Globetrotting Oz couple enjoy international dance festival

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A dance-mad couple from Australia have said flying thousands of miles to see Billingham’s international dance festival was all worthwhile.

Steve and Galina Wardrop from New South Wales, travelled over 10,500 miles to attend the 52nd Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance.

Steve and Galina Wardrop arriving in Billingham town centre.

Steve and Galina Wardrop arriving in Billingham town centre.

The couple, who are both avid dancers, set off on their globetrotting travels on July 4 and the journey has taken in Thailand, Turkey, Edinburgh and Billingham.

Sydney-born Steve, 65, and London-born Galina, 55, contacted the Folklore Festival for details of the event as they wanted to add the showcase to their journey.

The Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance which runs until August 20, has welcomed performers and dance companies from as far afield as Chile, Martinique, Mexico, North Cyprus, Russia, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

The annual festival is made possible by support from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Arts Council England through its National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme.

Galina, who particularly loves Salsa, Raqs Sharqi (Belly Dance) and Balkan Folk Dance, has danced since the age of four and still teaches various types of Street Latin.

She was delighted to be able to see the festival as part of their journey.

“Billingham has been fantastic!” she said.

“I didn’t know what to expect from the Folklore Festival, but it has been nice to see so many talented dancers and groups in the one place.

“We have been very lucky on our travels to experience so many different amazing places which are rich in heritage and tradition from Buddhism in Thailand through to International dance in Billingham.”

Whilst at the festival, the couple have watched a number of shows, with their particular favourite being the International Concert featuring the astonishing skills of the Ensemble ‘Miras’ of Bashkortostan in Russia.

Steve said their long journey was all worthwhile. He said: “You don’t get this kind of event back home in Australia.

“It was well worth all of the travelling to get here!

“The shows have been absolutely first class with the variety of performances, stunning costumes and the live music making it extra special.

“I just love the history of England and everything associated with the whole heritage experience.”