Liam Scarlett: The Royal Ballet’s First Artist in Residence

Liam Scarlett

Liam Scarlett, a First Artist of The Royal Ballet, has been appointed the first ever Royal Ballet Artist in Residence, allowing him to focus solely on his choreographic work. Scarlett will take up the position with immediate effect and make his last appearances with the Company as a dancer in the current run of Swan Lake, donning his ballet tights and tunic for the last time.

Scarlett’s latest work Viscera has since received its UK premiere at the Royal Opera House as part of a Mixed programme also featuring Wayne McGregor’s Infra and Christopher Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise, with past works including Sweet Violets, Asphodel Meadows and Diana & Actaeon from Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 earlier this year.

Over its expansive history, The Royal Ballet has been very lucky to receive generous support for new choreography, most recently through the New Ballet Works syndicate, launched in September and a scheme which will also work to support three new works being created by Scarlett, McGregor and Wheeldon. Donations received so far have raised over £450,000, which goes an extremely long way in enabling the extensive time and resources required when creating new choreography, especially for those as exciting as Scarlett’s.

His performance and choreographic talents have developed both on and off stage since Scarlett’s time at the Royal Ballet School and Company over the past sixteen years and subsequently as a member of the Company with previous Artistic Director Monica Mason’s encouragement. Now Scarlett has even more opportunity to concentrate full time on his choreographic work under new Director Kevin O’Hare and embark on some intriguing new projects in the future.

Image courtesy of ROH at Flickr.

The Royal Opera House’s Student Ambassador Scheme

Royal Opera HouseThe Royal Opera House has just launched its Student Ambassador scheme, open to all students from across the UK and giving them, as Ambassadors, access to a whole host of exciting and exclusive benefits. The ROH has invited students from all over the UK to apply to be a Royal Opera House Student Ambassador for the coming academic year as an exciting new dance activity to engage with.

The ROH searched for passionate, creative and confident students who will advocate for the ROH at their universities this year as the first ever ROH Student Ambassadors. The ambassadors will promote exciting productions from the Main Stage, the Alternative programme and the ROH Cinema Season throughout the year by ensuring that the Royal Opera House is represented in the right places and at the right times on and around their universities. The ROH hopes that this will give all students access to world-class productions at the ROH, whether it be in London or at cinemas nationwide, pointe shoe clad or solely leotards.

The Ambassadors will receive access to discounted and complimentary tickets to ROH productions, a fascinating insight into the inner workings of one of the world’s greatest opera houses, the opportunity to meet and network with other Ambassadors and arts professionals and the opportunity to get an insight into the ROH creative departments, in addition to the possibility of being awarded a week long work placement at the ROH in the summer of 2013. Successful applicants who will have been informed recently of their new positions will be able to start the scheme off by The Royal Ballet’s Mixed Programme featuring VisceraInfra and Fool’s Paradise.

The Royal Opera House Student Standby scheme is generously made possible by the Bunting Family and the Robey Family.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Quicksilver – Rambert’s Youth Dance Company

Following in the footsteps of Rambert Dance Company’s recent stint at the Sadler’s Wells is Quicksilver: Rambert’s youth dance company, complete with their leotards, tights and fresh inspiration. Quicksilver is a group of talented young dancers aged 15-24 who focus on new contemporary works as well as learning Rambert repertoire, led by Rambert Animateur Laura Harvey. Previous performances by the Quicksilver company have included the opening of the Eurostar from St Pancras International Station, various dance platforms at the Lilian Baylis Theatre and Sadler’s Wells, as well as performances for Richdance festival and Big Dance.

As part of Big Dance 2012, Quicksilver worked in association with Age UK towards a performance at The Watermans Theatre in Brentford in a new collaborative piece choreographed by, simultaneously, Artistic Director Laura Harvey. Over the summer of 2012, Quicksilver has been performing their new piece Trapeze, most recently shown at the final sharing for Move-In at The Clore Ballroom at the Southbank Centre. In addition to this, Quicksilver has also taken part in the flashmob Shh… It’s a Secret at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush involving over 200 dancers aged between nine years and 90. This appearance was also led by Laura Harvey, bringing the shopping centre to a standstill for the seven minute piece which showcased a range of dance styles.

Another flashmob which took place recently featuring the Quicksilver dancers was at St Pancras Station to champion the work of the London 2012 Olympic Games volunteers and the legacy created from their work throughout the Olympic and Paralympic events. The flashmob included both the Quicksilver dancers and the volunteers, joined together in an uplifting and inspiring piece for both the press and the early morning commuters at 8am.

