Merch

Yay – my sweater has arrived for MOVE IT 2018, which is in a matter of weeks!

Taking place at London’s ExCel, there’ll be performances, special guests, dance classes, workshops, and loads of stands to browse…Can’t wait!

This year I’ll be doing the following classes:

  • 42nd Street tap workshop with London Studio Centre
  • Tap class with Chloe and Maud Arnold of Syncopated Ladies

Got to get some learning in where you can!

Tap Dance Festival UK Winter Intensive 2018

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Wow, what a weekend! Now that I’m back from Manchester and have had 12 hours’ sleep I can tell you all about my experience of the 2nd ever Tap Festival UK Winter Intensive.

Friday

My SO and I drove up to Salford (Greater Manchester) on Friday, reaching our accommodation in the afternoon. After a rest and a bite to eat, we went to the Festival venue Pendleton College for the Professional Showcase at 7pm. We were all made to wait in the small canteen area until the start, but in the meantime there was a presentation to the amazing Jo Scanlan of Tap Attack and a short tap performance by her very talented son.

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Next, we were shown through to the Eccleston Theatre where the Apartment 33 ‘Where Dreams Are Made’ Professional Show was taking place. Written and presented by Maud Arnold, and choreographed by her sister Chloe, the show featured some of the weekend’s faculty members, and shared the story of how tap dancers were able to relocate to Chloe and Maud’s actual Apartment 33 in New York to be able to “pursue their tap dance goals and dreams”. The score included Alicia Keys, John Legend, Beyonce and Rihanna, among others, and the dance was a fantastic blend of tap, crump, contemporary and more. My favourite performance was pocket-rocket Robin Passmore tapping furiously to Destiny’s Child’s Survivor. So good! The Syncopated Ladies’ routine to Beyonce’s Formation was also a big crowd pleaser. Unfortunately, I had someone’s huge hair in my eyeline, but I managed to move a seat along so that I could actually see the performers’ feet!

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After the show was a Q&A with the panel of Suzanne Clandon (founder of Tap Dance Festival UK), Maud Arnold (Syncopated Ladies), Robin Passmore, Vikas Arun, Linsey O’Neal, Josh Nixon. There were some good questions from the audience such as “did you ever feel like giving up?” and lots of advice on pursuing your dreams in the performing arts. You have to be a go-getter!

Saturday

Saturday morning my SO dropped me back at Pendleton College and went off to run and then go and see friends near Stockport. I went in with my dance bag, a bit apprehensive because last night seemed to be all teenagers, which made me wonder if there would be ANY ADULTS in the classes on Saturday. I went into the ‘holding area’ as per last night and found some adults (phew!). There turned out to be quite a few there for classes thankfully! I had received an email in the week to say that the classes were geared towards teens, so adults were welcome to attend the ‘Teachers’ Studio’ classes free of charge. I thought I might do that for the final class of the morning, but I didn’t in the end!

Before going to any classes, we were in the sports hall for the AFRO FUNK warm up with Maud. Ok, it was only about 20 minutes long, and I heard someone say “I’ve got a stitch!” Yep. That’s Afro Funk! It’s kind of dance hall style winding and grinding and body isolations. Lots of fun, a real laugh, but OH BOY does it wear you out.

After this we were shown by the respective people where to go for our class levels. I was in the Beginners/Advanced Beginners (0-3 years experience), and we had a very nice studio with mirrors.

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10.00-10.55 Tap Attack (Jo Scanlan)

This was a really fun class where we did some warm up exercises at the mirror and across the floor (including travelling on one leg – wow that burns) and then learnt a short routine. I was breaking in my Jason Samuels Smith tap shoes, and they were fab! That was actually my second time learning with the Guinness World Record holder Jo – the first time was at MOVE IT 2017 in London.

11.00-11.55 Technique (Robin Passmore)

A proper tap drills class with a proper drill sergeant! Some people find drills tiresome, but I love it. As was explained to us, that is how you get better and cleaner. Watching Robin on stage the night before, she stood out as someone who was really on it and exceptionally precise, so I was looking forward to learning from her. Her demonstrations were amazing and we were just standing there with our mouths open! We worked on crawls, shuffles in all directions, paddles, riffs, pick-ups, pull-backs AND I had my first ever go at wings! Very exciting. Couldn’t get the sound, but at least I know what I should be doing. Now go home and practice!

12.00-12.55 Choreography (Vikas Arun)

Vikas explained at the beginning that we were going to find the class too difficult. Um, what? But then he said that there was no point him flying all the way from the US and us paying for a class that was too easy. Very true. We were there to be challenged! He also said please ask questions or say if you don’t get something, otherwise he’ll move on.

Now, I thought it was going to be a class where you were encouraged to come up with a bit of your own choreography (have to say I wasn’t especially up for that on a Saturday morning, and was considering beforehand running along to the Teacher’s Studio with Jo Scanlan), but we were actually learning choreography.

We learnt a really cool routine, and I think it moved a little faster than I’m used to, but he threw in useful tips about weight placement and height, which helped me with one particularly tricky step which you’ll see below (toe-heel-f-lap, toe-heel-f-lap). He also said, as had been said throughout the morning that it is better to try and get that one thing right than to just do it fast but get it wrong. Some other sound bites I picked up were ‘don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t do it wrong‘ and ‘learn the drums’. I actually decided to either learn drums or learn to tap, and I went with tap. I should do both!

Here’s what we learnt (slower version first followed by with the music):

 

It was such an amazing day and I’m so glad I went! It was scary to go on my own, but it was fantastic and got me out of my comfort zone…again!

If you have the chance to go to any sort of dance festival or intensive, go for it!

Tap Festival Schedule

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This coming weekend I will be attending the Tap Dance Festival UK’s Winter Intensive in Manchester! Very excited!

