Norfolk & Norwich Festival – full programme

As the flagship arts event for the East of England, Norfolk & Norwich Festival showcases some of the world’s most renowned international artists alongside regional talent, drawing audiences from across the UK. The full 2017 programme was recently announced, including five world premieres and large-scale free outdoor events.

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Hull City of Culture 2017 programme

Hull UK City of Culture 2017 is a 365 day programme of cultural events and creativity inspired by the city. Hull secured the title of UK City of Culture 2017 in November 2013. It is only the second city to hold the title and the first in England. Divided into four seasons, starting with Made in Hull, this nationally significant event draws on the distinctive spirit of the city and the artists, writers, directors, musicians, revolutionaries and thinkers that have made such a significant contribution to the development of art and ideas.
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The Theatreland Trail

Theatre ticket organisation TKTS, and annual ticket project Kids Week, have teamed up in order to bring theatre lovers a fun Theatreland Trail. Touted as perfect to do with the family, with a group of friends or even on your own, the Theatreland Trail will take participants on a journey throughout London’s Theatreland, where you can meet famous playwrights, see a whole host of theatres and enjoy the sights and smells of the West End.

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Taking The Next Step II

CBBC is offering young dancers aged 9-15 from across the UK a special opportunity – to audition for the chance to be part of a television show, performing with the cast of the hugely successful series, The Next Step. In order to apply, after gaining parental permission, all dancers need to do is complete an application form and send in a video of their best dance moves. Dancers must be aged between 9 and 15 years old on 1 April 2017.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella Dreams

Cinderella Dreams, which premiered on 20 February, was the culmination of a six month quest by Birmingham Royal Ballet to find the perfect fit for Cinderella’s jewelled slipper, in a production that brought to life big ballet aspirations of both young and old. The company searched the midlands area in order to stage this new production, which brought together talent from across the generations. In its aim to inspire and develop dancers from across the region, the production adapted David Bintley’s classic choreography to create a new and vibrant version of Cinderella.

Cinderella Dreams worked to showcase emerging talent from those aged eight to 76, working alongside dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet. Over 150 dancers from the age of eight took part in open auditions in September 2016, and a final cast of 65 was selected, to experience the intensive training, rehearsal and eventually performance of a classical ballet. The production was in front of a full audience at the Birmingham Hippodrome, a hugely rewarding outcome for all involved.

The project was developed with the Department for Learning at Birmingham Royal Ballet, under the eye of Project Manager Rebecca Brookes. As a result, Cinderella Dreams has been an inspirational project for all involved, from the youngest to oldest dancers part of the production. There was a huge demonstration of talent, involving those who may not have ever had the chance to be involved in a professional ballet production. Whilst not without its challenges, Cinderella Dreams was a dream come true for many of the dancers involved.

Cinderella Dreams was the perfect production for all those who aspire to dance on the big stage; the benefits of dance are unbounded and this production was no different. As a charming and magnificent showcase, it demonstrated the breadth of dance talent across the area.

How to… improve your pirouettes

With a multitude of dance events and exhibitions taking place up and down the country this year, there is no end to the fun dancers can have attending and seeing what is on offer, be it shopping, browsing dance courses or taking part in pop-up classes.

This year Dance Direct will be present at the Can You Dance? conventions, taking place in a number of cities throughout 2017. It is the biggest touring dance convention in the UK and will be visiting 10 different venues this year. There will be the opportunity to shop the great range Dance Direct stocks, but most exciting is the chance to win big in a pirouette competition! Show us how many pirouettes you can do at our stand, or post it on social media and tag @dancedirect, to be in with a chance of winning a Dance Direct goodie bag, full of lots of freebies!

It’s never too late to start practising: pirouettes are not always a dancers’ favourite part of class, but with a few tweaks you can drastically improve your technique and ensure you are spinning across the studio.

Often pirouettes can go slightly AWOL if a dancer does not have the strength to maintain their turns. A strong relevé onto demi-pointe and using the core to control your centre of gravity can do wonders for the number of turns you can achieve, and your recovery too. Starting at the barre before moving into the centre, practice snatching your working leg onto demi-pointe, and your other leg to retiré. With strength running through your arms too you’ll create a solid base for your turns.

Perhaps the most vital part of succeeding in your pirouettes is the use of your head, and spotting using a point in space ahead of you. Not only does this help you achieve multiple turns by the body following, but it also helps to prevent dizziness – you can then turn some more! Before you turn, decide how many pirouettes you will achieve. If you need a double pirouette then don’t change your mind halfway through – commit to your turns and use your head to whip round twice.

Keep your head up and your shoulders back, and you’ll sail round. Looking at the floor will only mean you will end up down there, and unless it is choreographed, it’s best to stay standing!

Strictly 2016

Strictly Come Dancing is always a highly anticipated event in both the dance and the popular culture calendar. With celebrities vying to win the contest ahead of their star-studded peers – and impress the panel of judges too – it makes for entertaining viewing full of wonderful costumes and eye-catching routines. The professional dancers taking part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing have already been announced, with three brand new dancers joining the returning favourites. New to the line up are World Champion Katya Jones, Ukrainian Champion Oksana Platero and Spanish dance professional Gorka Marquez.