National Resource Centre for Dance at the University of Surrey

National Resource Centre for Dance (University of Surrey)The University of Surrey, renowned for its higher education dance programme, has presented its schedule of its next National Resource Centre for Dance courses for Continuing Professional Development for dance teachers, be they of the ballet shoe, tap shoe, or jazz pant discipline.

The first of the sessions was A2 Dance: Focus on West Side Story and Jerome Robbins, held on 13 October. The course examined Robbins as a practitioner and the context of West Side Story in relation to the development of Musical Theatre as a dance genre, tutored by Gill Graves. Graves trained at the Roehampton Institute and has been teaching in further and higher education for 17 years across a wide range of Performing Arts and Dance. She is also an examiner and course team leader for A Level Dance and is the Head of Vocational Studies at the Royal Ballet Upper School.

The 14 October saw A2 Dance: Focus on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, course examining the Area of Study Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 1958-current providing historical and cultural context. There was specific focus on identifying key practitioners and their stylistic characteristics through practical and theoretical exploration, including include ideas for preparing for Dance Appreciation and the solo based on a practitioner for the Performance task.  The course was tutored by Gillian Lenton, who has an MA from the University of Surrey and teaches KS3 & 4, AS and A Level Dance and A Level Theatre Studies at Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls, also GCSE and A Level Dance at the Royal Academy of Dance.

The next in the schedule will take place on 10 November for GCSE Dance: Raising Standards in Choreography and Performance. This workshop will be a mixture of practical and theory, focusing on identifying how to help students understand how to successfully integrate performance and choreography into course planning. Penny Perrett will be leading the course who has led courses for teachers in all phases of education and was part of the team who produced the teaching framework for dance for Youth Dance England. She was also a member of the board of the National Dance Teachers Association for many years.

The next will be A2 Dance: Focus on Zero Degrees (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Akram Khan, 2005) on 24 November.  It will provide a contextual overview, key points and analysis in addition to warming up in an appropriate style and exploration of the repertoire practically and theoretically. The course leader will be Lorna Sanders who has a PhD from the University of Surrey, constructing a theoretical reconceptualisation of the subject of dance in education, looking specifically at GCSE and A Level Dance which she taught, moderated and examined for many years. Sanders is also a dance writer of articles, educational publications and two books, having been assistant editor for the 2nd edition of Routledge’s Fifty Contemporary Choreographers published in 2011.

The last in the series will be A2 Dance: Focus on The Royal Ballet, 1956-1977 examining the Area of Study The Royal Ballet 1956-1977 providing historical and cultural context. There will be a specific focus on identifying key practitioners and their stylistic characteristics through practical and theoretical exploration on 25 November, again presented by Lenton.

A worthy set of useful and insightful information courses to inspire any teacher.

The Hospital Club Top 100

The Hospital Club

It has been revealed that choreographer Wayne McGregor, Former Director of The Royal Ballet, Monica Mason and First Artist of The Royal Ballet Liam Scarlett have been nominated for the Hospital Club Top 100 list, an annual list which celebrates those who have influenced the creative industries over the previous year, be it through pointe shoes, jazz pants, tutus or tap shoes. The list is spread over ten categories from Art & Design and Performance to Fashion and Film.

As The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer, Wayne has created a number of pieces for the company, including Carbon Life and Machina from the Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 collaboration with the National Gallery. Over the coming season, Wayne will present Infra and Raven Girl which is a collaboration with The Time Traveller’s Wife author Audrey Niffenegger. This will be in addition to presenting FAR with his own company Wayne McGregor|Random Dance.

Mason retired as the Director of The Royal Ballet at the end of the last season after spending 54 years with the Company as both a dancer and in an administrative capacity, with Kevin O’Hare stepping into her ballet shoes to take over the reins. As well as dancing with The Royal Ballet, Scarlett has choreographed a number of pieces for The Royal Ballet, including Diana & Actaeon from Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Sweet Violets – which was seen being rehearsed during The Royal Ballet live broadcast on YouTube – and Asphodel Meadows. Within the 2012/13 season, Scarlett will be presenting Viscera, a piece originally choreographed for the Miami City Ballet, in addition to a yet untitled new work.

The final list will be announced at an event at the Hospital Club in early November and is decided by public vote. All voters will be entered into a draw to win a day’s access to the Hospital Club and £150 to spend in any of the club’s bars or lounges. Voters are able to vote online as to who they feel should make the final list.

Image courtesy of The Hospital Club.

Ethan Stiefel and the Royal New Zealand Ballet

Ethan Stiefel

Ethan Stiefel, who may or may not be better known as a star of the ballet film Center Stage , has formally retired from dancing with American Ballet Theater and has been working tirelessly as Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet for over a year. He has just announced plans for the company’s 2013 season and the premiere of Giselle, his first commissioned production full of supernatural tutus, ballet shoes and ethereal beings, filling ballet, rather than commercial fans with much anticipation.

