Ballet Black will present a triple bill of bold choreography on 28 March, founded in 2001 as Cassa Pancho’s award-winning, neo-classical ballet company. The bill will blend classical and contemporary choreography which is both narrative and abstract. The company celebrates international dancers of black and Asian descent and aims to bring ballet to a more culturally diverse audience by showcasing the talent of these dancers from around the world.
The Dance Register, the directory of UK-based dance teachers and leaders created by DTAP (Dance Training & Accreditation Partnership), champions and promotes high quality dance teaching and leadership. It includes teachers and leaders working in a wide range of dance styles and settings – from ballet and bollywood to ballroom, and salsa and Spanish to street!
It provides a nationally recognised ‘one-stop shop’ for people looking for a suitably qualified and experienced dance teachers in their area by providing public access to a directory of dance teachers in the UK who work across a range of styles. It enables dance employers, parents, carers and participants to identify dance teachers who are committed to professional practice and it increases standards of dance teaching and leadership by ensuring teachers who join The Dance Register are committed to regular training and CPD.
You can utilise The Dance Register using a range of search options, including by postcode, dance style and age group. You can then access more information about a dance teacher (e.g. level of experience, qualifications, recent training/CPD) from their individual profile. Searching is free throughout the online directory. All teachers listed have passed The Dance Register minimum entry requirements and have signed the code of professional conduct. In addition, The Dance Register provides basic quality assurance for anyone looking to access or employ quality dance teaching and leading.
It is accessible to dance teachers through membership of one of The Dance Register gateway organisations such as Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET), Dance UK, the Exercise Movement and Dance Partnership (EMDP) and the Foundation for Community Dance (FCD).
On 6 April, the global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! celebrated its 15th birthday in London’s West End. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, stars of iconic band group ABBA who have rarely performed together since the four disbanded in 1982, then joined the cast of MAMMA MIA! in a musical finale at this year’s Olivier Awards as part of the celebrations. The show was televised for the ITV highlights show, broadcast on 13 April. 2014 also marks the 40th anniversary of the start of ABBA’s global success with the release of the hit track ‘Waterloo’.
MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island. To date, it has been seen by more than 54 million people in 39 productions, in 14 different languages, grossing more than $2 billion 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 and has now extended its booking period to 25 April 2015.
Now a global phenomenon, the London production of MAMMA MIA! has been seen by more than 10% of the entire UK population. The show has celebrated over 6,200 performances in London and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes. In 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China. This summer, the MAMMA MIA! International Tour will play an exclusive UK Summer Season at the Blackpool Opera House from 20 June to 14 September 2014: Blackpool will be the only UK venue outside of London to host the worldwide hit musical this year.
Gemma Coldicott, Step into Dance’s Inclusive Dance Development Officer, has a wealth of dance experience. From studying Dance in the Community at Laban to gaining a Masters in Inclusive Arts Practice from the University of Brighton, Gemma is a leader in her field. Since her studies Gemma now works to mentor and support freelancers teaching inclusive dance sessions, leads inclusive dance training courses, writes training resources and is currently the company Director of SLiDE (South London Inclusive Dance Experience).
When did you begin dancing, where and why?
I started dancing aged 3 in my hometown of Norwich. My mum took me to the local ballet school, I guessed I asked to go but maybe she dragged me along. But I’m so glad she did!
What were your early years of dancing and training like?
I did 15 years of ISTD Ballet, Tap and Modern, until I was 18.
What does dance mean for you?
Dance means expression and freedom. It has the power to change lives and to bring diverse groups of people together.
How long have you been working as an inclusive dance practitioner? How did it begin?
Ever since I left Laban in 2007! Shortly after I finished training I participated in a project with Heart n Soul, a learning disabled arts organisation based in Deptford. It was a dance project with 60 people, disabled/non disabled, and culminated in a performance on the steps outside the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It was an amazing experience and I understood from then on what I wanted to do, to give people access to dance who might not ordinarily get the chance.
What is a ‘typical’ day like?
Answer emails from 8am and post on social media. 10am, visit a dance class at an SEN school on the Step into Dance School somewhere in London, give the teacher feedback and support. Head back to the RAD office and complete emails, observation reports. I then attend or teach a community dance class.
What’s the best part of dance for you?
That it brings a smile to people’s faces who are both dancing and watching! It’s also the relationship between music and dance, it connects the mind, body and soul.
What would you say was your greatest dance achievement to date?
That 80 people attended my inclusive dance training days at the RAD last year, from all across the country. To share my skills and knowledge in this way feels great.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be part of the dance industry?
