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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Les Commandos Percu spectacle of drums and fireworks at Windermere

THE stunning scenery of the Lake District provided the perfect backdrop for a spectacular display of drumming, dance and fireworks.

The fells around Bowness glowed a rainbow of different colours last night, as the world premiere of On the Night Shift was played out on stage on The Glebe.

The show, an incredible pyrotechnic display, was the result of a collaboration between Lakes Alive and French arts company, Les Commandos Percu – featuring performers from France as well as dancers hand-picked from across the UK. It was introduced on stage by world recording-holding triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards CBE.

The former Olympic athlete, who regularly holidays in the Lake District, joked with the crowds about the torrential rain, which began lashing down about an hour before the show.

He said: “When I was driving in today, I saw a sign that said the Great North Swim and the Olympic Torch Relay.

“It was almost the same thing really, wasn’t it?”

On a more serious note, he added: “I never thought I would see the Olympic torch in Windermere – how incredible is that?

“Tonight the eyes of the world are on Cumbria, and tonight they’re going to see an amazing performance.”

Amazing it was as, following a slight delay caused by the effect of endless rain on the electrical equipment, the show got under way.

With the lake dramatically lit by the glow coming from the stage, the atmosphere was incredible – the intense, rhythmic drumming set off to perfection by the skill and precision of the dancers.

In keeping with the theme of the day, fire was a major feature of the production – the light thrown from the flames bringing the performers’ movements to life in the most dramatic of fashion.

The crowds ceased to remember they were completely sodden as they stood awe-struck by the spectacle, turning their faces into the rain to look to the skies as stunning fireworks brought The Glebe to life.

Observer Jan Graham, 64, of Kendal, said: “It was absolutely amazing, so much more than I expected. This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this here in Cumbria.”

David McCormack, 50, of Holker Estate, said: "It was fantastic, a great event.

“It was thrilling, and it was good to be with so many people.

“The fireworks were really spectacular and the drumming was really great, it really got into you.

“We've seen quite a few firework displays and we've been to a few drumming displays, so to see the two together was really fantastic.”

Reflecting on the night’s atmosphere, he added: “I think the rain added to it, it just kind of brought everybody together.”

“It was a great feeling to be with everybody celebrating the start of the Olympics, it felt really special.

“It felt as though the north west is part of the Olympics, it felt like we we’re connected, which is fantastic.”

The premiere was a real coup for Cumbria, marking the launch of the London 2012 Festival.

One of only five events on the festival calendar, it is the only one to be held in the north of England and was designed to get the Games celebrations off to an explosive start.

Julie Tate is director of Kendal Arts International, which runs Lakes Alive.

Speaking of her pride in the success of last night’s event, she said: “I think it really puts the county on the map.

“The performance was an incredible fusion of talents, performed in, arguably, one of the most stunning landscapes in the world.”

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