Dance Live! has released its judge line-up for this year’s online TV format of the popular, annual Dance competition for schools and colleges.

Joining the previously announced Patron and Head Judge, Mark Smith, will be Technical Judges Sally Garner-Gibbons and Jamie Kluckers with Dance & Choreography Judge, Ben Derham.

Embracing the ever-evolving digital world and how this is changing the face of modern performance, Dance Live! sees pupils perform creative dance routines choreographed to the backdrop of a giant digital LED screen, which will be brought together and judged in a live streamed final, with credible and constructive feedback from the panel of experienced experts being an important part of the event.

Stage Manager and Lecturer in Technical Theatre Studies, Sally Garner-Gibbons has worked in West End and regional theatres throughout the UK and has held the position of Company and Stage Manager at Chichester Festival Theatre for over 25 years. Sally enjoys her work in Production Arts education where she trains the next generation of theatre technicians in lighting, sound and stagecraft.
Technical Consultant for Stage Electrics, Jamie Kluckers, trained in Production at Guildford School of Acting and has worked in the industry as a Production Manager, Technical Manager and Stage Manager with theatre credits including the Olivier award-winning Showstoppers (Apollo), Uncle Vantage and Three Sisters (Wyndham’s Theatre) and Guys & Dolls and Gypsy (Chichester Festival Theatre).

New to the judging team for this year is professional Dancer, Ben Derham. A graduate of The Royal Ballet School and Bird College, Ben has danced internationally for music videos, film, TV and on stage with his credits including Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures’ World Premiere production of Romeo and Juliet, Christmas on Ice Niagara Falls and London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s ‘Mack and Mabel’.

Knowing the passion it takes to forge a career in the performing arts, Ben said, “While judging I will be looking for a strong sense of performance and dedication to the conveyance of narrative through movement. I want to feel the emotions of the piece by the way it’s performed, but most of all the sense of freedom and enjoyment that dancing gives you”.


Dance Live’s first Patron and Head Judge, Mark Smith, is a Choreographer, Movement Director, Dance Teacher, Workshop Leader and Director, Founder and Artistic Director of Deaf Men Dancing, Patron for The Imperial Society of Teachers and Dancing (ISTD) and was nominated as Best Choreographer in the Off-West End Awards and the Broadway World UK Awards for Ace of Clubs, Call Me Madam & Iolanthe and Live Theatre & British Theatre for Tommy.

Chris Williams, a teacher at Academy Selsey – The Bridge, one of the schools participating in this year’s Dance Live! event, said; “It is really exciting to hear who the judges are – it gives our team a real opportunity to get current feedback from those working in the industry. We are delighted to be competing this year – it’s great to focus our minds on something other than covid and exams. The students have adapted incredibly well to Zoom classes and have had more of a creative role in the production than ever before!”

Dance Live! is also delighted to welcome Wightlink, Isle of Wight Ferries and Becketts of Southsea (Dining, Bar and Boutique Bedrooms) as Supporters of this year’s competition, whose support is helping to ensure that the initiative for young people can go ahead. Other local businesses interested in supporting are asked to get in touch with the Dance Live! team.

Tickets for the live-streamed Dance Live! final will be on sale soon and any schools, colleges, teachers or pupils interested in finding out more about the competition should head to where more information, videos and an online brochure can be found.

Or contact one of the Dance Live! team at: or 023 9387 0193.

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