English National Ballet’s Rebranding

ENB Rebranded Logo

Following the appointment of The Royal Ballet Principal Tamara Rojo as Artistic Director of English National Ballet, the company has been a world of change, from the management to the pointe shoe clad dancers themselves. As part of her new position, Rojo set both the tutu twirling dancers and those behind-the-scenes a very simple and inspiring vision.

Announced during the company’s first press call with Rojo at the helm, the message was clear: she aimed for English National Ballet to be the most creative and most loved company in the UK through what was produced for stage in cherishing ballet traditions, and also aspiring to the new. January has seen English National Ballet rebrand, discarding their black and white logo for one which is a pink and red quotation mark/pointe shoes, a gentle reminder that everyone has something to say.

In addition to a fresh logo, an important part of their new identity is the focus on collaborating with creative artists outside of the ballet world, such as with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. This iconic British fashion house has worked closely with the company to eclectically style the dancers, with the images to be used across advertising and marketing material for 2013. Achieving this new vision will also be fulfilled through collaborations with choreographers, designers, artists, and partner organisations.

By presenting the company in a very different light to the world, Rojo aims to bring the artistry of ballet to as many people as possible, and transform the company along its journey. Whilst some may argue that the rebrand will diminish any form of the company’s previous prestige and influence, Rojo’s bold determination and confident creative leadership cannot be faulted. Her aspirations to ensure the company’s artists continue to excite, innovate and challenge mean that the company will be dancing to conjure wonderful, beautiful visions individually.

Dancing on Ice 2013

Dancing On Ice 2013

As the cold weather is starting to hit dancers all over the country, twelve dancers have already been braving the ice as they began their performance journeys on Dancing on Ice, refilling our dancing lives with sequins, skates, gorgeous costumes and a generous helping of Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean.

Donning their show tights for the 2013 series will be Joe Pasquale – comedian, Lauren Goodger – reality TV star, Anthea Turner – TV presenter, Keith Chegwin – presenter, Samia Ghadie – actress, Oona King – Baroness King of Bow, Luke Campbell – Olympic boxer, Beth Tweddle – Olympic gymnast, Shayne Ward – singer, Gareth Thomas – professional rugby player, Matt Lapinskas – actor, and Pamela Anderson – actress, with Pamela being the first to leave the show.

The two Olympic medallists, gymnast Beth and boxer Luke, have already had much experience in such tough training. Many may argue that these incredible athletes have an added advantage, being used to the rigours of training their bodies and pushing themselves to perform in a similar type of arena. However, it seems the cast is full of variety and there are sure to be many surprises along the way. Rugby player Gareth has already take to the ballet barre in order to add grace and control to his ice skating. Much of the technique of ballet taught can be applied to ice skating, let alone the rest of the dance sector. In this sense, Gareth will be able to add to his performance through the practice of technical pliés and arabesques, even donning his ballet tights in order to marry his technique with his performance skills away from the rugby pitch.

Judging the contestants for 2013 will be head judge Robin Cousins, Olympic ice dancer Karen Barber, the notorious Jason Gardiner and former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts.

The Next Speaker in the YPIA Lecture Series

Akram Khan

Young People in the Arts has announced that the next speaker in its YPIA lecture series in association with the Southbank Centre is dancer-choreographer Akram Khan. Founded in 2008, YPIA is a social network for arts professionals at the outset of their careers, running a monthly programme of talks, debates and professional development opportunities, including the chance to network with others who work in the arts.

As one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists, Khan has created work that has significantly contributed to the arts sector in just over a decade. As a dancer with his roots based firmly in the South-East Asian style of Kathak, Khan’s most recent success was at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Khan’s reputation has been built on years of success and dedication, delivering highly accessible productions such as DESH, Vertical Road and zero degrees to audiences all over the world, of many other cultures and artistic disciplines. Previous collaborators of Khan’s include the National Ballet of China, actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographer/dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composer Steve Reich. His work in zero degrees even forms part of the UK dance curriculum today, with the duet becoming an awe-inspiring and extremely moving piece of work.

Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award. Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005 and is also an Honorary Graduate of Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.

Images courtesy of Andy Miah at Flickr.

Opportunities at East London Dance

East London DanceThe New Year inevitably brings new resolutions, and if one yours is to “expand your experiences” then look no further! There is a wealth of opportunities in the dance and theatre sector for young people and here a just a selection of what you could be getting your hands on in 2013 for dance…

East London Dance is well-known for providing opportunities for young people. Whether you want to perform at an East London Dance event, audition to be part of one of ELD’s companies, or apply for a professional development opportunity, you can! Let your potential shine with one of these great projects.

Calling all choreographers to Blueprint! Blueprint consolidates the latest trends, freshest moves and a range of styles from young upcoming choreographers in one bursary, with the best competing for the top spot in March 2013. You must be 16-25 years and live in London, and the work should be created already or in development. ELD will be working with a youth panel to select the work presented as part of Blueprint through application and audition.

Street Stories: Dance Collaborations is calling all choreographers, composers, directors, visual artists, film makers, designers and artists from a range of backgrounds aged 18-25 looking for professional and artistic development through collaboration. Experimentation and the development of new relationships with other artists are on offer, an artistic development programme run with the Royal Opera House.

Tailor Made Dance, a third project, focuses on bespoke dance programming: if you are organising an event, putting on a festival or launching your brand and would like to present some high quality dance, East London Dance can design a tailor made programme to suit your needs and requirements.  Information about your event and short brief of what you are looking for, including your budget, is all you need to get started.

Grab your kit bag and get applying!

Scholarships for Italia Conti

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

As recently seen in accordance with the Sylvia Young Theatre School, The Stage newspaper is collaborating with stage school Italia Conti in order to award a scholarship value of up to £75,000. The total scholarship fund could be awarded to either one high-kicking, toe-tapping student or two, depended on the candidates who impress the audition panel. The scholarship will cover the winner’s secondary education training fees until the end of Year 11.

Italia Conti is the UK’s oldest theatre training school. The school emerged from the production of Where The Rainbow Ends at the Savoy Theatre in 1911, when the actress Italia Conti was asked to manage and teach the children in the play. Following this, Conti turned her attention fully to teaching and soon after, the Italia Conti School was born, and now covers three sites in London. The winner/s of the scholarship will be based at the theatre school which is at Italia Conti House, a building near the Barbican.

The Italia Conti school prides itself on building students’ confidence, providing excellent academic and vocational training for all those who don their ballet shoes, jazz pants and tap shoes. The school maintains that academic education is almost as important as the vocational training offered, and the breadth of training supports this entirely. Whilst based on tradition, heritage and history, the school’s experience in the field also lends itself to moving with the times and the ever-changing performing arts sector, for example by installing a recording studio and offering video classes.

As a result, the scholarship will provide aspiring performers with the opportunity to build a firm foundation of art through their training in order to secure a future career without the limitations of expense and training fees, meaning Italia Conti won’t lose any young performer who would be capable of carving out a career in the industry.

The Pointe Shoe Puzzle

Bloch Axis Pointe Shoe

As ex-professional ballet dancers at Dance Direct, pointe shoes are carefully selected as essential elements of the young dancer’s dance journey. As foot strength and technique increases, young dancers are able to make the transition onto pointe and expand their dance capability.

Stocked by Dance Direct are pointe shoes from brands Bloch, Capezio and Sansha, which are suitable for both beginners and advanced dancers alike. Each shoe and its design have their own specification which is extremely important, as each dancer is different, and requires different things in order for their pointe work to be successful. Each foot is different, and some shoes even require a little personalisation on the part of the dancer to make sure the shoe fits their foot perfectly. Many dancers, both professional and non-professional, have been known to cut, modify and completely renew their shoes, even in order to make them last longer.

It is often useful to know a little bit about each of the brands’ shoes before going to try them on for the first time:

Specifically, Capezio’s shoes have been crafted to offer maximum support for balance and comfort. The top quarter of the shank is shaved so the sole follows the foot enhancing the instep on and off pointe, increasing fluidity of movement for the dancer.

