DOZENS of Hampshire youngsters took to the stage last night to trip the light fantastic.

The latest heat of the Be Your Best Southampton Rock Challenge saw students turn to The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and even the global oil industry for inspiration.

The competition, which is being held at Southampton’s O2 Guildhall this week, features inventive dance routines put together by schools.

And the winners from each night, as well as some of the best-placed runners-up, will go up against the best from across the south in a regional final in June.

Last night, Southampton’s Richard Taunton Sixth Form College based their performance around malaria and its potentially fatal impact.

Student Holly Presley, 18, from Bursledon, said: “We wanted to raise awareness of it, show the audience how preventable it is, and also how cheap it is prevent it.”

Hedge End’s Wildern School were next up, with the students’ performance focusing on the oil industry and its impact, both on humans and the planet.

Anya Randev, 15, from Hedge End, said: “We’ve been doing this for the past five years, and this year we wanted to be able to do something different with our concept.”

Southampton’s Woodlands Community College put on a show inspired by the swinging 1920s, featuring Charlie Chaplin, the Keystone Cops and glamorous movie stars.

Student Samantha Mould, 14, from Bitterne, said: “The 1920s is really popular at the moment, especially after films like The Great Gatsby.”

And friend Brooke Richardson, 15, from St Denys, added: “It’s been really great fun, and all the other schools have been really good too.”

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Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was retold through the medium of dance as Southampton’s Regents Park Community College put on a colourful performance.

Fourteen-year-old Faye Draper, from Lordswood, said: “We chose it because it’s a really happy and joyful performance.”

And classmate Jeremiah Scully, 14, from Freemantle, added: “I was nervous before, but it was fine when we got on stage and it was great fun to perform for the school.”

And another fantastical tale, The Wizard of Oz, was given a modern school twist by the students of Westgate School in Winchester.

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Olding, from Winchester, said: “We thought The Wizard of Oz would be good as it’s such a visual story.”

Fellow student, Charlotte Pitman, 13, the Dorothy of the piece, added: “It was a really good experience.”

Woodlands Community College was first, while Richard Taunton Sixth Form College was second.

Tonight, it’s the turn of Southampton’s Cantell School, Redbridge Community School and Great Oaks School, Hamble Community Sports College and Swanmore College.

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