So that was summer ! Quite insane for us, back to back projects in Nottingham and Canterbury and we are now half way through Wolverhampton, it’s all a bit of a whir and a blur but I’ll see if I can get some rhyme and reason out of it all. Two hugely successful productions, two excellently run theatres who understand what we do and give us their full support, two lovely Claras and two very different casts. The technical standard in Nottingham was very high this time around, a noticeable raise from 2 years ago. We had the highest number of repeat offenders we have ever had and it was very gratifying to see they had brought back so much of what they had learned and that they had been working so hard in the meantime at their own dancing schools. Nottingham was just as noisy as usual, nobody is perfect I guess. In Canterbury by contrast the acting was very strong, there was lots of extra business going on in the party scene which kept me amused each show (not easy). The two week summer course is always very intense and the cast in Canterbury coped very well and I was very impressed by the spirit of the whole project. It was good to have a group of older boys again - the Jig was a definite highlight- and we all got to have a wry chuckle at the developing inevitable backstage romances.... The open dress rehearsal was overwhelming again in Canterbury, over 500 people came! Mind you it nearly didn’t happen, the was a power cut just as the cast started arriving at the theatre and no one was sure when the power would come back, we had a very uncomfortable half an hour trying to work out if we would have to send the audience away and if we would be able to have any kind of rehearsal before the evening performance. Fortunately the lights all came back on and everything carried on. The one sad thing that happened was during the dress. Charlie Mather, one of the little dolls and sweets, was taken very ill and ended up in hospital and had to miss the shows. I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing her a speedy recovery. Understudies quickly stepped in and the show went on, I remember 2 years ago having to re-coreograph the morning hours in Coppelia during the interval while on crutches as one of the girls had twisted her ankle in the 1st half..... oh for a dull day! Always understudy! One of the nice things over the shows at both places was meeting past cast members from other productions in the audience come to support, it was especially nice to see Ellie Waite (Clara in Manchester) come all the way to Nottingham.
At the certificate ceremony in Nottingham commendations went to Clare Johnson and Emily Pottage (Lead Snows), Megan Singleton (Chinese), Josh Ecob (Jig/Spanish), Rachel Murray (for her acting, great as a harassed mother of 4!), Bethany Thornton and Melissa Barns (Flowers), the Sugar Plum Attendants especially Sarah Dale and Jasmine Barnes (who’s radiant smile never fails to convey her love of Dance) and the Reed Pipes for their group work and improved point work. The senior Prize went to Rebecca Wrench (Madam Bonbon) for he characterisation and impeccable technique - her double pirouettes on point were spot on every performance. The Junior prizes went to Grace Thorne (Snowflake) and Cerri Minall (Doll).
In Canterbury commendations went to Jessica Lake (Clara), Graeme Marsh (Mouse king), Kayleigh Wilson (Sugar Plum Attendant) for strength and professionalism, Stevie Retigan (Maid) for reliability and use of face, the two understudies who stepped in for the performances Suzanna Knuckey (Sweet) and Laura Thorpe (Doll), Amy Midgley and Amanda White (Flowers) for consistent point work, Paul Smith for performance flourishes and the Jig Boys. Senior prizes went to Scott Norton (for a smile you can see at the back of the theatre and personality) and Francesca Ardley (Flower). The junior prize went to James Carroll (Fritz) for his outstanding acting.
Quite a few messages over the summer, Paul Smith, Elliot Hawker and Jessica Kirkham are all starting at Central in the new term, Emma Walker is going to the Northern Ballet School, Jessica Lake will be at Elmhurst, Cora Vanaman and Jodie Rouse will be appearing in Pantomime at the Palace Theatre Mansfield, Jeremy Davidson got honours in his grade 2 exam, Zac Hindley is now a JA at Checcetti and his brother Kaleb is a JA with the Royal Ballet in Manchester.
Well that's all I have time for, back to Wolverhampton and Sleeping Beauty.... Keep working hard
Well summer is here and we are entering our busiest period, Southend done, Nottingham underway and Wolverhampton and Canterbury cast. There are so many familiar faces that I’m not sure where and when I am sometimes. Southend went surprisingly well. You might think that is an odd thing to say but we had real concerns as to whether the performances would be up to scratch. The first time we had everyone together was at the 1st performance. Illness and GCSEs can’t be avoided but there was a definite lack of commitment from certain areas which causes disruption and extra work for everyone else. The EYB experience is about development, if a student misses days of rehearsal then that development is disrupted and the full benefit wont be achieved, it is also disruptive to the other students in that group as time supposed to be spent on rehearsing is then used up on re-teaching. The choreographers then become frustrated because they never have a complete group to work with and my time tabling becomes a nightmare trying to make sure students are at their own rehearsals and can be available to understudy. It was very noticeable at the parents showing who had been absent and that there were understudies standing in. Of course this is only a minority, most of the students are there all the time and are fully dedicated to what they are doing and most of the time the absenteeism is through parents over committing their children to other activities or family events. So with a lot of extra work at the theatre the performances were surprisingly good with very strong acting and group work.
