Hairspray the Musical on Tour!

Hairspray the Musica

Hairspray the musical, full of big hair and big laughs will be going on tour again in 2013, and the 60s dresses, the cans of hairspray and the loud-and-proud, rather catchy soundtrack, will all be going too.

Mark Benton will be playing the cross-dressing role of Edna Turnblad, with other casting to date including Lucy Benjamin (Lisa Fowler from EastEnders) playing Velma Von Tussle and Freya Sutton (who has recently graduated from Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts) playing Tracy Turnblad. The cast will be joined by X Factor finalist Marcus Collins as Seaweed Stubbs, Gemma Sutton as Amber Von Tussle, Lauren Hood as Penny Pingleton, Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle, Josh Piterman as Corny Collins and Paul Rider as Wilbur Turnblad. Link Larkin, Tracy’s squeeze, is yet to be cast but already the show looks like not one to be missed!

Hairspray is based on the 1988 film comedy starring Ricki Lake as Tracy. The musical takes place in 1962 with Baltimore’s Tracy Turnblad as a large girl with big hair and an even bigger heart who desperately wants to dance on The Corny Collins Show, sponsored by Ultra Clutch Hairspray. She wins a spot on the show which is a local television programme, and becomes a teenage celebrity overnight. This glory is faced with the indignation of the programme’s reigning princess Amber Von Tussle, complete with matching dress, shoes and handbag, whose overbearing mother Velma produces the show. The girl on the show who gets the highest popularity rating will be crowned Miss Teenage Hairspray – and Amber wants the crown that Tracy seems destined to win.

Hairspray will be touring to Salford, Sunderland, Bradford, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Nottingham, Dublin, Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Norwich from 11 February to 29 September 2013.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

U.Dance 2013

U.Dance 2013

Calling all talented young dancers!

U.Dance 2013 is searching for high quality individual or group dance pieces that deserves to be showcased at a top level youth dance festival next year. Get your leotards out and get practising!

New for 2013, there is now a chance for individuals or groups (of up to 30 dancers) with pieces of up to 20 minutes in length to apply to take part in U.Dance 2013 under a new strand launching this year called U. Dance New Dimensions.

This exciting event will be different from previous national festivals where dancers performed at one venue; this time dance work will be showcased across a variety of venues to show the breadth of youth dance choreography and performance the UK has to offer. U.Dance New Dimensions will mean that pieces can embrace a more experimental approach and push boundaries of what is expected of ‘youth dance’.

U.Dance 2013, Youth Dance England’s national youth dance festival will be taking place in Leeds in July 2013. The festival will give some of the best youth dance groups in the UK the opportunity to perform in high-profile venues across the city at the only event of its kind. Performers will be able to take part in workshops across a range of styles with leading artists and inspirational teachers in prestigious dance studios. Groups, duets and individuals will be able to perform on an evening in one of Leeds’ main dance venues such at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet/Phoenix Dance and Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

This is a great opportunity to showcase your own or your group’s work with fewer restrictions on group size and length of piece and more room for high quality, unique and experimental performances, allowing performers and choreographers more freedom when creating their pieces.

Applications close on the 30th November 2012.

Image courtesy of U.Dance.

Flawless Set to Appear in Bristol Panto

Flawless

Flawless, famous by the hit TV show Britain’s Got Talent, is heading to Bristol on December 7 2012 to take part in Aladdin at the Hippodrome, pulling on their festive costumes and thinking ‘panto time’!

The street dance sensations will star alongside Carol McGiffin, Josie Gibson and Andy Ford in this family pantomime which will run from December 7 – January 6 2013, complete with all the audience’s favourite pantomime gags and a special injection of street dance talent from Flawless, starring as the Peking Police Squad.

The group shot to fame by competing in the third series of Britain’s Got Talent where they wowed both audiences and judges alike, even winning the notorious Simon Cowell over. Since then the eight members have rocketed to stardom having appeared in the popular StreetDance films and most recently headlined alongside Kylie Minogue at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert. In addition to this, the group featured in the Paralympic opening ceremony 2012 and will be making an appearance on an upcoming results show of this season’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Flawless has also collaborated with English National Ballet earlier this year on their production of Against Time – a fusion of street dance and ballet which dazzled audiences – as well as their own successful 110 date tour Chase the Dream. Aladdin at the Bristol Hippodrome will mark their pantomime debut.

Kevin Wood, Chief Executive of the pantomime producers First Family Entertainment said: “We are thrilled to have secured Flawless to join the cast of Aladdin and look forward to them adding a modern twist to our traditional family pantomime…we have worked extremely hard in securing the boys to give South West audiences the best show ever”.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dancewear for the Zumba Party

Zumba

The Zumba craze has well and truly taken hold of the fitness and dance world, shaking up a storm and providing fun and fabulous calorie-burning workouts as a mix of dance and aerobic routines. Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez during the 1990s. This music is the key ingredient to Zumba classes, where the score, created with specific beats and tempo changes, transforms the workout from one toning, strengthening or cardio move to another, targeting every major muscle group in the body. With the energy of the Latin beat, and the structured workout Zumba classes give you the ultimate non-workout exercise regime.

