The Next Step Into Dance Courses

Step Into Dance LogoStep into Dance, the partnership between the Royal Academy of Dance and The Jack Petchey Foundation has revealed its next set of teacher training courses for budding teachers eager to build on their existing jazz pant range and step out in their urban dancewear. The Step into Dance programme is running a number of different courses, all of which are suitable for dance teachers, Special Educational Needs professionals, arts practitioners, support and youth workers and PE teachers.

The first, an Introduction to Inclusive Dance Practice, is a practical day full of ideas and advice for leading and assisting inclusive dance in school and community settings on Monday 7 January 2013 at the RAD Headquarters. A course of this type provides teachers with a wealth of dance knowledge, be they from ballet, tap or jazz shoe discipline.

Next up, an Inclusive Dance Course is four practical days full of ideas and advice for leading and assisting inclusive dance in school and community settings on numerous dates: 18 November will incorporate teaching technique and differentiation, 20 January 2013 for developing groups as young leaders, working with support staff and safe practice, 10 March 2013 for groups with specific needs and 16 June 2013 as an inclusive session with young people, developing the group as dance-makers.  The dates can be completed individually or as a block of four.

In addition to the above is a one day course entitled ‘Banish the fear! Unravelling the choreographic process’ on 18 November as a teacher training course to help teachers get to grips with choreography, top up their knowledge and gain fresh ideas for the year ahead in areas such as choosing music, choreographic tasks, developing structures and creating pieces. Another course available is ‘Street Dance – get your head around the styles’ as a one day intensive workshop that will take teachers through the world of street dance in breaking down common misconceptions, the history and context of each style, foundation techniques and future training opportunities.

Image courtesy of Step into Dance.

Celebrating Dance 2012 at the RAD

RAD Celebrating Dance 2012

Dance students will have the chance to participate in ‘Celebrating Dance 2012’, a day of dance to be held at the Royal Academy of Dance on 11 November to raise funds for the Frank Freeman Scholarship fund.

The day will consist of a masterclass led by Steven McRae who is a Principal of The Royal Ballet, providing a unique opportunity to experience Steven’s artistry and experience of dance, and the ballet shoe and tights shenanigans it entails. The masterclass is open to students studying RAD Advanced 2 or the equivalent, and teachers are also able to either observe or participate. The class will be followed by a Q&A session with Steven.

Running in addition to the masterclass is the London & Middlesex Senior Awards Day, a competition for 16-22 year olds who are currently studying or have passed RAD Advanced Foundation or above (or equivalent), performed in front of a live audience. Candidates will be judged on their performance in the class and variation by Lynn Wallis, the RAD’s Artistic Director and Gary Avis, Principal Character Artist and Ballet Master at The Royal Ballet. The winner will be awarded £150 and the runner-up £50, to be put towards RAD activities or materials.

Income from the Celebrating Dance 2012 event will support the Frank Freeman Scholarship, in memory of the RAD devotee, which will give the opportunity for one boy from the London & Middlesex region to be awarded a week’s free tuition on an RAD summer school in 2013. Frank Freeman was an international freelance teacher, choreographer and Vocational Grades Examiner for the RAD, in addition to being a member of the artistic sub-committee and board of trustees, and received a fellowship of the RAD in 2000. Entirely trained at The Royal Ballet School, Frank was also a member of The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet companies and a founder patron of The National Youth Ballet of Great Britain.

Find out more from the RAD website.

Dance Proms 2012

Dance Proms 2012

Dance Proms is back for 2012, ready for a sparkle filled event as a unique and exciting collaborative project that celebrates the wealth of talent among the nation’s young dancers and will culminate in a gala performance at the Royal Albert Hall on 4 November. As a partnership project between the International Dance Teachers Association, Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, Royal Academy of Dance and the RAH working together in celebration of dance, this year’s participants of the 26 acts are set to raise the bar even higher, be it through tutus, tap shoes or coloured leg warmers.

