Saturday, 31 May 2014

Random Dance deliver first Summer School at Dartington

Dates: Monday 18 – Saturday 23 August 2014 (end of booking period Monday 16 June 2014)
Who can attend: Students aged 8–18 years, studying RAD Grade 2 or the equivalent and above.
Fee: £280
Venue: Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6ED

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is organising a Summer School in association with internationally renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor’s company, Wayne McGregor Random Dance. The Summer School marks the first ever collaborative project between Random and the RAD. Held at the beautiful Dartington Estate near Totnes, Devon, young dancers will be able to develop classical and contemporary techniques and learn new skills under the joint tutelage of seasoned professionals from both organisations. The week will culminate in a Saturday open day for dancers to show off their talents and newfound skills to the public.

Participants will have daily classes from both RAD teachers and Wayne McGregor Random Dance company members. Experienced RAD teachers Joanne Ward and Marsha George will be leading classes in ballet, repertoire and musical theatre, while Random company members Michael-John Harper and Fukiko Takase will lead creative sessions, where participants will be able to create original choreography inspired by Wayne McGregor’s methodology. The Summer School is open to all male and female dancers aged 8-18, studying RAD Grade 2 (or equivalent) and above. The closing date for Summer School attendance bookings is Monday 16 June 2014.

The Summer School will take place in the picturesque surroundings of Dartington Hall and all its rich history of creativity and dance. The medieval hall was built in the 14th century for John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon, half-brother to Richard II. Since then it has played host to many great scientific and artistic minds. Between 1934 - 1940 the estate offered sanctuary to the German Ballet Jooss company, following their political exile for refusing to dismiss their Jewish company members. With such a strong dancing heritage, the beautiful Dartington Estate offers a perfect backdrop for the next generation of dancers to develop and draw inspiration from their surroundings.

Random Dance’s Artistic Director, Wayne McGregor CBE, says: ‘I am thrilled that Random Dance will be partnering with the Royal Academy of Dance for the first time to deliver a summer school for young dancers at Dartington Hall. Not only has history shown the estate to be an exceptional resource for harvesting creative potential, but this particular partnership provides a unique opportunity for young dancers and budding choreographers to learn and create under the dual guidance of both our organisations.’

Dance at Fuse

Fuse Medway Festival 13 to 15 June 2014 programme is now live.  There is an exciting programme that you can view on, with some great opportunities to get involved in free dance workshops with well-known dance companies.

Southpaw  Dance Company - Hip-Hop and break dance workshop (all free)
Thursday, 12 June 3.30pm, Sun Pier House, Chatham
Friday, 13 June 3.30pm, Gillingham High Street
Saturday, 14 June 3.45pm, The Anchor, Chatham High Street (After their Performance of 'Faust' at 2.30pm)
Sunday, 15 June 2.30pm, Boley Hill Car Park in Rochester (After their Performance at 1pm)
C-12 Dance Theatre - Incorporating circus skills, parkour and dance
Saturday, 14 June 12noon and 4pm, Chatham High Street (opp Argos) workshop 15mins after 1st performance at 12noon)
Sunday, 15 June 12.30 and 3pm, Castle Gardens in Rochester workshop 15mins after 1st performance at 12.30pm)
There is also some Big Dance 2014 activity coming up which also includes free dance performances and workshops. 
Sunday 6 July 12pm at Medway Park in Gillingham
Saturday 12 July 12pm at Sun Pier in Chatham

As soon as more details appear I'll let you know!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Royal Academy of Dance launches Genee app

The Royal Academy of Dance has recently launched the Genée 2013 app, specifically designed to give users exclusive access to the excitement and atmosphere of the Genée International Ballet Competition – the flagship event of the Royal Academy of Dance since 1931.

Isabelle Browuers at Genee 2013. Photo: Andy Ross

As well as artistic director Lynn Wallis’s exclusive filmed diary of Genée 2013, you'll find dancers in action and a wealth of photos and background information. The app has been produced by Dance Gazette, the magazine of the Royal Academy of Dance.

Rory Gallagher at Genee 2013. Photo: Andy Ross

The Genee app is a glorious feast of dance news about one of the premier dance competitions in the world, taking you day by day through the 2013 event. It gives you access to everything you need to know about the RAD, including classes, membership and undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Genee 2013. Photo: Andy Ross

Proven to be a launch pad for a professional career in dance, 14 Genée medallists since the 2000 competition have gone on to dance with The Royal Ballet alone – amongst them, current Principal Dancers Lauren Cuthbertson (Silver Medallist, 2001) and Steven McRae (Gold Medallist, 2002).

The app is free to download and available on iPhone, Android and tablets. Find out more about it here.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

All Day Dance Spectacular at Dance Junction

Lord of the Flies - Kent Auditions for Boys

An exciting dance opportunity has arisen with Matthew Bourne's New Adventures‏‏‏  production of Lord of the Flies.

Lord Of The Flies will be with The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury in September and is looking for up to 30 boys to take part.

The show will give local boys the chance to work with extraordinary dancers, choreographers and designers and to be part of this thrilling retelling of William Golding’s unsettling and revealing story. It's an opportunity open to boys at all levels. including those who have never danced before.

The action is transferred from deserted island to deserted theatre, where a group of schoolboys find themselves abandoned. With no adults around they start to create their own rules and to build their own civilisation. As time passes, the rituals become more disturbing as dark superstitions take hold. Order finally breaks down and blood is spilt as Ralph, Piggy, Jack and the boys grapple with the ‘beast within’ and the story builds to its thrilling climax.

Matthew Bourne has created some of the most iconic dance theatre pieces in the last 20 years, including Edward Scissorhands, Play Without Words, Dorian Gray, Sleeping Beauty and, perhaps the most famous, his Swan Lake with all male swans. Re:Bourne, the charitable arm of New Adventures is invested in giving opportunities for young men to discover and be inspired by dance and this production will provide that.

The audition process will be co-ordinated by two Dance Ambassadors, James Middleton and Chloe Challis. They were recruited earlier this year and have taken part in a week-long bootcamp with New Adventures, including a masterclass with Matthew Bourne, in order to learn the choreography for the production and meet the professional cast.

James and Chloe will be running free scheduled workshops at schools and dance schools for boys aged 10-22. These will be running through May and June.

They will also be delivering drop in sessions at The Marlowe on a Thursday evening from 5pm-7pm on:

29 May
5 June
12 June
26 June

These extra drop in sessions will be for boys who are interested in auditioning to be part of the production. Contact James or Chloe via email.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Royal Opera House live screening: The Winter’s Tale

The story of two boyhood friends, both kings, separated in childhood and reunited as adults, is the basis for this tale of love, loss and redemption.

King Leontes (Edward Watson)

Happiness reigns until King Leontes of Sicilia, in a jealous fit, accuses wife Hermoine of having an affair with friend, King Polixenes, and that their newly born child is not his. Their eight year old child, Mamillius, witnesses his mother’s distress and, already ill, collapses and dies. Hermione, the loss of her son too much to bear, also collapses and dies, and only then does Leontes - having in his rage also banished his baby daughter - realise the disastrous consequences of his mistake. Edward Watson's immense portrayal of his character's descent into a tormented, paranoid soul is illuminated by Wheeldon's tortured, contorted and twisted choreography.

