Daisy 3.jpg

Image: Rehearsing for IN-SITE project on Sun Pier in Chatham 2015. Photograph by Maria Coombes

Daisy was a part of Transitions Dance Company, graduating in 2013 with an MA in Dance Performance. During this time, she established Daisy Farris Dance Collective and began creating work for the stage. They have recently been awarded funding to support the Research and Development of The Princess Alice project,commencing in January 2017 and will be supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts and the Royal Borough of Greenwich Community Art Fund.

Could you tell us about The Princess Alice project?

The vision is to create a piece of work based on the Princess Alice disaster, which was a boat accident on the Thames in 1878. The Princess Alice was a paddle steamer running day trips from London down to Kent. It was loaded with passengers when the disaster happened, which killed hundreds of people. The community of Woolwich had to pull together to support people who had lost family, and manage the aftermath of this massive disaster happening on their doorstep.

The eventual aim of the project is to create a piece with professional dancers and an inter-generational community cast. The piece will be inspired by the disaster and the funding we have received is for the research and development stage of the project. We will be running a series of workshops for families, with the idea that people can bring their aunties, uncles, children, grandparents – whatever they consider family to be – and work with us in developing a physical response to The Princess Alice disaster. We’re really interested in the idea of bringing inter-generational work into the studio by involving families in the creative process. DFDC are working in partnership with Greenwich Dance who are generously supporting this element of the project.

We will also be working closely with a group of young volunteers at the National Maritime Museum to develop a performance that will take place at the Museum and also at the Tall Ships festival. Their objective is to create performance content for the Museum in collaboration with myself and the DFDC team. For this element of the project, we are working in partnership with the National Maritime Museum. As well as working closely with Greenwich Dance and the National Maritime Museum, we will also be working with Greenwich West Community Centre and Greenwich Heritage Centre.

How did you feel when you found out your funding application was successful?

I cried! To be honest it was the relief – to plan a project like this is a lot of work. There’s so much planning that goes on; from meetings with partners and collaborators through to writing the funding bids. As this is the first project I have created from scratch, there is lot of it is learning-through-doing, but I am lucky to be surrounded by a very supportive network of friends and colleagues. When I found out the applications were successful it was such a relief that it had all been worthwhile. It feels like a step forward for the collective; I am so excited to be getting into the studio with dancers and collaborators who I admire and who inspire me every time we work together.

What inspired you to focus on the Princess Alice disaster?

It was actually my mum – she was reading a book by an author called Kate Moss which was made up of a series of short stories, and one of them was about the Princess Alice disaster. At the time I was working with a textile artist called Nicola Flower, who we’ll be working with again on this project, and my mum read this story and told me that I had to read it. She thought it would be the perfect starting point for a new project for me and Nicola. A few people know about it, perhaps it if they’re interested in maritime history, but if you just asked somebody that lives in this area they probably wouldn’t. For me it was an opportunity to take a story that seemed to have been forgotten and to bring it to life again in some way, however that manifests itself.

What were the most valuable things you learnt from Trinity Laban?

Firstly, I met the dancers that I work with now, which is amazing because we never would have come together if we didn’t train here. DFDC is made up of five Trinity Laban alumni: Glyn Egerton-Read, Hannah Cameron, Holly Preece, Laura Heywood and Sarah Gaul. Secondly, the way that David Waring (Transitions Artistic Director) works with you a dance artist is something I really appreciated. Some of the information makes sense at the time and with other information the penny’s just dropping now. I’m in certain situations and I’m thinking – ah, that’s what he meant! David really nurtures you as an artist; he looks at you as a member of the company but also as an individual and how you are going to grow. A lot of the ways that he worked with us I’ve tried to continue in my own practice. I was really grateful to have him as a mentor – he’s been a big influence on me.

Just being here at Trinity Laban and getting to know people, being in a building where there’s so much going, it’s very interesting. There are so many courses here and so many opportunities to meet different people, which is really refreshing. The staff are all practicing artists and/or academics in the field, therefore the knowledge they have to share is invaluable.

How has your career as a dance artist developed since graduating?

