Amy Everett – performing passion

Amy began dancing aged seven at Garland Theatre School. As a child she performed in various shows and pantomimes such as ‘Alice’ in Alice and Wonderland with Youth on Stage theatre company, and ‘Wendy’ in Peter Pan the Musical with the Palace Theatre summer youth project. Pantomimes included Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty with One from the Heart productions.

At 16 Amy continued to train professionally at Tiffany Theatre College. Throughout her time at TTC she represented the college at many dance events and conventions, such as The World Skills Show, Move It, Can You Dance? and the UEFA Women’s Champion League final opening ceremony.

Since graduating from TTC in 2015 Amy has worked in musical theatre in shows such as CATS the Musical (playing Jemima/Understudy Rumpleteaser) onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, and Singing In The Rain (Female Ensemble/Broadway Ballet Girl) at the Gordon Craig Theatre.

Amy is currently performing in Cinderella at the Grand Opera House, Belfast as female ensemble/Understudy Cinderella with QDOS pantomimes, finishing mid-January 2017.

Photo: Samantha Wood Photography


Have you always wanted to be on stage?

I started dancing at the age of seven and, almost immediately, I knew that it was what I wanted to do as a profession! I would always watch the ‘big girls’ on stage and wanted to be like them!


Where did you train and what was it like?

I trained professionally at Tiffany Theatre College. I trained there for three years and would recommend it to anybody! The teaching faculty are amazing, and I found the size of the college intake was beneficial in terms of getting one-on-one time with teachers, and I improved quicker. As well as training I made some brilliant friends and lifelong best friends.


What has been your favorite audition since leaving college and why?

I think my favorite audition so far is the audition I had for CATS the musical. The music and choreography is so inspiring. I just remember looking around the room and being so overwhelmed by all the talented performers and creatives! I thought it was amazing.


What is a day in your life like?

A day in my life is never the same, which is one of the perks of this profession in my opinion. At the moment I’m lucky enough to be dancing in a show and performing every day, so my days are pretty exciting. The getting ready, warm up, and two show days are my favourite days! When I’m not performing my days are filled with part-time work, teaching dance and training – I love to take classes at studios in London and I love to go running on the beach back at home!


What is the best thing about performing and dance?

The best thing about dance for me personally is that the work never ends. There’s always more you could do, always something you could be doing better. In terms of performing I think the best thing is the feeling of disappearing for a while: escaping from whatever is going on in the real world for a few hours and just doing what you love!


What is the worst thing?

This is a tricky one… the worst thing about performing and dance for me would be the constant uncertainty of not knowing where your next chance to perform will come from, which you could argue is also what makes it exciting…


Do you have an pre-show rituals?

I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious at all, but I always take a sip of water before I go down to the stage and stretch my splits if required, before every show!


What would be your advice to an aspiring performer?

If I could give any advice to anyone training or working in the performing arts, be it dance, singing or acting, it would be do not hold back! Even when you feel at your most uncomfortable or right at the edge of your comfort zone. Don’t let opinions affect your view of your own personal goals. If you want to achieve something you are everything you need, combined with hard work. I struggled with confidence for a while, and if I could speak to my younger self that is what I would say. Whatever is it that you do, go for it!


What’s next for you?

After the pantomime season I am going to return home and get my training shoes back on for 2017! I’m looking forward to getting back into classes and attending auditions for shows this year.


Under the guidance of Dragon’s Den investor Deborah Meaden, Swing Patrol, the dance school and company, is launching a new cardio fitness workout named SwingTrain. Inspired by vintage vibes and street dances, SwingTrain is an exercise experience accompanied by the music of swing, gospel, rhythm & blues and jazz, far from the electronica that accompanies many cardio exercise classes.

