Saturday, 30 April 2011

So You Think You Can Dance: This time it’s for real!

Apologies for the lateness of this posting, I’ve been playing catch up all week!

The first of the real nerves will be apparent tonight, as one boy and one girl will be leaving! And already the first two are on dancing on quicksand, as the lasers generally steals the show. It’s a Commercial number for Ryan and Stephanie by Paul Domain, a mix of jazz and street, pop video style. Steph impressed more than Ryan, whose transitions between moves were pretty obvious and it all needed more dynamism.

Sisco said: I thought they did brilliantly with what they were given, choreography was at fault! Ooh, controversial – but I tend to agree.

Matt and Charlotte draw a foxtrot and give it the “what’s a foxtrot?” look. Personally, I think this’ll be perfect for Matt and it turns out to suit them both. Shades of Camilla Dallerup in Charlotte, with her hair flying; similar feel to Cam’s Here You Go Again choreography with Tom Chambers in Strictly. Dancing to Just The Way You Look Tonight, Jaci Stephens and Chris Marquez – although Latin hotties – give them a gorgeous floaty number, a little more rise and fall needed from Charlotte but Matt full of swing and sway, lovely pairing, easy and bright, smiley smiley performance for all. My first vote!

Arlene said: Matt’s making the foxtrot the hottest dance in Scarborough, movie star possible, so exciting.

Lee C and Katie with Lyrical Hip Hop next, by Kate Prince. Everybody is certainly starry-eyed by the end, Katie was completely fabulous, full of personality and nailed all the moves, except for the one little slip off the breakfast bar, but we’ll forgive her that, especially after that amazing off the table spin into Lee’s arms. Tight, together, character and feeling. Brilliant routine. Another vote!

Louise said: Acting superb, believed in your story.

Richy and Shane with a Karen Bruce Broadway themed Mr and Mrs Smith! Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend mashed into Material Girl brings about a big and brassy fabulous routine; Richy’s timing is immense; Shane the perfect Secret Agent Man! Third vote out of four ... I’ll be rescuing Britain’s economy alone if this standard carries on!

Nigel said: My favourite so far! Richy proved that hip hop dancers can do anything; Shane very strong, great job, sir!

Charlie and Alice with a Mandy Moore Contemporary and They Are Beautiful together! What Charlie lacked in technique he made up for in emotion, character, attack and charisma; Alice in her element – far classier than Rihanna and Bieber! Er, that would be my 4th vote ...

Arlene said: Alice danced beautifully; Charlie, I wish I could give you the gift of technique ... your body speaks the language of dance.

Another Mandy Moore number for Paige and Gianluca, only this time it’s a Jazz to Forget You. And unfortunately, it looked like Paige forgot some of the routine – turns out she slipped and had to improvise a fair bit, leaving Gianluca having to literally think on his feet. Great spirit but become a little messy, highlight move was Paige’s spin into the splits. Nigel pointed out the slip and applauded them for being able to carry on.

Sisco said: Clumsy Paige; solid Gianluca.

Danielle and Luke have drawn The One That No-one Wants – the Samba! Jaci and Chris on choreography duty again. For me, Luke stole it there, Danielle had to work very hard on the technique so it wasn’t as get-down-and-dirty as it should’ve been, whereas he was more dynamic.

Louise and Sisco both asked: Where was the Latin spirit?

Katrina and Tom have a Simeon Osyea hip hop: Brilliant! Loved it – what is it with ballet dancers and hip hop? (see Alex/Twitch in fave dances section!) Katrina was fantastic, the tutting, the attitude, the connection and Tom had to go some to keep up but still did a great job.
Sisco said: I hate it when people make me do this *leaps out of chair and shouts aye carumba, or something similar* He was very excited ...

Arlene said: What the competition is all about!

Kirsty and Lee B draw Sarah Boulter’s Contemporary and bring themselves into contention with me – beautiful, intense movement, lyrical, emotional – a star performance from both, both shone, great partnering.

Louise said: Kirsty brought us into the stage; Lee intriguing.