Daisy Farris Dance Collective sort of formed as a happy accident during my time here at Trinity Laban. I’d invited some people into the studio to explore some of the things I was looking at for my MA Thesis. Since then we’ve been doing a lot of performing in platforms. Last year (early 2015) I was commissioned as part of the INSITE project. That was where DFDC met Nicola Flower. We worked with Nicola to create a dance film which was set on Sun Pier and told the story of an estranged local character. Nicola has now become a really close friend of mine and is someone who I think will be a lifelong collaborator.

Aside from DFDC, I dance for Loop Dance Company and we have recently performed a new commission – Ports The Pass, by Sivan Rubinstein at Turner Contemporary. I also teach freelance; for Artis education, I teach a beginners adult class here at Trinity Laban, and at various dance schools. It’s only really now – 3 years out of graduating – that I feel like I’m into the swing of it. It’s been a lot of trial and error. When you graduate you realise that it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning.

What are your future career aspirations?

I feel that where I am now is how I want things to develop. It feels like I’ve realised this is what I trained to do – to be an artist involved in different projects. I’m aware that it comes in different peaks and troughs in this industry, so I think for the future I’m trying to get myself into places where I’m working as an artist more and more.

For DFDC, we will start the Princess Alice Project R&D from Jan – April and then look at applying for more funding to develop the full piece. Longer term, I hope to tour the work. I’d like to tour the work following the route that The Princess Alice boat would’ve done, visiting communities between here (London) and Kent. There are communities on the route where arts engagement is quite low so it would be great to take the project there and work with a range of different groups of people.

Follow updates on The Princess Alice project at www.dfdcollective.co.uk

Follow the company on Twitter @DFDcollective or find them on Facebook: Daisy Farris Dance Collective.


Image: Daisy Farris Dance Collective performing at Swallowsfeet 2015. Photograph by Swallowsfeet Collective

Alice White

Graduate Intern – Press & PR



Image: César Brodermann

Sebastian graduated from Trinity Laban with a BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance in 2015. After graduating, he spent a year apprenticing with the New York City based company Gallim Dance. He recently signed a two year contract with Sidra Bell Dance New York, who are currently working on the creation of a large production titled ‘Mönster Outside’.  Following its premiere in November 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the company will tour the piece internationally.

What are you finding the most challenging and the most enjoyable when working with Sidra Bell Dance New York?

Sidra Bell has worked with highly accomplished dancers in the international dance community who have originated roles in her pieces. It is a big challenge for me to take on the roles of these dancers when learning the company’s repertory as you want to honour the iconic nature of the pieces while still delivering an authentic performance.

The work with Sidra Bell is extremely collaborative. In a creative process she depends highly on our creative input and interpretation of the physical or verbal information she is giving us. It is a wonderful experience to feel so trusted and valued as an individual artist in a rehearsal and being surrounded by incredibly talented, skilled and intriguing dancers.

What were the most valuable things you learnt during your time at Trinity Laban?

Studying at Trinity Laban, you get the opportunity to develop an individual artistic voice. You are able to take responsibility for your personal needs that are appropriate to your goals as a dancer in the professional world. Those qualities are incredibly important and valuable when aspiring to become a dancer in a company like SBDNY, where your individuality and creative input are essential to the work. It also teaches you early on to not depend too much on what others think is best for you but to take what you need and leave what you don’t.

How does the dance scene differ in New York to London?

The dance scenes in New York and London are very different. London has much more accessible and cheaper professional classes for dancers. Classes in New York are very expensive. In New York, however, a lot of companies open up their company classes to the public – for which you also have to pay though. In general, it is harder for freelancers to survive in NYC, even if there are a lot of opportunities. Firstly, there are A LOT of dancers in NYC, and secondly, there is no government funding for arts – which makes me value the Arts Council in England so much more. Even established companies are constantly struggling financially since they survive on private donations and grants.

What’s next for you?

I signed a two year contract with Sidra Bell Dance New York so I will definitely stay with them for that time and maybe longer. After that I am not sure what’s going to happen but I definitely like the work as a company dancer and working with Sidra Bell and in New York certainly provides you with a very good network of contacts. I can imagine that I will come back to Europe eventually but it depends on the opportunities that open up for me here or in Europe.

Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring dancers?

Put yourself out there, show yourself, talk to people, and attend workshops and classes. One institution can’t possibly give you everything you need and want. At the same time, make use of your training as much as you can, take what you can and be responsible for your own development.

