TALENTED young dancers are hoping to do their country proud as they represent England at the dance world cup.

With the competition described as the dance equivalent of the Olympics, performers from Santoy Academy will be giving their all to earn the top spot.

The academy has branches in Basildon and Benfleet, with south Essex youngsters competing against other countries at the competition in Telford next month.

Owner, Vicky Saunders, 43, has praised her dancers, aged between 7 and 19, for their dedication to training despite facing obstacles during the pandemic.

Vicky has only been able to get her dancers together for a full rehearsal three times.

The dance school is just one of four that has formed part of the England squad for street and acrobatic dance categories.

Vicky said: “The Dance World Cup is basically the Olympics for dancing.

“Normally countries come together from all over the world – around 84 countries – to compete.

“It’s been difficult with Covid but we’ve had talks over Zoom.

“It’s been really difficult to practise a routine where they need to touch each other in the performance but can’t during practise. “Some of our students have been self-isolating so they’ve been practising on Zoom.

“I’ve only had the team together for three rehearsals and we only have two weeks to go.

“The kids have been fantastic. They’re working really hard and pulling together.”

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The competition will take place from August 9 to August 19, with the 2020 competition, which was delayed last year, taking place in the first week and the 2021 event in the second week.

The World Cup was meant to take place in Spain this year, however due to Covid, the competition was moved to Telford – with some countries taking part virtually.

The academy has had the backing of MP Stephen Metcalfe who visited one of their rehearsals.

While Vicky is hopeful of placing at the competition, she said it is an honour to have the opportunity to represent the country.

She added: “It was really lovely to have the support of our MP. I’m hoping if everything goes well that we will place.

“We’re going there to try to place but if we don’t, it would have been an honour and privilege to represent our country.”