At the certificate ceremony commendations went to Lauren Tovey (Lead Flower) for improved point work, Jasmin Turner (Flower) for reliability and focus, Charlotte Dickens (Reed pipe) for understudying everything, Harry Toynton for effort, Ashley Selfe & Daniel Looney for the fight scene, Robyn Regan (Reed pipe) for being an outstanding mouse and acting (excellent understudy for Fritz) and finally the Snowflakes and Flowers for their spacing and lines. The Junior prize went to Charlotte Edmonds (Doll/Sweet) for her professional approach. The senior prizes went to Victoria Quelch (Flower) for pure dancing and co-ordination and Daniel Looney for being the best Mouse king so far and as an actor doing class every day with the A group even though he was twice their age - dedication!
not posting next years dates yet, but as I said this is our busy period
and we don’t want to be inundated with audition requests
until everything is finalised. There is a good chance we may be doing
next year! I hope we survive it...
Keep working hard
Sorry for the lateness of this letter, I have been without internet access for the last 2 1/2 weeks so I am a bit behind with the updating of the web site. So... Manchester... quite an experience, the standard was very high so we had to push harder to achieve the maximum potential from the young dancers, they didn’t quite make it on the 1st night but certainly did by the last night! I have to say the reception at the end of each performance was amazing even by EYB standards, audiences often clap all the way through the closing section of Nutcracker but in Manchester the applause was so loud I couldn’t even hear the music! We had plenty of drama as well, Manchester’s one way system is a tale of fear and loathing in it’s self, the M6, Emma came down with pleurisy, hail storms, and the complete lack of unity on policy from the various councils around and in Manchester on licences (some said we needed them others not. One demanded signed doctors certificates and then backed down and said we did not need licences.) For the first time we had to hire in licensed chaperones, not cheap. Oh for a dull day. On the nice side of things Julianne was back as the Sugar Plum Fairy, foot much better if not a 100% yet. Julianne also celebrated her 40th last month and so did we, her husband threw a very posh do and a good time was had by all. We have also added a new dance for the boys in The Nutcracker, the Jig, which is very rarely performed in other productions, in fact the the only time I have ever seen it was in Peter Darrell’s production for Scottish Ballet, and guess who was dancing it? yes- Roddie! (I think it was 1992). I reported in the last newsletter that we were planning a new production for next year, unfortunately we will not be able to afford to by 2007 so we will have to wait until 2008 (the rising costs of petrol, trains, hotels, hiring schools, studio hire in London and now paying for chaperones.) We will be bringing back and refurbishing “Coppelia”, it is still in demand from theatres and the principals love doing it! Next year we are hoping to go to Yeovil, Worthing, High Wycombe, Stoke, Preston, Southsea and hopefully Sheffield. I will post the dates when they are confirmed so please don’t ask for audition details until I do.
At the certificate ceremony commendations went to the Soldiers/Russian group who I thought were excellent, the Dolls for their concentration, the Flowers for their foot work (there’s a 1st!) and the Boys as a group. Individual commendations went to Ellie Waite and Thomas Cummings for their performances as Clara and Fritz, Hayley Littler (Reed-pipe) for excellent understudying and Winnie Chu (Reed-pipe). Prizes went to Lucinda May (Snow Flake) for Professionalism and Laura Ried (Sugar Plum Attendant) for poise, head line and co-ordination.
Only a couple of messages this month, Amelia O’Hara who was with us in Manchester has been accepted into The Royal Ballet School White Lodge and Samantha Hacklett got a Distinction for her grade 2 ballet, congratulations to you both.
Well thats all I have time for, we’ve started in Southend so there are timetables and the rest to get on with, keep working hard.
So here we are once more, back in full swing, another visit to Stevenage over (Stevenage was my 1st EYB project back in 1999) and a good start to the year. 3 of the 4 shows were sold out and the other one was over 80% full. It was a little touch and go during the rehearsals as there were several nasty bugs going around and we didn’t have everyone there until the dress rehearsal ! (Some of the schools in Stevenage had to be closed there were so many people of sick!) And during the shows there were one or two of the cast looking less than 100% well, but everyone soldiered on and the shows went very well, plus everyone learned the value of understudying!! We were very impressed by the effort every one put into the performances and once again the behaviour at the theatre was excellent.
