Last Saturday my SO went into London to see Kate Prince’s latest dance story, Message in a Bottle at the Peacock Theatre in Holborn. The show how told the story of a family of refugees who have been displaced following civil war in their homeland. This was set against the backdrop of the songs of Sting, including Roxanne, Englishman in New York and of course Message in a Bottle. The story was poignant, current and very moving in places and the music and dance was just fantastic.
The Lion King
This Saturday just gone, we took my mum and nephew to see the award-winning musical The Lion King. We originally had tickets for August, but it was postponed due to cast and crew members having tested positive for Covid. It was a fabulous, colourful show and of course Elton John’s songs are amazing (The Circle of Life is a particular favourite). Unfortunately, there were a lot of people in the audience fidgeting, looking at phones and generally messing about – the adults, not the children!
It’s been great to get out there and support the arts! Have you been to the theatre lately?
I only went and pulled my left shoulder while pumping iron in the gym this week!Unfortunately I was trying to even up both sides by letting my least dominant side initiate pushing (or pulling) the weights, and ended up straining the muscles and making my weaker side even worse! Anyone else done this?
Thankfully I was OK to play my ukulele at the class this week – just no playing overhead 🙂 We had a go at one of the songs we’re going to play for the end of term show in December, and also I Have a Dream by ABBA, including the finger-picking bits in the middle and end of the song – hilarious! There were only 6 out of the usual 11 of us, but it felt like those of us who were there bonded a bit more this week. (I also sat in a slightly different seat to usual, just to mix it up a bit). We played I Have A Dream again all the way through so that our teacher could record it for us to practice with at home.
There’s so many people coughing and spluttering at work and on public transport, and then I wasn’t feeling 100% the afternoon of the class, but rather than slinking off home, I made myself go along…and I had a blast!
*Shocker* – today I would have been back at Rhythm Tap Intermediates, butI emailed my teacher this morning and asked her to cancel me off this half-term. I really need to rest my troublesome left knee, and as I said in my last post, I took on ukulele lessons without dropping anything from my list of commitments. Sad face, but needs (knees) must!
Even though I won’t be dancing this term, I’m going to see the game-changing NYC tap dancer Michelle Dorrance’s company Dorrance Dance perform at Sadlers Wells next Thursday evening. SO EXCITED! I’ll will give you the full breakdown next weekend!
I have to say, since the clocks went back I’ve been dosing up on vitamin D (Vitabiotics ULTRA D), along with C plus Zinc and scoffing all kinds of fruit. I actually found the time transition a lot easier this year – how about you? I’m also wearing earplugs at night to make sure I sleep through any potentially interruptive sounds (like heavy rainfall, revving motorbikes, screeching foxes and so on). Hoping this all helps keep the germs at bay. Actually, the best thing is to just AVOID LONDON!
Thursday lunchtime rhythm taprestarted this week and I was really looking forward to getting back in the studio after Christmas! Monday’s Pilates class left me with a bit of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) but by Thursday it had worn off. The 2 day gap between classes was certainly sensible!
Many of the same people were back this term, plus a few new faces. I don’t know if our teacher read my mind (or this blog) but we worked on pullbacks! YAY! And I could actually do them! DOUBLEYAY! I have been obsessed with being able to do them ever since last year’s Tap Dance Festival UK technique class with Robin Passmore where I just wasn’t getting it at all.
A pullback is 2 sound step where you pickup both feet at the same time with elevation. You can also do single ones and keep switching feet. According to Acia Gray in her tap dance guidebook The Souls of Your Feet (1998):
The most difficult action to master is the JUMP action of leaving the floor in order to execute the BACK
AMEN. It was exciting to be able to finally execute them, but then my feet really started to ache 🙁 A bit of stretching and Spiky rollerball helped immensely once I was back at my desk.
We also worked on a Shirley Temple exercise which was slightly mind bending (we kept changing direction) and a SuzyQ exercise, which is another basic step I wasn’t entirely confident in, but the practice helped cement things a bit more.
Our routine this half term is to Naughty Little Flea by Miriam Makeba. I’m going to listen to the music over the weekend and also have a go at some of my Pilates exercises before Monday. I was going to start reading Tina Turner’s new autobiography today, but it arrived damaged, so I need to send it back!
Argh, I meant to post this on Friday! Anyway a few tweaks and here it is…
I’ve actually missed 3 weeks of Wednesday evening tap classes due to illness (and an evening meeting), so on Thursday I went along to the advanced beginners lunchtime class to try and catch up.