With his friend, Johan Kobborg, Stiefel is creating a new production of Giselle, starring Stiefel’s fiancée, Gillian Murphy, which premieres in Wellington on November 7 of this year. July 2012 saw Stiefel give his farewell performance in New York as an American Ballet Theatre principal donning show tights and ballet shoes, but is now preoccupied with his new productions.

The RNZB website displays the profiles of 30 dancers, including Murphy, but Stiefel has stated there are now 34 dancers in the company including some from the New Zealand School of Dance. The lucky three company members who will join Murphy in dancing the role of Giselle are Antonia Hewitt, Katherine Grange, and Tonia Looker and the Albrechts will include former Royal Danish Ballet principal, and now freelance guest artist, Andrew Bowman and Qi Huan.

Image courtesy of notmydayjobphotography‘s photostream on Flickr.

The Next Guest Speaker for RAD

Royal Academy of Dance Logo

After the success of the Royal Academy of Dance’s first Guest Speaker event with Christopher Hampson in April 2012, and the recent event in October with Kevin O’Hare, the RAD’s Faculty of Education has announced that Robert Parker, the Artistic Director of Elmhurst School for Dance, will be their next guest speaker on Sunday 18 November at Birmingham Royal Ballet. The RAD will be offering dance fans the chance to hear yet another leading dance figure’s journey and anecdotes by opening Birmingham Royal Ballet’s tutu adorned doors.

As a Principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet company, Parker donned his ballet shoes and tights and performed all of the classical lead roles, as well as performing in works by esteemed choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, Kim Brandstrup and David Bintley. He recently completed the Faculty of Education’s Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma at the RAD, adding yet another dance string to his ballet bow. As for the Elmhurst School for Dance, based in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the institution offers ballet training to 11 to 19 year olds, with close links with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Elmhurst is the oldest vocational dance school in the UK and its vision is to provide a world renowned centre of excellence for the training and education of classical ballet dancers for Birmingham Royal Ballet, and many other national and international dance companies.

Parker is set to discuss his training and career in dance with his audience for the Royal Academy of Dance, with the event free of charge to RAD Faculty of Education students, RAD members and RAD staff, but non-members are also welcome to reserve in advance. Attendance will cost £10 (including VAT) for non-members, with places allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Image courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance.

The Launch of the Female Choreographers’ Collective

Female Choreographers' Collective

Holly Noble and Jane Coulston, both professional dancers and choreographers, recently asked the question: where are all the female choreographers? In recent years it has been a recurring topic of discussion in modern dance as an industry that is predominately female and as an art form particularly pioneered by women, such as Isadora Duncan, Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham and Twyla Tharp, let alone the rest of the dance sector. In a bid to answer this, be it choreographers of pointe shoe and tutu, leotard and leggings or any other dancewear background, the pair have launched the Female Choreographers’ Collective, an organisation that is looking to reverse the apparent skewing of opportunities toward male dance makers.

Noble and Coulston are making a stand in response to the dwindling number of female choreographers receiving regular funding or support in the same league as their male counterparts through the FCC, with the sole purpose and mission of the collective to support, encourage and spearhead work created by female choreographers across the UK. They are aiming to contact all female choreographers in the UK and organise forums, networking opportunities and platforms to showcase the abundance of female talent currently creating work.

In addition to their championing of the female dance artist population, the pair are also committed to investigating the reasons behind the inequality, calling on all female choreographers that are interested in highlighting this issue to share their experiences being a female choreographer in the dance industry today. The issue has been discussed over the last few years, with Dance Umbrella hosting a forum on the topic in 2009. In this heated debate everything from childcare to sexualisation and ego of the male choreographer were thrown into the arena. Whilst Noble and Coulston currently only have theories, they hope the FCC will provide clear answers on the shift with the support of female choreographers in order to provide female choreographers with the opportunity to stand alongside their male peers and gain higher profile choreographic commissions and opportunities.

The FCC will support female choreographers of all genres, whether they are just starting out on their creative journey or are fully established choreographers, having presenting an FCC women’s choreographic platform on 13 October 2012 to offer a platform for female choreographers and to celebrate the FCC launch. The pair are aiming to run a women’s platform regularly, for example three times a year or more.

Holly Noble

Holly trained at The Arts Educational School in Tring and at Laban Conservatoire in Greenwich specialising in Ballet and Contemporary. She has had a diverse career in Theatre, TV and Film working as a freelance dancer, choreographer, actor and teacher. As a dancer she has worked with various choreographers such as Ashley Wallen, Lynne Page and Michael Voss.

