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!
Iconography of the Performing Arts
This week, we spoke to our Senior Lecturer and Technical Director Andy Hurst about his work here at Canterbury Christ Church University, and his personal research.
Yesterday we were treated to a Lunchtime Concert by the amazing Broadway Choir, originated and conducted by Phil Hornsey. We started the performance with a stunning rendition of Circle of Life by Elton John and Tim Rice. The solos by Phillip McParland, Francesca Manklelow, and Bethany Hunt were wonderful and folded straight back into the ensemble.
Next we had two numbers from the hit musical Rent, Seasons of Love and No Day But Today. The numbers were beautifully harmonised with stunning solos from many students throughout.
After this we moved onto a brilliant medley of the best of Rogers and Hammerstein, using numbers such as The Hills are Alive (Introduced to us by Bethany Couch who if you closed your eyes sounded exactly like Julie Andrews!), Oklahoma and South Pacific.
Following this was the hauntingly performed Bring Him Home from Les Misérables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Alain Boublil. This version gave us a harmony which does not exist in the original but having heard this should do.
To bring the mood back up after this we heard a song from I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change called Cantata for First Date, showing us two people getting ready for the first date. This was hilariously performed by all with great timing and facial expressions to boot.
The show was finished up with a lovely duo of Day by Day from Godspell and In the Beginning from Children of Earth. Once again we heard strong solos from members of the group, showcasing the wealth of talent that this company of singers has.
A special mention for Nicola, who was our guide through the musical numbers for the afternoon and gave us brilliant insights to the history of the pieces, as well as the wonderful Phil who not only accompanied the numbers but arranged some of the pieces as well.
Definitely a performance to look out for again, let’s see what they do next time. For videos from the performance, check out our Facebook page here!
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.
Andy Hurst, One of our senior lecturers who specialises in Technical Theatre and Production Techniques has shared with us his Production notes from his latest works.
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.
This year we present three parallel research seminar series at Canterbury Christ Church University and Turner Contemporary in Margate: