News for British Ballet Organisation

British Ballet OrganisationJohn Travis, the director of the British Ballet Organisation, recently announced significant news which will enable the BBO to develop, secure its future and enhance the support and service provided to its members and the dance profession. It’s current home, Woolborough House, has been a much loved home for the organisation; however the BBO has outgrown the building and it is no longer fit for purpose. After a lengthy and complex process the sale of Woolborough House has been agreed and will be completed early in 2014.

Established in 1930, the British Ballet Organization is proud of its heritage and continues in the tradition of its famous founders: the name Espinosa is recognised worldwide as one of the most important influences in the development of dance and the training of dancers. Woolborough House in London was the Espinosa family home from 1913. On the formation of the BBO, it became and remains today the Headquarters of the organisation. Many famous students studied with Espinosa at Woolborough House, including Phyllis Bedells and Ninette de Valois. In 1932 a studio was built alongside the house which has continued to host classes and BBO examinations and provides rehearsal space for many leading dance companies and professional artists.

The exciting opportunity for BBO has become possible with the support of the Espinosa Memorial Fund, and will allow the BBO to retain a freehold headquarters in central London as a long term safeguard for future generations.Their support allows the organisation to fully utilise the legacy of Edouard Espinosa and the family.

The BBO Board and the Chief Executive Officer have been working with the EMF and the Trustees of Woolborough House to formulate a development strategy, which reflects the charitable objectives of the organisation and the values that have underpinned the BBO throughout its history. During this process the Trustees have identified some exciting opportunities that will ensure BBO retains and enhances its position as a major teaching and training organisation both regionally and internationally.

Johan Kobborg Appointed Director Of The National Romanian Ballet

Johan KobborgJohan Kobborg has recently been appointed as director of the National Romanian Ballet, taking up his new post in February 2014. This announcement came after the first night of Kobborg’s production of La Sylphide for the company, which opened on 7 December, meaning Kobborg will be at the helm of the company, steering it in an exciting direction.

Both Kobborg and his fiancé Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru, who danced the first night La Sylphide with The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae, left The Royal Ballet as Principals this summer in order to pursue other artistic challenges: Cojucaru joined English National Ballet and has since danced Principal roles in Le Corsair and The Nutcracker.

Born and trained in Denmark, Kobborg joined The Royal Ballet in 1999, along with Cojucaru, where they danced throughout the classical, Ashton and MacMillan repertoire and in many new ballets. The dancers gave many memorable performances as members of The Royal Ballet, both at the Royal Opera House and around the world. Over the past ten years, their unique partnership has developed and the couple’s last UK performance as members of The Royal Ballet was in Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling on 5 June. In July they danced on tour with the company in Tokyo.

Kobborg has praised the National Romanian Ballet company, saying on Twitter that “Romanian Ballet has more natural born Sylphs than any other company I ever worked with”; his directing of the company looks set to hold lots in store for the lucky dancers. In recent years, Cojocaru has staged galas to raise money for Romanian Hospices of Hope and she has also given the Romanian National Ballet 50% of its annual supply of pointe shoes.

In the past Kobborg has also worked around the world as a producer and choreographer, staging Bournonville’s La Sylphide and Napoli and creating his own ballets.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Flagship Children’s Theatre For Darlington

Darlington Borough Council

Darlington Borough Council has announced it intends to use £600,000 of ring-fenced funds from the future sale of Darlington Arts Centre to help create a flagship children’s theatre which will become the first permanent performance space for children’s touring company Theatre Hullabaloo. The company will bid for £1.5 million of Arts Council England capital money for the project and the local authority will provide its own cash as match-funding if the bid is successful.

The proposed theatre would include a 150-seat studio theatre space for professional performances by Theatre Hullabaloo, as well as rehearsal areas and a cafe. Other arts organisations and community groups would be able to stage works and use the space as well. While Darlington Borough Council would be unable to subsidise the new venue, its proposal would entail running the building and sharing management costs with the Darlington Civic Centre while Theatre Hullabaloo would programme the space.