Holly is founder and Artistic Director of A.D. Dance Company, a neoclassical touring company of eight dancers. Alongside this Holly Directs and Produces ‘Platform A.D’.

Holly has most recently joined English National Ballet as an Associate Dance Artist and has been appointed as Artistic Director for English National Ballet Youth Company.

Jane Coulston

Jane Coulston in is the Director Choreographer of Beyond Repair Dance, a contemporary dance company.

After finishing her training at Laban Jane worked internationally as a dancer and choreographer, working and studying further in New York. Working with the New Amsterdam Dance Theatre, Stagedoor Theatre Arts and various dance theatre companies in the USA. This work included off Broadway productions and work with the American academy of film London.

The New Home of London Studio Centre

London Studio Centre LogoThe London Studio Centre recently announced confirmation that it would be moving its headquarters to artsdepot in North Finchley from the start of the 2012/13 academic year, in addition to all the leg warmers, leotards, ballet shoes, jazz pants and noisy tap shoes it will also be transporting through means of its new and returning students. With the new term and year well underway, such a resourceful and ‘giving’ venue seems perfect for such an organisation.

The performing arts college has also announced that it is delighted to be working work closely with this first class performance venue which is also home to the performing arts of Barnet College and Middlesex University’s third year dance performance showcase once annually. artsdepot will provide lecture halls, a library, rehearsal studios and performance space for London Studio Centre, giving the students fantastic facilities to hone their craft in. The building also facilitates the opportunity to develop interesting and innovative collaborative work with other artists, adding yet another strand to the college’s outlook.

artsdepot will house the London Studio Centre’s foundation, first and second year students temporarily while negotiations for the fit out of its proposed new premises in West London are completed, which will provide it with purpose built studios and state of the art facilities. The London Studio Centre has moved from its York Way studios after 26 years due to the Kings Cross area redevelopment but looks forward to creating a new home in Acton with brand new studios in the near future.

Dancers’ Career Development… Dancers Selected!

Dancers' Career Development (DCD) LogoFollowing on from the announcement of the Dancers’ Career Development project to mentor twenty dancers, a hugely popular application process has seen the dancers selected, all nominated by their peers as future leaders (wearing a variety of dance shoes and an array of leotards).

The dancers’ mentoring scheme saw the dancers selected by a panel of dance professionals to take part in Dance UK’s new scheme in partnership with Dancers’ Career Development and with the support of Arts Council England. As a result of the scheme’s popularity, Dance UK is seeking further funding to extend the programme to Scotland and to also raise further funding to repeat the scheme in 2013 and 2014 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, enabling even more dancers and their leg warmers to take part.

The dancers selected to take part this year are:

1. Kate Coyne, dancer, Michael Clark Company
2. Shane Shambhu, Dancer, Actor and Artistic Director of Shane Shambhu Company
3. Neil Westmoreland, Resident Director for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures
4. Kit Holder, first artist, Birmingham Royal Ballet
5. Jonathan Goddard, independent dancer
6. Laura Jones, dancer for Stopgap Dance Company
7. Lee T Johnston, dancer, National Dance Company Wales
8. Henrietta Hale, independent dance artist
9. Sonia Sabri, Artistic Director of Sonia Sabri Company and independent dancer, choreographer and teacher
10. Malgorzata Dzierzon , dancer, Rambert Dance Company
11. Jonathan Payn, First Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet
12. Hannah Bateman, Leading Soloist, Northern Ballet
13. Angela Towler, dancer, Rambert Dance Company
14. Catarina Carvalho, dancer, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance
15. Anusha Subramanyam, Artistic Director of Beeja, performer and choreographer
16. Emma Dunn, independent dance artist
17. Naomi Cook, member of Springs Dance Company, and a freelance dancer, teacher and rehearsal director
18. Catherine Bennett, independent dance artist
19. Dena Lague, independent dance artist
20. Nicole Watson, dancer and creative director at Surface Area Dance Theatre

The selection panel, which was Chaired by Dance UK included Pedro Machado, Co-Artistic Director of Candoco Dance Company (who personally benefitted from the mentoring scheme in 2006), Marie McCluskey MBE, Founder and Artistic Director of Swindon Dance; Sue Wyatt, experienced arts manager and dance company leader; Benjamin Dunks, Artistic Director of Attik Dance; Dr Scilla Dyke MBE, Senior Lecturer, Royal Academy of Dance and Trustee of Dancers’ Career Development; Monique Deletant, Administrative Director, Akademi South Asian Dance UK; and Jan De Schynkel, former dancer, teacher, choreographer and Arts Council England Relationship Manager

Over eight months the dancers will be provided with a paid mentor who is a high profile leader from the arts world or beyond the sector.