The BBC Performing Arts Fund

It has been announced that the BBC Performing Arts Fund is set to close after 13 years in action, in March next year. A fund to aspire to, which has been a lifeline for many aspiring young artists, will no longer be available, which is a huge blow to both previous winners and future applicants.

The BBC Performing Arts Fund’s funding is created by revenue from phone voting in BBC TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice, however this has significantly diminished. It is now easier than ever to engage in shows such as these which require audience voting, and more and more people are voting for free with the touch of a button on their remotes. Not only is the media world becoming increasing accessible through dramatically less effort from the audience, it means less people are phoning the show and contributing to the funds in that way.

Since it was set up in 2003 the BBC Performing Arts Fund has distributed £5 million in grants to emerging talent. It was initially launched as the Fame Academy Bursary, and it has supported more than 1,200 individuals in the performing arts, and in excelling their careers. The BBC Performing Arts Fund has aided the work of globally recognisable names such as singing sensation Adele, composer Mark Simpson and the Bristol Old Vic as an organisation.

Before it closes, the BBC Performing Arts Fund will award £156,100 split between 17 alumni, however it could be argued that creating further alumni with this remaining fund would promote its work further, and the message of it closing, rather to those who have already benefited from the fund. Many owe the start of their careers to the BBC Performing Arts Fund, so it would be encouraging to see further use be made of the remaining money. It has been stated that the BBC’s commitment to the arts and nurturing talent remains as strong as ever, despite the fund’s closure.

The school of Pennsylvania Ballet

For Pennsylvania Ballet, the future of ballet depends on young males. As one of the premier US ballet companies, the artistic director – Angel Corella – believes this is where the successful development of ballet lies. The number of boys beginning ballet training, and continuing this into later life, is significantly less than girls. Corella maintains that ballet requires gender balance because every ballet has specific choreographed roles and responsibilities for men and women.

Despite this, it appears boys are privy to more opportunities and greater roles, simply because there are less of them, compared with female competition for that gender. In order to encourage boys to continue with ballet training, gender stereotypes must be broken to help boys consider ballet to be as exciting, rewarding, challenging and as athletic as more traditional pursuits such as football or basketball, balancing the competition divide.

For Pennsylvania Ballet, there is a ballet school for boys and girls that seeks to maintain that all important balance. Many boys suffer ridicule and bullying simply because they enjoy dance, as sadly it is still often seen as effeminate rather than recognised for its requirements of strength, athleticism and artistry. Additionally it is one of the few professions that require complete engagement of every aspect of your being; mentally, emotionally and physically.

Corella believes you have to make ballet as easy to experience as possible, especially for young males, creating a positive atmosphere and helping families support a boy’s passion for ballet. It is therefore the role of ballet companies to create the vision and capture the dreams of children. Pennsylvania Ballet school has seven levels of training in the student division, in addition to pre-ballet classes. Boys train together to normalise the experience, and each year students are selected exclusively from the school to appear with the company in its annual production of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker: the younger they start, the better!

The Equity rate card

It has been announced that Equity, the body providing professional security for dancers, has launched a rate card for professional dancers which brings together industry minimum rates across the union’s dance agreements for the first time. This added measure for dancers means that there will be less chance of their talents being exploited by low, or even no pay. This recent campaign has been highly publicised in drawing attention to the low industry standards for many arts professionals.

The union claims the information will empower dancers to negotiate the correct rates when working on jobs, giving them the confidence through the correct information to ensure they are being paid sufficiently for their work. The rate card includes Equity minimums for dancers in areas such as West End productions, commercial productions, opera, film and television commercials. The variety of work for dancers is so broad, so the rate card must cover all eventualities.

The Equity organiser for dance maintained that the rate card – as a resource for dancers – would be particularly useful for new graduates with limited professional experience, and for dancers taking on work in new areas that are unfamiliar. It is the nature of the profession with its portfolio careers that people will do one or two days of work in different types of dance, in places which aren’t the normal place of work, and that they are not knowledgeable about.

As a result, it is ultimately important that the rate card is something that professionals can refer to, to know exactly what the Equity minimum rate should be and whether this work is meeting that standard. The rate card has been launched following the creation of Equity’s freelance dance network last year, and a similar rate card for choreographers is also in the process of being drawn up.