The noblewoman (I thought nursemaid) Paulina, is the emotional heart of the piece for me – the one constant in Leontes life, it was her anguish that sent me over the edge. Not only did she lose Hermione, Mamillius and the baby princess, it was her husband, Antigonus, who Leontes sent to abandon the baby girl: he was eaten by a bear [Exit, pursued by a bear]. But before that happened, he left in the cradle a beautiful emerald that had belonged to Hermione ...

That was just Act One. You had to have had a heart of stone if you weren’t blubbing by then. Stone, I tell you. Which, in the Opera House itself would’ve been ok, but the Imax at Bluewater? Not so much ...

Perdita (Sarah Lamb) and Florizel (Steven McRae)

The intensity of the first part gives way to the delicate joy of the next, as the baby princess, found by shepherds, grows up as Perdita and falls in love with a disguised Prince Florizel – son of Polixenes! Against the backdrop of a beautiful bejewelled tree, their courtship is pure wonderment. A sense of Irish & folk dancing imbues the piece with magic; the ensemble and music hints of Riverdance and I marvel again that ballet can draw from so many genres and yet still retain its own essence. Perdita is crowned May Queen and her adopted father presents her with Hermione’s emerald. But – you knew it was coming – Polixenes is unhappy with the relationship, and condemns Perdita and her family to death. They, and Florizel, flee to Sicilia.

Wistful longing and sense of loss pervades the opening of Act 3, as Leontes, supported by Paulinha mourns at the clifftop graves of his wife and child. When Florizel and Perdita arrive they appeal to the King for help and he agrees, remonstrating with Polixenes upon his arrival. In a moment of violence, Polixenes manhandles Perdita, revealing the emerald and her true identity.

Fathers and children are reunited and celebrate the marriage of Perdita and Florizel. Wedding festivities at an end, Paulinha leads Leontes to a new statue of Hermione but, suddenly, the statue comes to life. Hermione is alive, hidden by Paulinha for 16 years. An exquisite final act, and I haven't been so choked up since Les Mis – thanks, ROH Bridge!

Shakespeare’s comedy?tragedy?late romance was screened live from the ROH on Monday, April 28th, and shown in 29 countries. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and with music by Joby Talbot, we were treated during the intervals to interviews and behind the scenes glimpse of the processes involved. The audience reaction was captured on social media and posted online, where yet more plaudits were added in the comments section – read it all here.

The Live Cinema Season continues with Manon Lescaut on Tuesday, June 24th – visit the website here for the full programme. Seeing a ballet on a cinema screen is not quite being there, but it comes damn close so check out your local listings.

Post script: There wasn't a press photo available for Zanaida Yenowsky (Paulinha) but it was the desolation and sorrow in her performance that captured me most. Spooky then, that wandering around the National Gallery the next day, I found her in Da Vinci's pencil sketch. Really. Look at the photo below and then click here.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Royal Academy of Dance to present The Royal Ballet with the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) will award its highest honour – the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award (QEII Award) – to The Royal Ballet, 60 years after the award’s inauguration. The award – presented annually in recognition of outstanding services to the art of ballet by the RAD – was first conferred on The Royal Ballet founder Dame Ninette de Valois, in 1954. To celebrate this benchmark in ballet history, the award will be presented during a gala fundraising dinner for the RAD’s flagship event, the Genée International Ballet Competition (the Genée).

The QEII Award was created in honour of the 1953 coronation of the RAD’s patron, Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal Ballet will become the first ever company to receive the award usually bestowed upon individuals. The gala dinner will be held at Claridge’s in Mayfair, on 4 September 2014, the exact venue where the first QEII Award was held at a lunch on 16 July 1954. It was presented to Dame Ninette de Valois by the then RAD President Dame Adeline Genée in recognition of her outstanding contribution to ballet including her founding of The Royal Ballet in 1931 - the same year in which the Genée was first convened.

The Genée has since proved to be a launch pad for a professional career in dance, and the Academy hopes to fundraise to provide the means for a broader pool of young talent to participate. Since the year 2000, 14 Genée medallists have gone on to dance with The Royal Ballet alone – amongst them current Principal Dancers Lauren Cuthbertson (Silver Medallist, 2001) and Steven McRae (Gold Medallist, 2002). As this presentation of the QEII Award celebrates the shared history between The Royal Ballet and RAD, the gala will aim to fundraise for the next generation of young ballet talent hoping to take part in the Genée in the future.

The gala event will be hosted by RAD President and former Royal Ballet Principal dancer Darcey Bussell CBE, and the QEII Award will be accepted by Kevin O’Hare on behalf of The Royal Ballet. Dancers from The Royal Ballet will dine with the guests and the evening will feature a charity auction, where dance lovers will be able to bid for glamorous and highly sought-after prizes. The proceeds will create means tested bursaries of up to £2,500 for future Genée candidates who cannot afford the costs involved in taking part in the competition, as well to develop the competition itself further.

Kevin O’Hare, Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet, says: ‘On behalf of everyone associated with The Royal Ballet, I would like to say what a great honour it is that the Company has been chosen as recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award this year. 2014 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the presentation of the first award to our founder, Dame Ninette de Valois in 1953 and it is particularly appropriate that during the evening funds will be raised for the Genée International Ballet Competition, which does so much to discover and encourage the finest young dancers and potential stars of the future from around the world.’

Luke Rittner, CEO Royal Academy of Dance, says: ‘I am delighted that the Academy is bestowing its highest honour – The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award - on The Royal Ballet Company. The Royal Academy of Dance and The Royal Ballet have a long tradition of mutual respect and close co-operation, and these bonds of friendship will be further strengthened on 4 September when we join together to celebrate this award and to secure the future of the Genée International Ballet Competition.’

Read all about the organisations involved below:

Royal Academy of Dance
With over 14,000 members spread across 79 countries, the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is one of the largest and most influential dance education and training organisations in the world. Established in the 1920s, to improve standards and re-invigorate dance training initially within the UK, the Academy helps and encourages its teachers to perfect their teaching skills and pass on this knowledge to their students. There are currently over 1,000 students in full-time or part-time teacher training programmes with the Academy and each year the examination syllabus is taught to thousands of young people worldwide, with around a quarter of a million pupils per year going on to take our exams.

The Royal Ballet
Based at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, The Royal Ballet, led by Director Kevin O’Hare, is Britain’s largest ballet company.  The Company has a wide-ranging repertory showcasing the great classical ballets, heritage works from Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton and Principal Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, works by Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon, as well as new works by the foremost choreographers of today. Access is a key issue for the Company and its work is seen not just at the Royal Opera House but via televised and cinematic performances, outdoor Big Screen performances, international touring and through the work of the company’s Education Department

The Genée International Ballet Competition
The Genée International Ballet Competition, named after RAD's first president Dame Adeline Genée DBE, is the Academy’s flagship annual event. Also known simply as ‘the Genée’, it is one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world, attracting the finest young dancers from around the globe all of whom are students of the RAD syllabus. Candidates receive a unique opportunity to work with renowned choreographers and teachers for five days before performing at the semi-finals, and then at the final, where they compete for a range of medals. The competition has taken place almost every year since 1931, and is now a truly global event. The ChallenGenée Fund provides funding for the annual Genée International Ballet Competition. The Challengenée Fund is a Designated Fund of the Royal Academy of Dance.