On the other hand, in Bloch’s revolutionary new pointe shoe the Axis comes with a TMT toe box and TMT shank. The Axis is a tapered shoe that looks delicate, light and beautiful en pointe. It is a quieter shoe with cushioned pleats to reduce noise, and it is built on a curve last. This new pointe shoe from Bloch is more suited towards professional and serious students.

Finally, Sansha’s unique pointe shoes are designed for dancers at all levels of training: the shoe has a large platform and supportive shank for all kinds of work.

And don’t forget… there is 15% off the following pointes shoes until midnight on Sunday 3rd Feb:

15% Off Pointe Shoes

Sansha 202: http://bit.ly/X7IvdS
Bloch SO135: http://bit.ly/WwIVtm
Bloch SO190: http://bit.ly/Way5fW
Bloch SO131L: http://bit.ly/112qCUv

To see our full range of pointe shoes visit this page: Dance Direct Pointe Shoes .

The Prix de Lausanne 2013

Prix de LausanneRunning in 2013 from 28 January to 2 February, the Prix de Lausanne is an international ballet competition for young dancers aged 15 to 18 years who are not yet professionals. The Prix is a non-profit cultural foundation, which depends solely on the generosity of its donors.

The first Prix competition was staged in January 1973 in the Théâtre municipal de Lausanne, instigated by Philippe Braunschweig, his wife, Elvire, and Rosella Hightower. In the summer of 1972, Braunschweig travelled to London to request the support of The Royal Ballet School in order to add value to their work in finding the best ballet tights and pink pointe shoe-clad dancers.

The team wanted to enhance the international image of the Prix, so therefore felt it was necessary to take the competition abroad. The Prix consequently visited New York in 1985, Tokyo in 1989 and Moscow in 1995, seeing three large foreign trips in the space of ten years. Each was based on the same format: selected rounds for the semi-final held in Lausanne for European candidates, with this stage paralleled in the host cities.

1998-2001 saw the team develop a new path for the Prix to ensure it was increasingly education-orientated and tailored to the needs of future dance professionals, ready in their tutus, also required to master contemporary forms of expression. A Contemporary Dance Prize was created in 2000 as a result, rewarding a finalist who displayed exceptional potential when performing their contemporary variation. The best candidates of the final, who the jury feel have reached the peak of their training, may be awarded an apprentice scholarship that will enable the dancer to undertake a professional internship in one of the international ballet companies partnering the Prix. Since 2008, the Prix final has been broadcast live on the internet, meaning dance-fans all over the world can view the prestigious competition.

Some of the most renowned ballet dancers have found their beginnings at the Prix de Lausanne, including Darcey Bussell, Daria Klimentova, Gillian Murphy, Sergei Polunin, Deborah Bull, Christopher Wheeldon, Ethan Stiefel, Carlos Acosta and Miyako Yoshida.

MOVE IT 2013

MOVE IT 2013

MOVE IT, the UK’s biggest dance event is the ultimate dance experience for dance fans, students, teachers and parent alike. Whether your interest is flared jazz pants-style commercial, pretty-in-pink ballet shoes or rock-and-ready street dance complete with the latest dancewear, MOVE IT has something for you.

Taking place between 8 and 10 March 2013, MOVE IT is gearing up to welcome 20,000 dance fans to Kensington, Olympia in London. Visitors to the venue will be able to watch performances in the showcase theatre and on the main stage, take part in classes or the freestyle stage, shop for dancewear, meet dancing stars on the interview sofa and talk to experts for advice in one of the biggest celebrations of dance.

There will be a huge variety of dance classes (over 200) and taster sessions on offer. The UK’s leading dance teachers will be presenting classes, covering everything from Ballet to Lindy Hop, Krump to Ballroom. The range on offer is enough to satisfy every dance enthusiast, no matter your ability level or aim for taking part. Also on offer is the chance to learn the routines from A Chorus Line set to hit the West End this year, develop your ballet technique with English National Ballet, and try out the latest hip hop moves with ZooNation’s Kate Prince to build up your style. Also appearing at MOVE IT will be Sean Cheesman (previous choreographer to Janet Jackson), Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy of Boy Blue Entertainment, Twist and Pulse, Shobana Jeyasingh dance, Got To Dance finalists Boadicea and many more!