But most importantly, love what you do and VALUE YOUR ART! Dance is a profession that you are entitled to be compensated for. Don’t let people take you for granted because they ‘provide you with an opportunity’. They need you just as much as you need them, and you should be paid for your work.

Don’t let that take away your passion and love for it though!


Image: César Brodermann

To find out more about Sidra Bell Dance New York, visit their website.

Alice White

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

Say Hello to The Conditioning Studio

The Conditioning Studio.

A little slice of heaven that allows you to pick and choose from a variety of equipment to maintain and optimise your ‘performing body’.

In order to support and facilitate your training- Trinity Laban Health are providing FREE use of their new fully loaded conditioning studio.

The Conditioning studio is for TL current students. If you’re a new student or one returning to us here at Trinity Laban- here’s a little overview of what you can expect from TL Health’s exciting new Conditioning Studio.

What do we have to offer?


An extensive range of strength and conditioning equipment to suit both the Dancer and Musician.

The studio can be divided into three main areas:

Cardio & Weight Training Area.


Cardio Machines

Designed to improve cardiovascular fitness which can benefit your overall health as well as your performance. Our available cardio machines are:


An excellent way to build your endurance, allowing for changes in speed and incline giving you the option to vary between walking and sprinting on flat or uphill ground.

Cross Trainer

A cross trainer works 80% of your body’s muscles including thighs, calf muscles, buttocks, back, chest, biceps and triceps. Again an ideal machine for developing endurance. Resistance can be adapted to suit your needs and it allows you to work at a high level without putting unnecessary pressure on your joints.


More than just your average road bike. The Wattbike measures Heart Rate (HR), Pedalling technique, bilateral balance of power and angle of peak force with just the click of a button. Learn more about the Watt bike here

Free Weights

Build, strengthen and maintain muscular and cardiovascular fitness.

Our Weights range from 1kg-40kg

We have a variety of equipment available such as: Dumbbells- Kettlebells- Medicine Balls -Power Bags


Mat Work Area

A designated floor area where you can help yourself to a wide range of equipment to condition your dancing/musical body.

The following apparatus is at your disposal:

Yoga Mats- Ballet Barre –High Barrel- BOSU Balls– Battle Rope

TRX Suspension Cables


The TRX Cables may look a little daunting but this fab piece of apparatus is ideal for all fitness levels. The boundless nature of the cables allows you to adjust your position and decrease resistance at any time- making this an easy, safe and enjoyable whole body workout.

Pilates Area


We have a range of  Pilates equipment including Cadillacs and Reformers!

Side Note:

This cannot be used during Self-Practice. To take full advantage of the Reformers & Cadillacs come along to one of the FREE Pilates classes.

The Classes

Yoga- Pilates- Strength and Conditioning Classes


Taught by specialist practitioners.

How can I book?

Follow the link below and simply click on the button which looks a little like this.




You will be able to book all future Self-Practice sessions and classes from here.

Remember you will need to partake in a short 30 Minute induction before you can enjoy the self-practice perks of the studio. No induction is required for classes.

If you’d prefer to come and book in person, come and say Hi to a member of the Health Staff at the Health reception- who will be more than happy to help!

Other ways you can get in touch:

Telephone- 0208 305 9479/9482

Email: health@trinitylaban.ac.uk


A warm welcome from the TL Health Staff

Clinic Admin Manager

Rachel Emms

Graduate Interns

Fliss Beach & Jess Coleman

What better way to dust off the Halloween cobwebs than to start working towards a healthy performing body right here on campus.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Jessica Coleman: Graduate Intern, Health


ArtDubai09 © Vipul Sangoi_MG_3834

Image: Joumana Mourad

Joumana Mourad graduated from Trinity Laban 1994. Since leaving and setting up her own company, she delved into the world of digital technology, and is currently developing a new online platform which aims to revolutionise the way that artists and audiences can communicate and co-create online.

We caught up with Joumana back in July to talk about the project (interview 07 July 2016):

Tell us about your journey from studying at Trinity Laban to now. 

I didn’t know much about contemporary dance when I started my studies at Trinity Laban, so it completely opened my eyes to the style and to the concept of choreography. I didn’t know choreography was even a career option, so when I came here I thought, wow, I can create! The world of dance suddenly had new meaning with immense possibilities – it was about celebrating culture, concepts, and stories. The potential Trinity Laban gave me was huge.

