Scottish Ballet’s Plans Under Christopher Hampson

Scottish Ballet

Under its new Artistic Director, Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet has recently unveiled its plans and aspirations for the foreseeable future.

Scottish Ballet is the national dance company of Scotland, albeit the smallest of the national ballet companies in the UK, but this does not mean that Scottish Ballet are treading lightly on the rest of the ballet shoes of the dance community. The Company is looking forward to enriching, enthusing and engaging with communities, participants and audiences, tutus and all. In partnership with the Royal Academy of Dance and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it was announced Scottish Ballet will present the Genée International Ballet Competition in Glasgow in 2013 from 20- 29 September.

Commissioning new work is just one of the other ways that Scottish Ballet is extending its reach with many female choreographers such as ex-dancer with Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt Helen Pickett, Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater Crystal Pite and Royal Ballet Soloist Kristen McNally, in addition to Scottish Ballet being among the first to commission a brand-new work from 22-year-old London Contemporary Dance School graduate James Cousins who has just presented his first work at Sadler’s Wells. Cousins won the New Adventures Choreographer Award, set up by director and choreographer Matthew Bourne OBE and coincidently co-judged by Hampson. The Company will be working with a wide range of choreographers that will allow the Company to broaden the existing repertoire and produce new work in original ways for the usually leotard and tights clad dancers. The Company is also in talks with major international promoters and arts festivals in order to explore innovative ways to present their work.

For the first time, Scottish Ballet will present the work of five-time Olivier Award-winning Bourne which will grant the Company an exclusive license to Bourne’s Highland Fling, inspired by La Sylphide. Scottish Ballet will tour Highland Fling across Scotland in spring 2013, spreading both Bourne’s and the Company’s influence.

Hampson’s creative leadership will not only see him choreograph, but also embrace the imagination of the people of Scotland and beyond. Beginning in autumn 2012, Scottish Ballet will launch Hansel & Gretel, and Me, a new project that connects creation to education and merges artistic expression with real life, giving communities the chance to participate in ballet in the broadest possible sense.

Image courtesy of the www.theedinburghblog.co.uk on Flickr.

The Carlos Acosta Centre for Dance

National Art Schools (Cuba)

Royal Ballet principal guest artist star Carlos Acosta has revealed his brainchild, a scheme to complete the five national arts schools in Havana, Cuba, originally thought up by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in1961. The schools were never finished, but now fifty years later a new project is underway to transform the site into a world class ballet school. Acosta, leaving his own ballet shoes and ballet tights aside, wants to provide a platform and focus for young people to explore hidden talents and develop their skill and help them make positive choices in life, while raising both the awareness and quality of dance to a new level.

The scheme is to be backed by the Cuban government, with the project set to create a new ballet school, with Acosta’s vision aiming for people from all over the world will come to the centre to learn new skills. Students will learn a variety of different styles of dance, from ballet to tango, donning practice shoes and Cuban heels accordingly. There will be workshops and masterclasses and short courses throughout the summer and winter, a sign of how ambitious the project is comes with the cost: a total of $3.5m will be needed just to restore the existing buildings on the site.

Internationally renowned British architect Lord Foster is involved in the project, who will be sticking to the previous plans for the original ballet school at the site. The Carlos Acosta Centre for Dance will complete the legacy of the arts school campus in Havana to inspire future generations of performers, under the talents of Acosta.

Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

Kevin O’Hare next in the RAD Guest Speaker Series

Royal Academy of Dance Logo

Following the success of the first Guest Speaker event with Christopher Hampson in April 2012, the Royal Academy of Dance’s Faculty of Education is due to welcome Kevin O’Hare, brand new Director of The Royal Ballet. O’Hare will be the first “event” of the RAD’s 2012-2013 Guest Speaker Series, open to RAD students, members and non-members alike.

O’Hare was first trained at The Royal Ballet School, donning his practice shoes and ballet tights before stepping into Mason’s Director-ship shoes of The Royal Ballet many years later, following her retirement in July 2012. After his stint at The Royal Ballet School, O’Hare went on to train through an exchange programme with the Royal Danish Ballet. He then joined the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet as it was then known, and was promoted to Principal in 1990: it has since become Birmingham Royal Ballet, in 1990.

