“We can’t always choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.”

Whoever first said this had a very good point. As I watched our dance show, ‘Momentum’, a couple of weeks ago my feelings of absolute joy were punctuated by moments of nostalgia and disbelief as I thought back to the last time I had enjoyed the event, exactly two years earlier, and only a few weeks after arriving at Brighton Girls.

A lot has happened over the last two years, most of it completely unexpected. Looking back at my Headspace blog from January 2020, it is reassuring to note familiar themes: I commented on the sense of community, the energy, the spirit of rebellion, the way in which the dancers “owned” the stage. What was so heartening about this year’s show is that all these things still apply, despite everything that has happened in the intervening years.

At the lowest points of the pandemic, people expressed concern for the so-called “lost generation”. It cannot be denied that COVID has taken its toll on young people; many have struggled, and many continue to do so. Schools across the country are reporting higher cases of anxiety and disordered eating; friendship issues abound, perhaps due to the usual rites of passage being delayed by lockdown. As a community, we know it will take time to heal but, as we witnessed in The Old Market theatre on the 27th and 28th January, there are things we can do to help.

For one thing, we can dance.

‘Momentum’ was a such a triumph this year because of the confidence, the resilience, and the wonderfully care-free attitude exuded by every performer. The message from the performers was loud and clear: together, we survived, and there is no stopping us now.

From the cheeky ‘Charlie and Chocolate Factory’ number from Years 5 and 6 (why not throw in some green curly wigs just for the hell of it?), to the elegance of the Year 10 piece ‘Come under my Wing’, which explored our “capacity for kindness and compassion”, the performances offered a heartening blend of restoration and resolve. I loved the ‘Ballet Blur’, described in the programme notes as “both graceful and grungy”. This was ballet with attitude – at once moody and elegant, full of athleticism, beauty and strength. One thing’s for sure: I wouldn’t want to mess with those ballerinas! Artemis Imani offered another breath-taking moment: her self-choreographed Afghan dance told the story of a dancing girl with spellbinding precision and confidence.

What struck me most about all the performances was the body-confidence, the sense that the dancers were happy in their own skin.

The number that summed this up best – the dance that got everyone tapping their toes and skipping out of the theatre – was the utterly brilliant ‘Permission to Dance’, choreographed by Eva Santino-Williams, to music by the South Korean band BTS. This performance captured the spirit of the show superbly: it was exuberant, it was bold, and with such lines as, “We don’t need to worry/‘Cause when we fall we know how to land”, it left us feeling that the future is bright.