As my curiosity about creation grew, I started asking more and more questions: how do I create work that is personal yet universal? How can I make work that is very engaging, in my own way? How do I position myself in relation to the audience? I wanted to experiment and have fun with different mediums of performances to bring some punctuation’s to the work: circus, abseiling, film, technology. As a consequence, using these methods of expressions meant that the presentation of work changed e.g. performing work in the round.

After graduating, I worked with a few different companies before founding my own (IJAD Dance Company), and started to create work with scientific themes at its core. My first few pieces were in-the-round; I would dress the walls with immense cloths and project films onto them to creative immersive experiences. I also tested out different environments in which to create; we even worked underwater, and with zero gravity. All the work was fun and experimental, inside out and upside down! It was thrilling and still is.

Six years after my graduation, the dance-digital work of Trinity Laban’s Professor of Choreography Wayne McGregor CBE inspired me to delve deeper into technology, and to ask what it could bring to dance. This was followed by invitations to collaborate in Taiwan, Italy, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Switzerland, Spain… and this interaction with new cultures made me aware of the role of the woman in each of these cultures, culminating in a project called Secrets.

It suddenly became quite significant to look into technology, and how we can help audiences to see more dance at this time of financial difficulty.

What kind of work does your company strive to produce? 

We are in the last stages of finalizing our new platform that will allow IJAD and other arts organisations to develop a new and dynamic relationship with their online audiences. To this end I have recently started exploring sensography, working across three platforms of choreography. I am enjoying collaborating with Andrew Newsam the Astrophysicist, Dr Pauline Brook whose speciality is telematics and transmedia. We are able to work with dancers on inner-body technology that can help them to produce meaningful work across physical, social and online platforms, going through different methodologies of embodiment. This is what drives me at the moment. I hope this kind of technology will allow me to collaborate with as many dancers as possible across the world.

You have a residency at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) at the moment. What are you working on?

FACT’s interest in my company’s Secrets project sparked meetings with them about technology and the way IJAD Dance Company wants to push the boundaries of dance, while challenging the concept of the ‘fourth wall’. We’ve discussed the possibility of creating a theatre online, and so at the moment we are working with a movement specialist and an astronomer to help us with the movement vocabulary – both from Liverpool John Moores University. We are also collaborating with an amazing studio called Citrus Suite on developing the platform host: the open access theatre.

What’s your aim for the end result?

The residency will finish with a performance – Walk Into Space – that we are hosting across two months and three platforms. Walk into Space will feature as part of the No Such Thing as Gravity season at FACT and will be promoted alongside all the associated events of that strand (talks, exhibition, workshops). This is challenging and unprecedented, but FACT is very keen to support us.

The aim of it all is threefold: firstly, to create a toolkit for performers and choreographers to be able to create work across platforms; secondly, to be able to create material or movement technology that we can help dancers or performers be able to be more aware of their expression while they are streamed; and thirdly, to be able to make a platform any artist can use, so it becomes a collaborative playground.

Will the web platform remain online after the residency finishes?

This online open theatre will be residing online from mid November 2016.

IJAD Dance Company’s collaborators at FACT are as follows: NITEcorp, Citrus Suite, Anton Hecht, Andrew Newsam Professor of Astrophysics, and Pauline Brooks PhD, MFA, Reader in Dance Performance & Pedagogy, both from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

For more information on IJAD and the online open theatre, please visit http://ijaddancecompany.com/contact/


The latest BA3 Commissioned Works show at Trinity Laban features two dance and music collaborations: one between choreographer Lizzie Kew Ross and the student vocal ensemble Rubythroat, and one between two artists and members of the Trinity Laban community: choreographer and dance lecturer Zoi Dimitriou and composer and PhD student Hollie Harding.

One of the benefits of Trinity Laban’s unique community is that there are plenty of opportunities for musicians and dancers to come into contact. This particular collaboration between Zoi and Hollie had its origins in a social event for Trinity Laban researchers, when the two of them got chatting and realised they shared many of the same preoccupations. The connection deepened when Hollie came to see a work that Zoi had choreographed for first year undergraduates: the piece featured body percussion and revealed an intriguing relationship between sound and action. From there, they were both excited by the idea of collaborating on a new piece. The concept for the work follows from a larger body of research that Zoi is currently undertaking for her new choreographic project to be premiered in May 2017. Part of her research was used as the springboard for this new work and influenced main directions in the collaboration.