Israel and Bethany Rose are given a Karen Bruce Disco, complete with major lifts (which doesn’t actually do anything for me, I’d rather see their feet moving on the floor) but for One Night Only, I’ll happily watch Israel’s boogie woogie classic opening! The routine overall was a great spectacle, what with all the throwing around - but I want to see what else Israel can do!

Nigel said: Exuberance ... look at the happiness in the audience.

Results Show:
Big opening with a Gothic style vampish Toxic, terrifically choreographed by Beth Honan; awesome. So who’s safe: Charlotte and Matt; Katie and Lee C; Katrina and Tom; Danielle and Luke; Kirsty and Lee B; Richy and Shane; Israel and Bethany Rose; Charlie and Alice! Whoop, all my faves safely through! It’s Ryan versus Gianluca and Stephanie versus Paige. The audience seeing the same as the judges!

Stephanie’s sizzling solo samba; Ryan, a snappy semi-disco piece; Paige, acrobatic and explosive, which gets my vote over Stephanie; Gianluca , more intense contemporary solo – but think he may pinch it on past performances and judges comments.

Jennifer Hudson with a funky, bluesy Feelin’ Good, with added strings, powerful and dynamic. Considering the tragedy in her life not so long ago, she’s awesome.

Judgement time: Nigel said Gianluca was let down by his partner and Ryan wasn’t memorable; Paige, a fine fireball of talent all went away while Stephanie served it up, showed how a sexy Latin dance should be ... Paige and Ryan leave us tonight.

So who impressed? Those I’d already chosen – Matt, Israel, Charlie and Tom are now joined by Lee B, whereas the only girl I’d picked out previously, Richy, has competition now from Katie and Katrina - with honourable mentions to Kirsty, Charlotte and Alice!

Bet you can’t guess what tonight’s theme is?!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

What they said about Figure Ground and Light Vessel 21...

“It’s about the sights and emotions and seeing the bits in between” – Hil, High Halstow. Hil was the lovely lady who kept us fed and watered at the refreshment table as we meandered around the ship, so a huge “Thank You” for that, Hil :-)

“A very good idea to preserve a bit of history; the whole concept is creative” – Joyoti, Calcutta (left). Joyoti is taking a well earned holiday from helping India’s street kids in Calcutta, where he is also involved in running an amateur community radio station.

“A tester piece for artists and LV21 to have bigger installations ... use your head and heat to respond to the space. How to react ... not just an exhibition, it was how the collaborations work and where to go next!” – Jon Adams, artist.

Figure Ground/LV21: The Light Vessel Historical Society

Yes, I dutifully began taking notes, thinking I could use it in the Rochester People article, while also thinking I ought to be concentrating on Figure Ground ... I actually wrote “not part of Figure Ground” after the very convincing “We apologise for the noise and people, we’ve been double booked”!

The web address they gave us - - doesn’t exist. But it should do - so I took the liberty! You’ll find a short Figure Ground history of LV21 here! (Some of it may even be true!)

NB: I've since been in contact with Fiona Long, one of the contributing artists on the Lightvessel Historical Society project, alongside Steve McPherson, Sarah Britten-Jones and Katy Beinart. Please do pop over to her blog about the event and keep an eye on it, since more about the history of LV21 may well appear in the future!

Figure Gound/LV21: Hannah Hull and Bob the Mariner, Untitled

An almost accidental meeting for macramé artist Hannah and Bob the Mariner resulted in Hannah acquiring a set of new skills, as sea-soned (sea what I did there? And there?) Mariner Bob showed Hannah, more ropes! Her “fancy rope work” is now strengthened by Bob’s 50 years worth of knotty knowledge; he found his land legs and needed a hobby!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Figure Ground/LV21: Ingrid Plum, Lookout

Depth of tone and paper boats filled the lookout space, don’t let the innocent Red Riding Hood look deceive you; the strong, clear quality of Ingrid’s vocal would’ve captivated the big bad wolf and left him helpless.