Returning to Strictly are Anton du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin Clifton, Pasha Kovalev, Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, Karen Clifton, Natalie Lowe, Joanne Clifton, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse. Tristan MacManus, Ola Jordan, Kristina Rihanoff and Aliona Vilani announced at the end of last series that they would not be returning to the show, as well as Gleb Savchenko, who has other commitments. Head judge Len Goodman also announced recently that 2016 will be his last Strictly series, disappointing news for many, and now much speculation as to who will fill his shoes in this position.

There has been much speculation also as to who the celebrity dancers will be for this series of Strictly, pairing up with the professional dancers in the Autumn. Names that have so far emerged from the rumour mill include barrister and daytime TV phenomenon Judge Rinder, and TV presenter Angelica Bell, who has now been confirmed as signed up for this year’s contest. Other names include Downton Abbey actress Michelle Dockery and American pop singer Anastasia, adding to the clan of performing arts professionals who will no doubt shine in the spotlight!

Annual World Hip Hop Championship to hit Vegas

The 15th Annual World Hip Hop Championship is set to hit Las Vegas in August, where the world’s top hip hop and street dancers will be competing at the 2016 World Hip Hop DANCE Championship and World Battles. Otherwise referred to as “the Olympics of hip hop dance”, it will see a record number of 3,500 dancers representing 50 countries compete.

The championship will take place in early August, and competitors will be aspiring to win the gold medals and the world title, and score the perfect 10. The championship will begin with the USA Hip Hop DANCE Championship to determine those who will represent America. Over 100 Crews (made up of five to eight dancers) and MegaCrews (made up of 15-40 dancers each) from throughout the US will travel to Las Vegas to compete for the top three spots advancing to the World Championship.

The championship continues with the World Hip Hop DANCE Championship which will see over 250 Dance Crews and MegaCrews from 50 nations compete in qualifying rounds at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort, leading up to the World Finals at Thomas & Mack Centre. Here the World Battles will witness the world’s best street dancers go head to head for world titles for B-boys, Poppers, Lockers and All-Stylers.

The championship was created by Hip Hop International, the originator of the most respected and largest street dance competitions in the world, as well as the creator of “America’s Best Dance Crew”. Founded in 2001, Hip Hop International highlighted street dance, pushing it to the forefront of mainstream popular culture. The world championship is therefore viewed as the ultimate competition in street dance, launching the careers of dancers for artists and companies such as Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Rhianna and Cirque Du Soleil.

Summer University At Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells LogoLaunched in 2010, Sadler’s Wells Summer University supports the development of professional dance artists interested in extending their dance practice. The first edition of the project ran successfully between 2010-2014 and the organisation is now recruiting for the second edition starting in Summer 2015. The Summer University graduates (2010-2014) was a combination of notable dance names, and the second batch looks set to mirror this result.

Summer University offers 15 dance professionals the chance to take part in a four year project, meeting for two weeks each year to share work, hear talks, explore methodologies and philosophies of performance making and extend their own dance practice through self-study. As a free course, it is open to dance makers and other artists involved in the performing arts who are interested in developing their own choreographic practice. Also focused on is the future possibilities of dance as an art form.

The course is open to artists based in the UK, with no more than five years professional experience as a dance maker. Directed by the admired choreographer Jonathan Burrows, in collaboration with Eva Martinez, Artistic Programmer for Sadler’s Wells, the course encompasses guest speakers and experienced professionals from the worlds of dance, theatre, visual arts, philosophy and artistic development in sharing their knowledge.

The second edition of the Summer University will take place between 14-27 September 2015 at Sadler’s Wells, a unique opportunity for dance artists and dance makers to immerse themselves in the art and develop their practice further. Applications for the Sadler’s Wells Summer University are currently open: deadline to apply is 22 May 2015 at noon.

Future4Youth

Future4YouthFuture4Youth – the brainchild of Impact Dance’s founder and Artistic Director Hakeem Onibudo – is an exciting partnership between Impact Dance and the African Cultural Exchange Dance and Music. It is calling youth dance companies from all genres of dance to be selected to embark on a unique journey which will focus on dances of the African Diaspora and its relationship with hip-hop.

Twenty youth companies from the UK will be invited to take part in two workshops in May and June in Birmingham and London; following these stages ten companies will be invited to perform at a youth celebration platform in October. The workshops will be lead by Vicki Igbokwe (UCHENNA), Kenrick Sandy (BOY BLUE), Alesandra Seutin (VOCAB), Impact Dance and ACE Dance and Music. The focus will be on working with leading artists in these genres, and one youth company will go on to perform at Peacock Theatre, London, in February 2016. Running parallel is a Mentoring/Leadership programme for the young dancers in the companies, forming part of Impact Dance’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations.

Youth Companies must have members between the ages of 11-19, and the companies that are successfully chosen to perform at the platform in October can be represented by a maximum of 12 dancers. The initial 20 companies that are selected will receive a bursary of £400 per company to cover travel, and the ten successful companies who progress after July to the October platform will receive an additional bursary of £300 per company.

The opportunity offered by Future4Youth is one which aims to both develop youth dance in the genres of the African Diaspora and its relationship with hip-hop, as well as performances for young, aspiring dancers who will simultaneously gain experience in working as part of a team for the same end.