SwingTrain, like Swing Patrol, is developed by Scott Cupit, the award-winning dance teacher and entrepreneur whose pitch secured investment on Dragons’ Den. The SwingTrain total body workouts are inclusive and suitable for all levels of fitness and coordination – no dance or fitness class experience is required. SwingTrain fitness instructors lead participants through a series of fun, follow-along moves inspired by the vintage street dances such as Charleston and lindy hop, working the legs, arms and core, as well as developing coordination and mental agility through memorable routines.

SwingTrain has officially launched with over 50 instructors holding classes in London, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Canterbury, Exeter, Hertfordshire, Manchester and Southend on Sea. An international presence is also being built up, initially with sessions starting in Berlin, Germany and Canberra, Australia. In order to propel SwingTrain even further, it is recruiting and training even more fitness instructors who have a passion for building communities, motivating others and running their own business.

Like the Swing Patrol ethos, SwingTrain sessions are designed to foster friendships as well as fitness through dance. The atmosphere in the workout sessions aims to be supportive and uplift its participants, brining the joy of vintage dance to the masses. SwingTrain is for everyone, no matter their age, fitness levels or abilities. All that is required for a positive fitness experience is the willingness to experience less well-known dance!

Sleepless the Musical – world premiere

Fresh out of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Danny Mac will be playing the role of Sam in the world premiere of Sleepless the Musical, based on the iconic film Sleepless in Seattle. West End leading lady Carley Stenson will be joining Mac, playing the role of Annie. The production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 1 to 15 April, followed by a week at The Lowry, Salford from 25 to 29 April, finishing at Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin from 2 to 13 May. This is prior to a West End run.

The new musical has a book by Michael Burdett, music by Robert Scott and lyrics by Brendan Cull for a new score. As a new romantic musical comedy, it is based on the original story and screenplay of the movie classic. It tells the heart-warming tale of Sam who moves to Seattle with his eight year-old son, Jonah, following the tragic death of his wife. When Jonah phones a radio show, Sam is forced to talk about his broken heart and sleepless nights live on air, and he suddenly finds himself one of the most sought after single men in America.

Danny Mac is perhaps best known for playing the role of Mark ‘Dodger’ Savage in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks. He was given his first professional role as Gavroche in Cameron Mackintosh’s touring production of Les Misérables, a role he reprised in London’s West End at the Palace Theatre in 1999. After graduating, he went straight into Wicked at the Apollo Victoria. Most recently, he played Warner in Legally Blonde at the Leicester Curve. Carley Stenson played the role of Steph Cunningham in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks for 10 years. West End credits include starring as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical and Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. Carley also starred as Christine Colgate in the national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

The pair are joined by Jennie Dale as Becky and Cory English as Rob. Further casting is yet to be announced.

dotdotdot at Sadler’s Wells Sampled

dotdotdot is a dance company based in the UK that was co-founded by three dancers; Magdalena Mannion, Yinka Esi Graves and Noemí Luz. Despite having collaborated professionally since 2010, these three artists came together in 2014 to create a full length original production under the banner of dotdotdot dance. Between them they have performed in Spain’s most prestigious venues, among them Corral de la Morería, Café de Chinitas, Tablao Arenal and Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz.​

dotdotdot use flamenco as a medium to create innovative dance that challenges conventional perceptions, exploring how traditional flamenco can be expressed in a contemporary context.

In May 2016 dotdotdot curated a Wild Card evening for the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells collaborating with spoken word artist Toni Stuart, interactive sound artist Yuli Levtov and cellist Colin Alexander. They are now transforming the work into a triple bill and will perform one of the works “I Come to my Body as a Question” at Sampled festival at Sadler’s Wells and The Lowry.


Have always wanted to be on stage?

Noemí: Yes, I had dreamed of being a dancer from the age of two and a half!

Magdalena: I realised it was want I wanted when I fell in love with flamenco as a teenager.

Yinka: No, it wasn’t until I started dancing flamenco in my early twenties that I started thinking of the stage.


Where did you train, and what was it like?

Noemí: I trained at Elmhurst Ballet School, Central School of Ballet and then in Seville with Yolanda Heredia. It was extremely challenging but at the same time amazingly rewarding.