Figure Ground/LV21: Elise Liversedge & Mary Hooper, Last Station

The cabin of the last crewman, Brian Packham, was traced, literally “tracing the solidity of the steel” – for Elise, fired up to take the project further “this is just the domestic start”. The light Vessel, here and now, moored on the pier. How will it merge with the landscape and interact with the developments?

Figure Ground/LV21: Colin Turner, Nicola Rae & Paul Malone, Hydrophone Frequencies

Hydrophone Frequencies was a computer interpretation of the water outside the Light Vessel, with sound reverberating and echoing unlike it would in any other gallery and a visual to match. With a hydrophone in the water relaying one set of images, and recordings of Colin singing sea shanties transmitted from below deck producing another, a bit of sustained humming from me produced the wavy lines you see above! Pure fun! Thanks for letting me have a play, Nicola!

Figure Ground/LV21: Matt Bray, Sea Monster

Matt Bray is well known to Medway creatives, as he’s often to be found dishing out the cappuccinos and cakes from behind the counter at the Deaf Cat! Imagining his creation within the lightship space, rough sketches gave way to the full size creature, a carefully controlled explosion of my favourite colours.

“Extremely proud; he’s living his dream” – Matt’s Mum

“I like the blue lines working with the blue chain” – Chris, UCA Rochester.

I like that the Octopus seems to be eyeing up the apple core ... “someone left their own little installation” quipped Matt!

Figure Ground/LV21: Jane Ponsford, Endless Voyage

Jane’s idea of an endless voyage began with thoughts of how a crew member would be feeling when on board the lightship: detached, out there, in a world full of little worlds. From ships in bottles, the idea evolved to include water from the Medway, seaweed and those amazing lights, suffusing the blackened hull into an otherworldly space.

In her words: “Being on the LV21 has been a brilliant experience; an experiment with lovely people.”

Figure Ground/LV21: Jon Adams

Jon Adams is an original member of Figure Ground and is Artist in Residence for the University of Portsmouth. As with many of the Figure Ground installations on LV21, sound was the preferred media; Jon’s mum used to live in Gillingham, and he relayed radio recordings of her fascinating wartime memories of nearby Skinner Street and the Pier.

As a lead artist for Dysarticulate 2, Jon is encouraging the community to make a field of flags (when I say field ... it could be a window box, a roundabout or a beach – it’s your choice!) culminating in an Open Weekend on 22nd -24th July, the start of the 12 month countdown to the 2012 London Olympics. To find out how you can be involved as an individual or part of a group, visit the website here.

Figure Ground Artists Commandeer Light Vessel 21!

A perfect Spring day dawned for the Figure Ground artists on Light Vessel 21 – I wrote a small piece on Rochester People to accompany the gallery of photos, but wanted to feature some of the installations and individuals artists I spoke to on the day. As with the South Bank Sky Arts piece, I shall put them into nice easy manageable chunks!

Figure Ground is an artists' network in that aims to reconfigure the current context of art in public spaces, initiating projects throughout South East England. Keep an eye on updates for any near you!

LV21 is a stunning creative space on board a decommissioned Lightship moored at Gillingham Pier, whose aim is one of collaboration and support for creatives throughout Medway and beyond.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

So YouThink You Can Dance, Week One: Just For Fun!

It's just for fun cos no-one, no-one, is going home tonight! They're letting us get to know them first, whoop! So it's a major league group number by Mandy Moore up first, to Please Don't Stop The Music; it's crisp, tight, brilliant, big big smiles all round - Matt the Tapper stood out I'm pleased to say.

Jazz number for Shane, Bethany Rose, Luke and Katie to Wake Me Up Inside - highwires, dark, dramatic, passionate, sexy vampires. "Set the standard flying high" - Arlene

Lee C, Contortion Charlie, Richy and Israel Hip Hop to .... The Archers!!!? Ha, a mash up with It's Like That. They had the moves and the comic characters, great job, well worked together. "Must be like Nigel's house" - Sisco; "Hip Hop and theatre merging together" - Louise

Danielle, Stephanie, Katrina and GianLuca have contemporary to Bridge Over Troubled Water, Fluid and together, emotional, played to all their strengths. "Uplifting" - Nigel

Broadway - Tappers Tom and Matt; Paige, Cur-Lee B and Charlotte, another mash up, recognising Anything Goes. Fantastic tapping, I think we're (me, Monkseal, Nigel) are all agreed: they needed a showcase on their own - not really fair on the other three.

