I never made it to my tap class last night because I was feeling a bit on the fatigued side and decided to head home and rest, instead of overdoing it and ending up unable to surface for a busy work day in the morning (or passing out in the studio). Sometimes you’ve just got to give in and rest.
As is tradition now, today I had a little practice of a pickup exercise we’ve been doing. Check it out LOL
I also booked tickets to see The Tap Pack at Sadlers Wells’ Peacock Theatre in Holborn next Thursday evening! I had kind of written it off due to going to 42nd Street this coming Saturday (oh by the way, turns out my brother used to teach the lead actress!) and wanting to calm it down a bit, but I got an email from Sadlers Wells featuring a clip of the show and the tickets are discounted for certain evenings… Cannot wait!
Next Wednesday we have a guest teacher at our tap class so that should be fun!
So yesterday afternoon I went into London and took part in the OMG So Stagey Cats (The Musical) Workshop at Pineapple Studios, Covent Garden, taught by cast member Cameron Ball (Macavity/Admetus).
It was AMAZINGGGGGGG!!!
It was a packed studio as expected, and extremely hot until someone found the air con switch! We did a quick aerobic warm up consisting of jogging with various arm circles, plus some stretches and some cat-like movements and mannerisms to get us into character and ready for the routine we’d be learning…. The Jellicle Ball! OMG Yes, everyone was very excited!
If you know the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, you will know it’s the bit everyone gets excited about. It’s a 12 minute full on dance piece, but we were only learning the first few minutes. Apparently the full piece is notoriously a killer! The part we learnt is an audition piece – ooh!
The choreography by Gillian Lynne is amazing. Formerly a ballet soloist, she is now 94 and apparently still does the splits, every day. Wow.
I’ve been to see the show several times, including once at its original home, the New London Theatre in Covent Garden’s Drury Lane. I also have the show on DVD, which I used to dance along to a bit here and there, so I kind of know the part we were learning very well, but obviously we were learning the intricacies that you don’t pick up from a DVD, i.e. the particular steps, and the bits when the camera pans away to something else! But this prior knowledge definitely helped me remember where I supposed to be going because there are a lot of changes of direction. We performed the piece various times as a whole group, in 2 groups and even in 3 groups while the others watched. There were also people watching from outside the studio – all adds to the exhilaration of performing!
After learning the routine, we were then taught the bit at the very start very start of the Jellicle Ball, where we all begin by lying on the floor and then different cats pop up as they sense that someone is there (Grizabella, a fallen glamour cat). We were all labelled number 1, 2 or 3 and then each number had a different thing to do once the music kicked in. I was a number 1, so I was tapping on the floor with my claws 6 times, then I had to come up to standing, bring my hands up in front and behind my midriff with knees bent and then do a kind of jazz-hands, head shake, body shake. Others were shoulder shimmying and or shaking their booty. So much fun! This then led into our main routine, which we then performed all the way through in groups and all together!
I have to say I felt my back pinch the last time through, but, the show must go on! I was ok, I had just over-rotated when I was on the floor.
Watch the Jellicle Ball here (we ended at 1:18):
It was such a fun afternoon and I finally got to learn some of the Cats choreography, which I’ve wanted to do since I first saw the show in the 90’s.
p.s. Only one person was dressed up head to toe in costume, plus makeup! No, it wasn’t me 😁
OMG So Stagey do other West End Workshops at Pineapple (Kinky Boots, Les Miserables etc), so check them out if you’re in the London area.
Tap was cancelled last week but I actually didn’t mind because I was quite tired anyway, but at the same time it was a shame to not tap for two weeks. Actually, MOVE IT 2018 made up for it so I really only went one week without tapping!
This week our teacher is running a catch up class, so I’ll be going along to that tomorrow lunchtime, armed with new top and microfibre sweat towel, both bargains I picked up from Decathlon which has just opened nearby 🙂
Sooo glad I have a week off work next week! However, I will still be dancing. Not tap, as that class will be taking a break over Easter. Being the keen person that I am, I have only gone and signed up to take part in OMG So Stagey CATS WORKSHOP at Pineapple Studios! Cats is my favourite musical ever and I must have seen it at the theatre least 6 times. So when I got a newsletter through from Pineapple and saw that a recent cast member was running this workshop, I was like “I’M THERE!”
It’s next Sunday afternoon and I will fill you in on the goss afterwards. Not sure if we need to dress up…
On Friday evening my SO, his sister and I went to see Tap Factory at the Watford Colosseum! There were loads of young dancers in the audience eagerly awaiting the start.
The show was not what I expected at all! All the dialogue was in that kind of mime speak (think Tony Hart’s plasticine figure Morph, if you used to watch that), coupled with exaggerated facial expressions and physicality that made it so funny and captivating.
The setting was an industrial chemical factory, with scaffolding, ladders and oil drums, which served as just some of the percussive instruments. The guys (the workers) were wearing overalls and the boss and supervisor wore army camouflage trousers – the star of the show was a comedic little guy (Small Joe) who arrived late for the first day of work and had to prove himself amongst the others and their strength and masculinity.
The show was a mixture of amazing tap dance, incredible acrobatics (from a very smooth smiley guy who popped up every now and then), contemporary, break and street dance, flute playing, singing, and some audience participation with some call-and-response clapping…There was so much variety! My SO said it reminded him of Stomp if you’ve ever seen that show.