New this year will be the chance to discover a career in dance with CDET as a new series of dance classes and interviews. These will offer advice and guidance for anyone thinking of working in the dance industry.

Dust off your dancing shoes and get your tickets!

Billy Elliot the Musical is Auditioning!

Dance Auditions

It’s that time of year again for young dancers everywhere – audition time!

Billy Elliot the Musical is currently looking for boys aged 9 to 13 years to audition for the roles of Billy and Michael, and girls aged 9 to 12 years to audition for the role of Debbie in the West End production. In addition to these ballet shoe donning roles, the team is also touring the country in search of toe-tapping youngsters, visiting:

  • Leeds on 12 January 2013,
  • Newcastle on 2 February 2013,
  • London on 9 March 2013,
  • Bristol on 20 April 2013
  • and Manchester on 18 May 2013.

It’s time to pull on your ballet tights and pirouette your way to the nearest audition!

For Billy and Michael, as part of the on-going audition process, tap and ballet experience are a bonus. Candidates must be a maximum height of 5ft, with no broken voices. For Debbie, candidates must be 9 to 12 years of age, and under 4ft 8. Some ballet experience is required for the role of Debbie, which is only being auditioned in Newcastle.

Candidates need to come ready to dance first and possibly sing afterwards, wearing comfortable clothes with all dance shoes and trainers, rather than the usual Lycra, leotards or jazz pants!

There are also ongoing auditions for Small Boys, a Tall Boy and Ballet Girls. Small Boys, as an ensemble role, must be aged 6 to 10 years being no taller than 4ft for this acting role, which requires no singing or dancing. Tall Boy must be aged 10 to 12 years, being no taller than 4ft 10, and this role is again an acting role, with no singing or dancing required. Lastly, Ballet Girls should be between 9 and 13 years of age, less than 5ft and have achieved a minimum of Grade 4 in tap and ballet. Candidates for these roles must live within an hour of London.

For further information or to arrange an audition, please email Children’s Casting Director, Jessica Ronane at billy@jessicaronane.comstating your location and date of choice in the subject box.

Is Dance Becoming Mainstream?

Dance in the Mainstream

From the dazzling tutus and glittering tiaras of the big ballet classics to the modernised works of flesh-coloured leotards and soft ballet shoes, the popularity of dance appears to be increasing rapidly. Arguably as a result of the viral nature of social media and the innovative experimentation that is taking place in studios all over the world, the dance world and its audience are privy to fantastic creations and experiences which provide for their expectations.

Despite the modernisation that ballet is undergoing, for example as a result of Wayne McGregor of Random Dance’s instatement as Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet in 2006, it is clear that the classics of the ballet world are also able to satisfy the hungers of audiences. McGregor’s influence over twenty-first century dance is undeniable, and whilst his work is technically outstanding and completely compelling, the repertoire of the Royal is also made up of works that have resided there for centuries. Classics such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker are three of a number of well-known and loved productions which are presumed to stay within ballet repertoire for years to come.

Classical ballet was once seen as a high culture, rather than a popular one, yet this is also changing. The Royal Ballet LIVE was screened online in 2012, providing 200,000 dance-lovers and non-dance fans alike with the opportunity to take a peek into the working lives of professional ballet dancers. The iconic film production Black Swan starring Natalie Portman also took the ballet world by storm, depicting a violent and manipulative ballet environment, but ultimately extending ballet’s reach to wider audiences, increasing its popularity. The London 2012 Olympic Games also demonstrated a cultural shift, with ballet proving to be an influence in more than one area. Team GB swimmer Liam Tancock revealed that regular ballet classes were included in his cross-training, and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s principal Matthew Lawrence created a routine for the five times British champion gymnast Frankie Jones for the Rhythmic Gymnastics British Championships ahead of the Games. Dance is clearly demonstrated to appeal to and provide for a wide audience reach.

Dance has also been able to reach audiences through social media, making it ultimately accessible. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and various other platforms are able to translate the art of performance and reception to many who may not have the opportunity to access dance originally. For example, many dance companies have Twitter accounts clocking up thousands of followers, who are able to connect with and access a valued insight into the life of the company, rehearsals and classes – even the founder of Twitter is a ballet fan!