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.