Andrew Lloyd Webber: 40 Years

Andrew Lloyd WebberITV are set to celebrate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s impressive and vast 40-year career with a 90-minute television special to mark his musical achievements. Stars such as Samantha Barks, Kimberley Walsh, Tim Minchin and Nicole Scherzinger are among the performers who will take part in the show which aims to celebrate the on-stage work of Lloyd Webber, rather than be a tribute to said work, which is sure to continue far into the future.

Aptly named ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber: 40 Years’, the 90-minute programme will be hosted by musical theatre icon Michael Ball, donning his top hat and tails to make sure the show goes down a storm for viewers. The show will include performances of songs from the Lloyd Webber’s shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats and Evita. Both Jesus Christ Superstar and Cats have seen recent revivals for the stage, giving younger audiences the chance to see musicals that they may have been unable to see in the shows’ heyday. However, these examples alone demonstrate the power of Lloyd Webber’s music to communicate with audiences and continue to attract them to fantastic shows up and down the country, and even all over the world.

The evening will also feature the first performance of a song from Lloyd Webber’s forthcoming show, Stephen Ward, and will include Lloyd Webber sharing anecdotes and discussing his musical influences in creating for a blockbuster show. Contributions from those people within the performing arts industry who have worked with him will not be thin on the ground, with the programme detailing Lloyd Webber’s unrivalled contribution to theatre.

Lloyd Webber will be using the ITV programme to celebrate his four decades in the West End with an evening that promises some spectacular performances and a deeper insight into the man himself.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Female Choreographers’ Collective: ‘The Experiment’

Female Choreographers' Collective - "The Experiment"The Female Choreographers’ Collective, founded in October 2012 with the aim of promoting female choreographers in the UK, will launch a two-part forum titled ‘The Experiment’ to be held at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance starting Tuesday 23 April.

The founders, Jane Coulston and Holly Noble, will be asking audience members to watch six pieces of dance work by three male and three female choreographers but without the knowledge of who has created each piece. The audience will then be asked to fill out questionnaires anonymously and the research will be presented at a second event later in the year in order to question the existence of a gender divide in dance.

The founders are committed to building and developing valuable and lasting relationships with male and female counterparts within the industry. Through collaboration, discussion, open dialogue and honesty, they aim to bring all choreographers to a level playing field, regardless of gender.

The research project to take place at Laban theatre aims to strip away perceptions about choreography in dance, with the audience asked to consider the following:

– Are you more inclined to watch male- or female-choreographed work?

– Is there a preference when it comes to male/female choreography?

– Does topic or subject of work matter?

– Does prior knowledge of the choreographer influence decision?

– Does publicity/advertising attract you or discourage you?

– Do you always watch a particular genre of dance?

– What most attracts you to seeing new work?

– Are reviews an important part of decision-making?

– What puts you off going to watch performances?

The information collated throughout the event will be distributed before an all-day seminar later in the year, also at the Laban theatre, with guest speakers, a panel discussion and breakout sessions.

Image courtesy of Trinity Laban.

The 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition

The 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition

The judging panel and choreographer for the Final of the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition has been announced by the Royal Academy of Dance in the run up to its flagship competition, fondly known as the Genée. The Genée is one of the largest annual ballet competitions in the world and is widely recognised in the dance industry, with past winners going on to dance with some of the best companies.

Retired Principal ballet dancer and recently appointed RAD President Darcey Bussell CBE, Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare and Scottish Ballet Artistic Director Christopher Hampson will be judging the Final at this year’s Genée, to be held in Glasgow from 20-29 September in association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Ballet. Hampson has been an active supporter of the Genée since 2003 when he took on the role of the Commissioned Choreographer.