During O’Hare’s performing career, his repertory included leading classical roles and works by esteemed choreographers such as George Balanchine, John Cranko, Hans Van Manen, Sir Anthony Tudor and Twyla Tharp, in addition to numerous international guest appearances. He also created many performing roles, working with Sir Frederick Ashton, Ninette De Valois, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, David Bintley and Peter Wright, amongst others.

O’Hare lay his leotards and leggings to rest in 2000 when he retired from dancing in order to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, training in company management. He returned to BRB as Company Manager in 2001, joining The Royal Ballet as Company Manager in 2004. In 2009, O’Hare became Administrative Director, with 2012 marking his progression to Direction of the company. In addition to being a governor of The Royal Ballet School, O’Hare has never stepped out of the performing arts sector, and it has certainly paid off.

Image courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance.

Candoco Dance Company and the Festival of the World

Candoco Dance Company LogoCandoco Dance Company was founded in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker and Adam Benjamin, developed from workshops which grew into the first company of its kind in the UK – a professional dance company focused on the integration of disabled and non-disabled dancers. The company gained much acclaim from the press, general public and the worlds of dance and education, and between 1991 and 2005 the company toured to over 50 countries within Europe, Australia, North and South America, Asia and Africa.

Artistic Director Dandeker OBE retired in 2007, having commissioned 30 new performance works for the company from internationally renowned choreographers including Emilyn Claid, Javier de Frutos, Siobhan Davies, and Darshan Singh-Bhuller, catapulting the company into the mainstream dance world from the very beginning. A far cry from tutus and pointe shoes or run-of-the-mill leotards and leggings, Candoco has set itself apart from other contemporary dance companies in showcasing talent, skill and physical and emotional strength.

Next up for the company is an evening of bold new dance featuring 12 dancers from China, the UK and Brazil as part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World. The evening contains new works by choreographers Marc Brew and Claire Cunningham. The summer long Festival of the World is made up of smaller festivals and weekends, with Candoco belonging to Unlimited. Together the separate ‘events’ create a story demonstrating how art is changing in different and exciting ways. Unlimited is running for 10 days, encompassing and celebrating comedy, dance, performance and art by deaf and disabled artists. This individual festival celebrates the arts on a huge scale, encouraging artists to push beyond by creating work which poses questions and inspires new collaborations.

With the Paralympic Games just around the corner, the arts, culture and sport are able to be mixed into a delightful combination, opening doors and creating new directions for the future.

Image courtesy of Candoco Dance Company.

The opinions expressed in the above article or review are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.

Pop Goes The Musical

Pop Goes The Musical

The BBC’s Children In Need has just announced its star-studded line-up for this year’s Pop Goes The Musical, in which everyone’s favourite pop stars star in some of the West End’s musicals. Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, boy band Blue, soulful Macy Gray and newcomers Stooshe will all take part in this unique charity project that challenges the singers to tread the West End boards, don their jazz shoes and New Yorkers and perform at a very special curtain call.

Halliwell is set to take to the legendary Palace Theatre stage in the classic musical Singin’ In The Rain on 25 October, and has already expressed her excitement at being a part of the project. Fellow popsters Blue will take on the shiny shoes and iconic red coats from 1960s set musical Jersey Boys on 11 October, with Duncan James being well equipped to take on the challenge following starring roles in the West End shows Chicago and Legally Blonde the Musical. The long-running Queen’s Theatre Les Misérables will welcome Burke to centre stage on 18 September, with Burke already being a fan of the show, and Thriller Live audiences will be treated with two separate performances on 15 November by Grammy Award-winning artist Macy Gray and chart-toppers Stooshe.

Each celebrity will perform a song from their allocated West End show following that evening’s performance, which will be held in support of the BBC’s famous charity that supports more than 2,000 projects helping disadvantaged young people across the UK.

