Dr. Sam Salem’s Distractfold Ensemble wins International Award
Dr. Sam Salem’s Distractfold Ensemble wins International Award
James Dean’s new study of Pat Metheny has just been published in Routledge’s Jazz Perspectives Journal.
Over recent years MPA staff have engaged in research projects across five continents and by the end of the academic year 2013-14 our staff had hosted, chaired and contributed to conferences across the UK, in Europe, in North America and Africa with a broader range of disciplines than ever before.
2nd – 9th May
Another batch of audition results have now been published on the School of Music and Performing Arts web pages.
The results of our recent instrument auditions can now be found on the Music website.
Current student Demi Walters got in touch with Ben Hughes who recently danced in Matthew Bourne’s production of Lord of the Flies at the Marlowe Theatre. Ben is currently in his second year studying Dance Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. Demi asked him a few questions about the process.
The rehearsal schedule started off very slowly soon after the final auditions, often having only one 3-4 hour sessions a fortnight. However, around a month before the show was due to start rehearsals picked up considerably. Two weeks before the first show an intensive schedule began with daily rehearsals from 11am until 6pm – headed by tour director Alan Vincent. At the start of the second week we were joined by the professional dancers and finally had a chance to use the set. These days also ran from 11am until 6pm; however over 16’s had the opportunity to participate in an extra class led by professionals focusing on Ballet & Contemporary technique from 10am until 11am.
The rehearsals were tiring both physically and mentally, however morale was kept high to keep us focused on getting the show finished.
It was great to work with boys again; it’s been something I have missed a lot, more than I initially thought I did. I was fortunate enough at school to have a boys company formed when I was 14, this is when I started dancing. However this experience had a broader range of ages. With everyone being male it was much easier to just get stuck in and within days we were forming good friendships and seeing how we could lift each other. Towards the end of the show the older cast members would occasionally meet up outside of rehearsals, for example when we went to support one of the other cast members band playing in a local pub. Even once the shows had finished there has been talk of some of us meeting up again, both socially and to work on projects with each other again.
The reaction to the show was simply magical. There are many times when I have been lost for words over what audience members have said and even times when I began to cry simply because of the things that were being said. Each evening performance of the show has become one of my personal favourite moments of my life, being on stage and just seeing the whole auditorium standing with a deafening roar of applause, moments I will never forget. It’s also been pretty surreal, seeing newspaper articles & reviews, being on the news on TV, going to audience Q&A sessions and I even signed a few audience members’ programmes.
As someone who just a few months ago didn’t have much confidence in what they were doing, to then have people come up to you and say that is the best show they have seen in years, the feeling you get is simply unexplainable in words and it has only pushed me to want to do even better.
Lord of the Flies has left a lasting impression on everyone who saw it, one that not only showcases boys dance at its best, but also that amazing dancers can come from anywhere at any age no matter their skill level.
I would definitely watch this show again and would recommend it to anyone. It is a great project to support, and as a dancer in training it was great to see such a high level of interest from boys regarding dance.
Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures have been behind a number of successful dance theatre productions including Swan Lake, Edward Scissorhands, and Nutcracker! The company are currently touring with their new dance production of William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies.
In the original story a group of schoolboys find themselves abandoned on a deserted island – however now the story is presented with the idea of the boys being in a deserted theatre. Reacting to the circumstances the group find themselves in, with no adult guidance, they begin to make their own rules and civilisation. Over time, order breaks down and the story unfolds with a series of exciting and shocking events.
The cast is made up of the New Adventures dancers – also referred to as the professionals, and new young talent from all over the country. The main objective of this project was to increase boy participation in dance, this was set by The Arts Council, who help fund the production. As I saw this performance in Canterbury I decided to focus on the Kent cast of Lord of the Flies and their journey.
I was lucky enough to be able to speak to one of the dance ambassadors for this project, James Middleton, an ex Canterbury Christ Church University Dance Education Student. He told us how he and Chloe, the other ambassador, got to travel around Kent and teach workshops in a number of schools, they had around 300 boys to choose from but could only take 120.
The pair then had to choose only 60 boys to audition. This number then had to be cut once more into just 22 boys. With ages ranging from 9 to 22 amongst the final cast, I was told many of the cast had little/no training in dance.
I found this very hard to believe as throughout the show you could see the strength of every single individual on stage. Personally I felt the younger dancers were showing just as much stamina and strength as the professionals and this was an amazing aspect of the performance; it brought ‘realness’ and emotion to the show. The choreography wasn’t all flips, kicks and leaps; instead it was a story with real movement and emotion, a story you could not take your eyes off.
The set of the show was very simple; all that was present on stage was a ramp, a caged entrance/exit, and a set of apparatus that represented a mountain. New props appeared throughout the show such as boxes, petrol tins and a clothes rail. These were all used to enhance the events that took place. Throughout the show the background gradually changes from a large sun and a sheet painted to remind us of a beach, to a huge moon. This was meant to represent the original story in an abstract way as they wanted to touch upon the island setting of the book. However I felt that the painted background could have been left out since the story had been changed to a theatre already for a reason.
Music for the show was loud and enticing; the sound in the room for me was amazing. As a dancer I found some of the music very narrative rather than the typical soundtrack you would find people dancing to. Although this sounds like a bad idea, I felt it worked really well. The music helped carry the storyline just as much as the dancing from the boys which for me, was perfect. It is a hard task to tell an entire story, without one word being uttered, but in this show they managed it!
The whole performance exceeded my expectations. When I first heard about the process of choosing the dancers I was expecting a good show but at an amateur standard. I was so wrong. The character of each and every individual was present right from the offset and I could see that the cast carried one another as a company.
I would definitely watch this show again and would recommend it to anyone. It is a great project to support, and as a dancer in training it was fantastic to see such a high level of interest from boys regarding dance.
Reviewed by current student Demi Walters