Image: Zoi Dimitriou (Promotional image for The Chapter House)

It was always clear that this would be a true and deep collaboration. Hollie wouldn’t simply hand over a score for Zoi to choreograph to, and Zoi wouldn’t create a choreography for Hollie to score, rather they would both be inspired by the same starting-point, and then hone the work together.

The title: Coordination and Navigation of Heterogeneous Humans Stabilised under a Visual Relative Localization, is a description of what the work sets out to do, and resonates with visual art perspectives. Inspired by artificial life simulations, the piece invokes a set of computer-generated rules – originally drawn from observing animals in nature – that govern how the dancers move and interact.  The same computer-generated rules were the conceptual starting point for Hollie’s music. Both Zoi and Hollie were fascinated to see how the same idea could inspire different and surprising responses in them both.

Zoi says: “It’s fantastic when you get to see the same proposition, viewed from another discipline. I find that it reinforces, clarifies and deepens your understanding. That is what true collaboration is all about”.

Hollie, in turn, was inspired by spending time in the studio, observing Zoi and the dancers at work. As the project progressed, she developed her material through, “Self-directed intuitive changes based on observations, changes based on feedback from and conversations with Zoi and the dancers, and changes in timings to generate specific cues”. Having previously collaborated with choreographers on works using live musical performers, Hollie chose this time to make a purely electroacoustic score for the collaboration. This was the most fitting sound world and also meant that she could make immediate changes in the Studio, and so create something very closely entwined with the choreography. The two art forms are interlinked and interdependent in the piece: “the music depends on being heard with the movement of the dancers’’, says Hollie.


Image: Hollie Harding

According to both of them, the collaboration has been “bizarrely easy!” They put this down to various factors:

  • They had a familiarity with each other’s works, interests and artistic preoccupations.
  • There was an initial starting point outside of their disciplines that they responded to.
  • Both agree that in the collaborative process they have each been “open-minded, generous and have asked for genuine feedback, which helps a free exchange of ideas and means that there’s no sense of holding back”.
  • They stressed the importance of “play time before you engage in a collaboration”, having time to try out ideas freely.
  • They each brought a strong artistic perspective that allowed the development of more rigorous and uncompromising processes.

The collaboration has filled both Zoi and Hollie with more ideas to take forward into their practice and research. Hollie finds inspiration in dance methodology and hopes to explore generative approaches and creative play, with classical musicians. Whatever Hollie and Zoi do next, it’s likely that they will continue their collaboration in the future.

BA3 Commissioned Works
Laban Theatre
20 & 21 October 2016



Image: Raymond-Kym Suttle

Raymond-Kym Suttle graduated with his MA in Dance Studies in 1996 after originally training as an actor. Since graduating, he has worked as a dancer, choreographer and burlesque artist before moving to Los Angeles to pursue his film career further. Here he talks to us about his work so far, including his use of semiotics – discovered during his studies – in acting.

Tell us about your time at Trinity Laban.

I originally auditioned for the Transitions Dance Company (MA Dance Performance), but was offered a place on the MA Dance Studies on a scholarship. I had some professional choreographic experience – though for theatre rather than dance – so thought this would be a good opportunity to develop. It was great having access to rehearsal spaces, real dancers and a theatre space to work in. Discovering the field of semiotics was a revelation and one that I’ve grown to love more and more as I observe it in action every day in the people around me.

Ultimately I got a lot out of my time at Trinity Laban, but it also reaffirmed my sense that one should never conform to someone else’s ideals – stick to your guns and create what feels right for you.

Thanks to my MA, I’ve been able to teach choreography and dance at prestigious venues such as the Skyros Centre in Greece.

I now perform regularly under the banner of ‘male burlesque’, as my alter-ego Major Suttle-Tease, though what I do isn’t pure or classic burlesque by any means. I combine dance with stand-up comedy, song and inventive clothing removal performed to complex pastiches of music, recorded dialogue, projected imagery and sound effects.