The timetable for me is as follows:

Friday 16th

7.30pm Professional Showcase: Where Dreams Are Made (Starring Chloe Arnold’s tap group Apt 33)

Saturday 17th

9.00-9.30am Registration

9.30-10.00am AFRO FUNK Warm Up (Maud Arnold)

10.00-10.55am Tap Attack (Jo Scanlan)

11.00-11.55am Technique (Robin Passmore)

12.00-12.55pm Choreography (Vikas Arun)

1pm lunch/home time!

I’m only doing a half day of Advanced Beginners classes, and I think that’ll be enough for me!

I’ll report back on Sunday how it went…

Creep

It only took me 5 weeks to realise we’ve been dancing to Radiohead’s Creep! Although, to be fair, we’ve been using a cover version. But this evening a member of the class played it for us on the piano for our performances in front of the other half of the class (plus a practice all together)! Very cool, very nicely played.

I went a bit wrong when we were dancing in front of the other half of the group, but hey ho, that’s dance class! The more you dance in front of an audience, the better. I have to admit I found it easier to perform Street dance in front of an audience. In fact I did, two years in a row at ‘Sutton’s Got Talent’! (There is DVD evidence).

In the last few minutes our teacher asked if there’s anything else we’d like to do so I piped up with “call and response” (I’m so keen). That was good fun! It literally keeps you on your toes.

Told my teacher at the end that I couldn’t get onto the next block of Wednesday evenings, but that I booked onto the Thursday day instead. I also told her that I’m going to the Tap UK Festival šŸ‡¬šŸ‡§ in Manchester next weekend! More on this later, but in brief: I’m really excited, there’s a show Friday night, I’ll be doing about 3 classes on the Saturday morning, and yes people, there will be AFRO FUNK!! šŸŽ¶

Reflections on 2017

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I have finally had a chance this weekend to think back over the last year and my various dance pursuits. Some of the highlights:

  • Rambert Contemporary Dance Summer School – such a good day and I managed to keep up with the full time dance students, even with painful achilles tendons šŸ™‚
  • Move It Dance 2017 – I go to this exhibition in London’s Docklands every year, but in 2017 I pushed the boat out and took a tap class with the Guinness World Record breaking tap dancer Jo Scanlan of Tap Attack!
  • Learnt the Shim Sham and had a go at Tap improvisation
  • Did ballet (barre only) course at improvers level at City Lit after pining for ballet for some time
  • Got my Maud & Chloe Arnold tap shoes for Christmas

I look forward to continuing my tap dance training and attending some more festivals and workshops in 2018!

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Style

La La Land

This morning I booked a place on a La La Land tap dance workshop, taking place at Arts Educational in Chiswick in a few weeks’ time!

It will be half-term that week, so there is a break from my usual tap class. I am always looking out for opportunities to try out what I have learnt, so it will be interesting to try a 1.5hr workshop with a different teacher, and see how it varies in style. I know my usual teacher said that Hollywood style tap is very different to Rhythm tap, suggesting the Hollywood footwork is less technical. Rhythm tap is more syncopated and complex.

“Rhythm tap, made famous by John W. Bubbles, incorporated more percussive heel drops and lower-body movement rather than emphasizing toe taps and upper-body movement. It is more grounded and focuses more on acoustic rather than the aesthetic qualities. Gregory Hines brought back this style…demonstrating that rhythm tapā€™s focus is always on the feet.”Ā http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/learn-the-styles-and-aesthetics-of-tap-dance

Maybe La La Land will be easier to pick up compared to what I usually do… or maybe not! I haven’t seen the film, and Ryan Gosling’s free hand really bothers me in the movie poster (see above), but maybe I should try and watch it before I go, to get into the character…

In the meantime, I have been practising the Tori Amos rhythm tap routineĀ at every spare moment. The next part we’re going to learn looks a little complicated, but there’s a real sense of achievement when you get it. Hopefully I won’t have a lazy left foot today.

Oooh, I have lots of tap stuff lined up this Autumn – never mind that we’reĀ anticipating a house move in the next month or so! (Yes, that scenario is still dragging on, *sigh*)

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Rainy Days and Improv

Rainy Day

Yesterday was such a miserable, rainy day in London. I’ve been really stressed out recently and I really wasn’t feeling like going to Tap after work, but I knew that it would cheer me up and I would be energised…which it did, and I was!

I spoke to my teacher when I was grabbing water before the class started and told her I have booked a place on her Tap Shim Sham class, but I wasn’t sure about the Improvisation & Composition class the following week, and if I would be the right level. (Told her about my previous experience of Improvisation when I was still a beginner and didn’t have enough steps in my vocabulary to do a lot) She said I should definitely do it. It sounds as though it will be a relaxed and fun 2 hour workshop for level two upwards, so I am booked on!

So my summer programme is looking like this:

Weds 12th July – Tap Shim Sham 7-8pm

Weds 19th July – Tap Improvisation & Composition 6-8pm

Monday 31st July – Rambert 1 Day Adult Dance Intensive 10-4

I’m really looking forward to it, and I’ve got a day off after each event so I pace myself and don’t end up ill again.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to mention the workshops to my friend last night, and she zipped off as soon as the class was finished.

It’s funny, a girl at the level 1 class last night was asking me about other classes I’ve done as she’s interested in doing ballet as well, but is not sure about days and timings. She said she has a habit of overcommitting and burning out. Yeah, me too!

To alleviate some of the stress and back ache I am feeling at the moment, I have booked a 1 hour aromatherapy massage tomorrow afternoon. I was only going to get a half hour back massage, but the receptionist said they have a new therapist and all of her treatments are currently half price! So I went for the full hour. Hopefully it will be good…