Pop Goes The Musical was launched last year with Peter Andre, Stacey Solomon, Dionne Bromfield and Melanie C, another Spice Girl, providing their vocal talents and show tights to help the incredible work of the charity.

The opinions expressed in the above article or review are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.

 

Dance Science Clinics

Dance Science Clinics

The first phase of Dance UK’s efforts to open a dance injury research and treatment facility for professional dancers is set to open at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London, five years after it was first announced to be going ahead. Dancers can be referred to the clinic by their GP from anywhere in the UK as part of the National Health Service, offering encouragement that the arts world is finally being viewed as an equal to the rest of the world, and sports in particular.

There are two other specialist centres where dancers can receive treatment and therapy for injuries that many may not be aware of. The first is located at Laban, also in London, through their Dance Science department. They offer a range of treatments and therapies, many of which are about prevention, not just fixing broken dancers. The second is The Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries in Birmingham, which closed temporarily in October 2011 to those dancers who were not part of Birmingham Royal Ballet, but the centre is now open to all again. Dance UK hope now that the London based NHS clinic is something that will be replicated across the UK in order to widen access to either free or low cost injury treatment and prevention for professional dancers.

No matter the dancers’ background, be it wearing tutus and pointe shoes, or leotards and leggings, the new facility is a vital part of the dance sector. Providing dancers with specialised treatment, rather than the generic physiotherapy, for their injuries will mean that performing companies will become stronger as a unit and injury prevention will hopefully be at the forefront of minds within the sector.

The opinions expressed in the above article or review are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.

Sadler’s Wells’ National Youth Dance Company

Sadler's Wells National Youth Dance CompanyNew cultural education projects have been announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, meaning young people from all backgrounds will get increased opportunities to access dance, music and museums.

Donning the dancewear so integral to the youth of the UK, be it ballet shoes, jazz pants or urban sneakers, the esteemed dance house Sadler’s Wells has been selected to form the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) as part of plans to boost cultural education. Arts Council England announced that the organisation will run the company, providing 90 talented 16 to 19-year-olds with the chance to develop the skills for a career in dance. With dance gaining more interest and popularity across the country than ever before, economically, politically and socially, the National Youth Dance Company is a fantastic initiative for those whose passions embody dance life, and also wear Lycra.

Four new projects have also been chosen for the ‘In Harmony’ programme, which aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities through community-based orchestral music-making. Projects will be delivered between 2012 and 2015, joining existing projects in Lambeth and Liverpool. The programme is jointly funded by the Arts Council and the Department for Education, taking forward some key recommendations in the National Plan for Music Education.

Aiming to stretch ambitions, the programmes will enable young people to engage with schemes that are truly excellent, with commissions offering national opportunities in order to grasp dreams and help make them a reality. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey added that “introducing the UK’s young people to dance, music and museums through fantastic initiatives like these will help inspire, nurture and foster the next generation of performers”, demonstrating the great continuations of the cultural and artistic achievements of the UK.

Showtime

Mayor of London Presents Showtime

On the weekend of the 21 and 22 July, seven weeks of free, family fun kicked off as part of the Mayor of London Presents Showtime.

Showtime signified an electrifying mix of incredible artists and shows handpicked from across the world. Over the coming weeks these specific art forms will join on London, be it leotards and pretty pink ballet shoes or jazz quartets. The performances over the next seven weeks will reach every corner of London, fulfilling everyone’s artistic preference.

Forming part of the London 2012 Festival and supported by Arts Council England as a principal funder of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Showtime will combine the best of British street arts, international acts, and a host of alternative music from beat box to electro swing across all 33 London Boroughs.

On the 21 and 22 July, the action began with major events at The Piazza on Wimbledon Broadway as part of Merton’s Outdoor Arts Festival; at General Gordon Square in Woolwich to coincide with the Torch Relay; at the Whitecross Street Party in Islington; in Kingston; and Richmond Riverside.

Over the rest of the summer, the highlights of Showtime feature a hair-raising experience with Arcadia’s Lord of Lightning wrestling four million volts of electricity, and an enchanting performance from the Invisible People telling poems, stories and jokes one to one.

The Lyrix Organix: Relay will feature the finest poets, beatboxers, hip hop and freestylers in an original live experience, and you can get dancing to everything from swing to break-dance in urban dancewear and sneakers at Continental Drifts’ Bandstand Remixed.

To find out what’s happening near you and to plan a summer like no other visit the Mayor of London Presents website.

The ISTD’s 108th Birthday

ISTD Logo

The Imperial Society of Dance Teachers (as it was first known) was formed on 25th July 1904 at the Hotel Cecil in Covent Garden, London, and therefore turned 108 years old this year, advocating a huge variety of dance genres and the ballet shoes, tap shoes and jazz shoes that come too.

In 1906, the first Congress of the ISTD was held after a council of management was formed, attended by forty-two members, a far cry from the ISTD’s membership today. In September 1907 the first issue of “Dance Journal” (now known as DANCE magazine) was published, and by 1913 the ISTD consisted of 132 members.

It wasn’t until after the war years of WWI, in 1924, that the foundations of the present structure of the ISTD were established by the formation of separate Branches (now Faculties). 1925 saw a change of name to “The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing”, and 1930 saw the ISTD increase to 2,000 members, all wielding their leotards and tights, eager to dance.

As well as the Operatic and General, new branches were formed for the following techniques: Modern Ballroom Dancing; Classical; Classical Ballet Cecchetti Method; Greek Dance – Ruby Ginner Method; and Natural Movement – Madge Atkinson Method. In 1931 the Stage Branch was formed to provide a basic training for all dance and embraced specialist stage techniques, encompassing performance in the techniques of dance. As a result, the 1935 membership had risen to 3,000 and by 1938 it reached 4,000.

Post WWII, the teachers’ need for an authoritative and comprehensive syllabus in each technique was supplied by the formation of Faculties in each dance form, and the remaining branches of the ISTD were created: Victorian and Sequence Dance Branch, 1948; Latin American Dance Branch, 1951; Historical Dance Branch, 1952; National Dance Branch, 1952 and Scottish Country Dance Branch, 1953.

The Disco/Freestyle/Rock ‘n’ Roll Faculty were formed in 1990 to cater for the forms of social dance suggested by the creative freedom of popular music. The South Asian Dance Faculty was formed in 1999 and the most recent addition to the ISTD is the Club Dance Faculty (formed in 1999). In 2002 due to the success of the Modern Theatre Faculty it was necessary to split the Faculty into two, creating the Modern Theatre Faculty and the Tap Dance Faculty.

Today the ISTD has more than 7,500 members in over 50 countries throughout the world and holds 250,000 examinations per year.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Alistair Spalding’s Honorary Doctorate

Middlesex University

Alistair Spalding, the artistic director of Sadler’s Wells, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Middlesex University in recognition of his contribution to the UK’s creative industries, despite having little contact with leotards and legwarmers throughout his life. Spalding received his honorary doctorate in a ceremony at the university’s Hendon campus in north London on July 20 before an audience of graduating performing arts students who had all completed degrees in subjects such as Dance Performance, Theatre Arts and Music and Arts Management.

In addition to his award from Middlesex University, Spalding was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in this year’s Birthday Honours, in recognition of his services to dance and huge contribution to the arts sector as a whole, be it tutus and tights, or jazz shoes and jazz pants. Embarking on his early career as a teacher, Spalding became Sadler’s Wells’ artistic director in 2004 as the UK’s leading dance house, as it came to be known under his direction. Sadler’s Wells has also recently ventured down the production route in its hosting of dance, with many shows now commissioned and produced at the venue.

In terms of Middlesex University specifically, Spalding was noted to have said how much of a privilege it was to receive the doctorate from the institution as one that has done so much to ensure that practising artists are thoroughly involved in the day to day life of the university, which provides so much for them artistically, from a fantastic faculty to all-encompassing courses. The University delivers much in terms of Professional Practice also, preparing its students for the challenging world surrounding the arts, and providing them with the means to survive and consequently excel in the field.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.