The next step on the Zumba ladder is working out what is best to wear for a class. Zumba is a high performance activity and it demands high performance clothing, and the dancewear industry has done a huge amount of researching and developing fabrics that stretch and breathe. Suitable for both men and women partakers in Zumba are jazz pants or leggings and close fitting dance tops which accentuate movement and allow teachers to see the dancers’ movements clearly, available in a huge array of colours and styles. Capezio dance tops in particular provide a clean cut look, and their jazz pants are also available in a drawstring design.

Bloch dance trainers and sneakers are also great options for Zumba classes, light, breathable, and designed for high impact dance. The trainers come in a great range of colours, and leather and canvas designs with features that make them ideal for the activity. They provide excellent grip, a ‘spin-spot’, split soles, are shock absorbing and lightweight, with many designs suitable for the whole class. Get your own and join the party!

Boys Only! at Laban

Boys Only! Workshop at Trinity Laban

The Royal Academy of Dance, in partnership with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, present the “Boys Only!” workshop on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December, for boys and young men between the ages of 8 and 18. Boys Only! provides the opportunity to demonstrate potential and to dance with and learn from male peers through quality teaching and insights into the dance profession.

This high energy two-day workshop will give male students across London the opportunity to combine classic ballet training, with energetic creative and contemporary workshops and stylish Street Dance, donning their dancewear and engaging in inspiring dance training, a unique way to discover and develop new talents dancing alongside and learning from leading dance artists. Philip Page, who currently teaches at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, will be leading the ballet class, Anton Streeks, who teaches on the Step into Dance programme, will lead the Street Dance class and Ross Carpenter, a Dance Practitioner at Trinity Laban, will lead the creative and contemporary class.

Boys Only! began in 2005 when the RAD raised £50,000 at a Billy Elliot -The Musical gala and launched the programme with the aim of widening participation in dance through open access events, specifically targeting young men with little or no dance experience, let alone a range of ballet shoes or practice uniforms. It is now a national programme working in collaboration with many regional partners, delivering ballet from fresh perspectives in conjunction with other dance styles.

Boys Only! courses are subsidised by the Boys Only! Fund which was established to provide opportunities for male students to access dance.

Dance Umbrella’s Artistic Director to Step Down

Dance Umbrella

Betsy Gregory, Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella, has announced that she will be standing down from the post next autumn in 2013, at the conclusion of the 35th Dance Umbrella  festival. By the time she leaves the leotards, leg warmers and array of coloured costumes behind her of previous festivals, Gregory will have completed sixteen years at Dance Umbrella, seven of them as Artistic Director.

The 2012 festival marked a major shift for Dance Umbrella, both artistically and organisationally. There were many firsts: it was the first time the festival programme was co-curated, the first time the festival was devoted to investigating a very particular ‘slice’ of what dance makers are doing right now, and the first time the festival has taken place almost entirely in a single venue, the new Platform Theatre at UAL’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Houses were full and feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive.

Since Greogory’s appointment in 2007, the Dance Umbrella Board and team have successfully navigated the organisation through a major transition in which the team have introduced many new strands of activity. These include free, outdoor performances, large-scale participatory projects of an unusually high artistic quality and the presentation of new work from under represented areas of the world, such as Africa.

The 2013 festival will continue Dance Umbrella’s innovation: bringing the new and developing audiences and the art form.2013 the team will return to a more expansive festival format, working with multiple partners across the city to present new work and collaborate on unique projects which would not happen otherwise. Over the next year, with the support of the Board and the Arts Council, Gregory will work to ensure that Dance Umbrella is in the strongest possible position to continue its work into the future, under the leadership of a new Artistic Director.

Image courtesy of Dance Umbrella.

My First Cinderella

My First Cinderella

English National Ballet’s My First Cinderella tells everyone’s favourite rags-to-riches story in a beautifully adapted version for young audiences, introducing the magic of ballet and all its ballet slippers to children from the age of three. Transformed into a glittering Princess who shall go to the ball, Cinderella leaves her tatters behind and embarks on a life of tiaras and sparkle.

My First Cinderella is choreographed by George Williamson, recently appointed as English National Ballet’s Associate Artist. Earlier this year, at the age of 21, he created Firebird which had a fantastic reception, and was a new work set to Stravinsky’s classic score for the company.

The “My First…” series brings young audiences their first taste of ballet through the magic of fairytales, captivating music and beautiful dance in collaboration with the English National Ballet School. After presenting My First Sleeping Beauty at the Peacock Theatre in 2011, ENB2 returns with its graduating dancers and their tutus of outstanding potential from the School.

The concept of My First Cinderella was dreamt up by Williamson and Loipa Araujo, being generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust. Lighting the production will be Richard Howell and musical direction will be by Gavin Sutherland, well known for his work with English National Ballet. Starting at the Peacock Theatre, My First Cinderella will tour to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, The Churchill Theatre in Bromley, the New Theatre in Oxford, The Hawth Theatre in Crawley, the Opera House in Manchester and the Richmond Theatre, Richmond.