The last show was quite emotional for us as it was the last performance for Roddie, he has retired from performing so he can spend more time at home in Scotland so I am sure you would all like to join us in thanking him for his work with us over the last 6 years and wishing him well in his future plans. He and Emma had a very successful trip to Alaska - I’ll see if I can talk Emma into writing about it for the next news letter. There was one slight disappointment, it was decided that Julianne’s foot was not strong enough to get through Sleeping Beauty at the moment, but she was on stage as Aunt Lilac and we are all confident that she will be able to dance the sugar plum fairy in Manchester next month. So Maria was over again to dance with her 3rd partner for Sleeping Beauty ! I can not believe she is still only 22, it is always a pleasure to have her working with us. We will be seeing a lot more of Kasper this year, Matthew is now working with us full time and Oliver has confirmed he will be doing all the Nutcrackers this year (we will have to wait and see if he is available for the SBs at the end of the year). The auditions we have done this year have been as popular as ever with 400 dancers turning up at both Nottingham and Wolverhampton, just one more to do in Redhill. Next year is shaping up well and we are planning a new production, I’ll let you know the details when it is all official so keep watching this space!
At the certificate ceremony commendations went to Nicholas Crowley, Victoria Fletcher, Tish Philip and Frazer Lucas (Duke, Duchess, Nurse and Brother Wisdom) for their characterisation, Elloise Jones (Jewel/Monster) for constant hard work and excellent understudying, Sophia Melvin (Friend) for performance quality, all the boys, the Songbird group, and a general improvement for all the point work. Prizes went to James Titchener (Lord Songbird/Black Cat) and Emmeline Hayward (Guest).
I had lots of messages over the break, Molly Jennings is now at Elmhurst, Ashton & Megan Danby got Distinctions in their RAD exams, Luke Friend is now a Junior Associate of the RB school, Olivia Grace Beale appeared in Panto in Southsea and got a Distinction in her grade 4 RAD, Bethany Hughes is doing well in her 2nd year at White lodge and was selected to appear in La Sylphide and The Nutcracker with the Royal Ballet, Lucy Benson came 1st in the North of England Ballet Championships in January, Kayleigh Pattison has been accepted to the Reynolds Performing Arts college in Bexley, and Joshua Hutchings has received a MDS award to allow him to go to Tring. I took my nieces and nephews to see the panto in Newark and lo and behold there was Natasha Pearson, Emma Sivakumaran, Emma Carter, Tom Kindell and Charlotte Carmen on the stage! Is there no escape! I also bumped into Samantha Cotton at the Pineapple in London, she started work with the Ce De Ce Company in Portugal at the beginning of the year, it is very gratifying to see our ex students now moving into the profession.
Well that's all I have time for, keep your news coming in and keep working hard....
" To continue with the foot saga, when I last wrote I was just off to Australia for 5 weeks holiday with my husband Peter - the pysio had been going really well and pilates was keeping everything ticking over nicely. Although I was very excited about the trip I was a little concerned about how I would feel being on holiday for 5 whole weeks! - I have never been away from the routine class, rehearsal, some form of constructive exercise for more than 2-3 weeks. still, I thought the whole experience would do good, the activities and general pace of our schedule - flying to a different destination every week, catching up with friends we've not seen in years, scuba diving, swimming - would keep body and soul together!
The first week we were in Hobart in Tasmania and it took the whole week for the swelling and stiffness to reduce.. even walking was painful. I felt like I had taken a huge step backwards in the recovery stakes, but I had been warned about the effects of the flight. I tried a gentle barre every other day and found a pilates studio. Pilates is wonderful as it is non weight baring and exercises your whole body with out feeling any forcing or pain in the foot.
The next week we were in Sydney, again visiting friends. I did barre at home a couple of times and pilates once near bondi beach! Was feeling concerned about the lack of flexibility though the swelling was less - also beginning to feel stir crazy as hadn't swam at all, and not able to do much with the stiff ankle! Still - having a fantastic time, - it was like Christmas every day, people are so kind when you have travelled half way across the world to see them!
After the last few days of bad weather in Sydney it was great to touch down in Brisbane in 27-degrees heat. Just loved the humidity, surely this would help the stiffness. Had a great time with my friend Helen - we danced together in The Lewis London Ballet - her husband Pete and her 3 boys, another friend- Robyn who I haven't seen for 5 years was in Brisbane so it was great to catch up with her. Robyn had done a massage course and did a couple of sessions and I could feel the good it was doing instantly - no time alone for a quick barre or anything else that week but did go swimming in the sea which felt amazing.
The last 2 weeks was spent in north Queensland - even hotter! .. - visiting my uncle, scuba diving, swimming and doing barre every day. By now I was getting worried about the lack of mobility.. I was due to start rehearsals for Strauss the day we returned and was worried about not being able to cope. Each day I turned off the air con in our hotel room to get the temperature nice and hot, send Peter out for a walk for an hour or so and get on with my barre then put on my trainers, galloping, polkaing and generally bouncing up and down as much as possible.. Very painful!
back in the U.K. on 7th Dec.
to nil degrees
at 5 am,
waited for the
bags for 1 1/2 hours grrrrr!!!...
then off to London
Bridge for Strauss
I was still
the new choreography
and the lack of
flexibility in the ankle
area. Three very
painful weeks followed,
physio and massages
when I could, but
managed to get
by and by the
end of the first
I would be all
able to do 90 %
with 1 1/2 legs!