Magdalena: I trained for a year at both Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Merce Cunningham, and in Madrid I trained at Amor de Dios and Conservatorio Superior de Danza María de Ávila. Inspiring and never ending.

Yinka: I trained in Madrid at the renowned flamenco school Amor de Dios, and subsequently moved to Seville to continue training. It is an endless and challenging journey!


Describe a day in your lives.

Up by 8am (in theory); we have a hearty breakfast and then hop on the bus to the studio for pilates, warm-up and rehearsals from 10am till 4pm. We have a late lunch (Spanish time) and then go back to the studio in the evening if we’re preparing for a tour. After that we often spend our nights working on the computer on the production side of our projects.


How important is your ranging and diverse training in your work?

All of us come from very different dance backgrounds, and even within flamenco we each have a very different approach and style. We spend a lot of time exploring each dot’s movement qualities and we find this very enriching. We feel that this openness is something that defines our work.


What has been the defining moment of your careers?

Noemí: Performing for the first time at a professional flamenco ‘tablao’ in Seville.

Magdalena: Whenever a student has a eureka moment in class it makes everything worthwhile.

Yinka: Very recently, performing an original piece in collaboration with Asha Thomas at the Mes de Danza in Seville to an audience full of peers and flamenco royalty!


What has been the most challenging?

Noemí: Learning to improvise a flamenco solo with live musicians.

Magdalena: Keeping going no matter what people think.

Yinka: Accepting the way my body moves.


What’s the most rewarding thing about dance?

The sensation of dancing to live music is really exhilarating and requires you to be completely present in the moment. Connecting to your body on a daily basis and using it as a vessel for expression is a very beautiful and endlessly fascinating experience.


What’s the worst thing?

Having to face yourself every day regardless of your mood. (That and a cold studio in the morning.)


Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Each one of us has their own little pre-show ritual. Just before going on we all hold hands and whisper ‘m**rda!’ in Spanish.


Who or what inspired you to form dotdotdot?

We felt really inspired by each other as artists, and the initial idea was to come together and do one gig. We soon discovered that this could go even further and embarked on the creation of our first show No Frills. We also found we had a shared experience as British flamenco dancers and dotdotdot came out of a desire to create from that place.


How will you be part of this year’s Sampled at Sadler’s Wells?

We will be presenting a re-worked version of ‘I come to my Body as a Question’, one of the pieces we created for our Wild Card evening at the Lilian Baylis in May 2016. We can’t wait to work with Toni Stuart again who is the spoken word artist involved in this project.


What is your advice to an aspiring dancer?

Noemi: True success is embracing your own truth.

Magdalena: Breathe and remind yourself why you love it.

Yinka: Trust and believe!


What’s next for you?

We’ll be presenting a triple bill of three short works choreographed by all three dots for the company. We’re also working on a project called ‘Los Nacimientos’ based on the poetry of Pablo Neruda, and directed by opera singer/composer Tom Randle.

Equity’s dance development

Equity, the union for all things performing arts, has revealed its plans to devise a contract especially for small-scale dance companies in the aim to improve pay and conditions in the independent dance sector. It is working with the Independent Theatre Council on a contract that will be similar to the current Equity/Independent Theatre Council performers contract, but this time it will be tailor-made for dancers.

The new development will be the first dance-specific Equity contract for the independent sector, taking into consideration dancers’ needs and requirements. At present Equity has an opera and dance contract in association with the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, which caters mostly for dance work that is venue-based, rather than considering the activity of small-scale companies too. It also has agreements with dance companies such as Rambert, English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet, yet these are larger and more self-sustainable.

A new dance-specific contract could include clauses relating to the number of hours an individual can dance, physiotherapy, and provisions in case of injury. It could also factor in time for daily classes as well as requirements for things such as room temperature and break frequency – at present there are no formal guidelines which could mean dancers in this area may not be treated in the best possible way. Equity hopes therefore that the new dance-specific clauses would encourage more companies to use an Equity approved contract.