The council-owned Darlington Arts Centre, which was the previous base for Theatre Hullabaloo as well as other arts groups, closed in July 2012. The new venue will not replace the Darlington Arts Centre, but will form an important part of a proposed cultural quarter for the town that would also have national significance as a small theatre space for the town.

The proposal is for the venue to embody the values of the company which are that children should not be compromised as an audience by having to be secondary users in an adult-designed space. The venue will be a children-centred space that would allow the company to create and perform its own work and create a hub for artists developing their own practice in theatre for young audiences.

The Albany’s £1 Ticket Offer

The AlbanySouth East London’s Deptford has a secret weapon in the form of The Albany, the Southbank Centre for non-central Londoners. The arts venue is also a meeting and training place, a social place, a work place and a performance space, in addition to being a cafe and a place for young children. The venue has had a longstanding and successful relationship with the Deptford market just outside its doors on Deptford High Street, mixing its cultural vibrancy with the theatres.

The Albany has recently launched a scheme with has integrated itself straight into Deptford market in the form of a pop-up stand offering a limited number of £1 tickets to events and performances at The Albany. Tickets are purchased first come first served, offering local residents and shoppers the chance to engage with the arts cheaply, and perhaps even take a risk and attend something they may not have considered spending money on a ticket for. Encouraging audiences to see different art forms broadens their appreciation and knowledge of the art scene, and London’s in particular.

10 were available for each show, and according to the theatre 182 were sold, with an estimated 70% of those being first time bookers. At £1 per ticket this isn’t a money making exercise yet the level of first time buyer response is good, along with the promise of repeat booking at the full price of £6. The Albany’s stall is now a regular feature of the market. It enables members of the theatre team to interact with audience members one to one and allows time for genuine relationships to be created.

Freeing cheap tickets to audiences is a fantastic incentive for those who don’t attend performances or arts events regularly to support their local arts venue. The Albany offers a wide variety of performances, including those specifically for children and young people. The Albany is also a central place to meet, discuss and share – as a mini Southbank Centre – offering the residents of Deptford an area which is theirs for the community, just outside the expense and bustle of central London.

Academy of Northern Ballet Talent Search

Northern BalletNorthern Ballet has announced plans to take its Academy Open Days on the road to Hull, Doncaster and Harrogate in early 2014 in a bid to find Yorkshire’s most promising young dance talent. The open days are a chance for 9–12 year olds, with and without dance experience, to find out more about the training programmes, technique and auditions.

The free Open Days will take place at Hull College (19 January), Cast in Doncaster (26 January) and Harrogate’s Ashville College (2 February). The Academy of Northern Ballet will also host an Open Day at its home in Leeds on Sunday 16 February for prospective students aged 9–15 years, including a dedicated session for boys. Following the open days, preliminary auditions for all courses will take place on Friday 28 February and Sunday 2 March. Applications should be submitted by Thursday 20 February.

The Academy of Northern Ballet is the official school of Leeds-based Northern Ballet, and specialises in offering a holistic approach to teaching, nurturing and inspiring the professional dancers of the future. As the only recognised Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) in the UK specialising in Classical Ballet, Northern Ballet Academy is hosting Open Days to entice young dancers from across Yorkshire to audition for its professional CAT training programme which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014. Graduates from Northern Ballet’s CAT programme have gone on to full-time vocational training at top training schools including the Royal Ballet Upper School, English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet.

Students benefit from teaching methods developed by Northern Ballet’s renowned Ballet Mistress which focuses on developing technique and ensuring that students have the solid foundation required to build a long and rewarding career in dance. The organisation is committed to nurturing the physical and emotional wellbeing of each student in an atmosphere that centres on individual learning and professionalism.

Injury Diet

Shin SplintsWith injuries perhaps the most feared aspect of a performer’s life, it is important that your diet is aiding recovery, aside from other treatments you may be using such as ice, physiotherapy and rest. Ensuring you are providing your body with good nutrition will reduce recovery times, which is paramount for getting back in the studio. It is said that there are three key nutrients to get you back on top form.

