Top Voices will be taking part in a fantastic event called Walk Through the Walls: Canterbury Now and Then.
On Saturday the 24th of September, rising stars and graduate success story – The Thirteen Club – will join an array of talent presented across the whole weekend for the 11th staging of Margate’s Jazz Festival.
Book your tickets for the annual School of Music and Performing Arts Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie which will involve around 60 of our talented students – onstage, backstage, or playing in the live band!
One of our senior lecturers Marissia Fragkou has been giving some brilliant talks and has more upcoming.
Once again we were treated on this dreary afternoon to the wonderful Top Voices, directed by Chris Price. The pieces, which had been sorted into wonderfully named categories such as Love and Leaving and Slightly Fantastical, gave us a slightly eclectic but beautifully arranged concert.
Some were soft and lilting, such as the beautiful Lullaby ( Billy Joel), a song about remembrance. The gentle harmonies managed to even bring out the sunshine at one part, which i could stand to say was not a coincidence. Others were uplifting and humorous like the brilliant Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
(Tom Lehrer) which joyfully describes exactly what it says on the tin in an upbeat and jazzy manner.
The pieces were all performed by the group in it’s entirety, excepting two numbers. A joyful ode to the post box entitled Pillar to Post ( Flanders & Swann) and the hauntingly lovely When I Was in My Prime (Michael McGlynn). The latter, a wonderfully sung trio was accompanied by the slightest of drones from the rest of the group, enhancing the sound and adding a layer of depth to the number.
Kudos to Hannah Jacobi, who conducted a couple of the number with ease, and to Sara Wilson, who not only conducted but arranged a few of the numbers, including a glorious rendition of Summertime (Gershwin) which could very easily have slotted into the original musical Porgy and Bess without any trouble at all, and i doubt George or Ira Gershwin would mind at all.
Anyone who didn’t manage to see this amazing choir should try and find time to see them in the future, as you certainly do not want to miss this twice!
This lunchtime we were treated to a concert by the University Big Band, lead by the Wonderful Steve Waterman. The concert consisted of five numbers, chosen to show off the brilliant playing and improvisational skills of the performers. Each of the performances were seamless, with Waterman’s careful but precise conducting. He would always stand to the side during a solo so that the audience could appreciate it better, but then bring all of the band’s attention back to the piece with the slightest of gestures. Coupling this with the laid back style of music made the atmosphere much more relaxed and enjoyable.
The pieces were a wonderful contrast to each other. From the bluesy Sandu by Clifford Brown and the wonderfully sweet Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard to the upbeat and cheerful Killer Joe by Benny Golson, the beautifully moving A Child is Born by Thad Jones to the New Orleans funeral march Red Vest Man by our very own conductor and composer Steve Waterman that made you want to get up and salute the bygone heroes of the ’40’s and then have a great big swing dance afterwards
(I think you can tell which was my favourite piece).
The solos by the performers were spectacular, made even more so by the fact that they were improvised. A beautiful moment passed during one solo in which Jason (guitar) gave an appreciative smile towards Ben ( piano) during the latter’s solo in one of the numbers. It is such moments as this that make you realised not only are these students incredibly talented, but they respect and build up each other’s talent and strength in doing so. the only thing i could say was that the stunning piano solos by Ben and the guitar solos by Jason whilst reminiscent of the Modern Jazz Quartet were sometimes not loud enough to be fully heard and therefore appreciated more. Thankfully, the brilliant trumpet players Matt, Ayla and Adam, as well as drummer Chris had no such problems.
A special mention must be made to Anne Louise Jones, William Marsh and Evie Lawrence who stepped into the band at the last minute to cover performers who were unfortunately unwell. ( Evie stepped in less than an hour before the concert!) If it had not been mentioned at the start i genuinely believe that you would not have realised that they were there from day 0 given the way that the band worked perfectly through the pieces.
Dancing the Marathon
Dancing in a run of shows is a marathon and not a sprint. Many contemporary dancers rarely get the chance to perform in shows that last longer than two nights in the same venue before packing up and leaving for the next town. So when we are faced with more than a few shows how does our body cope? We all know that over use of particular muscle groups can lead to injury so how do we avoid this when we are expected to repeat the same movements sometimes up to 4 shows a day and also keep the performance as fresh as the first time.
