Dance in the UK
by Jessica Wilson
Being invited back to university to co-present a lecture on Dance Writing was an honour indeed, particularly because I am hugely passionate about writing, and the institution itself. Whilst preparing my material, such as my journey into and through dance writing, writing whilst at university and then in addition to my role at the Royal Academy of Dance, some points struck me as particularly useful for the undergraduate, which I had not consciously registered, previously.
It became clear, as I considered what would be useful for the third year students at Middlesex University to hear, that it was important to sell your skills as best you can when pitching for dance writing. Opportunities do not always knock, so I advocated the importance of both seeking out and creating your own opportunities rather than waiting for them to emerge. In this sense I felt it was important to offer your writing skills at every possible moment by getting involved with work experience or new dance projects, enabling the art of networking to evolve and increase. However, I also considered that it was not wise to rely on networking for opportunities, or even work: confidence to push yourself and your skills forward is key to writing success.
Something which comes with experience was the act of adapting to many different people and their requirements, being flexible and reliable as a writer to deliver work on time. Different editors of different publications and websites require different lengths of copy, for different target audiences, on different topics and issues, and so on. I felt it was important to relay to the students that in those early writing days, it is paramount that you do not become lazy as a writer and assume that one method works for all. This is, I believe, parallel to the fact that the same covering letter cannot be used for all job applications for example, which is, essentially, what pitching is.
I feel the most important part of dance writing is keeping up-to-date and informed about the dance sector and its ‘goings-on’, in order to retain the passion for dance as a whole, be your interest in technique, performance, academia, and more! To be able to provide context for your work and where it sits in the dance sector demonstrates interest, insight and a reasoned approach, being able to appreciate and respond to the many strands which make up the sector, with the knowledge to do so effectively and accurately. This will mean that you are constantly learning and informing your opinions, especially if you are able to regularly see new dance work, experiencing the sector first hand and ultimately expanding your knowledge.
Today 4dancers welcomes Amie Brotherton who is going to share her experience performing in the London Olympics this year. It’s an honor that most dancers will never experience in their lifetime, so we thought it would be interesting to see what she had to say about the event…
Olympic Performer. Diary of events.
November of 2011 I applied to audition to be involved in the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. As a dancer and dance teacher I relished the opportunity to be involved and hopefully perform so I filled in all the information about myself, my experiences and my specific skills. I received an email from the ceremonies asking me to come to an audition, so off I headed to East London.
After that, I received another email inviting me back to a second which was a role-specific audition.
16 January I received an email to say I’d been successful along with an invitation to take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. I was completely thrilled!!
15 April The first rehearsal we were met by none other than Danny Boyle himself. He sat us down and explained his whole vision, showing us a video of what he wanted the ceremony to look like and a scale model of the stadium.
We spent 4 weeks working very hard in the studio on the contents of our segment. Always shattered but on a high when I got home, each new part we learnt I’d practice at home be to sure I would keep ahead, remembering everything for the next week!
20 May We met in an outside space where there were a lot more cast members and we were all put together in bigger groups. We continued to learn new parts and integrate them with other groups and stood from week to week in any weather from blazing 25*C sunshine, to 11*C rain and wind.
21 June Stadium day! We had been given strict instructions about security and as we came out of Stratford station and walked towards the park, excitement was mounting. We went through security and were faced with the huge and beautiful stadium in front of us, the aquatic centre on our left and the water polo centre on our right. We walked across the bridge and it all looked very impressive. Everything was huge!
We began rehearsing 3-4 times a week, each rehearsal bringing new surprises, whether it was an addition to the set, special effects, or trying on our make up and costumes! The press made numerous attempts to find out what’s going on – including flying helicopters over us trying to take photos, and infiltrating our radio communicators.
20 – 26 July Now we were putting on dress rehearsals for crowds of around 40,000. This was our first true taste of having a large audience. Feedback from the crowd was immense and gave us an indication of what it could be like on opening night. All the audiences were amazing, and they did #savethesurprise for us–enabling us to keep the secret from the world as to just what they could expect on the 27th of July.
by Jessica Wilson
EDge, the postgraduate performance company of London Contemporary Dance School founded in 2000, completed its annual spring tour earlier this year, coming to a close on 12 July 2012. Under the direction of Artistic Director Jeanne Yasko, the company’s 12 exceptional dancers visited 21 venues nationally and internationally, travelling to places such as Denmark, Austria and Portugal, in addition to performing at their home, The Place’s Robin Howard Theatre in London.