Many independent dance companies choose to draw up their own contracts, due to the fact the current Equity contract is not entirely suitable, yet this means the companies are operating unregulated and unapproved by Equity. Equity aims to provide dancers with reassurance that their contract has been viewed by a third party to ensure it is viable.

Rambert and Dutch National Ballet’s partnership

Late last year, Rambert and Dutch National Ballet launched an international partnership in order to support the artistic development of the organisations, specifically for choreographers and composers. Over the next twelve months the participating artists will have the opportunity to meet and observe rehearsals with choreographers affiliated with the companies, work with company dancers and have a series of one-on-one meetings with the organisations’ artistic teams. The artists may also have the chance to present work, collaborate with other creatives, and attend or hold workshops and masterclasses.

The partnership began with a joint programme of exchange between both companies and the artists supported. It saw Peter Leung, a former dancer with Dutch National Ballet and emerging choreographer, spend five days in residence at Rambert. His visit included sessions with Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin and Artistic Associate Peggy Olislaegers, and there was also the opportunity to shadow young choreographers during rehearsals and spend time with a number of company dancers.

Also taking part in the exchange will be another Dutch National Ballet’s 2016-17 Young Associate, choreographer Juanjo Arques; Rambert’s inaugural Leverhulme Choreography Fellow Julie Cunningham; and current Music Fellow Anna Appleby. Artistic development is essential for any dance company, in terms of vibrancy and wellbeing. The lucky participants will work closely with executives from Dutch National Ballet and Rambert too, expanding existing development programmes and encouraging international collaboration between emerging artists.

Both Rambert and Dutch National Ballet are leading modern companies with a strong classical background, with a current focus on heritage alongside the importance of creating new work and reaching out to new audiences. Artistic development of young choreographic talent has been an important aspect of both organisations, and the new scheme provides a step towards a new structural strategy for this.

Sergei Polunin on screen

Sergei Polunin, the Ukrainian ballet dancer who has returned to the stage, is on his way to Hollywood. Frequently described as “the bad boy of ballet”, Polunin left the Royal Ballet company in a media storm to focus on a career in tattoo art. He was the company’s youngest ever principal, consequently a major force in the ballet world. Since then he is back on stage, collaborating with his partner Natalia Osipova and rekindling his love for dance.

In terms of his screen work, Polunin is currently the subject of the documentary ‘Dancer’, Steven Cantor’s PGA award-nominated work. Prior to that Polunin could be seen in a film collaboration with David LaChapelle in the video to Hozier’s hit song ‘Take Me to Church’, receiving upwards of 17 million views of this viral piece of film. Considered by many to be one of the greatest ballet dancers of his generation, Polinin has now been cast in two upcoming film titles: Kenneth Branagh’s all-star adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express and Red Sparrow.

Polunin’s shift to the screen will mean his audience base will increase rapidly. Polunin confirmed his involvement in the two films to The Hollywood Reporter from the sidelines of the British Independent Film Awards ceremony last year. Dancer was up for best documentary but lost out to Notes on Blindness. Despite this, it looks as though Polunin is set to succeed. Murder on the Orient Express and Red Sparrow will be Polunin’s first major studio features.

Murder on the Orient Express, starring Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Judi Dench, will see Branagh directing, also starring as the famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. It is thought it will start shooting in Pinewood in January. For the spy thriller Red Sparrow from Fox, Polunin will be appearing alongside Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton.

Dance film inspiration

With the dark nights still upon us in the UK, what better excuse to load up your favourite dance film and snuggle down for the evening. There are many iconic dance films, both classic and current, and throughout the genres – there’s definitely something for everyone.

Perhaps the most classic dance movie of them all is The Red Shoes (1948); choreographer Matthew Bourne’s version launched at Sadler’s Wells last month. It tells the story of aspiring ballerina Vicky, who is taken under the wing of an impresario. He turns her into a star, and she dances the lead in his ballet of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, The Red Shoes – where a young woman may not stop dancing whilst she wears the shoes. When Vicky falls in love with a composer, the impresario dismisses her from the company. She dances The Red Shoes one last time before tragedy strikes.

Flash Dance (1983) is yet another iconic film about dance, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot. Welder and exotic dancer Alex wants to be a trained dancer, but unfortunately is too afraid to audition for a professional school. With the help of her boyfriend, she eventually picks up the courage and is successful at gaining entry. With Irene Cara providing the title track it is a definite must for any dance movie night. Alongside this are the music video style dance sequences, which was being explored for the first time on MTV when this film was made.

Still in the eighties is Dirty Dancing (1987); Frances is taken to a sleepy resort for summer. There she meets Johnny, the resort dance instructor, and they fall in love. They plan to dance together at the end of summer season celebration but they face opposition from Frances’ father who thinks Johnny is too old for his daughter. Thankfully she disobeys! 2000 sees another rebellion in Billy Elliot, about young boy from a miner’s family. He must overcome family difficulties and social stigma to pursue his passion for dance, eventually taking up at place at the Royal Ballet School.

Scottish Ballet’s first digital performance

Scottish Ballet, under the artistic direction of Christopher Hampson, is set to unveil the world’s first digital dance programme as part of its plans for 2017. What will form a digital season is said to be the first time a ballet company has curated a month-long programme of projects made for the format. Through this new programme the company will explore a new way to present dance through its different projects planned.

In a world first, Scottish Ballet’s entirely digital season of dance will take place in spring 2017. This is particularly ground-breaking in delving into how dance fits into the digital world, through a series of innovative creative projects. Through this, the company’s award-winning productions will be presented internationally alongside works created by some of the world’s greatest dance makers.

The company will be bound for New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and California, and will debut a world premiere alongside a diverse repertoire. The upcoming 2017-18 season will sit alongside a new work which will be unveiled in Glasgow in April. Created by Dutch-Israeli choreographic partnership Ivgi & Greben, it is expected to push Scottish Ballet into new realms of movement and theatre, a big shift for the company.

The season will also see the 25th anniversary of the death of Scottish choreographer Kenneth MacMillan marked with a recreation of his early work Le Baiser de la Fee, at locations around the country. With only one revival since its creation in 1960, the piece will be performed alongside the company’s version of The Rite of Spring in October and November. The Scottish Ballet dancers will also perform Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling in the spring, then A Streetcar Named Desire and three US-linked pieces during the company’s travels. A double bill shown at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015 will also be performed in London.

Funding from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, known for its generous funding, recently awarded more than half a million pounds to the Southwark Playhouse, the Old Vic and Hull Truck Theatre amongst other arts organisations. A total of six theatres are included in the latest round of funding from the foundation, of almost £567,000. The money will be used towards supporting projects that work with diverse communities, as well as young and emerging artists associate with the organisations.

The Old Vic Theatre Trust has been awarded £105,000 over the next three years to support its Old Vic 12 mentoring project, while the Lyric Hammersmith has received £30,000 to provide training and career guidance for young people from culturally diverse backgrounds. The programme will work with people aged 16 to 25, who have had no previous professional experience. This will include training in performance and technical skills. Salisbury Playhouse has also received £30,000 to encourage greater engagement from children from military families.

In smaller donations, Southwark Playhouse will use its £21,155 to support a scheme to develop young writers from south London schools, through which each writer’s work will be performed at the venue by professional actors. Hull Truck’s £20,840 will go towards its residency and bursary schemes, while Tangled Feet Theatre Company will use its £21,000 to support a mentoring programme for eight emerging theatre companies. The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has also has awarded money to the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, to support the Heritage Angel Awards, and Hay Castle.

The foundation’s recent activity is not just funding others. Earlier in December the foundation published the results of research it commissioned into diversity in the theatre sector, following Andrew Lloyd Webber’s claim that UK theatre was far too white. The Centre Stage report was published as a result.