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award
The QEII award is the RAD’s most prestigious award, bestowed for the first time 60 years ago in 1954 to Dame Ninette De Valois, at a lunch attended by - amongst others - the presidents of the four Royal Academies (Arts, Music, Dramatic Art and Dance). Since then it has been awarded nearly every year to many personalities in recognition of outstanding services to the art of ballet.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dance Proms 2014 - Royal Albert Hall

Tickets are now on sale for Dance Proms 2014 at the Royal Albert Hall.

Taking place on Sunday, November 2nd at 6.30pm, this international celebration of dance, dancers and dance teachers will feature selected performances chosen by an esteemed panel of professionals.

Now in its fourth year, the Proms showcases original choreographed pieces from dance troupes and teachers from all over the world. It's a unique and exciting collaboration between three of the world's premier dance examination boards and the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, and began as an on-line virtual dance festival. Find out more about the creation of their legacy here.

Patrons for 2014 include such luminaries as Arlene Philips, Wayne Sleep, Angela Rippon and Matt Flint, with Strictly Come Dancing judges Darcey Bussell and Len Goodman, professional Anton du Beke and former contestants Lisa Riley and Chris Hollins, the Series 7 champion.

To book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Strictly joins Streetdance: Where dance worlds collide!

Following a successful residency in the West End in 2012 where it attracted rave reviews, a brand new production of FLASH MOB will appear in Kent as part of a national tour.

The cast for this latest production includes Kevin Clifton and Karen Hauer from Strictly Come Dancing, Flawless from Britain’s Got Talent, and Dance Critic’s Choice winner and Olivier nominated Tommy Franzen from BBC1’s So You Think You Can Dance. Dubbed the modern day Romeo and Juliet by the media, contemporary duo Alleviate and Irish fusion couple Brosena, both from Sky 1’s Got To Dance, complete the impressive line-up.

If you’re new to dance, this show is the perfect introduction. FLASH MOB enables you to sample many styles from Latin to locking, from Celtic to contemporary and from street to Salsa.

The production climaxes with an exciting finale that is sure to see the entire audience on its feet, as it takes the show title to its literal conclusion when both cast and audience collectively experience the joy of dance through a shared FLASH MOB.

It will be the first theatre production to actively encourage social networking as an integral part of the show. Facebook and Twitter are used as tools to drive the storyline in the first act, so the audience will be invited to switch on their mobile phones and tweet as the show begins. It’s a hugely exciting concept to the many fans who engage with their dance heroes on social media.

Marina Blore, director of World Dance Management explains: “Many dancers work their way through weeks of competitive heats on TV with no public, live platform for their talent at the end of the programme. Whilst they may be offered A-list concert tours or West End shows, the dancers rarely get the chance to perform again in their own right.”

She added: “In this show the dancers have choreographed their own individual performances and with the help of Nick Winston, our artistic director and choreographer, we also show what can be achieved when these different dance genres are fused together. FLASH MOB enables the talent to showcase their work as part of a much bigger production.”

FLASH MOB is a celebration of dance, the art of movement, without the need to pigeon-hole or focus on any one genre, or an enforced or indulgent narrative. The intention is simply to celebrate dance as an art form that can “move” the audience emotionally.

Conceived and produced by World Dance Management, the show provides a platform for the amazing talent that has emerged from TV dance reality shows in recent years.

Kent Dates:

Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells – Saturday 21st June 

Churchill Theatre, Bromley - Sunday, 29th June 

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury – Monday 7th July 

For the rest of the tour dates, please visit

Monday, 14 April 2014

British Troupe Championships

Entry to the 2014 British Troupe Championships is now open.

A one day event to be held at Glyndwr University in Wales on Sunday, October 19th, the closing date is Sunday, September 14th (or earlier if all the places are taken).

There are four age categories: Junior (under 9s); Intermediate (10-13) Senior (14-25) Adult (25+).

Styles vary across the age bands and range from cabaret, classical, cheer, street, disco, tap, acrobatics, lyrical and contemporary.

Visit the website here or call 01978 661059 for more information.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Jermain Jackman is The Voice!

I'll admit I was a bit worried when Will announced Jermain's first song as 'Wreckin' Ball'. WTF, I thought. But all images of Miley Cyrus were quickly expelled from the mind when Jermain started singing.

I actually didn't nearly recognise it (not being much of a Miley fan) and I loved that it became a ballad with a kick to it - nice one, Will! Followed by a favourite of mine - and a brave choice - contestant and mentor duetted in the delightfully quirky Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

And then came the There It Is moment. The one I'd been waiting for since A House is Not a Home. Jermain reprised his audition song, And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going and the audience went wild - much more so than for any of the others: my head, heart and guts were all telling me victory was his.

And just for the hell of it, here's A House is Not A Home.

Real old soul, passion and emotion in everything he did. And don't lie to me and tell me you weren't also bawling when he replaced 'friend' with 'mum' in the victory song - although he still managed to sing it, choked up as hell! It didn't help that Will was practically in tears too, as much for Jermain winning, as for being such a fantastic and inspiring role model for young people.

Jamie was the first out of the competition, a solid performance of Missing You being followed by a duet with Kylie that did rather feature a lot of Ms Minogue and not much Mr Johnson, which did him no favours. Tom summed up everything I loved about Sally "The way she gets inside as song" is how he put it, and Dear Darlin' was a highlight. From Both Sides Now and the duet with Tom on Walking in Memphis were all delivered well, although she seemed a lot more nervous than previously. Christina Marie can definitely sing, and there were moments of sheer beauty in The Power of Love, which were soon overtaken by the shoutiness again. As was Fix You, and her duet with the Kaiser Chiefs, Coming Home, which I felt could have been anyone if I'm honest.

So there we are for another year. If you think you can be the next Voice, you've until May 30th to apply.
"Please only register for Open Auditions if you are an artist with real talent and an amazing voice" - so that's how they weed out the X-Factor hopefuls ...

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Voice: Hold it hold it hold it EXPLODE IT!

Our finalists are chosen! Sally, Jermain, Jamie and Christina Marie will contest next week's final, which promises to be a hugely diverse affair as all four are so completely different.

Due to family life overtaking me again last week - one child with broken toes and the other with a day off school - Mum's Taxi Service was on call and that, coupled with normal work, means last week was never blogged. So here's a quick recap:

Team Will: Jermain went through on the fast pass with an old skool proper version of Treasure - I too thought it was an old Luther song, not Bruno Mars. Sophie May grabbed the second spot on the public vote, showing off her range with Moondance, an old song made fresh. Iesher lost out with the uptempo R'n'B of I'd Rather Be, a little weak at the start.

Team Kylie: Jamie has seriously grown on me - I knew I should've been more loyal and kept the local lad in my team - and took the fast pass with A Thousand Miles, which was so strong. Lee surprised me with a quite traditional yet unique and passionate Help Me Make it Through The Night, so honest and haunting (happy, Emma?) and went through on the public vote. It was Rachael who sadly couldn't capture the magic of her first audition with an accomplished, confident performance of a quite frankly, so so pop song.