The varied programme was populated by highly stimulating and thought-provoking contemporary dance pieces, choreographed by esteemed dance artists such as leading dance makers Matthias Sperling and James Wilton (winner of the Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest in 2010), choreographing Dances With Purpose and Through Shards respectively. In addition to these two new pieces, The Place and Dance Umbrella co-commissioned Rachel Lopez de La Nieta and Tony Adigun’s own version of Richard Alston’s iconic Wildlife (1983) reinterpreted with the choreographers’ own individual artistic voices; both pieces were first seen at The Place in Autumn 2011. Completing the programme, dancer and choreographer Delphine Gaborit restaged The Quartet, a powerful piece set to György Ligeti’s String Quartet Nr.1 by world famous German choreographer Sasha Waltz. Delphine, who has danced in Waltz’s company, was given permission to restage the iconic piece for EDge’s Spring tour, marking the first time a piece of repertoire by Waltz has been re-staged for a postgraduate performance company.0
To start the week off we have a student spotlight to share with readers….
1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?
I actually fell into dance whilst studying a Performing Arts btec at college in Cirencester. I’d always been involved in acting whilst I was younger but had never danced and so I found it extremely challenging to start with… but I guess that was part of the appeal. I worked really hard to try and gain a place at a dance institution and was lucky enough to receive a variety of offers, from which I chose to study at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts due to its varied programme. I gained a first class honours degree in Dance and Performing Arts and also won the LIPA dance prize at my graduating ceremony which for me was a huge achievement. Since then I have taken on a variety of different projects including choreographic work, workshop leading and dance performance across the UK, and I am one of the lucky few who is able to say they make a living doing what they love.
The main aspect which has kept me involved with dance and given me the determination to succeed is the handful of individuals who really believe in my abilities and want to see me do well, all of whom have helped me to get to where I am today.
2.What do you find you like best about dance class?
My favourite aspect of dance class is the feeling of achievement (mainly evident from the amount of sweat I produce) which comes from pushing yourself to achieve new things. I am constantly trying to learn and progress, always working on my technique and focusing on my expression as an artist, and when this gets recognised in class by a teacher, there is nothing quite like it.
3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?0
by Jessica Wilson
The line-up of Latitude Festival 2012 has been launched, due to take place on 12-15 July at Henham Park in Suffolk, UK. With tickets already on sale, the dance and theatre bill highlights look set to take the Festival by storm with a huge variety of acts taking place.
For example, the National Theatre will showcase Alice By Heart, a National Theatre Connections production from the writers behind the hit musical adaptation of Spring Awakening, with documentary-theatre company Look Left Look Right premiering their Latitude commission of four new musicals. Political activist Mark Thomas will preview his new play about his father, Bravo Figura, before taking it on to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, emphasising the breadth of works being presented at Latitude, and the talent within these. Theatre Delicatessen are also set to premiere their new production, Henry V, in The Outdoor Theatre where Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Glove – London – will also perform.
Additional highlights include Australian superhuman circus company C!rca, the Lyric Hammersmith with its brand new series of highly experiential site specific theatre pieces, Battersea Arts Centre, Harold in Havana, HighTide (Suffolk’s leading festival theatre company), Pentabus Theatre presenting specially created work The Diggers Band and internationally renowned contemporary dance favourites Sadler’s Wells from London who will return to The Waterfront Stage. The Sadler’s Wells programme includes Candoco Dance Company, a company of disabled and non disabled dancers and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and leading figure in British hip hop scene, Jonzi-D.
With Latitude featuring such prestigious performance companies as the National Theatre and Sadler’s Wells, the Latitude tradition for presenting the best in new dance and theatre will continue. Melvin Benn, the Managing Director of Festival Republic and the founder and creator of Latitude Festival commented that the bill for 2012 will see Latitude present many sensational artists yet again, each of which the Festival is thrilled to announce, making the Festival confident that 2012 will be the best Latitude to date and maintain its title as the king of the multi-arts festival.
Eleven dedicated arts stages will offer performances to festival-goers from a spectacular mix of artists across comedy, film, dance, theatre, literature, poetry, cabaret and classical music, as well as the Latitude Contemporary Art Awards and Exhibition. Now in their third year, the Awards offer a platform to five of the contemporary art world’s most exciting artists, giving them a chance to create a piece for an exhibition set in a wooded area of Henham Park. The 2012 shortlist comprises of modern day Hannah Höch equivalent Linder Sterling; The Guardian Artist of the Week Tom Dale; Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010 shortlister George Young, 2008 MaxMara prize shortlister Lisa Peachey and Kingston University Stanley Picker Fellowship member Andy Holden. 2011 Latitude Contemporary Art Prize winner Andy Harper will also be returning with a new piece.