4dancers: Introducing the Dance Wellness Panel

The extensive website,, is an incredible dance resource and source of information. Including features on training, interviews with young aspiring students and even information on cinema screenings of well-known ballets, 4dancers is the go-to for a wealth of dance information.

Recently the Dance Wellness segment of 4dancers has rocketed away from its previous stance. In 2012 the first article on Dance Medicine and Science – aka Dance Wellness – went live on the 4dancers website, introducing readers to information on that aspect of the dance world. The response from the 4dancers audience was so positive that a new section of the website was born: a new ongoing segment of 4dancers, entitled “Dance Wellness”, emerged and has been going strong ever since.

May 2015 saw a Dance Wellness panel created for 4dancers, following the eagerness of the audience to learn more about this important field of dance, and how it informs so much of the dance world we live in. 4dancers is the first source for this, spreading the word online about the many aspects of dance wellness and how it aids dance careers. The Wellness panel, therefore, is made up of a group of professionals from the dance science field, working together to inform and enthuse.

James Garrick, MD., is founder and Medical Director of the Center for Sports Medicine, at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. Dr. Garrick was physician for San Francisco Ballet Company, founded the clinic for dancers at San Francisco School for the Arts, and is currently on the physician panel for the San Francisco Ballet School.

Gigi Berardi, PhD has an academic background and performing experience that combined her interests in the natural and social sciences with her passion for dance. Over 300 of her articles and reviews have been published, including in Dance Magazine, Dance International, the Los Angeles Times, The Olympian, and scientific journals such as Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, Kinesiology and Medicine for Dance and Dance Research Journal.

Robin Kish, MS, MFA, is an Assistant Professor in the Dance Department at Chapman University. Robin blends her background in dance and science to creative innovative educational programmes supporting the development of safe and effective dance training programmes. She has presented research and developed lectures for the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS).

Moira McCormack, MS, is Head of Physiotherapy at the Royal Ballet in London. After a professional dance career in classical ballet she trained as a dance teacher and then as a Physical Therapist, and has worked with dancers for the last 20 years. She teaches anatomy, dance technique and injury prevention internationally, with a main interest in the management of the hypermobile dancer.

Janice G. Plastino, PhD is Emerita Professor from the University of California Irvine in the Dance Department. She is regarded as the founder of the field of Dance Science, and established the first dancer screening/wellness programme in an educational setting at UCI in 1982. Her pioneering and continuing work in the pre-participation screening of dancers has been lauded by the medical, research and dance communities.

Emma Redding, PhD is Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has been Principal Investigator for several large-scale research projects including a 3 year government funded study into dance talent identification and development, as well as studies into the role of mental imagery within creative practice.

Erin Sanchez, MS is the Healthier Dancer Programme Manager at Dance UK, administrates the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation’s website for healthcare professionals and dancers, and manages the Dance Psychology Network. Erin is a registered provider for Safe in Dance International, a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and holds the qualification in Safe and Effective Dance Practice.

Selina Shah, MD, FACP is a sports medicine and internal medicine physician, and the Director of Dance Medicine at the Center for Sports Medicine in California. She is the dance company physician for San Francisco Ballet School, Liss Fain Dance Company and Diablo Ballet. She takes care of the performers for Cirque du Soleil and various Broadway productions when they come to San Francisco Bay.

Nancy Wozny is editor in chief of Arts + Culture Texas, reviews editor at Dance Source Houston and a contributor to Pointe Magazine, Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine, where she is also a contributing editor. She has taught and written about Feldenkrais and somatics in dance for two decades.

Matthew Wyon, PhD, is a Professor in Dance Science at the University of Wolverhampton, UK, and a Visiting Professor at the ArtEZ, Institute of the Arts, The Netherlands. At Wolverhampton he is the course leader for the MSc in Dance Science and Director of Studies for a number of dance science and medicine doctoral candidates. He is a founding partner of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, UK.

Keep an eye in the 4dancers website for updates and wellness content!

The 7 Fingers

Running at the Peacock Theatre from 9 June to 12 July, The 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) is one of the world’s most inventive contemporary circus companies. Its production TRACES is critically acclaimed, following previous success, now being presented for London audiences. With the company hailing from Québec, this is renowned as the home of modern circus disciplines.