Do as much assisting, shadowing as you can with teachers and practitioners you respect. Be professional at all times, always be on time and be reliable. Attend courses and workshops at venues such as gDA for professional development; you never know who you are going to meet at these things. The key word is networking!
What’s next for you?
At the moment I am working hard at Step into Dance to get SEN and mainstream schools dancing together. I am hosting afternoons of dance called ‘Step togethers’ whereby disabled and nondisabled students dance together and perform for each other. Our aim on the Step into Dance programme is to promote inclusion and equality for young people across London and I think we are really achieving this.
Which classes are you holding at MOVE IT?
At MOVE IT I am running a workshop called ‘Introduction to Inclusive Dance Practice’. I shall be focusing on facilitation skills and running creative tasks with mixed ability groups. I hope to give everyone more confidence in leading creative dance sessions and some key ‘tools’ to take back and apply in their own settings.
Teaching vocational theatre and dance is the subject of much discussion with many training options available, and students with different learning styles, such as through visual cues, hearing cues and doing things actively.
What makes a good teacher?
Theatre and music teachers in vocational schools play a specialised role in student development, taking time to develop their skills by giving information and guidance to progress quickly. Some teachers do this by sharing industry contacts, careers advice and specialist teachers.
At vocational school specialist teachers apply both experience and theory to teaching lessons. Students have access to the ‘experiential’ model of education where physical skills are used to experience and train in the subject. Vocational teachers speed up this experiential process by helping to rectify bad physical habits and engage students intellectually.
Vocational school is available both as full-time and part-time schools. A full-time vocational school teaches core curriculum subjects and specialist subjects, such as acting, dance and drama full-time, whereas Part-time vocational schools work alongside a child’s traditional schooling, teaching specialist subjects after school or at weekends. There can be academic and vocational grades awarded at the end, depending on what each school offers. The part-time type of school replaces the role of a traditional middle school such as Sylvia Young Theatre School and Tring Park School.
It’s important that vocational schools keep high standards and help children to progress onto specialist further education schools: vocational schools are important places for young people to learn the skills needed for entry into theatre, dance and music crafts, even if they have not had prior experience. Vocations like theatre, dance and music require students to carry out a lot of physical repetition: the region of around 10,000 hours of practice is needed to become an expert before their bodies and minds understand fully.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Today we are highlighting an incredibly hypnotic short film called Choros. Filmed in 2011 by Michael Langan & Terah Maher, Choros is a dizzying combination of music, dance and cinema where a single dancer (Maher) is “layered” over herself 32 times… in effect, a “pas de trente-deux”! Set to Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, the result is surreal, highly inventive and just plain beautiful to watch.
The filming of Choros references a historical technique called chronophotography, whcih used multiple photographs to enable the scientific study of a subject’s movement. However, Langan and Maher have advanced the technique in Choros through digital innovation, which has lead to multiple international awards since its launch.
Watching the full work requires freeing up some time as it lasts for 13 minutes, but we urge everyone to watch this truly stunning film… it is inspirational!
Stuck for some ideas for a theme for your next dance performance? Below is a list that might help to give you some inspiration!
- The 1980’S
- A Night At The Movies
- Alice In Wonderland
- British History
- And The Winner Is – A play on the oscars with every dancer being a winner!
- Anything Goes
- Around The World
- Blast From The Past – use songs from past performances in celebration of an anniversary.
- Cirque De Soleil
- Colours Or Kaleidoscope – use songs about colours.
- Come Fly With Me – highlight tourist spots and monuments that you visit on vacation, both man-made and natural.
- Sea Cruise
- Dance For A Wish – donate a portion of the money you raise to Make A Wish Foundation Uk.
- Dance School Musical – use songs about school days.
- Dancing In The Moonlight
- Dancing On Ice
- Dancing Through The Decades
- Dancing Through The Year
- Everything Old Is New Again – do an anniversary show and repeat your favourite numbers from previous years.
- Feelin’ Good
- Growing Up
- Happiness Is…
- Historical Figures
- How We Used To Live
- Lights, Camera, Dancing!
- Icons Of Dance
- Icons Of Music
- Legends, Divas, And Superstars
- Memories &Amp; New Beginnings
- Once Upon A Time – choose fairy tales and choreograph the stories
- One Moment In Time
- Peace, Love And Dance
- Portraits In Dance – works of art relating to your dance style(s).
- Raising The Barre
- The Big Top
- Rock This Town
- Shirley Temple
- Strictly Come Dancing!
- Sweet Dreams – use songs relating to the night or dreams.
- Take Me To The Show – movies, TV, theatre, etc.