The panel will select medallists from the entrants, the rising stars of ballet, who will perform variations choreographed by Royal Ballet Choreographic Apprentice Robert Binet, and also those from either 19th or 20th century classical repertoire. The entrants will have the chance to interpret new choreography from Binet, with both dancers and choreographer learning from each other. Binet’s work will be performed by both male and female competitors and will be premiered at the Final, which will take place at the Theatre Royal Glasgow on 29 September 2013. Public performances by semi-finalists will take place on 26th and 27th September at the New Athenaeum Theatre, Glasgow.

The Genée attracts high levels of talent from young dancers all over the world who have passed their RAD Advanced 2 exam. The Genée gives the judges, audience and entrants alike the chance to see the new generation of ballet talent tackle fantastic and renowned choreography on an international stage in a showcase of international dance talent.

How Should Dance Teachers Measure Up?

Measuring For Dance Costumes

Your dance shows are being prepared and the costumes have been shortlisted, but there’s still a lot to do… including taking the measurements for all your students. To help you out, here are a few tips to help you ensure all your students’ costumes fit like a glove!

General Tips

Make sure your students are wearing a leotard or other tight-fitting garment (with empty pockets!) when you are taking their measurements.

Have your students stand with their feet apart slightly and their arms straight out to their sides.

Be sure not to pull the tape too tightly and remember that younger students will continue growing throughout the year. You can ensure there is sufficient room for growth by inserting two fingers between the body and the tape measure itself.


First, measure the chest. The measurement here should be taken around the back to the chest around the fullest part. Ensure your student is not holding their breath as this will make the measurement larger than it should be. Ask your student to take a deep breath in and out – recording the measurement once they have exhaled, which should help!


Next, the waist. You should be aiming to measure the “natural waist” of the student. To find this easily, ask your student bend to one side and measure from the spot their body naturally folds at. Try to make sure your student is not sucking in his or her tummy… as with measuring the chest, the breathing trick works here too!


Now it’s time to measure the hips. Take a measurement around the widest part of the hips.


The girth is probably the most important measurement to think about for all costumes built around a leotard base. If your students are not wearing a leotard when you are measuring them, ensure their trousers are pulled all the way up! Measure over the shoulder, between the legs and back around to the centre of the shoulder where the strap of the leotard will sit.


Last but not least, take the inseam measurement. Ensure your students are standing straight and looking directly ahead. Have them hold the measure between their legs at the innermost upper-thigh and then measure down to just below the ankle.

That’s just about it! For further guidance you can refer to our size chart and please bear in mind we always recommend going up one size if a particular student is between sizes. Of course if you have any questions you can always give us a call on 0845 330 1 330!

Dancing for Comic Relief!

Comic Relief

March 2013 has seen £75,107,851 raised through the 25th Red Nose Day to help transform lives in the UK and Africa.

Dancing and fundraising have lent themselves to one another vastly in the past, and 2013 has been no different. Already this year stars have been dusting off their dance shoes in order to raise lots of money for charity, including Ann Widdcombe and Russell Grant in a Strictly Come Dancing special for Children In Need, and Coronation Street actor Anthony Cotton and his performance of Anything Goes for Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. This is without counting the many non-official dance-athons and sponsored swing dances, for example, undertaken by the general public, contributing vastly to this cause.

To help raise money for Comic Relief, slapstick comedy genius Miranda Hart has completed five challenges in five cities in what was aptly named ‘Miranda’s Mad March’. Of particular interest for dance fans everywhere, Miranda completed a Strictly Come Dancing evening in the Manchester Town Hall with Strictly professional Pasha Koyalev, with the daunting task of dancing a Latin American routine to the iconic dance track I’ve Had the Time of My Life. Organising and performing at this special Strictly event from the all-time favourite dance film, Dirty Dancing!

Of course a dance performance without a few worries would be unheard of, so Miranda’s knee injury cropping up before her challenges had even started meant that she worked extra hard to complete the Dirty Dancing challenge and even attempt the iconic lift! With Pasha a worthy contender for the legendary Patrick Swayze, Miranda also created magic with her co-star Sarah on the dance floor, and they could even be contenders for the next series of Strictly Come Dancing!