I embed strong socio-political messages in my work – although my work is fun, there’s a serious point I’m making. My hope is that I’ll reach people who wouldn’t usually go to a serious play, and present them with something meaningful to get them thinking.

You originally trained as an actor; why did you decide to do a Masters in dance?

It’s a good question, because after I finished my BA in English & Drama I swore I was never going to study again!

I’d always been an actor who dances, and still am. I’ve also done a lot of physical theatre in which actors use their bodies and props to create an environment or a mood. I have always been aware of the power of the human body to convey things that the voice and words cannot – and vice versa.

The primary benefit of being both an actor and choreographer is that when creating movement as part of a play, I have an understanding of what actors are comfortable with – actors are very different to dancers. Dancers, in my opinion, are better at taking criticism because they’re used to being told/shown what to do and how to do it, whereas that’s not the case with acting. One of my strengths is finding a way to make actors feel like they’re part of the choreographic process so that it’s acting through movement, rather than ‘dance’, because a lot of actors have a strong belief that they’re not dancers and therefore freeze at the word ‘choreography’. When you help them to see that everything they do on stage is choreography you get great results. For example, I was asked by a director to create the transformation of 8 actors from courtiers into a pack of blood-thirsty hunting dogs. That result was one of my best reviews to date, with my choreography described as being “reminiscent of the great Pina Bausch”. Ironically, at the time I got the review, I’d never heard of Pina Bausch (!) so it took me a while to realize how much of a compliment that was!


Image: Raymond-Kym Suttle

Your methodology for acting based on the semiotics work you did during your Masters sound fascinating! Please tell us more.

I aim to help actors become consciously aware of the processes that most actors use instinctively, because they’re using them in every day life: body contact, physical appearance, facial expressions, and other non-linguistic aspects of speech.

Many great actors use these indicators unconsciously – they instinctively know what to do but couldn’t explain to you exactly what they did, why they did it, or why what they did works. It’s my belief that knowing why you did what you did is more useful than just using instinct and hoping for the best.

To begin with, I get the actors to sit at a table, with their hands flat on the table and feet flat on the floor, and deliver a highly emotional extract of script, with no particular emotional force, just focusing on making sense of the words. They are instructed not to gesture with their hands, not to do anything deliberately with their facial expressions, not to move/shift in the chair/tuck their feet under them, etc. They are told they can do whatever they like vocally.

Most people, in this first stage give me clues as to where their emotions ‘bleed’. It may be an involuntary lift of a finger off the table, or a tap of a foot, or a lift of the chin. This emotional ‘bleed’ may well be anxiety, or it may be a response to the text. Wherever that ‘bleed’ is noticed I then make them aware of what their body does unconsciously to release tension (physically or emotionally).

I then ask them to do the scene again, this time concentrating on finding a moment, just one single moment, when they feel the strongest desire to change one of the semiotic indicators: one hand gesture, change their orientation use a head nod/shake, etc.

We gradually build and build until when we get the actor out from behind the table, hopefully they are now highly aware of whether whatever gesture they’re doing is absolutely necessary, or if they’re making choices in an attempt to be ‘interesting’ rather than emotionally true.

There’s a lot more to the process and it’s not effective on every actor but it’s a useful tool for becoming conscious of how we do what we do and what works to make something seem convincing.

What are your future career plans (dance, acting, and more!)

I moved to the USA primarily to further my film-making career on both sides of the camera. I have a feature film script that is semi-autobiographical, that I converted into a stage play to help me sort out some issues I was having with the chronology and details of the plot, as well as to see how some characters needed to change. I produced the play in London and that was very useful when I rewrote the film script. Ironically I now have a producer in LA who’d like to see a stage version of the new script, and someone who saw the play in London would like to do a translation into German and direct it in Germany.




Image: Anthony Drake

Alumnus Anthony Drake graduated with a Masters in 2009. Here he talks about his love of music, post Trinity Laban activities, and how he is making a difference to disadvantaged students in South Africa. 

Can you start by telling us a little bit more about yourself/your background, and how you became interested in music?

I became interested in music at a young age. Having played recorder and sung in my local church choir, I started formal lessons on the piano at 11 and on the clarinet at 14. I was so inspired by incredible clarinet players such as Jack Brymer and Michael Collins (both of whom I was later fortunate to meet) that I knew I wanted to pursue music as a career.