Team Tom: Sally had Tom in tears again, with To Love Somebody and a fast pass for her was a no-brainer. Looks like there's a West Ham fan there too, as an added bonus. Very moving, she takes me all the way up the A2 to welling ... Bizzie got the public on his side with Stevie Wonder's If You Really Love Me, I still don't think this was the best we've heard him. Georgia was given Money on My Mind and I think Will was probably the only person who actually liked it.

Team Ricky: He's clearly rooting for Christina Marie and it was no surprise the fast pass took her through, with the Everlong power ballad. Yes, she's got a big voice, but she fails to move me. Chris with One Day Like This deservedly went through on the public vote, it showed off his lovely voice, although I didn't think the song was particularly challenging. And Emily, who could so easily have done the power ballad number, or an Etta James track or anything, was also given an uptempo R&B track, although strong, it felt more karaoke.

It's no coincidence that the four girls who lost out did so with uptempo songs that didn't give them the opportunity to show what they could really do. I personally feel Emily, Georgia, Iesher and Rachael were all royally stitched up: Those tracks are all production numbers - I bet if you looked at the lyrics on paper, they wouldn't make sense - you'd wonder where to begin, they're so dependent on the other components in the track, like the backing vocals. So the girls weren't really able to wrap their tonsils around them. Still, Emily did get the consolation of a cuddle sandwich with Ricky and Marvin.

So we're down to two per team and it's Team Tom out first: Sally with Whole of the Moon, as wonderful as ever, rocking it out a bit this time. Bizzi's song is a favourite of mine, Everything Must Change and improved to an awesome ending. Part of me was wishing Jermain had sung it though. Dancing in the Streets with Tom got everyone on their feet, and my vote is still with Sally.

Team Ricky began with Christine Marie with Bang Bang. I find her too shouty. Just not a fan. Chris's version of Smile though, I loved and was very impressed at the way he didn't just cope with the technical malfunctions, but didn't falter for a split second. Poignant, modern spin on a classic and getting better all the time - I'm surprised he didn't get the nod over Christina actually. Loved You Really Got Me with Ricky, Chris kept my vote.

Lee was up first for Team Kylie and started off a bit mumbly for me with Strong, although he got better. Naughty Will was told off by him mum for saying a four letter word. In context though, it was good sh1t. In Jamie's yellow mini with Kylie as roadie, and I can't help wondering if Kylie will reference the Inbetweeners again if they pass a bus stop ... I Can't Make You Love Me showed further improvement, so strong and emotive. A real WOW. I wasn't overly impressed with Into the Blue with Kylie, although I was a bit concerned that they may have been wearing hot pants (the boys) during the VT trailer. My vote remains with Jamie.

The toughest choice of the night for me was always going to be Team Will, with two of my original team choices battling it out. I wasn't overly keen on Jermain's version of Without You, but I can't deny his voice, and Sophie May will have to pull out something ultra-special to get my vote. Which she only went and did, with Royals! So confident and so smooth and also down to earth. But, my vote switched back to Jermain during their Let's Dance number with Will, when he was note perfect and awesome. So that team I left to the die hard fans of each artist to decide.

The coaches quite rightly refused to say who should go through before voting closed, and I'm sure if asked afterwards, would have remained reticent. Who on earth thought to ask that in the first place?

The Big One then, next Saturday, BBC One at 7pm. See ya there x

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Voice: Knockouts

The major culling is done! The coaches jettisoned over half their teams this weekend and no-one was safe. Except, of course, their absolute favourites - they must have had them, as they got to know each singer and find out who the divas are and who's easy to work with - it's got to have an influence, hasn't it?

Team Kylie: Leo first,with I Wanna Know What Love Is which I wasn't a fan of, but that was very very good, fantastic falsetto - well done. Handing onto Jai, with Take Your Mama, she has terrific presence but I'm just not a fan of the voice. Jade next with Blue Moon, lovely tone but maybe a bit too understated? Lee made Careless Whisper all kinds of Gothic and I can't decide if I like it or not; Femi ... California Dreaming, first one to really grab me *biased* love watching him as well as hearing him, so smiley ... Rachael the best of the girls with New York, which would have seen my three from here as her, Leo and Femi ... and then up stepped Jamie with a great performance with Sex on Fire. Will and Tom in agreement: Three from Jamie, Leo, Femi and Rachael; Ricky says the boys were better than the girls. Kylie's first choice is Lee!! Shocker? Jamie safely chosen but one of my two will lose out. It's Rachael who gets the final spot. And Femi is gone *sad face*. Let's enjoy him one more time.

Team Tom: Celestine kicks them off with You Might Need Somebody, showing off her powerful voice but it went awry a couple of times. I admired the challenge of jazzing up I Love Rock'n'Roll by Melissa but it didn't work for me. Accomplished and polished, I do like Gary's soulfulness but don't think Freedom was particularly challenging. Bizzi I felt could have also chosen something more akin to the soulful Hey Jude - something he could get his tonsils stuck into - When I Need You a bit bland. Georgia surprised me with a interesting and lively version of Three Little Birds - best so far. Steven followed with another quite bonkers performance with Grace Kelly. And then came Sally with Walk on By. I'm stealing her. Utterly captivating - you only had to look at everyone else watching her, spellbound. And Tom choking back tears. A complete no brainer that she was his first choice with very little preamble. Loved how she told him he looked fantastic. A good call with Georgia next and the final spot going to Bizzi.

Team Ricky: A brave choice and a gutsy performance from Jessica but the vocal wasn't strong. Enigmatic Chris with Over the Rainbow built it up beautifully - and I didn't hate the falsetto either! Beth definitely has a future - she's fearless on stage, confident in delivering Teenage Dirtbag. Christina Marie made Visions of Love seem effortless. Jazz - my favourite so far - with a Beyonce song, Work it Out, a great package, presence and vocal. Max advised by Ricky to "show us your eyes a little bit - girls love that" never a truer word, Ricky *swoons* Home was his most complete performance yet. Unique sound. Emily with Slip - like that she's brave, and she left nothing on stage. Jessica looks close to tears already and the coaches general consensus is for Chris and Christina Marie, and Ricky duly puts them through. Major trauma for him though, choosing between Emily and Jazz. Both were picks of mine and I'd have gone with Jazz, but Ricky plumps for Emily. Two power female singers though - Jazz would've given him something a little different.

Team Will: So this is where I lose four of my team potentially! James out first with Love Hurts and it's not his best, sadly, seemed a bit strained. Iesher with Try It On My Own and while I'm still not a fan of her voice, she seems very sweet and more confidence means she's more expressive too. Callum reins in his dancing to give a good performance of Sound of the Underground. Jermain didn't need the music - A House Is Not A Home melted everyone. I'll park his album right next to my Gregory Porter. Anna's dad (I presume) was blubbing by the time she finished her soft yet strong version of Autumn. Nomakhosi has great energy and I love her voice but the song choice didn't do her any favours really. Sophie May has that fragile quality that made Moon River fresh while retaining that vintage feel. Everyone is in agreement re Jermain but Will picks Iesher first, then Jermain and then ... Sophie May bags the final spot.

