from The Old Savoy are dedicating the first competition to family friend Lauren Brand and her daughter Harper.

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Lauren was 27 weeks pregnant with her first child when she tragically passed away in October 2022, after suffering from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).

Lauren was 27 weeks pregnant with her first child when she tragically passed away in October 2022, after suffering from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).Lauren was 27 weeks pregnant with her first child when she tragically passed away in October 2022, after suffering from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).
Lauren was 27 weeks pregnant with her first child when she tragically passed away in October 2022, after suffering from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).

Her daughter, who also passed away, was named Harper as Lauren had spoken about how she loved that name for a baby girl.

Lauren loved performing, particularly dancing and cheerleading over the years, and she also taught younger students at one of the dance schools she attended in the town.

The Dare 2 Dance competition is taking place a day after what would have been Lauren’s 27th birthday, and the event is in support of The Daisy Garland epilepsy charity.

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Dance schools will join The Old Savoy in honouring their memory and making a real impact on those affected by epilepsy.

Toni, who is the head of programming and has worked at the venue for the past decade, said: “Dance has the power to bring people together and inspire creativity. Be part of something truly special.”

After years of competing and travelling to and from competitions around the country, Toni and Tayla decided to create their own and support a charity.

The five dance schools taking part will compete in solo, duet, trio and group dance categories across ballet, jazz, commercial, contemporary and tap.

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The ‘Harper Award’ will also be given out to someone outstanding, who has performed well and has been recognised backstage for their attitude throughout the day.

Toni has been friends with Lauren’s mother Hayley for 16 years, and watched Lauren’s love of performing and teaching as she grew up.

“She loved being on stage and all aspects of dance,” said Toni. “She also taught the little ones.

“We want to make people more aware of epilepsy as it’s not out there enough. We’ve known of other people in the past with epilepsy but nobody talks about it.”

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Toni also hopes the competition will raise awareness of the importance of the right support being offered to pregnant women with epilepsy, just like Lauren.

Kirsty Morley from AllStars Variety School – one of the dance groups Lauren attended – said that despite it being a busy time in the dance world, her students wanted to perform their routines in Dare 2 Dance.

“I apologised to them and said that with everything going on, I probably won’t have time to get the routines as clean as they should be,” she said.

“But I explained that I wasn’t in it for them to win, and am only in it for Lauren. They all completely understood and agreed that is what’s important. We are not in it for the competition, but for the cause.”

The Dare 2 Dance competition will be hosted twice-yearly at The Old Savoy and, looking to the future, Toni and Tayla would one day like to venture to different areas.

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