Protein is essential for both building and healing muscle, in addition to repairing bones and improving muscle contraction. Despite this, too much protein can be detrimental; it is important to eat protein intelligently in order to maximise its impact, which does not mean simply eating more protein. Many dancers already consume enough, so it is perhaps best to eat small amounts of high-quality protein with each meal for rebuilding tissue, such as yogurt, cheese, lean meat, beans, rice, quinoa, nuts and seeds. Too much protein forces the body to release calcium from the bones to balance it, which could slow recovery time.

Dancers must also get enough Vitamin D, due to the fact they spend long hours inside. Calcium is another vitamin that dancers tend to not get much of, both of which are vital for the repairing of stress fractures, for example. Vitamin D allows bones to absorb calcium and use it to repair stresses, hairline fractures and breaks: it also strengthens the immune system and helps reduce inflammation throughout the body. Just 15 minutes of sun exposure a day, even when it’s overcast outside, can help increase your levels for better healing. Other sources of vitamin D include yoghurt, fortified milk, tuna, salmon, and the yolks of eggs.

Vitamin C is also a great healer, from rebuilding ligaments to repairing blisters, however an excess amount becomes similar to excess protein. Because vitamin C is acidic the body will use calcium to neutralise the large amounts found in supplements, causing a weakening of the bones. The daily requirement is just 45–100 milligrams, which is around two oranges.

Body Of Knowledge

ResCenEarly November saw the launch of a new strand of ResCen, the Research Centre of Middlesex University. This strand is dedicated to the reaching and works of Robert Cohan, a dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and now a teacher and choreographer in his own right.

Cohan went on to establish The Place, London, with Robin Howard, and London Contemporary Dance Theatre, bringing a specific style of contemporary dance to the UK.

The students at Middlesex University are taught the Cohan method of the Graham technique by Anne Donnelly, a student descendant, passed down from teacher to student to teacher again, creating a legacy which is both complemented and supported by ResCen. The Cohan method does not differ widely from pure Graham technique; the principles of movement remain the same, just with the additions of Cohan’s profound teaching method and incorporation of the body and mind.

Robert Cohan, is the founding artistic director of The Place alongside Robin Howard, who financed the years following The Place’s inception. It was born from the journey of the Martha Graham technique from America to London by Cohan, seeing his work and legacy documented in by his colleagues and students to preserve his teaching method and also include interviews about his ethos and various works.

Now The Place is home to many contemporary and jazz classes, alongside the Richard Alston Dance Company and London Contemporary Dance School, no longer London Contemporary Dance Theatre which became the recipient company of London Contemporary Dance School students. The Place offers termly classes in techniques such as Release, Cunningham, Limón and Graham, alongside some ballet and jazz.

Rambert’s New Home For Dance

Rambert Dance Company LogoBritain’s national contemporary dance company Rambert has taken up residence in its new home on London’s South Bank, which includes dance studios, treatment and body conditioning rooms, workshops, offices and an archive. The location has been made available to Rambert by Coin Street Community Builders in return for a commitment to provide a significant community dance programme in the local area, and for a rent of one pair of ballet shoes a year. The facility will nurture, develop and realise the creative visions of the best of today and tomorrow’s choreographers and dancers; the ambition is that the landmark dances for the next 100 years will be created in the building, therefore giving dance a permanent home on the South Bank

Rambert will take its work to people throughout the UK, with the most far-reaching touring programme of any British contemporary dance company. Currently over three-quarters of Rambert’s performances take place outside of London, complemented by equally extensive education and community-based work. Closer to home, the new premises will hold connections with the local neighbourhood. People of all ages and abilities will be welcomed into the building to join in dance classes, and the daily activity of the building will be opened up to visitors, as will the extensive archive of Britain’s oldest dance company. The hope is that everyone who comes into the building will be inspired with confidence and ambition for Rambert’s future as Britain’s national contemporary dance company.