After studying music at Goldsmiths (University Of London), I undertook an internship in the office of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. But then my circumstances changed, leading to a complete change in career, and I moved into the field of IT and Telecommunications.

In 2006, I realised the need to do something which would touch the lives of others, and going back to music was the obvious choice. I was accepted for the Postgraduate Diploma at Trinity Laban, where I studied with Victoria Soames-Samek, then with Joan Enric-Lluna and Ian Mitchell, playing in the principal orchestras and ensembles. I was a recipient of the Leverhulme Mentorship in collaboration with the BBC Concert Orchestra, received scholarships from Trinity College London and a bursary from Trinity Laban, and graduated with a Masters in 2009. Both during and after my studies I worked as a clarinet and saxophone teacher, music lecturer and freelance clarinet player with various groups including the Galliard Ensemble.

How did you become involved with The Keiskamma Music Academy?

I had visited South Africa on holiday with my partner every year from 2007 and realised that I wanted to settle there. In 2012, an opportunity presented itself and I took the plunge. I spent some time as the Co-Principal Clarinet of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and as a teacher at Durban Music School. A student of mine alerted me to an advert for the post as Manager of Keiskamma Music Academy (a programme of the Keiskamma Trust); I applied, and have not looked back since.

In 2014, I became the Head of the Academy, taking over from founder Helen Vosloo. I am now responsible overall for the programme’s activities including fundraising, financial and project management, student relations, strategic planning, and staff recruitment as well as teaching clarinet, flute, saxophone and recorder and conducting the Keiskamma Youth Orchestra. In addition, I am one of the Senior Managers of Keiskamma Trust, involved in decision-making for the entire organisation. When I started, there were 47 students at the Academy; there are now over 125, since we started our newest project at a school for disabled children. Since I started, students have achieved some of the highest marks in music examinations in the Academy’s ten-year history, supported by quality of teaching awards from the University of South Africa (UNISA).

Achievements include co-founding the Keiskamma Youth Orchestra in December 2015, which recently completed a six-day national tour. I am extremely lucky to have a very supportive team of teachers and administrators who have made all of this possible.


Keiskamma Music Academy students on tour in Bloemfontein, July 2016

What are your plans/goals as Head of The Keiskamma Music Academy?

My plan for the Academy is for it to grow further to create yet more opportunities for many more young people in South Africa. The Eastern Cape suffers some of the highest poverty levels in the country, and boredom plays a role in the development of major social problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. I realise the huge value of music education in addressing this issue and uplifting society and believe that music has the power to unite people and work towards greater social change. Uniquely, within the Keiskamma Trust we combine programmes such as art, education and health, creating the powerful scope for drastic social development. Some of our first graduates are now studying science and accountancy at university. The Academy and other programmes of the Keiskamma Trust – with the help of committed donors – have supported these students in achieving success.

Can you tell us some more about your plans to travel to Europe next year?

In 2013, the Academy successfully applied to the SA National Lottery for funding for an international touring project which will research the culture and music of some of the original peoples of Southern Africa, the San, culminating in performances both nationally and internationally. Since we have links with Germany and I have links with the UK, a tour to Europe seemed the obvious and exciting choice. It will give us an opportunity for cross-cultural dialogue, collaboration and an opportunity for young people on both sides to learn about life in the different countries paving the way for future partnerships across the two continents.

What was your time like as a student at Trinity Laban?

My time at Trinity Laban was an incredible experience. The level of cultural diversity created many opportunities for me to experience other cultures, and to form lasting personal and professional relationships. The high quality of teaching and support received really helped me to channel my desire to succeed. It also opened many doors for the development of my career. Balancing my studies whilst working part-time in three other jobs as well as performing was a challenge, but it helped me to really focus on time-management and offered me the opportunity to develop a very wide range of skills.

Do you have any future plans to perform yourself?

My main focus currently is to extend the opportunity of music education to as many people as possible here in South Africa. I am very interested in helping to build the province into becoming one of the musical hubs of the country. I am also very interested in developing my skills as a conductor and producer. But should the opportunity to perform again, I would certainly seriously consider it. After all, it is what I have trained for at Trinity Laban!