I'm wondering if the coaches chose the running order or if it's just coincidence that the final singer got through in every team ... 

Team Scatty: Jermain; Emily; Sally; Sophie May; Rachael. See the coaches live round ready teams here and tune in BBC1 at 6.45pm for the live quarter final. TTFN x 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dancing on Ice: The Final Final

The final time I'll have to eat my roast whilst dodging my head around the kids' heads to see the telly on a Sunday evening. Bliss. 

Oh, and a beautiful, final televised Bolero from T&D in this final ever final for Dancing on Ice. Never quite reaching the heights of Strictly obsession-dom in the country, it nevertheless entertained us for nine series, and I'm full of admiration for the celebrities who put themselves through it - knowing how difficult it is to stand these days, let alone skate around without any tricks!

Our ultimate champion was Ray Quinn - the DOI voters have always come to their senses and picked the best skater to win, although both Hayley and Beth ran him close. Hayliel's Jai Ho was performance of the night for me, it's just so spot on in every aspect, with fantastic detail, but Maray's overall skating ability and performance skill meant he got my votes.

Bethasz was on top form, with a sparky-coming-out-fighting Run the World cheerleader romp giving Jason his long awaited performance (though I didn't think it worth 40, not enough skating) and re-visiting the Highland Fling, a firm favourite. Hayliel tango'd to Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps, with great timing, neat tricks, good skating and no jazz hands - but I don't remember her being so sickly in the VTs. 

Maray's Beach Boys medley gave us an enormous back flip, as well as some ultra cool surfing on ice, followed by the intricate and majestic Flamenco - still those flying lunges grab me and he's so quick and smooth in the dance. The Spanish influence of course was there again in their lyrical Bolero, along with the splits and some gorgeous armography, while Hayliel's version was quite lovely and understated. I still think they could have allowed third placed Bethasz the opportunity to do theirs though *grumpy face*.

I wondered what we were going to do for another twenty minutes. Show highlights, obviously and everyone is welling up after Chris' final VT words. In fact, the emotion of The End was making the Winner Announcement seem quite an anti-climax!

Torvill and Dean have been heroes since 1981 - Mack and Mabel will always be my favourite - and I'll cling to the rumours of a proper stint on Strictly for them.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Voice: Battle Rounds 2 - Stop, look and listen to Femi

Another five through for me sees my team up to 10! I'm quite chuffed at only losing 3, although two of my top picks did end up having to be steals. And how Kylie teased us so ...

In a moment of pure reality TV drama (no, even I'm not going to liken it to proper drama), I decided to share my live thought jottings of the Femi/Iesha showdown with Stop, Look, Listen.

"I definitely didn't see her audition - must've got home late. His voice just flows over you; hers cuts through you. You really get so much more emotion from him. She really is quite blank, isn't she? Will and Emma have swapped places; Will's going to ip dip ...and chooses screechy Iesha. Balls. Come on Kylie, please steal Femi. But we're not near the end of the show yet, so I don't think she will. Balls. Awesome, he's serenading her, making it up but still she doesn't ...OMG YES SHE DOES, whoop - bloody excellent bit of telly. Take that, X-Factor."

And then she tells us he was always her no.1 target! 6/13.

So anyway, onwards... with no more steals. 

Team Ricky: Chris versus Jamie - Rolling in the Deep. Serious soul versus rock'n'roll, and both worked well with the song. Intense, I was chopping and changing between them, loved Jamie rocking it out, not keen on Chris' falsetto but loved his softer soul. He got Ricky's vote. Still 6/13

Team Kylie: Rachael versus Amelia - Holy Grail. Both well out of their comfort zones, so potential car wreck - but no! Gorgeous vocals from both made it a very tough call. Had I not been biased towards Rachael, I may have actually chosen Amelia. But Kylie likes that indefinable quality in Rachael's voice too. 7/13

Team Will: Kiki versus James - Because the Night. For me, Kiki was performing; James was being. I'll be gutted if Will doesn't choose him. Where's he going? What is Will on? Will he come back? #where'swilly said the producer's on screen hashtag. Let's talk amongst ourselves for a bit *hums* Can I go now, asks Ricky. No, you can hold it, says Marv. Will returns and James takes the spot. 8/13

Team Tom: Melissa versus Vicky - Just Give Me A Reason. Melissa has a nice tone but Vicky just edged that for me, a little more raw and she grew in confidence throughout. Tom opts for Melissa though. 

Team Ricky: Myles versus Max - Eleanor Rigby. So different, but nothing to choose between them. There was one high note from Myles that was very sweet and swayed me over Max's quite unusual vocal. Ricky goes for the unconventional risky rock of Max who sounds different every time.

Team Will: Sophie-May versus Cherie - Love Cats. Scatting alert in a jazz battle - which didn't ignite, really, but I prefer Sophie May's voice - we heard a different sound to her audition - and I'm glad she got through. 9/13

Team Kylie: Jamie versus Joe - Counting Stars. Two of my original choice who were culled, some great moments from both, some not so. I think I'd edge towards Jamie, he is the local lad after all. In the most emotional battle of the night, it's he who gets the nod.

Team Tom: Leverne versus Georgia - 22. They don't like each other much, do they? Although, I don't think I like Georgia much either. Not fussed by either vocal and would say Georgia was better; Tom agreed. Leverne gutted at the song choice not showing her off as much. Distinctly underwhelmed, both of us.

Team Kylie: Gemyni versus Jade - Baby One More Time. Quite ordinary, Jade with the edge and gets the nod.

Team Tom: Gary versus Elesha - Caught Up. Understated but full of quality moments. I thought Elesha but Tom hasn't got many men, has he? The 'run' seems to have been key for Gary.

Team Ricky: Luciee-Marie versus Jazz - Grenade. Oh, please Ricky, choose Jazz. I don't think I could stand listening to Lucieeeeee more, it's, like, all the worst like, teenagers evah - and very screechy. Jazz earthy and real but I think can do much better than that - the key seemed a bit too low. Praise the Lord Soul and his Jazz Disciples, Ricky puts Jazz through. That makes it 10/13.

Team Scatty: Beth; Jazz; Emily (Team Ricky); Femi; Rachael (Team Kylie); James; Sophie-May; Nomakhosi; Jermain, Anna (Team Will) What are the chances of four of my five getting through in Will's team?!

Check out the coaches teams here. Knockouts next - who'll be safe in each team, as the odd one? Till next week x

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Loop Dance callout: African dancers

Kent's leading professional dance company, Loop Dance, are looking for African dancers, performers and musicians for a fundraising event on Friday, April 11th.

Loop on LV21

This event will fundraise their amazing dance exchange to Durban in South Africa, to work with the community there.

If you or anyone you know would like to showcase your work or deliver a workshop, please email them:

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dancing on Ice: Semi-Final flyers, moves and shakers

In what was always going to be the toughest Semi ever, we finally said goodbye to Samvick after their fifth appearance in the skate off.

Maray 'Let Her Go'

An explosive and powerful performance to Let Me Entertain You - they've gotten stronger every week - and another good performance to Club Can't Handle Me (throwing everything in, including a headbanger) was never going to save them unless the other couple slipped up - the other couple being Maray!