Dance Proms was launched last year to find the UK and Ireland’s most talented dance students – in all dance genres, from ballet to ballroom, salsa to street dance and jive to jazz dance – and offer them a unique opportunity to perform  an original piece of choreography on the stage of one of the world’s most prestigious and iconic venues. The event is supported by many top names from the dance world and the Dance Proms patrons include Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova, Matt Flint, Len Goodman, Wayne Sleep OBE and the RAD’s President Darcey Bussell CBE. The gala performance will feature a diverse variety of acts to celebrate the dedication of the nation’s dance teachers and to showcase their students’ abilities, giving an amazing opportunity to young dancers.

This year’s 450 students will go on to perform alongside guest appearances from Strictly Come Dancing’s Darren Bennett & Lilia Kopylova, and Top Hat‘s Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen. Dance Proms 2012 will be hosted by TV presenter Chris Hollins.

The Genée International Ballet Competition

The Genée International Ballet Competition 2012The Genée International Ballet Competition, the prestigious competition of the Royal Academy of Dance, is fast approaching at the end of 2012. December will see many international applicants don their pointe shoes and ballet tights in order to take part in one of the most highly-thought of ballet competitions all over the world. Taking place in Wellington, New Zealand, tickets for the semi-finals and finals are fast selling out, with competitors preparing themselves for a week of masterclasses, coaching and finally, performing, ready to take the next steps in their ballet careers and present themselves in the most positive light.

Whilst behind-the-scenes organising is constantly going on for the 2012 competition, the RAD has just announced that the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition will be held for the first time in Glasgow in September. The RAD will be working in partnership with Scottish Ballet, with its newly appointed Artistic Director Christopher Hampson, and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to stage a very exciting competition, with the enthusiastic support of the City of Glasgow. With Glasgow hosting the competition, it will mean that the Genée will return to the shores of Great Britain for the first time in three years, and will be Scotland’s first Genée competition.

Scottish Ballet previously announced this exciting news and partnership at a press conference in late September, including the announcement of their new Artistic Director, a confirmation of their firm commitment to making the 2013 Genée a very special event full of leotards, practice shoes and tiaras, especially for the extravagant final. Hampson has already made an extensive and long-standing contribution to the Genée over the last nine years and is personally very enthusiastic about the collaboration.

To get some idea of what the Genée is all about, take a look at the following video:

Dance Umbrella 2012

Dance UmbrellaIn October this year, Dance Umbrella will present a very different festival than is usually presented, co-curated by Artistic Director Betsy Gregory and choreographer Jonathan Burrows. Dance Umbrella 2012 will run from 5 to 14 October, presented in the Platform Theatre at the new Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in King’s Cross, in addition to two site-specific works in the surrounding area.

Dance Umbrella has been bringing new dance to London since 1978, inspired by the dynamism of the city of London, bringing together artists and events, from ballet shoes, to jazz shoes, to leotards, to foot thongs. Each year, Dance Umbrella succeeds in surprising and thrilling its audiences, once presented in numerous venues all over London, and for 2012 settling in one main venue in the centre of the city. Dance Umbrella champions itself in commissioning, producing and presenting dance events, staging one of the world’s leading international dance festivals.

Dance Umbrella prides itself on the dance experiences it provides for its audiences by presenting a range of affordable and free-to-view events in unusual spaces. The team involved also aims to identify, nurture, support and showcase the most exciting talent in new dance, offering artists the benefits of long-term relationships and identifying the most appropriate platform for the work programmed.

As an accessible, flexible organisation with an incredibly international outlook, Dance Umbrella is committed to collaborating and creating new partnerships in presenting the highest quality new dance, trends and aspirations through performances and participatory opportunities. Just last year Dance Umbrella programmed the world-renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company as part of their final world tour before the company disbanded on New Year’s Eve 2011.

For 2012, Dance Umbrella will be presenting much new dance, including a Mary Wigman dance evening, Wendy Houstoun’s 50 Acts and Noé Soulier… a programme not to be missed.

Image courtesy of Dance Umbrella.

The Royal Ballet School

Royal Ballet School

Over the next 7 months, The Royal Ballet School will open its doors to teachers, dance students and enthusiasts alike for a series of exciting lectures and masterclasses once a month, with pointe shoes and tiaras optional. This series of “Exploration Days” will examine the pedagogy and training programmes of the French, Italian, Danish and Russian Schools, and how they influenced the development of the English School as established by Ninette De Valois in 1926.