Kirsty, Ryan and Alice, a jazz number to Crazy and Ryan stole it for me, don't understand the judges comments, singling him out later, thought he looked pretty impressive. "A bit too smiley" - Louise. They were aiming for the emotion of the song - Crazy!!

Boys versus girls to finish! Contemporary for the Boys to It's A Man's World, Sarah Boulter choreography and she gets their shirts off them! The women of Britain would hereby like to thank Sarah Boulter for her services to the sistahood. Lovin' the spotlights, the attitude, the machismo, stunning. "Bodylines; lighting; camerawork; excellent choreography" - Nigel

Kevan Allen choreographs a jazz number for the girls, Fighter, didn't have the same impact for me - but it seems these routines have been aimed very particularly at a definite market! Rithy still the only girl standing out, not the trained technique, more raw and living it. "It's all about the legs" - Arlene.

Cat puts the judges on the spot; who's hot, who's not? Sisco declines - let's give them another week! But the others single out Danielle and the Bridge Over Troubled Water contemporary as their faves; Ryan, Shane, Tom, Luke, Paige and Charlotte need to work harder. We're off and running!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Barclays Live in Croydon on Saturday

Barclays Live will searching for London's best dance act on Saturday, outside Croydon's Whitgift Centre.

If you think you have what it takes to be London’s next dance star, head over to and upload a short clip of your performance – the competition is open to individuals, duos, groups and troupes - but under 16s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian on the day.

The top ten entries will perform to a panel of judges including Strictly Come Dancing's Brendan Cole and last year's overall winners, Steadiflux (see below). Further entertainment on the day will include live music and professional performances, as well as a dance master class from Brendan himself. Following the live performances, five of the ten acts will be handpicked by the celebrity judging panel to go through to an online public vote, where the act with the most votes banks a cheque for £1000!

To enter the competition visit the above website and click on the ‘Enter’ tab or email along with your dance clip, name, phone number and postcode before midnight on Sunday 10 April. Find out more at

Saturday, 9 April 2011

So You Think You Can Dance Series 2: Choreography Camp/Top 20

The last two days, with the 58 dancers left having to master Broadway, a Group Choreography number, Contemporary and then a final solo!

The Broadway routines see them split into cool boys and sexy girls, with John Barrowman joining the panel. He's looking for characterisation, personality and showbiz more than technique.

Ryan, Tom and Luke are punchy, full of energy that doesn't flag and it earns them a standation from the panel - they're safely through to the next stage! James, Hiphop Lee and Tapper Matt, jazzy Lee and Charlie the contortionist all join them.

Over to the girls, Hip Hop Rithy, Jazzies Bethany and Megan, Ballerina Katrina and Contemporary Katie all go through. Back to the boys, Israel surprising them; Bruce needs to man up. He gets cuddles from Arlene and a masterclass on Manning Up from Sisco and John. I'm sayin' nuffin ' ... cue Rocky music. We're down to 40 already!

Sorting them out - group choreo has to be done late that night, take your groups and your music and forget sleep. Who can take the pressure: they break or ... they don't! Daniel, Bethany, Katie and Luke make the mistake of trying to be clever and the routine is pedestrian when it should have been controlled mania. "The worst piece of choreography to exciting music I've ever seen" states Nigel. They made it through, just.

Israel's choreography, on the other hand, was universally praised, he and the now manly Bruce, Megan and Gemma go through. Richy, Ryan, Kirsty and Lee all impressed, while Shane, GianLuca, Danielle and Paige produced Nigel's favourite routine. I just wish we could see all of them properly!