The 42nd Street Gala

42nd Street

100 of the best UK tappers – including So You Think You Can Dance winner Matt Flint – joined forces for a spectacular Gala performance in aid of the Caron Keating Foundation. The Caron Keating Foundation is a fund raising charity set up by Gloria Hunniford and her sons Paul and Michael in order to aid many cancer charities across the UK. The charity gala performance of the Broadway musical 42nd Street was held at the London Palladium on 17 March in aid of the Foundation. 

250 people both on and off stage gave up their time and services for free in order to generously to produce an uplifting and exciting evening. 100 dancers donning their tap shoes and tights, including part of the original 42nd Street production in Drury Lane in the 1980’s, gave some exciting performances which brought many standing ovations.

Also on stage were many well known names which included Brian Conley, Gary Wilmot, Summer Strallen, Gok Wan, Russell Grant, Gabby Roslin, Angela Rippon, Wayne Sleep, Louis Spence, Arlene Philips, Vanessa Feltz and many more, much to the delight of the audience. More bedazzling talent also appeared in the form of So You Think You Can Dance winner Matt Flint, a former pupil of Laine Theatre Arts, who choreographed several numbers for the show.

Next for the Caron Keating Foundation is the Night of 1000 Stars which is to be held at the Royal Albert Hall in May. This will be to celebrate Harold Prince, who some may argue is the King of Broadway, and his multi award-winning shows. Songs from West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof, A Little Night Music, Sweeny Todd, Cabaret, She Loves Me and stars from both sides of the Atlantic will be included.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Matt Mattox: A Dancing Life

Matt Mattox

Matt Mattox, the renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher who helped shape contemporary jazz dance in the United States and Europe, died on February 18, 2013 in France aged 91. Perhaps known under the auspice of ‘Matt Mattox technique’, Mattox’s interpretation and approach to jazz dance has been practiced and delivered by many students and professionals, and will no doubt continue to be. Mattox taught his brand of dance to generations of pupils, first in New York and later in Europe.

Mattox had a prominent career dancing in films and on Broadway in the 1940s, and afterwards, despite being less well known than some of the celebrated Hollywood dancers of his era, such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Despite this, he was every inch their competitor in making his mark on the art of dance throughout the twentieth century, even appearing in the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, amongst others, choreographed by Michael Kidd. For his role in Seven Brides, Mattox can be seen performing a dazzling series of leaps and splits above a sawhorse.

Mattox went on to build on jazz dance’s aesthetic traditions and kinetic vocabulary by developing the work of his mentor, prominent choreographer and teacher Jack Cole, envisioning the body as a straight line with curving lines of light energy. As a result, Mattox, as a primary protagonist, built on Cole’s traditions and reshaped them as his own. As a dancer, and later choreographer, Mattox was celebrated for his ease of movement and precision, in addition to his fantastic agility. Mattox helped conceive a dance genre that was subtler, more rhythmically complex and far more eclectic, combining his own extensive training in ballet with tap dance, modern dance and folkloric dance traditions from around the world. What resulted was a new, fluidly integrated art form Mattox called ‘freestyle dance’.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Reasons to dance

Reasons to Dance

First of all, and most importantly, dance makes us happy! We get to do something we love every week, wear beautiful and sparkling costumes, improve our dance technique and performance, have fun, make friends and keep fit! Exercising through dance releases hormones called endorphins which make us feel positive, spreading to other areas of our lives too.

As well as increasing endorphin levels, dance keeps us healthy and active, and is far more enjoyable than going to the gym! Dancewear and gym-wear are quite similar, but there are so many designs of leotards, dance sneakers and other dance clothes, we are simply spoilt for choice. Dance also lowers stress levels by stimulating our brains in other ways, and takes your mind of other worries that are nagging away – dancing is fun, free and exciting!