K was there! She hasn’t been for about about a year because she was doing other things and then couldn’t make the classes because she was working. It turns out that she did a term at the other tap class that runs at the college with a different teacher. Well, she said it just wasn’t for her, she didn’t get on with the teaching style, it was in a hall rather than a dance studio, and so on… so that has answered my question about whether I should try that class to go back and learn everything from scratch! I’ll continue with rhythm tap.
The lunchtime class was quite small which was nice because it feels more laid back than the busy Wednesday class. We had a go at a complicated exercise of stepping and alternating heel drops, which for me was OK on the right hand side but more tricky on the left. It reminded me of something I saw Gregory Hines do on YouTube. We were partnered up to help each other go over any difficulties that we had and that really helped because we could go through the steps a bit slower and try to figure it out.
Despite missing two weeks of advanced beginners, I was able to catch up quite quickly and remember our routine. We ran through the whole thing a couple of times at the end and it was great – I really like this one! But then, I like them all LOL.
At the end I asked our teacher if I could film her doing the routine for the level 3 intermediate class because I’ve missed three weeks, this week is the final week and I wanted to practice before then. She agreed, but currently has a shoulder injury, so she apologised the movements weren’t as big as they should be, but that wasn’t a problem… all I cared about was getting something to work on because I couldn’t remember a thing beyond 4 flaps! (Because of her injury, our teacher missed a week of classes, so I haven’t missed as much as I thought).
I’m looking forward to this week’s final classes, and then we have a break until the week of 5th of November. I’m probably not going to do level 3 (intermediates) in that run up to Christmas because it’s late and I have a few things on in November and December. I might just switch to level 2 daytime so I have the evenings back!
I organised a team trip to the Sky Garden, which is just up the road and over the river from our office. I have to say the views of the city were spectacular. And we had a lovely time bonding over a latte and cake.
This evening my Rhythm Tap class restarted and for once I didn’t feel nervous. Maybe because of Sunday’s Cats workshop, or maybe because just before heading to Tap a guy who I think had a learning difficulty was asking my opinion about doing acting just for fun rather than for being paid (I think people had been telling him he couldn’t or shouldn’t). So I told him to go for it and that I do dancing just for fun. The arts are for all. I hope he gives it a go!
Tap class was good. I caught up with R while we were waiting and filled her in on Cats. She’s finding that she wants to do a bit more tap but doesn’t want to jump all the way to the intermediate class. So I suggested getting in on some one-off workshops, rather than committing to anything too advanced perhaps.
The class was great. There were some of the usual crowd and some new people too, so there was a nice big circle for our warm-up, but it didn’t seem as full. Maybe the class limit has been reduced.
We learnt a few combinations, one of which I’d learnt before, thankfully! Then we moved onto our routine which is quite challenging, shall we say. Whenever we have to cross our feet, I get confused – but I got the hang of that bit. It was the shuffle-ball-change with extra heels and stuff that got me. I just made sure my feet landed together at the end at the right time!
As I was leaving my teacher called me back to ask me about trying level 3. I had said in May that I’d like to try a class as a one off. Tonight she said “September?” I did say yes hesitantly, but do you know what? If it was on a Thursday or Tuesday and earlier, I would go for it. It is purely a timing issue for me, which then throws up the question of continuing with level 2 and getting bored (not sure that’s going to happen just yet) or going elsewhere…😔 At least there are options in London. Might be different if I was searching out in the sticks.
Anyway, in the meantime I could do with practicing the routine in the garage at the weekend, especially the complicated bit!
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…
Sadly I didn’t make it to Tap this lunchtime, but fear not, tomorrow I’m off to MOVE IT 2018!
I will be doing the following workshops while I’m there:
13.45 Percussive Hands & Feet with Stomp OR Tap Workshop with London Studio Centre
15.30 Tap with Chloe and Maud Arnold of the Syncopated Ladies
Now, I had originally said I was doing the Tap workshop with London Studio Centre, but I got that confused when booking with a Musical Theatre Tap workshop taking place at 10.30 in the morning and double booked the 13.45 slot – oops! So I think I’m gonna go with Percussive Hands and Feet to pick up a new skill which will help with my tap massively.
I will share all about the day (with pics) over the weekend!
I’ve also started a Tap Notebook. I love notebooks and writing and tap, so it was bound to happen! Here I am jotting down all the terms, tips, corrections, steps to practice and other relevant stuff from my tap learning. I got the idea from a Dancer’s Journal that I bought at Bloch over a year ago. It’s lovely, but unfortunately I found it too structured to fill out with what I’m doing. I think it’s more suited to full time dance students. If you don’t fit the mould, make your own!
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 tap’s focus is always on the feet.” https://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 routine 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’re anticipating a house move in the next month or so! (Yes, that scenario is still dragging on, *sigh*)