A Travis Wall and Nick Lazarini contemporary routine can't split the boys any more; they're all through to the solos. A couple of girls go but the majority make it through. The judges deliberate and seem pretty together on who they want; our Top 20 are:

Tapper Matt Flint; Latin Stephanie; Tapper Tom; Disco Paige; Contemporary Alice; Jazzy Shane; Jazzy Leigh; Contemporary Katie; Jazzy Luke; Disco? Kirsty; B-boy Lee; Contemporary Danielle; Contemporary GianLuca; Contortionist Charlie; Hip Hop Rithy; Ballerina Katrina; Contemporary Ryan; Jazzy Bethany Rose; Break dancer Israel.

It's hard to pick out any favourites with the tiny snapshots we've had, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Matt the Tapper, Israel and Contortion Charlie can do!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Tess Daly Fiction Novel!

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly has had her novel The Camera Never Lies picked up by Coronet. If you're of a certain age, you might be thinking it's some kind of homage to Bucks Fizz, but thankfully, no. It's a fictionalised account of a model turned TV presenter and the warts and all story of behind the scenes in TV. Editor Charlotte Haydock reckons: "Her incredibly funny novel has a larger than life cast of characters, bags of style and plenty of love and heartbreak too." Which is great, unless you're Amanda Roberts, who published Strictly Shimmer not so long ago ... I'm sure there's room for both.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

So You Think You Can Dance: Week Two Auditions

And we begin with the weirrrrrdest dancer ever ... Charlie Wheeler, contortionist break dance! Being contemporary and ballet trained he gets away with it! 'It' being weird but fantastic, we have to see what else he can do, he's so ... so ... unique, that's the word, thank you Nigel. Stunning. Exciting. Arlene reckons kind of special. Louise is intrigued, Sisco gives a reality check - could be a circus legend - it's a Golden Ticket!

"A bright bouncing bobbly kid" - Arlene

More Golden Tickets: Bethany Hanson, her secone time around, being number 21 last year. A mixture of styles not to my liking, didn't find her particularly musical. Regan, Danielle, Megan, Shane, Daniel Ovel - sure we've seen him before, in Move Like Michael Jackson.

Ryan Jenkins through, contemporary, emotive, all his family history in that. Lyrical, strong, beautiful lines and spins. Some almost popping and locking moves in there. A yes from Nigel, magnificent lines, brilliant, bringing every emotion and technique, looking forward to seeing a happy dance! A Golden Ticket from Arlene, a tear from Dad, a tear from Ryan, a tear from me. What a wuss.

"Bringing every emotion and technique" - Nigel

Ben Woods, body popper, practising in the shadows, groovy, great timing and musicality, cheeky, The male version of Flashdance, says Arlene, adorable. One of those people you want to do well, says Louise. Callbacks for him, choreography may be an issue.

"Incredible musicality, keep it driving through." - Arlene

JJ & James, popping, locking, breaking ... and Morris Dancing, lol. Let's Groove, loving the hanky work, both through, just. Sophie Cook, lyrical jazz contemporary fusion mixture, quite hard lines, not musical enough for me but she gets a callback.

Fernando Rivero, acrobatic contemporary, former Spanish world champion gymnast. Great timing, with an Olga Korbut moment at the end - but not enough dancing! A split vote gets him through! Cue Abba ...

"Rhythm, feeling and charm" - Arlene

Scott Rayson - I'm not sure he isn't my dentist. Martial arts meets dad dancing, shocking posture, lyrical hands but no ... Sisco got the giggles. Unusual says Arlene. He's had a lovely day. Mary Swift begins with hairography and Nigel's left the panel. Who told her she could dance? Rightly, Nigel says it loses the integrity for the real dancers. Take it to BGT, where they'll put you through. Age is immaterial; they're both rubbish.

Callback results: Body popper Ben doesn't make it through but is offered a free masterclass by Sisco. Lee the Tapper also misses out; JJ and James and Sophie all make it. Fernando was on it! First time ever in choreography, stormed it! Auditions are finito!

Choreography Camp #1 - Solos: The ones they thought would be top are dropping down ... three let go already!

Hip Hop routine by Simeon, Alexandra Burke joins the judging panel and eleven more are cut! We're down to 56! Three routines left for next week before we find out the Top Twenty!

"There was magic in the room" - Alexandra