YOUNG dancers have found themselves caught up in an online voting scandal.

The members of Weymouth dance troupe Quay Theatre Arts went from gleeful to glum after they won their way through to a shortlist of five in a national competition for the chance to dance at the Royal Albert Hall in November.

A hacker tampered with a national public web vote that was run by competition organisers Dance Proms to find the best piece of choreography by a group, solo artist or duo.

‘Intensity’, a piece of modern dance by nine performers from Quay Theatre Arts was up against four other dance pieces.

But when the Weymouth group’s share of the votes plummeted from 35 per cent to five per cent, Quay Theatre co-owner Steve Nicholas thought something was amiss.

Competition organisers said they were alerted to an ‘unusually large’ number of votes being cast in a short amount of time and decided to re-run it after interrogating the system.

Mr Nicholas, 45, said: “We thought something strange was going on because of the number of votes one school had suddenly got, which was 75 per cent.

“I think I would have been angry if we hadn’t had a second chance but we’ve been given a second chance and hopefully things will be fairer.”

Organisers said they have put in enhanced security measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

In a letter to dance school teachers, they said: “We understand this is not only disheartening for the schools involved but also for the friends, family and supporters who went to considerable efforts to vote for them.

“For that reason, we would appeal to you all to re-capture that enthusiasm once again and to get behind the second public vote to ensure that your school does not lose out on the chance to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.”

Weymouth resident Mr Nicholas said he hopes the group, which meets at Lynch Lane, is still in with a chance of winning the competition.

“We have been pretty successful and three of our dancers made it through to the finals of the All England Dance Festival.

“One of them has made it through to the final of the Young Dancer of the Year Competition.

“We are up against bigger schools in bigger towns and cities that have a bigger fanbase.

“We’re hoping we can get a good percentage of the vote and be in with a chance. We’d really like people to vote for us and help our dancers to have the chance to vote in such a big and prestigious venue.

“Dancing at the Royal Albert Hall is like the equivalent of playing football at Wembley,” he said.

People can vote for Quay Theatre Arts’ performance piece from now until 6pm on Monday.

They can watch the group’s dance, which was choreographed by Jill Tindale, in an online video and cast their vote at Quay Theatre Arts will be performing their show ‘Unlimited’ at Weymouth Pavilion on Saturday, June 25.