I'm not a fan of the flying routines - it's supposed to be ice dancing not air dancing, so while I get that flying as part of a routine is an additional spectacle, it does the show overall a disservice when a lesser skater ends of top of the leader board with barely a foot touching the ice. And the top skater suffers with a pretty average routine because he's battling the associated sickness ... thus, Ray's spectacle-that-should-have-been was pretty meh. And apart from a few Superman moves in Sam's he didn't fare much better. Someone even admitted the aerial routine is much tougher for the guys than the girls, so why do it at this stage? Or why not have an element of solo skating in it too, to even things up?

However, Maray's two proper skates were awesome: Let Her Go began with a medieval, almost balletic dance and his lines throughout were sublime, while their skate off routine was one of the most beautiful  - performance of the night - to You Make It Real. I just hope it was audience complacency that left him in that position.

Bethasz continue to annoy Jason that they're getting through - her level of support suggests she in for the win though. The flying routine to Reach was nice - awesome Lukasz Lunge, and overall powerful, speedy but a lovely connection. I preferred The Dark Days Are Over, a blinding performance - complete opposite to last week - fantastic helicopter lift.

Top of the lot this week was Hayliel, whose aerial routine was deemed awesome by a bunch of weeping judges, but which I deemed; "Would you like some egg and chips with that ham, love?" as I found it a bit sick inducing, quite frankly. I did enjoy the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy though, full of pizazz - which probably got the vote of my mum, your typically average floating voter. She loves the lively stuff, and she always picks the winners of this and Strictly.

Anyhoo, it would appear that Maray are up for elimination first in the final, or will things change around? Tune in to see - and especially, to see Philip on ice, allegedly! 6.15pm, Sunday.

The Voice: Battle Rounds 1 - pretty young things and figthers

Here we go then, the moment my team of thirteen could well end up a team of zero! Happily, that wasn't the case and five of mine made it through, though I sadly lost two.

First up, Team Will: Jermain versus Sarah - I knew You Were Waiting. Oh, his range, those deep notes - seriously, someone needs to throw me a rubber ring. Sarah is good but I'll never forgive Will if he lets Jermain go ... he doesn't, of course. 1/13

Team Kylie: Lee versus Jimmy - When You Were Young. Neither did much for me, if I'm honest. And I can't be doing with insecurities when you've been given such an opportunity - deal with it, hang it out there or give it up. Lee wins.

Team Tom: Sally versus Talia - Dear Darlin'. Terrific song, suited to both - sadly, Talia not at her best. I do like the down to earth Sally though, and her voice is very moving, she really lived it and Tom duly puts her through.

Team Ricky: Tila and Tavelah versus Beth - Roar. Advantage Beth with the song; advantage T&T with the numbers. While not overly impressed, I suspect Beth alone would've made it more her own, which is perhaps why she got the nod. 2/13

Team Kylie: Leo versus Steven - Thunder in my Heart. Leo far more dynamic both vocally and physically - but our first steal of the evening, as Tom hits the button for Steven!

Team Tom: Kenny versus Bizzi - Jey Jude. The first really big battle and much as I love Kenny, Bizzi did outperform him - fantastic vocals from both but Kenny deemed too shy - aw, he's so sweet and smiley. Bizzi through with Tom, no steal for Kenny :( My first loss.

Team Will: Callum versus Tom - Pretty Young Thing. Nothing to choose between them vocally but show off Callum gets the nod of the shyer Tom, who has the more unique voice. Gutted, no steal on Tom as Callum gets through. I'm hoping things don't always come in threes ...

Team Kylie: Jai versus Nomakhosi - Tainted Love. And I thought "Oh. Sh1t" that'll be more suited to Jai than Nomakhosi but I was wrong - there was scatting! Jai marginally better than her audition but still a bloody racket, frankly - Kylie chooses her and I actually scream at the telly. After Will's comments, he's surely going to steal Nomakhosi? Bluffs us but yes, duly stolen *phew* 3/13.

Team Ricky: Emily versus Kelsey-Beth - Fighter. For me, Emily had the energy, attitude and the stonking vocal of the Figther; Kelsey-Beth a bit too nice, and Ricky keeps Emily. 4/13

Team Tom: Celestine versus Mairead - It's My Party. Not the one I first thought of, but the Jessie J one, thankfully! I couldn't understand Mairead at all, shocking diction, whereas Celestine was loud and clear and straight through.

Team Will: Jessica versus Anna - Good Riddance. I personally thought Anna was way better than Jessica, whose vocals were decidedly dodgy and who really needs to learn to put her emotion into her singing - I'd be scared about a gibbering wreck on my team, but clearly Ricky isn't and steals her after Will chooses Anna. 5/13

Team Ricky: Christina Marie versus Nathan - The Power of Love. Probably the toughest choice of the night. Personally, just on the basis that there are other female power singers in it, I'd have gone with Nathan. Will calls Ricky mental for not choosing him too - but he can't steal, and neither does Kylie, the only coach left with one.

So my team now looks like this: Jermain; Beth; Nomakhosi; Emily; Anna.

And this is how the coaches now stand. Next battle is Saturday, BBC 1 at 7pm. Till then x

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Dancing on Ice: Solo can you go?

Solo night and as Robin said: The girls were dreading it; the boys loving it.

Ray, solo down dirty

Beth had an awful week with illness yet still managed to pull it together in both skates. Dancing to 'Burn' with Lukasz, you could feel the connection between them, it was beautiful. The performance element and the energy needed for Man, I Feel Like A Woman just weren't there but technically, she was proficient enough - and a nice hydraglide. It kept her bottom of the table and her support must be worrying Ray a bit.

Hayley's performance level of course, is always top notch and Maybe This Time did nothing to damage that, but she was slow compared to the others and there was a stumble, which knocked her scores down. Back in Daniel's arms though and a mighty salsa to Conga - loved the Latino walks - with incredible timing earned her a smattering of tens. 

Sam had another good night, very nifty and expressive and smooth throughout Still Got The Blues, fantastic spinny things all through it. A lovely lyrical piece with Vicky to All of Me was very together and well interpreted, but the girls' support still put him in the skate off, alongside ...

Kyran, with a competent clean skate to Dancing in the Dark, after his best with Nina, a personality piece to King of the Swingers gaining him a 9 from Jason, still not enough to escape the skate off. Chasing Cars with additional awesome lifts and a *squeezes toes* headbanger couldn't beat the electricity of Sam's Riverdance and we said goodbye to the 2007 champion.

Now then, Mr Quinn - are you actually old enough to be doing all that raunchy stuff? Goodness me - Prince would be mightily impressed to see Kiss interpreted like that, I'm sure. I wonder how many complaints ITV got? Still, who cares. Another maximum score of 40, and only half a point less in his skate with Maria to Counting Stars, which was delicious - totally agree with Ashley and Karen on that. Jason with the 9.5 because Ray forgot to wink at him, apparently. But I'd still be concerned about how popular the girls are - at least one of the Big 3 is going to be in next week's skate off. Everyone say "Oooooooh". Till then x

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Voice: Get Ready for Nomakhosi

The one I've been waiting for: Nomakhosi is the name. Awesome audition with the Temptations song - I could actually hear it playing on Jazz FM - and with added scatting. I was a little concerned Kylie wasn't going to turn, but *phew* relief as she finally did. In my team battle, Nomakhosi gets a bye!