De Valois founded the school with the opening of the Academy of Choreographic Art, which was renamed the Vic-Wells Ballet School in 1931, renamed in 1939 as The Sadler’s Wells Ballet School: when the school was granted its Royal Charter in 1956, the school was given its current name. Each of the Exploration Days will examine the history and style of each of the Schools in turn, including a ballet masterclass to showcase the unique characteristics of the respective School. When developing the School, De Valois extrapolated and collated what she believed were all the strongest elements from the French, Italian, Danish and Russian schools, merging them to forge a new methodology. She hoped by doing so she would create a uniquely ‘English style’ in a fusion of the best of the old European and Russian Schools.

The Royal Ballet School is one of the most prestigious vocational ballet schools in the UK, and one of the foremost classical ballet schools worldwide, offering full-time training programmes to potentially professional dancers. The School acts as a feeder to both The Royal Ballet Company and The Birmingham Royal Ballet, and its graduates have and continue to dance, tutu clad, in internationally acclaimed companies all over the world. The students follow a specifically designed ‘System of Training’ of eight years split into two courses; a five year course at the Lower School (White Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey) for students aged 11 to 16, followed by a three year course at the Upper School (Covent Garden, London) for students aged 16 to 18.

The Exploration Days will run on 30 September (French School), 21 October (Italian School), 2 December (Danish School), 3 February (Russian School) and 17 March (English School), led by Directors and Artistic Directors of the specific schools.

Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

The Pavlova 2012 Festival

Anna Pavlova

The Pavlova 2012 Festival was launched earlier this year in June, held at Ivy House in North London, Anna Pavlova’s former home from 1912 until her death in 1931. The festival included a number of special events, including a photographic exhibition and a film season at the British Film Institute, playing tribute to Pavlova’s beautiful art form, exquisite tutu and pointe shoes!

It is over 100 years ago that Pavlova decided to leave Russia and make London her home, with Ivy House being the base from which she conducted her ballet school, training young girls who aspired to be part of her touring company. Once Pavlova had severed links with St Petersburg, she travelled enormous distances – to North and South America, to India, Japan and Australia – continuing to dance almost to the day of her death.

The BFI season of films about Pavlova is part of this year’s centenary celebration of her acquisition of Ivy House, a season stocked with footage of her life and career. Jane Pritchard curated the six programmes, which include documentaries, feature films and recordings of Pavlova on and off stage, and most importantly dancing. The main source of filmed material about her was The Immortal Swan, a tribute put together after her death by Victor Dandré, who may have been her husband as well as being her manager. The film drew on “home movies” made during Pavlova’s travels and on very basic films of some of her repertoire; Pavlova was fascinated by what she realised was film’s potential for recording dance, and extremely open to experiment… more so than most of her ballet contemporaries.

Pavlova’s Imperial Ballet-trained technique was a means in order to convey what truly mattered to her: her expressiveness, rather than the execution of steps. By the time most of the films of her dancing were made in the 1920s, she was relying on very simple choreography without the fifth position, pirouettes or arabesques, but runs on pointe, legs parallel, defining her legendary status beneath her Dying Swan tiara with strong, arched feet and beautiful arms and legs. The Dying Swan, the solo choreographed for her by Mikhail Fokine in 1907 was retained as her signature piece, and she danced it 4,000 times.

Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony

Paralympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony

On 29 August, the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, themed ‘Enlightenment’, took the audience on a journey of discovery through the realm of ideas, science and creativity. The spirit of the Paralympics, parallel to that of the Olympic Opening Ceremony in August was a spectacular celebration presented by Co-Artistic Directors Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey to challenge perceptions of human possibility.

The Ceremony was narrated by Professor Stephen Hawking, featuring deaf and disabled performers as well as more than 3,000 adult volunteers, a children volunteer cast of over 100, and over 100 professionals. Hawking urged the spectators to create a brave new and better world, challenging perceptions and stereotypes that limit the potential of the human body, mind and spirit. In the awe-inspiring spectacle, deaf and disabled artists performed on a world stage and included a fly past by Aerobility, a British charity that trains disabled people to become pilots. Performers were suspended above the stadium, speckled with coloured umbrellas, prosthetic legs and Doc Martins, and an aerial ballet danced disability through the sky with the shine of silver costumes glistening in the night. 50 specialist performers took part in an eight week circus skills training programme taking place at Circus Space in Hackney. The programme was funded by Arts Council England and saw performers with disability, including established artists and people new to the arts such as rehabilitating soldiers and non competing Paralympians, learn circus arts skills.