- The Abc Of Dance
- The Hopes And Dreams Of Siblings
- The Underwater World
- The Six Days Of Creation
- The Swinging Sixties
- These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Things – have your students list their favourite things and choose songs based on them.
- The West End
- Uk Rock Music
- Walking The Red Carpet
Please feel free to add to the list?
The 1st April 2013 saw the release of Dancers: Behind the Scenes with The Royal Ballet by Andrej Uspenski (himself a First Soloist with The Royal Ballet). Andrej’s exquisite photographic book contains images of some of the world’s most gifted dancers, drawing us into the beautiful world of ballet and showing us an “insider’s” perspective of the workings of The Royal Ballet at the same time.This exclusive view means we get to see behind the scenes at one of the world’s most prestigious companies, from rehearsals to opening night, through some truly breathtaking photographs.
According to Andrej, “I am in a unique position. Although I am first and foremost a dancer, working, living and spending time with other dancers, I also experience this world from behind the camera. Through this I have the opportunity to capture some of the unusually seen and unexpected images from a dancer’s day.”
About Andrej Uspenski
Andrej Uspenski trained at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been a dancer at The Royal Ballet for ten years. A passionate photographer throughout his life, his photographic work has been used in international publications and in Royal Opera House programmes.
Dancers: Behind the Scenes with The Royal Ballet is available to buy from Dance Direct!
“Uspenski’s volume shows the company in moments of unguarded intimacy that only a fellow dancer could capture.” – Daily Telegraph
“A treat… Dancers is about exceptional ballet photography and for that alone it is rare, valuable and worth collecting.” – Ballet News
“Fascinating… the pictures have a rare intimacy…an intriguing glimpse of what it’s really like to be a ballerina.” – The Lady
“This stunning collection of pictures, highly stylised and charmingly informal, is a must for any ballet fan.” – Daily Mail
Swiss balls, known by a number of different names, are large, heavy-duty inflatable balls used for aiding core strength in dance technique. The balls offer a fun, safe and highly effective way to exercise, and are relatively inexpensive compared to other exercise equipment. Stocked by Dance Direct, for example, the Pineapple ball is burst resistant, and works to keep the entire body in shape, targeting all the major muscle groups and supporting dance work.
The Swiss ball was used as early as the 1960s, originally used by physical therapists and chiropractors in Switzerland to assist with rehabilitation and became known as the Swiss Ball. Through seminars and classes the Swiss Ball was introduced to the USA in the early 1980s and became known as extremely versatile and valuable in terms of dance. In the late 1980s coaches, athletic trainers and personal trainers also realised the effectiveness of the Swiss Ball in developing balance and core strength, and since then the fitness balls have been reported as the most effective method for core conditioning.
Using a Swiss ball will improve the strength of the abs and the lower back, as well as improving balance, proprioception and flexibility. Alignment is improved by the use of additional muscles to maintain stability and balance, abs are worked simultaneously with the back muscles through abdominal crunches on the fitness ball (which have been scientifically proven to work the abs more than the regular crunch), muscle strength, tone and endurance are improved in all of the major muscle groups, core stability is built up through the use of the major and deep muscles which helps stabilise and support the body’s movements, and stretching exercises using the ball as a tool are all fantastic uses of the Swiss ball to aid dance training and beyond to maintain the dancers’ body.
Sleek Technique, an online, ballet based, fitness programme, has been designed by two professional dancers as accessible dance-fitness programme for everyone. The live classes can be downloaded “on the go” and include authentic barre techniques and ballet bootcamps, as well as downloadable sculpting workouts delivered direct to computers, tablets and mobiles.
The technique prides itself on fitting in with busy lifestyles in order to create and maintain beautifully shaped bodies whenever and wherever you are. Sleek is an entirely portable fitness methodology, perfected for non-dancers by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s professional ballerina and fitness coach Victoria Marr and West End dancer Flik Swan. It combines elements of classical ballet technique and conditioning exercises used by the professionals to sculpt their lean, dancer bodies. The Body Beautiful workouts are delivered live online or are available to download to start transforming shapes, and with a maximum of 5 people in each live class, the founders are able to monitor technique to make sure participants get the most out of every session.
Sleek Technique combines the dancers’ knowledge on which exercises really give a toned and slender body, and the girls are always ready to help transform and aid progress. Sleek uses multi functional dance based exercises which condition and tone muscles whilst improving co-ordination, posture and stamina. These are combined with isolated isometric exercises which work to sculpt individual muscle groups. Sleek Technique is low impact and easy on joints, but high intensity to strengthen muscular structure. Stretching out each muscle group as it is worked then ensures longer, leaner, dancer like muscles are created with no bulk, to show off beautiful lines with curves in the right places.