In TRACES, the cast combines traditional acrobatic forms with street elements, mixed with theatre and contemporary dance. The show takes place in a make-shift shelter, an unknown catastrophe waiting outside the doors. In the face of an impending disaster they have determined that creation is the only antidote to destruction. Performance skills include tumbling through hoops, scaling Chinese poles and balancing seemingly effortlessly on each others’ heads, to basketball, skateboarding and playing classical piano.

TRACES redefines the art of circus. It is a poetic, humorous and thoughtful form, and with the use of film clips, narration and a range of music from rock ‘n’ roll to blues and hip hop. First performed in 2006, TRACES has gone on to be performed over 1,700 times in 23 countries. The show has featured as a part of The Royal Variety Performance, played at the Union Square Theater in New York for a year and has won multiple awards.

It is now being presented at the Peacock, as part of Sadler’s Wells. Sadler’s Wells is a world leader in dance, committed to producing, commissioning and presenting new works and to bringing the very best international and UK dance to the stage. The theatre’s year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance and tango to tap. Since 2005 it has helped to bring over 90 new dance works to the stage and its international award-winning commissions and collaborative productions regularly tour the world.

La Soirée to return to the Southbank Centre

The Olivier Award-winning La Soirée is set to return to the capital this winter, for another residency in the Spiegeltent at the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival. The strictly limited run will start on 27 October 2015 through to 17 January 2016 for the Christmas season, and will feature world class performers from across the globe. On Sunday 12 April earlier this year, La Soirée was awarded the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.

The tantalising world of La Soirée is offering a phenomenal discount to fans, if they book tickets before 21 June. Ringside tickets for the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring cabaret sensation are only £25 each if booked before this time. All standard tickets for November shows will also be £25 or less, with £10 off ‘Posh Seats’. From 22 June to 31 October, bookers can enjoy £10 off all ticket prices (except standing).

Before returning to London in the autumn, La Soirée will be continuing its world tour with dates in Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong and a stop off at a well-known festival first. La Soirée’s band of dazzling divas and cabaret royalty will be donning wellies and pitching tents in Glastonbury to headline Glastonbury’s Circus Big Top on all three nights of the festival. Promising festival-goers an electric start to the evenings, this will be La Soirée’s Glastonbury première.

Creative producer Brett Haylock is currently rounding up La Soirée’s dysfunctional family of new burlesque, circus sideshow and variety acts so the contemporaries set to entertain London from October can be announced soon. Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival with NatWest in 2015 – aside from the glamour and debauchery of La Soirée – will transform the Southbank Centre with performances and free events including choirs, festive art installations and lights, bustling markets and pop-up bars.

A new cast for West End’s Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!, currently playing at the Novello Theatre in the heart of London’s Theatreland, has announced its new cast starting from June. It appears there will be major cast changes; Mazz Murray will be joining the cast as Tanya, Jo Napthine as Rosie, Gabriella Williams as Sophie Sheridan and James Darch as Sky. Also joining the cast will be Louise Young as Ali, Stephanie Fearon as Lisa, Dan Partridge as Pepper and Rory Phelan as Eddie. Dianne Pilkington will continue to star as Donna Sheridan, with Richard Trinder as Sam, Alasdair Harvey as Harry and Charles Daish as Bill.

Mazz Murray is the daughter of songwriter Mitch Murray, and she makes up one third of vocal group Woman. As an actress, Mazz played Killer Queen in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre for seven years, and other theatre includes Maureen in the UK tour of Rent, the UK tour and West End production of Fame and the UK tour of Smokey Joe’s Café.

An update for the ensemble also will see Tom Bowen, Adam Clayton-Smith, Jasmin Colangelo, Kate Coysten, Stephen John Davis, Katy Day, Olivia Kate Holding, George Ioannides, Alex Jordan-Mills, Craig Anthony Kelly, Sorelle Marsh, George Miller, Stacey Leanne Mills, Fergal McGoff, Ella Nonini, Katy Osborne, Robbie Scotcher, Brad Veitch, Caitlin Ward and Sasha Wareham also join the cast.

From West End to global phenomenon, the show tells the story of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island, set to ABBA’s timeless songs. To date, it has been seen by more than 54 million people in 49 productions in 16 different languages, grossing more than $2billion at the box office. Mamma Mia! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004. The musical re-opened at the Novello Theatre in 2012 where it celebrated its 16th birthday on 6 April.