In other news, Tom Barnwell made me smile, even after he'd left the stage, as did Gary Poole's neat version of Valerie - another terrific audience reaction got Tom and Ricky turning, with Tom landing another man. Another one for Tom and for me, as nice guy, Kenny Thompson's raw but lovely tone, saw Tom oust Ricky at the last second. I also like what Jamie Lovatt did with his song - this time Ricky got his man. The only other female joining me was Cherri Prince, Will's last hope. Jazzy yet different.

A host of last show 'NOs': Johnny - flat; Jane Frazer - club singer; Roxanne Yarnold - good but not fresh; Angie Brown - why? Why? Fantastic and awesome voice - but why do the hit? It just dated her. A different choice would've probably secured her Tom's final spot; Likewise, Teresa Vasiliou - sad story but still a 70s vocal - Tom was tempted; Bianca Nicholas very good but lacking appeal; Aaliyah - fresh lyrical and rapping but not quite there vocally; Joe West, another lovely lad but again, not strong enough vocally; Liz Oki had us all in tears when she set Will off - reminding him of his not-long-passed-away auntie - with a beautiful rendition of George Michael's Different Corner; A groovy version of Roxanne from Pete Davies wasn't enough, though very good; had Erin been earlier, I'm sure she'd have got through - Tom hitting his button in annoyance, having already filled his team.

The only 'Yes' not in my team (I guess I should have just waited until the judges sorted themselves out and then did it, but hey ...) was Luciee Marie Closier, who I felt tried too hard to be quirky, and much preferred her lower register when she slowed down - glad Ricky turned for her, a lot of potential.

How many have I got? Only 25! Let battle commence then - how to shred them down to 12 from:

Jazz; Nathan; Emily; Amelia; Femi; James; Chris; Max; Joe; Jade; Leverne; Jermain; Mairead; Sophie-May; Beth; Anna; Tila & Tavelah; Rachael; Jamie; Tom; Nomakhosi; Kenny; Jamie L; Cherri; Gary.

So, I listened to them all again and made two lists: The ones I definitely couldn't bear to let go, and the others. I bet the coaches wish they could do that - Team Scatty is:

Nomakhosi; Rachael (Team Kylie) - Beth; Emily; Jamie L; Jazz (Team Ricky) Kenny (Team Tom) Anna; Femi; James B; Jermain; Sophie-May; Tom (Team Will).

See the coaches'complete teams here and roll on the Battle weekend! Till then x

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Dancing on Ice: Sayonara Suzatte

Well, GUTTED would be the word I'm after! After an excellent individual performance, Suzatte found themselves in the bottom half of the leaderboard and from there, in the skate off, where a nervy performance with a couple of stumbles cost them dearly to a near perfect Billie Jean routine from Kyrina.

Maray do it again

I confess myself a little surprised that they were less popular than Bethasz and Hayliel, as I think Suzanne combines the best of both of them. But there you go ...

Individually, they were all very strong, with Bethasz maintaining the personality of the week before, an exhilarating performance to You Can't Stop the Beat, excellent tricks and terrific timing. Hayliel given an emotionally charged routine again, showing some beautiful lines to Skycraper, while Suzatte got all sultry and showcased her skating skill, with just one sticky transition, skating to Black Velvet.

Kyrina's Can't Hold Us routine I found a little manic but full of attack, while Maray did what they do i.e. be utterly fantastic, this time to Lego House and scoring another perfect 40. Samvick were indeed extremely Happy - easily their best so far, brilliant nifty footwork - Chris Dean said his was the toughest skating of the night and he'd have given it a 10!

Onward then, to the Team Challenge, which made all the difference to the overall result: Kyrina moving from bottom to third, and Bethasz dropping from second to last to dead last. The boys skate to Uptown Girl considered unanimously by the judges to have topped the girls Walk Like an Egyptian. I enjoyed both, so I was quite glad I didn't have to decide. Still gutted about Suzatte.

It seems Bethasz are a shoe in for the final - they must have scored at least 5 points from the public vote to avoid the skate off and push Kyrina and Suzatte down there. I'm not one for betting, personally, but if you fancy a flutter ...

Till next time x

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Voice: Thought there'd be more feathers

I'm going to have to have a serious whittling session after next week, because I've added another four to my team!

Top of my keep list is Jazz Bates-Chambers. No idea what was going through the coaches' minds, but how happy was Ricky that none bar him turned for her? He was on the edge of his seat at the end and jumping straight out of it once they blew it. Brave song choice, brilliantly delivered and very different - shades of Erykah Badu/Jill Scott.

Ricky was also the only judge to turn for two of my other choices (what a mega team he's going to have!) Nathan Amzi, a versatile show voice, full of emotion, and Emily Adams with a great song choice showcasing a very mature and confident old soul voice - the audience reaction sold Ricky. Kylie nabbed the other, Amelia O'Connell's pure (apart from one little wobble) vocal has awesome potential and gave me goosebumps.

Country and Western singers has mixed success, with John Rafferty showing a nice range but being just too well, nice - some good critique for him from Will though. Talia Smith had a coupla dodgy moments in an attacking performance and Tom couldn't help himself.

I think I might audition for the next series, just so I can get a consolation hug and kiss from Ricky ... amazing eyes. #newcrush.

More family affairs, with us not seeing enough of Buheiji and Leanne & Natalie - I liked what I heard -while the Dixon boys had centre stage individually. We knew one would make it and one wouldn't but which one? Shenton was very much a club singer tribute act and it showed, even though it should've been my thing. Bizzi began too low but unexpectedly went for a rock song instead of the R&B he'd had recording success with - I didn't think his range was big enough but Tom and Kylie turned - he's now Tom's only guy.

Will added another two, very different acts to his team, both with huge potential. Kiki DeVille. I was unsure about, but the last notes got me thinking "oh, she's gooooood" while Callum Crowley showed great range but I felt weakened towards the end - it might have been Kylie and Will turning in tandem that put him off. Ricky also went - but Tom hit his button too late!

Three 'Nos' that were so, so close: Marc William, a definite original but looked like he was in real pain throughout, which I found pretty off putting; Paul Raj, who got everyone groovin' but couldn't maintain a great start. Some lovely notes, some real duff'ns. And Amrick Channa was completely and utterly fabulous, fun and groovy but drew the "I thought there'd be more feathers" comment from Ricky - very Diva, very camp club act - not for this, but I'd pay to see him at an all in one Xmas do!

I have one tiny criticism of the coaches: I'm getting annoyed that they don't turn for a voice, but then kick themselves when they see how young/pretty they are. And how their faces fall when who they have turned for isn't as attractive to them. PTB, you need to address that.

You can view all the clips again on the website, where there's also the news that Zoe Ball will be hosting an It Takes Two type magazine show for The Voice. It'll be on daily in the hallowed 6.30pm midweek slot, from the first live show up to the final. Because I've got nothing better to do ... oh, jeez.

Team Scatty: Jazz; Nathan; Emily; Amelia; Femi; James; Chris; Max; Joe; Jade; Leverne; Jermain; Mairead; Sophie-May; Beth; Anna; Tila & Tavelah; Rachael; Jamie. It's looking likely I'll have to stage my own private battle round!