Aside from learning about technique, different dance styles and new skills, dance also educates us about our posture and how we look to the outside eye. This has benefits that run far wider than for just dance alone, making us look younger, feel healthier and increase our longevity as humans who have learnt about the correct way to hold ourselves. Dance also increases strength and flexibility by improving joints, muscles and general stamina, as well as toning the body up.

By dancing, we are creating opportunities to meet new people as well as creating time for ourselves. There are no distractions meaning you can concentrate properly on learning the steps, polishing the routine or simply working on your technique. Meeting new people and making friends also means that dance becomes enjoyable on another level, socialising with others who share your passion.

Above all, dancing and taking part in dance classes mean we learn more about dance and engage in our favourite hobby – what’s not to love?!

Upcoming Dance UK events

Dance UKDance UK, the national voice for dance founded in 1982 to tackle the big issues facing the dance sector, has organised an array of events suitable for budding dancers, students, choreographers and teachers.

‘Fundraising for Artistic Projects’ is a seminar for dance managers and self-managed artists as part of the Business of Dance training programme on 5 April 2013. The session will provide practical knowledge and information for self-managed dance artists, company dancers looking to develop their own work, and independent dance managers who want to develop their skills. Focused on will be the types of funding available, identifying local funds open to artists, an overview of Arts Council England Grants for the Arts funding and top tips on how to write successful funding applications.

The ‘National Choreographers’ Conference’, in previous years known as Choreoforum, will be held on 11 May on behalf of the Choreographers Professional Network. The National Choreographers’ Conference is the only open national event for choreographers, whether it’s film, commercial, contemporary, West End, opera, youth choreography or choreographic teaching. A committee of diverse choreographers steer the conference content by requesting speakers, offering a forum to share artistic debate, concerns and to network with fellow choreographers in a non-competitive environment, to share expertise and information. The conference will also include sessions for individual, agencies and training/higher education institutions that are involved in Choreographic Talent Development.

‘Nutrition and Touring’, on 8 April, is a new seminar aimed at company managers, artistic directors, rehearsal directors, touring dancers and dance science students and practitioners. It will feature the most up-to-date research and advice in healthy touring and nutrition for dancers. Speakers will include Mhairi Keil, Performance Nutritionist and Consultant with the English Institute of Sport, Jess Sayers, Company Manager, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance and Erin Sanchez, Healthier Dancer Programme manager, Dance UK in order to share knowledge and enable the attendees to learn from fellow dance professionals working in dance touring who strive to create healthy working environments in dance companies and theatres.

Easter Courses For Young Dance Students

Easter 2013 Dance Courses

Despite many dance schools taking breaks for the Easter holidays, eager dance students still have the chance to dance their way through the holidays. There are a wide variety of courses to suit every dance taste, such as hip hop, musical theatre and ballet, enabling students to build on existing skills, and even gain an idea as to further training in dance which they may like to undertake in the future.

ZooNation Easter Academy are inviting beginner and intermediate level dancers to learn from ZooNation company members, covering a wide range of hip hop and street dance styles including Locking, Popping, Breaking, House and Waacking. Students will also be able to learn some original choreography from the hit West End show Some Like It Hip Hop.

The Place Youth Dynamics course can see students work with the renowned national touring company Tavaziva Dance, allowing young dancers to develop their contemporary technique and learn some of the company’s repertory.

The Royal Academy of Dance are holding a Boys’ Day of Dance for male students aged 7 – 16, enabling them to experience four different dance styles: Ballet, Street Dance, Contemporary and Capoeira. The classes held will be taught by professional male teachers and performers, helping to inspire young males in introducing them to dance.

Laine Theatre Arts’ International Easter course will incorporate Jazz, Musical Theatre and Drama workshops, building up a range of skills for students perhaps interested in auditioning for the vocational training course offered at Laine Theatre Arts in Musical Theatre and Dance.

All courses offered by a whole host of dance companies, examination boards and training institutions are fantastic opportunities to inspire new talents and develop existing skills of dance students who are eager to further their training and improve their skills.