West End Live 2015

The 2015 West End Live festival is set to greet Londoners with a bang for another year running, taking place on 20 and 21 June in Trafalgar Square, and showcasing London theatre productions.

Casts from Mamma Mia!, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sunny Afternoon will be featured as part of the festival, and will perform as part of this year’s West End Live, a complete treat for the musical theatre fans, passers-by and tourists that happen across West End Live in the summer.

West End Live is jointly organised by the Society of London Theatre and Westminster City Council, proving first-class entertainment in live shows in the Square. The other shows that are set to appear include Jersey Boys, Wicked and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. West End Live will run across the entire weekend, with 2015 following the 10th anniversary of the festival in 2014.

The 2014 festival saw a fantastic theatrical line up of much-loved favourites and exclusive performances from the very best that Theatreland and London’s cultural institutions have to offer. Thousands of people gathered together to enjoy free performances from 25 West End shows, including unique appearances from The Royal Opera House Chorus, conducted by Placido Domingo, the English National Opera and an exclusive of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games.

The West End Live 10th anniversary also saw old favourites take to the stage once more including Avenue Q, Chicago and Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical, all presented by Oliver Tompsett, huge highlights of the weekend for audiences. Also marking the anniversary was the hosting of the West End Live Theatre Emporium – offering an exclusive look into the world of theatre and drama, all housed in a beautiful 1920s Spiegeltent. With more for the 2015 festival to be announced soon, the festival looks set to match the excitement of last year too!

New theatre developed for children

A Welsh pilot programme, amounting to £300,000, is set to develop new theatre for children by encouraging artists and companies to create theatrical experiences for families and young people for the first time. Whilst the UK capital is well-equipped in offering experiences of this kind to young families, this is now being encouraged across the rest of the country too.

Artists and companies working across the performing arts are being encouraged to create theatre for young people through a new three-year pilot programme. Cardiff-based Theatr Iolo will receive £310,500 from the Arts Council of Wales and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in order to run the project, named Platfform.

The project aims to explore new ways of creating these theatrical experiences for families and young people, and consequently widening access to theatre across Wales and the rest of UK. This is particularly poignant for children and families experiencing barriers to accessing the arts.

The first year of the pilot project will see up to three artists or companies developing their work in order to grasp the market of young people’s theatre for the first time, focused on particularly in venues across south east Wales. The three venues hosting artists during the first year will be Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre, where Theatr Iolo is resident, Parc & Dare in Treorchy, and The Welfare in Ystradgynlais.

The residencies at the three venues will culminate in new and innovative programmes of work, created especially with and for young people. The financial support of the new project will ensure that the venues and organisations are able to fulfil their aims. Support will also be provided in the form of a pool of mentors and a bespoke package of training. Applications for the development are welcomed from artists and companies for residencies of up to seven months.

#HOFEST – a London season

The Hofesh Shechter Company has announced #HOFEST, its London season celebrating the diversity of the company’s work and artistic partnerships. #HOFEST will bring together work in September and October across four different venues; the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, O2 Academy Brixton and Stratford Circus Arts Centre. The four week long season will see the company collaborate with some of the city’s leading arts organisations and most iconic venues, giving audiences the opportunity to experience the breadth of the company’s work.

#HOFEST will be the company’s largest season of work in the capital to date. Through a vibrant programme of events and performances audiences will be able to explore contemporary dance in ways, and venues, that question the perception and push the boundaries of the art form.

The season begins with Shechter’s opera directorial debut with a new production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at the Royal Opera House, featuring the Hofesh Shechter Company. Simultaneously, the company will perform barbarians at Sadler’s Wells in repertory with its Royal Opera House performances. This brand new evening brings together the trilogy, barbarians, in the UK for the first time. Revealing his choreography at its most experimental and intimate, the evening will showcase the voice of the creator and the versatility and talent of his dancers.

#HOFEST will also bring Shechter’s critically-acclaimed Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut to O2 Academy Brixton for the first time. This extraordinary work with 40 dancers and musicians will bring the atmosphere of a rock gig to contemporary dance, creating an experience like no other. In partnership with East London Dance the new apprentice company, Shechter Junior, then returns from its European tour with deGeneration at Stratford Circus. The talented young dancers tackle two previous creations from Shechter, completing the evening with the UK premiere of an earlier work by Shechter, reworked especially.

The season will be complimented by a number of workshops and interactive events across London.