Till next time x

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Dancing on Ice: Freedom for Garianne

1984 and all that, so we get Wild Boys and Dr.Beats to open, plus re-living Bolero again. And Garianne go out on a high, with their top scoring routine to Freedom, and a recap of Beautiful Day.

My clear favourites are now Suzatte and Maray. Loved Suzanne's characterisation in Let's Hear it for the Boy, she got the Lovesick Teenager spot on. Bright and lively, with neat tricks. And Ray, fully committed as ever and loving every minute of 'Jump' - the heavy metal one, not the other one. Fantastic energy and dynamicism.

I was expecting to hate Samvick's Radio GaGa but actually thought it was brilliantly done - great musicality. But their skate off routine to Dream Catch Me is my favourite of theirs to date; gorgeous, lovely dancing on ice and an excellent steps sequence.

Hayliel put aside the jazz hands and treated us to a mini melodrama to Here Comes The Rain again - could have been a little more sensitive to all the flood victim fans really - or maybe that was the story? While Kyrina, meanwhile, finally managed to bring an expressive and soft performance - even Jason was impressed. Bethasz had a bit of fun off the ice, Beth in her comfort zone, Lukasz really not but the Girl Just Wanted to Have Fun, and so she did.

A great night of skating, with the only iffy moments the pathetic spats between Jason, Karen and Nicky. Next week, it's Team Time. Only Champions left and the mixed up leader board will make all the difference. Till then x

The Lock In at the Gulbenkian

A clash of dance cultures set in an old English pub with live music by BBC Radio 2 award-winning folk powerhouse The Demon Barbers.

The show sees a group of street dancers arrive at an apparently deserted pub. Local rumour has it that The Fighting Cocks is the place to be after hours but as the regulars arrive a clash of cultures turns into a dance floor stand-off.
The skill, speed and athleticism of the dancers on both sides soon wins the others over as the old and new are brought together in an exciting and dynamic dance-off. Sword dances are performed with snooker-cues, pub bouncers dance the Morris and B-boys flirt with clog girls. Meanwhile house band, The Demon Barbers, takes English Folk music on a new journey with friends Hip Hop, House, Funk and Ska and even says hello to Burlesque and Drum & Bass along the way!

Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury on Friday, February 14th. 7.30pm.

Street Dance and Hip Hop half term classes in Gillingham

Medway Council Arts Team is offering some free workshops with award-winning hip-hop dance company, Boy Blue Entertainment, during the February half term. They take place at either Mid Kent College or Woodlands Youth Centre in Gillingham, and aim to provide professional and aspiring dancers a unique opportunity to improve dance techniques and train with the award winning hip-hop dance company.

Classes are open to dance artists, teachers and tutors and young people aged 13+ years.

Advanced Master Class for Artists and Tutors (11am - 1pm)
This session is designed for Dance Artists and Tutors to improve dance skills and techniques with advice from the Boy Blue Entertainment Company.

Dance Workshop (2pm – 4pm)
This workshop is open to both Dance Artists, Tutors and aspiring dancers aged 13+ and will involve Street Dance techniques and choreography.

Professional Development Master Class (4.10pm – 5.30pm)
This class will focus on choreography, transitions, rhythm and musicality and is suitable for Artists, Tutors, the R’enc Arts Dance Group and aspiring dancers aged 13+.

If you are interested, available and want to come along, please book your place via or call 01634 338319.

Monday, 17 and Tuesday, 18 February
Mid Kent College, Medway Campus, Medway Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 1FN.

Wednesday, 19 February
Woodlands Youth Centre, Lower Woodlands Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 2BX.

All sessions are FREE and run over all three days.

The tutors:

Jason FM Hull began dancing when he was in secondary school and has never looked back since. Contemporary dance classes were his first experience in the world of dance, moving into Street Dance and eventually, b-boying.

Theo 'Mr Godson' Oloyade's unforgettable Krumping saw him whizz straight through to the live finals of Got to Dance in 2013. He has been dancing since he was 15 and has already performed alongside Plan B, Tinie Tempah Rita Ora and Stooshe, to name a few.

Boy Blue Entertainment is an award winning hip-hop dance company founded in London by choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy and composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante. As joint Artistic Directors, they work together on the creation and development of all of Boy Blue Entertainment’s productions and projects.

The company are critically acclaimed and in 2007 won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre for their full-length hip hop dance theatre work Pied Piper. Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy has created choreography for a wide range of artists including Rita Ora, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal, and Leona Lewis.

The Voice: Sneaky Will adds two to watch

Finally, the numbers seem to be evening up, with me adding five guys and one girl to my team!

It was mainly thanks to Will though, that my top two guys made it through - turning right at the very last nano second, when it seemed the other coaches were going to let them walk.

Femi Santiago (above) melted me totally, with Stevie Wonder's My Cherie Amour - and I thought, put his own spin on it, rather than it be the classic interpretation - he gave it a modern feel. Nice guy, and a real inspiration for others to not give up when sh*t happens. And how lovely to see someone smiling when they sing with emotion, rather than appear angst ridden.

Likewise, James Byron was also a last-second Will catch. Loved his voice, plenty of guts and determination too and I think Will can bring out lots more. Chris Royal did a terrific version of Avicii's Wake Me Up, very refreshing, and a lovely tone. Ricky beat Tom and Kylie for him, and also chose Max Murphy, a British judo champion. I wasn't so keen on the quieter moments but loved him when he rocked it out. Irish dancer Joe Keegan had some quality about his voice which I really really liked - almost Chet Baker-ish, I dunno - just something about his voice. Kylie beat Ricky for this one.

The only female who made it through for me was Jade Mayjean Peters - good diction, didn't go manic - got all four turning. My only concern is how controlled was that? Has she just been practising that and nothing else? I hope not - fabulous potential. Kylie V Ricky (again) and she went for Kylie.

Returnee Nick Dixon sadly missed out again. After a promising clip from last year, it just didn't sound as sweet. I wonder whether, when the  'Nos' go away, do they take lessons or gig to improve or just wait it out till the next time? Because that's what they need to do - sometimes it's not having the live experience that lets them down. Fiona Kelly wasn't a spectacular enough opera singer for them to take a punt on, while my One That Got Away was Lucy Winter. She had club singer written all over her, but no, she was terrific - vibrant, passionate and a great, great voice. Reece Bahia went with One D - that's a no no, really, no-one is going to get through singing it exactly the same as them; Jolan and Yinka Williams, I'd have loved to hear more from - two more possibles for the Ones That Got Away award.

Successful auditionees included Steven Alexander (Kylie) whose voice sadly didn't match the style, just not strong enough. Kylie: "We would probably work on ..." the actual singing, eh, Kylie, hm?  Elesha Paul Moses, one half of Nutarna last year, improved towards the end and Tom signed her up - Will remembered her but didn't turn this time.

Team Scatty: Femi; James; Chris; Max; Joe; Jade; Leverne; Jermain; Mairead; Sophie-May; Beth; Anna; Tila & Tavelah; Rachael; Jamie. I appear to have too many - I shall cull at the end of the Blind Auditions!

Check out the coaches teams and all the other news here.