One of the Executive producers overseeing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is Stephen Daldry CBE, Executive Producer, Creative (Chairman). Daldry began his career at the Sheffield Crucible where he directed various award winning productions, and he has won innumerable awards on Broadway as well as the West End. Daldry made his feature film directorial debut with Billy Elliot, receiving an Academy Award and explaining the huge performance quality of the Opening Ceremony. His stage musical adaptation of Billy Elliot, full of ballet shoes, tights and practice shorts and with music by Elton John, opened in London in 2005. The production opened on Broadway in 2007, winning 10 Tony Awards and is the most honoured British production in the history of the American theatre.

11.2 million viewers saw Channel 4’s broadcast of the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony in the UK, giving the broadcaster its biggest audience for more than 10 years; the world was watching thousands of disabled people in a show that said disability was both something to be proud of and a state that made us no different than anyone else.

Image courtesy of the Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games

2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony

As the world anticipates the London 2012 Olympic Games, performers from across the country are pulling on their dancewear and warm-up cover-ups ready for the Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July. The Opening Ceremony is a celebration showcasing the best of the Host Nation, London, featuring a parade of all competing nations and the highly anticipated entrance of the Olympic Flame, which ignites the Cauldron and signals the start of the Games.

The eyes of the world are expected to be on London for the Opening Ceremony, providing an opportunity for the world to view the artistic expression of the Artistic Director Danny Boyle and his team of talented young performers, as well as the culture of London and the UK. Certain elements feature in every Ceremony, and the artistic performance of the Ceremony, and the striking costumes of the dedicated, hard-working performers will welcome the world to the Games.

The name of the Olympic Opening Ceremony show will be ‘Isles of Wonder’, saluting and celebrating the immense creativity of the British. The worldwide broadcast will commence at 9pm (GMT), and will no doubt appeal to every jazz sneaker and ballet shoe wearer as well as those interested in sports. The Ceremony will begin with the sound of the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe, produced by the Whitechapel Foundry, and the Stadium will be transformed into the British countryside for the opening scene ‘Green and Pleasant’, which includes real farmyard animals. The Ceremony will also include a special sequence celebrating the best of British, featuring volunteer performers from the NHS.

A total cast of 15,000 will take part in the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which will be watched by an estimated audience of four billion.

Image courtesy of the Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Something Happening For Kids

Something Happening For Kids

The Place is set to present Something Happening For Kids, a full day of dance performances and activities specially curated for children aged 11 and under. Taking place on 21 July 2012 at The Place in the Robin Howard Dance Theatre, children will be encouraged to pull on their leotards and leggings and engage with both movement and play.

Choreographer Darren Ellis is restaging extracts of his latest work Long Walk Home, which portrays a series of four women, each at a different stage of their lives, as they analyse their hopes and their dreams, accompanied by atmospheric live music by the folk band Askew Sisters.

Alongside them, The Place’s First Moves, with the youngest dancers aged 5-8, will show two new pieces in the round and up-close from the Children and Youth Dance programme. Something Happening For Kids, especially through First Moves, demonstrates that the art of performance is hidden with everyone of all ages, ready to burst free and present itself centre stage, be it wearing ballet shoes, tap shoes or jazz flares and sweat bands.

Circus dance artist Ilona Jantti will premier the fantastically imaginative HUHU, commissioned by The Place, in which a web of ropes and architectural devices will create the backdrop for an urban chase, combining circus, contemporary dance, animation and the idea of the city’s space, inspiring and interactive.

Author Michael Rosen will recite his much-loved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt in a series of participatory readings, in which the magical story will be brought to life by dance artist Joanne Moven, combining art forms and connecting directing with children.

Shuffle, The Place’s new junior dance company, will complete the programme with Lookout, a dreamy and suggestive site-specific piece, originally created for a window overlooking the river Thames.

In addition, a series of workshops, ranging from percussion and dance will also be available, allowing the young participants to explore rhythms and create movement to live musical accompaniment.

Image courtesy of The Place.