Through my work with Loop Dance Company I have had the opportunity to collaborate in the creation and performance of a critically acclaimed children’s immersive theatre production designed for the Christmas season now in its 7th year. Every year the piece is brand new; the concept brainstormed in the spring, the script written in the summer and the show devised in two weeks of intensive rehearsals in November. This year the ‘run’ was 63 performances, many days with 4 shows a day, every one of them will have the fresh eyes of our target audience aged 3-6 years who are a tough crowd to entertain at the most exciting time of year!
An adequate warm up is crucial of course but also one needs to be careful not to overdo the warm up. The warm up needs to change otherwise we risk muscle imbalance from this repetition on top of the performance repetition. The subsequent shows of the day also need a thorough warm up but one that is different to the last. I find myself moving from traditional dance warm up to yoga, fitness and Pilates style training and always end the day with a good stretch, even when the theatre manager is jangling his keys. My mantra is “my body my job……he’ll get over the wait if I smile!” Fuel and hydration are also essential factors, avoiding sugars and ‘fast energy’ and opting for complex carbohydrates that give a sustained energy release. Finally after care; a hot bath after the 4 show days, some time spent on my foam roller and when a ‘niggle’ appears then the ice and hot water bottle trick before bed is a must! Saying no to the offers of a little Christmas cheer until after the run is also a must. The actors may be able to say yes but for the dancer a night on the booze will mean dehydrated muscles the next day….it’s not worth the chance!
This year was tough for me as I started the rehearsal period with a flare up of an old injury on my Achilles. Any dancer knows that an Achilles Tendon injury is stuff of nightmares! Once it is damaged a long recovery is on the cards and at worst a spell in a cast! Entering the cold studio armed with thermal socks, layers to pop on when I’m not the focus of the directors attention and my trusty tennis balls to roll my feet (many of the ankle and calf attachments are in the sole of the foot!) without a doubt are the reason I made it through without breaking!
I am both choreographer and dancer in this project, working with the director to create the movement material. I have learnt how to stay in character, echoing movements and following the other characters when I’m not dancing, this may sound obvious but for dancers it’s not something we are used to doing. Interacting with the audience is essential in this style of work, they are young and scare easily so being gentle yet fun is a quality I try to emanate. It is vitally important to be honest with yourself as well as the director in the creative period and remember that doing a backflip might be fun once or twice however; you have to make it to the end of the run and then go onto the next job. Finding a balance between challenging your physicality but being realistic about your body’s limitations is a teetering fine line, the finish line is an ever moving idea!
Nina is the Founder and Artistic Director of Loop Dance Company, 0.5 Lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch University leading modules in Limón technique, Dance in Society and Professional Practice and a Visiting Lecturer at University of Roehampton. Nina is an advocate for the development of emerging dance artists and has mentored many fledgling artists. This form of career development formed the theme of her MA dissertation, exploring methods of best practice in an ever-shifting ecology.
Let me start by saying that i am not a christmas person. The christmas jumper my mum bought me has Darth Vader and the word Humbug across it, and my favourite christmas film is Die Hard.
I have just come back from seeing The Sparkle Thief by Cut Feather and i have to say, i am feeling very christmas-y indeed. The story follows two intrepid Elves who are trying to regain the Sparkle ( the physical embodiment of Christmas Spirit) after it is stolen by one of their own. Along their way they meet a myriad of good and bad characters ( including two of the Original reindeer Dasher and Dancer, Good King Wenceslas and the evil Ice Queen)
The songs are well written and catchy ( I have had the opening number stuck in my head since 2pm yesterday) and sung beautifully by the cast. The scenes have a great pace and show the versatility of the actors well. Also i must add that the scenery, effects and lighting work so well together, it truly makes it more magical.
I do not wish to spoil the story for anyone who will go to see the show (because you should), so i will simply say that this wonderful show is brilliant for all ages and show not be missed.
Here is a lovely post by our Top Voices Director Chris Price,