As the seventh edition of Latitude, the festival is also set to host music legend Bon Iver as the closing performance in the Obelisk Arena in his first major headline slot and only UK festival appearance in 2012. In addition, the BBC London Olympics theme composers, Elbow, will top the bill on Saturday, while Paul Weller will bring Latitude 2012 to a crescendo on Sunday.
Assistant Editor Jessica Wilson is a final year student at Middlesex university in London, studying Dance Performance. She is also a Marketing and Communications Assistant at the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).
Jessica reviews London shows for the Society of London Theatre’s initiative for 16-25 year olds, TheatreFix, writes features for A Younger Theatre and blogs for Cloud Dance Festival, with additional press responsibilities. She has completed many marketing internships, the most recent at English National Ballet.
Jessica has also previously interned for SOLT, East London Dance and the ISTD dance examination board. Jessica is a National Youth Dance Ambassador for Youth Dance England, focusing on young people’s access to dance. She is extremely passionate about opportunities for young people enabling them to succeed and hopes to continue advocating this in the future through a variety of means.
The opinions expressed here are Jessica’s alone and do not reflect the opinions of RAD.0
And now for something completely different…
Today we have with us Charlotte Eriksson, aka “the Glass Child”. Charlotte is a singer/songwriter originally from Sweden that recently collaborated with two dancers for a video that showcases her new song. It’s also meant to raise awareness of an important issue that is near and dear to her heart…
1. What is your background in the arts?
I’ve been writing since a very early age but I started writing music when I was around 15. When I got into music I just knew that this is how I wanna spend my life. I’ve been dancing since childhood too, not on a professional level, but dancing and the way dancers can speak so loud without words, will always stay with me.
2. Can you tell readers a bit about your single, “I’ll Never Tell” and why you decided to use professional dancers in the video?
I released this song to raise awareness of domestic violence and personal struggle. The idea for this started by all these people I connect with online through my music. I get so many heartbreaking stories on Twitter, Tumblr and email every single day from young people who are going through these things, but no one seems to dare to talk about it out in real life. I wanted to speak up and let all these people know that they’re not alone, there are so many struggling with these things, but the people are still so uncomfortable around these subjects.
3. How did you choose these dancers?
I find a lot of inspiration through finding dance-clips and choreography on youtube, and I’ve been a fan of Francesco and Enza Cara for a long time through their youtube-channel. So I basically reached out to them, told them about the song and the message and asked if they wanted to collaborate with me by telling this story through their language, through dance.
4. What was it like to work with them?
It’s been such an honor to see how they embraced my story and put their heart into it. They worked so hard with both the choreography and the video-editing and I couldn’t be more happy with the result.
5. What did using dancers bring to the mood of this video?
Everything, really. Art in every form is so powerful and it can reach you in ways you never thought, and I think to have dancers speak my words through their movements makes every single word mean so much more.
6. How do you think dance helps illuminate the subject matter?0
by Jessica Wilson
Having seen a huge influx of dance and the performing arts in the media over the past few years – think Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for his next big hits, Dancing with the Stars, and Black Swan – the number of adults indulging in ballet classes has increased profoundly. A survey conducted by YouGov in 2011 in the prelude to the Dance Proms at the Royal Albert Hall found that just over 1 in 5 British adults have become interested in dancing as a result of shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and So You Think You Can Dance, not considering those throughout the rest of the world. It seems the ballet bug is here to stay, having turned a fad into a trend!
The appeal of ballet runs far and wide, and today seems to have taken on a more of a popular culture persona as more people are becoming aware of ballet and its benefits. Pirouetting against the stereotype, ballet does not have to be girly and strictly disciplined; there are a huge variety of ballet and dance class choices in the exercise world today, meaning that there is an option for everyone. No sooner had gym culture taken over our lives, dance cults began to make an appearance, such as Zumba, reinforcing the notion that engaging in physical activity does not have to involve a treadmill.
Not only does ballet engage and stimulate the mind, it also provides participants with an environment which is of alternative appeal. Tapping into your artistic side really does have its benefits, for adults as well as children!
The Royal Academy of Dance teachers of London have affectionately referred to this recent ballet trend as “Black Swan Syndrome” – despite such dark inferences throughout the film – considering the number of adults they have seen sign up for ballet classes in the wake of the blockbuster movie. Some may argue that the increasing commercialisation of dance may cause it to lose its intrinsic artistic value, yet if the combination of the media with promotion of dance is able to entice more adults to dance in such a profound way, something must be right! Indeed there has been a significant increase of dance-related films that have emerged over the past few years, in addition to screenings of dance performances in numerous cinemas, putting dance well and truly on the map.2