Image courtesy of English National Ballet.

The 13th National Dance Awards Nominations

National Dance Awards Critics' Circle

The Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle announced the nominations for the 13th National Dance Awards at a reception held at The Place on 9 November 2012, an extremely exciting time of year for the tutu wearing, pointe shoe-hopping dance artists and fans alike. The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held in The Robin Howard Theatre at The Place on Monday 28 January 2013.

The nominations for the 2012 National Dance Awards are as follows –

DANCING TIMES AWARD FOR BEST MALE DANCER 

Jonathan GODDARD (Rambert Dance Company & Freelance)
Akram KHAN (Akram Khan Company)  
Vadim MUNTAGIROV (English National Ballet)
Edward WATSON (Royal Ballet)

GRISHKO AWARD FOR BEST FEMALE DANCER 

Begoña CAO (English National Ballet)
Eve MUTSO (Scottish Ballet)
Marianela NUÑEZ (Royal Ballet)
Tamara ROJO (Royal Ballet)

STEF STEFANOU AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING COMPANY

Merce Cunningham Dance Company 
New Adventures 
Royal Ballet Flanders 
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

BEST CLASSICAL CHOREOGRAPHY

David BINTLEY (‘Faster’ for the Birmingham Royal Ballet)
Christopher HAMPSON (‘Storyville’ for Ballet Black)
Annabelle LOPEZ OCHOA (‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ for Scottish Ballet)
Alastair MARRIOTT & Christopher WHEELDON (‘Trespass’ in‘Metamorphosis – Titian 2012 Bill’ for The Royal Ballet)

BEST MODERN CHOREOGRAPHY

Alexander EKMAN (‘Cacti’ for Nederlands Dans Theater II)
Akram KHAN (‘DESH’ for AKRAM KHAN COMPANY)
Arthur PITA (‘The Metamorphosis’)
Kate PRINCE (‘Some Like It Hip Hop’ for Zoonation)

OUTSTANDING FEMALE PERFORMANCE (CLASSICAL)

Yuhui CHOE (Royal Ballet)
Ksenia OVSYANICK (English National Ballet)
Beatriz STIX-BRUNELL (Royal Ballet)
Jia ZHANG (English National Ballet)

OUTSTANDING MALE PERFORMANCE (CLASSICAL)

Yonah ACOSTA (English National Ballet)
Paul KAY (Royal Ballet)
Zdenek KONVALINA (English National Ballet)
Dawid TRZENSIMIECH (Royal Ballet)

OUTSTANDING FEMALE PERFORMANCE (MODERN)

Azzurra ARDOVINI (Phoenix Dance Theatre)<
Teneisha BONNER (Zoonation)
Wendy HOUSTOUN  
Hannah KIDD (Richard Alston Dance Company)

OUTSTANDING MALE PERFORMANCE (MODERN)

Tommy FRANZÉN (Zoonation & Russell Maliphant Company)
Dane HURST (Rambert Dance Company)
Christopher MARNEY (New Adventures)
Liam RIDDICK (Richard Alston Dance Company)

BEST INDEPENDENT COMPANY

Ballet Black 
Ballet Cymru 
Rosie Kay Dance Company
Shobana Jeyasingh Dance 

The National Dance Awards have been organised by the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle each year since 2000 and they celebrate the vigour and variety of Britain’s thriving dance culture. They are the only awards given by the body of professional dance critics in the UK, presented by the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle which brings together more than 50 dance writers and critics.

Wayne McGregor | Random Dance at the Barbican Centre

rAndom International: Rain Room

On Sunday 18 November, 2 December, 20 January 2013 and 24 February 2013, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance is set to perform in Rain Room at The Curve, Barbican Centre. Random International’s acclaimed Rain Room installation in the  Curve gallery will be inhabited by dancers from Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, performing continuously evolving interventions in the Rain, with a score by contemporary composer Max Richter.

Known for their distinctive approach to digital-based contemporary art, Random International’s experimental artworks come alive through audience interaction. Their largest and most ambitious installation yet, Rain Room is a 100square metre field of falling water for visitors to walk through and experience how it might feel to control the rain. On entering The Curve the visitor hears the sound of water and feels moisture in the air before discovering the thousands of falling droplets that respond to their presence and movement.

Wayne McGregor | Random Dance is part of Weekend Labs which are immersive arts workshops for adults, offering two full days of action and conversation with other interesting people at the Barbican. They give an opportunity to explore creative work in-depth though practical work in a range of international art forms with Weekend Labs giving a direct access to world class arts and learning programme. These events will build on a series of past collaborations between the award-winning choreographer McGregor and the acclaimed studio Random International, including Random International’s Future Self (MADE, Berlin, April 2012) and Wayne McGregor | Random Dance’s FAR which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in November 2010. FAR is now touring nationally and internationally.

McGregor is a multi-award-winning British choreographer and director, internationally renowned for his physically testing choreography and groundbreaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science. In addition to being Artistic Director of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, he is also Resident Company at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London and Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet (appointed 2006).

Admission is free but audiences will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis from the queue.

Photo © rAndom International, photography by James Harris.