Dance school becomes an internet hit in Asia

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DANCERS from a school started in a church hall three years ago may soon be off on a Far East tour after a video of their act went viral, gaining them thousands of fans.

Website Korean Candy has been inundated with more than 500,000 emails from adoring South Korean, Japanese and Chinese fans after posting videos of Kettering’s Starlight Dance musical theatre school on Cyworld, South Korea’s answer to Facebook.

One video has been viewed more than 745,000 times and had almost 30,000 comments.

SHINee, ‘the Korean Take That’, sent the dancers a Christmas card and have offered to whisk them away in a limo. The school is now considering a Far East tour.

Jacc Batch, 26, who started the school with eight pupils in the United Reformed Church hall, Kettering, in 2009, said: “These people believe we are famous worldwide because we are famous there.

“They refer to individual dancers in their emails by name, saying he did well or she looked really good. They are treating us like celebrities.”

Filipino schoolgirls have sent pictures of themselves striking poses from Starlight’s newest dance, called Teeth.

One Korean class said they are now studying the Kettering school as part of their media class.

One woman flew all the way from South Korea to see the group’s last show at the Lighthouse Theatre, Popcorn, last year.

SHINee, who have sold more than 300,000 albums and performed with Lady Gaga, want to visit the school when their European tour gets to England.

They tried in November but ironically Mr Batch was in Japan when their management called.

He said: “The manager left me a message saying they were going to come to Kettering with a limo and take our dancers out for a meal, to their show in London and to a recording studio.

“It’s really strange because over there they sang with Lady Gaga.

“They are the Korean Take That, but they are treating us like fans.”

The dancers’ quirky outfits and performances, such as Disturbia, in which they are dressed as clowns with Hannibal Lecter-style masks, are a big hit with their Asian fans.

Korean teacher Charlotte Panther, 21, of East Avenue, Kettering, who started Korean Candy and uploaded the video, said: “It’s a big shock. I didn’t know it would happen.

“I just put the video from the competition online and overnight they became famous.”

She sent Starlight a booklet with printouts of thousands of fans’ emails and photographs.

But the comments keep coming and she is preparing two more booklets to send over.

Mr Batch is now looking for sponsorship to take 20 of his senior dancers to South Korea.

He said: “If 500,000 people are prepared to send emails perhaps at least 10,000 might buy a ticket.”