Last night I went to the Tap Shim Sham workshop at Morley College. It was SO MUCH FUN! It was a much larger class due to there being people from levels 1, 2 and 3 present. I knew a lot of them, but not the level three-ers. Caught up with a few pals to explain my 3 week absence!
So what is the Shim Sham? It’s a simple routine that is known by tap dancers the world over, like the tap national anthem. It was developed by tap legends Leonard Reed and Willy Bryant back in the 1920s while touring the African American version of the Vaudeville circuit (TOBA).
Here is a clip of Gregory Hines doing the Shim Sham:
We started with a warm up and stretch in a circle and then, working in 3 rows we started learning the steps, all done in a swing beat. We rotated rows just so that everyone got a chance to work in front of the mirror. For some reason my left ankle was hurting when I tried to shake it out, but it seem didn’t bother me while dancing. We learnt the dance to a slower track and then a fast one which was amazing!
We also did a short improvisation exercise back in a circle where every time there was a pause the next person in the circle had to fill 4 beats. Argh, scary when you know you’re next! This then fed back into the dance when we were free to improvise in the gaps. Several people did lots of taps when it was their turn, particularly the advanced people. I kept it simple with a cramp roll and three crawl beats but threw my whole body into it. This exercise plus the book I’m reading (TheGreatestTapDanceStars & theirStories1900–1955) has actually made me realise that it’s ok to have my own style and it’s not necessarily about hundreds of intricate taps but feeling the music, working within the rhythm and doing your thing!
Afterwards there was lots of chat about who’s coming next week, what are you doing in the Autumn, the Dorrance Dance and Old Kent Road workshops that some people attended on Sunday and Monday plus the Dorrance Dance show that’s currently on at Sadlers Wells. My teacher said I’d really enjoy it, but I really can’t fit it in this week or justify going to the theatre 4 times in the space of 4 weeks (2 performances were featuring relatives or people I know) 😩 I told my teacher that I did see 42nd Street a few weeks ago and she was saying how that style of tap is not necessarily as technical…
Got home at 9.30pm and my Tap Board had arrived!!! I have Thursday off work, so I can get stuck in 😊 Maybe I can prepare for next week’s two hour Improvisation & Composition workshop…
Last night a dance friend and I went to watch 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden’s Drury Lane, which I believe is the West End’s largest stage. On arrival we just HAD to take a photo opportunity with the chorus girls before going into the theatre! We originally had tickets for the upper circle, but we were *upgraded* to the grand circle a tier below where we got an amazing view of the entire stage! I don’t know if this is because the theatre wasn’t full or because of the heatwave (those old theatres can be saunas), but heat rises, and they seemed to have some sort of of aircon going where we were, thankfully.
The show was absolutely amazing! The sets were brilliant, the costumes captured the 1930s Hollywood golden age and I loved the chorus girls’ colourful tap shoes! The songs were great, with a few you would recognise (such as We’re in the money, and Keep young and beautiful) but the choreography and dance was spectacular! Of course I was watching the Tap Dance from a tap student’s perspective where you are trying to recognise steps… and it was just amazing how talented these people are! Of course they’ve been tapping since they could walk, so there’s no point comparing starting to learn as an adult!
I was also keen to see the show because a couple of dancers who were involved with the Brighton Tap Festival last year are in it (plus I also spotted the sister of a former school friend in the programme).
My verdict: A visual spectacular! If you love musicals, dance, the Hollywood golden age or just want a great night out, go and see it!
Found out last week that there will be NO Brighton Tap Festival this year! Noooo! It was so good last year. The organisers said it is due to personal circumstances and venues being refurbished. However, they will be back in 2018 bigger and better! Looking forward to that.
In the meantime I have joined Associated Tap Dancers (ATD) who organise tap events throughout the year, so I can be in the loop on all of their Dancer’s Days Out and festivals, which take place all over the UK! I am quite interested in the DDO taking place in Surrey soonish. There is also a festival in Torquay at the end of June, but I’m not sure I want to travel that far as I may be moving house this Summer. I’m trying to have a go at other tap workshops just to put what I’ve been learning into practice.
Another thing I saw was a Tap Show UK tour from September to November by TAP FACTORY! The promo looks amazing and they will be coming to Watford and South Bucks which aren’t far from home at all. Must get tickets!
Went to the glamorous and quirky neighbourhood of Notting Hill to see Old Kent Road’s tap show ‘Fallout’ on Thursday evening after work.
OMG these people are so talented! If you get a chance to see some of their work… Do it!
A totally engaging show, amazing tap skills and musicality. Founder Avalon Rathgeb is mesmerising to watch and the live band was fantastic. There was a half hour Q&A at the end where I was kind of poised to ask a question but kind of missed my chance… Or chickened out.
What I really wanted to know was how they look after their feet! I mean, I’m only doing 1.5 hours a week and I get foot fatigue, aching toenails, blisters…
Despite Storm Doris wreaking havoc during the day, Clive and I got there and back to the burbs no problem.
Was great to see a few people from our Rhythm Tap classes at Morley in the audience as our teacher is Old Kent Road’s company manager.
Watching these amazing dancers gave me renewed enthusiasm for Wednesday nights and left me wondering how I can put more hours in.