During the first year in its new building, Rambert’s home will be a hub for making new works, restaging classic repertory, creative collaborations and community engagement. Plans include, three new large-scale commissions for the company (Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, Shobana Jeyasingh – one of the UK’s foremost independent choreographers – and Alexander Whitley, a former Rambert dancer recently appointed associate artist with the company. Two classic works from Rambert’s past repertoire will be revived, namely Christopher Bruce’s iconic Rooster, first performed by Rambert in 1994 and last revived in 2001, and Four Elements, a 1990 commission for Rambert by celebrated US choreographer Lucinda Childs.

Rambert’s new home is the first major, purpose-built dance facility to open in London for 10 years. The building’s three main studios have been named the Marie Rambert Studio, after the company’s founder; the Mercury Studio, acknowledging the Mercury Theatre, the company’s first home; and the Anya Linden Studio, in recognition of the generous contribution to the fundraising campaign from two of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts: Monument Trust and Linbury Trust. The Marie Rambert studio is 306.75 square metres – the equivalent size of the stage at Sadler’s Wells which is the largest theatre space the Company regularly tours to.

Strictly-Themed Workout Programme From Bristol

FitStepsA Bristol fitness instructor and diet adviser Sarah Buscemi has added a new Strictly-themed exercise regime to her usual repertoire to enable clients to dance their way to fitness with a new Strictly-themed workout programme. Sarah has joined other Rosemary Conley consultants around the country to train in FitSteps, which was launched earlier this year by Strictly stars Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite.

The programme is based on some of most popular Latin and ballroom dances, also seen on the hit television show Strictly Come Dancing, including the jive, cha cha, samba, tango, waltz and quickstep, but for FitSteps it is broken down into easy sections. As a result FitSteps has been made suitable for dancers of all abilities, even if you have never danced before

Sarah runs 10 Rosemary Conley classes each week in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, with the 90-minute session including a 45-minute exercise session, and now FitSteps. Like all FitSteps instructors, Sarah was personally introduced to the moves by Natalie and Ian, and can download new dances to teach her clients from the FitSteps website, keeping the programme both fresh and up to date.

With television shows such as Strictly growing in popularity, it is no wonder that FitSteps is appealing: it is around 50% dance and 50% aerobic moves, but the combination of the two makes for an intense workout. With FitSteps there is no need for a partner, and supports all levels and abilities, whether they work out often, or can’t remember the last time they put on their fitness shoes.

If you would like to try your hand (and feet!) at FitSteps, visit to find a class near you.

Phoenix Dance Theatre

Phoenix Dance TheatrePhoenix Dance Theatre has grown over the last thirty years to become a renowned and respected British dance company. Founded in inner-city Leeds, the company has become a leading contemporary company and now completes both national and international tours in the aim to bring inspiring and entertaining dance to the widest possible audience.

Founded in 1981 by David Hamilton, Donald Edwards and Vilmore James, Phoenix’s fresh approach to contemporary dance won much support from its audiences and critics. The company began with just male dancers and went on to appoint female dancers from 1987 following the appointment of Neville Campbell as Artistic Director. Cambell worked to expand the company to ten dancers, and also expanded the company’s repertoire. In this year also the company established its permanent base at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds city centre.

1991 saw Margaret Morris take over as Artistic Director, and with this saw the expanding of the company’s UK and international touring. In 1996 the company were the some representative of British dance at the Cultural Olympics in Atlanta, and the company continued to grow under two more Artistic Directors, establishing an archive and rebranding the company. Phoenix has seen many styles of directorship and many growing facets as a result: under Javier De Frutos, for example, the now multi-cultural company won the ‘Company Prize for Outstanding Repertoire (Modern)’ at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards.

Current Artistic Director Sharon Watson was appointed in 2009, re-introducing the company to diverse and mixed programmes of work and revived classic pieces from the companies rich repertoire. The company now aims to be the leading middle scale dance company in the UK, having just celebrated three decades of dance. The company’s new home at Quarry Hill means Phoenix can continue producing high quality work for even longer.