Animate Orchestra participates in Lewisham Live

This spring, young musicians from Animate Orchestra worked alongside young dancers from Trinity Laban’s Youth Dance Programme to create a brand new piece of music and dance inspired by the theme of string theory. This was performed as part of the three week Lewisham Live festival on Tuesday 18 March in the Bonnie Bird Theatre in the Laban Building. Two members of Animate Orchestra describe their experiences of participating in this exciting collaborative project:

Prospera Dukes Ross (aged 11)

When I first started this project, I only had my experience using music technology to work with. I didn’t know what string theory was and hadn’t the faintest idea how we were going to work with the dancers!

But that has all changed… For a start, string theory is massive, and yet so small it cannot even be seen under a microscope. Smaller-than-microscopic strings make up every atom, every particle; the universe in its entirety. We created our music around the four elements of string theory: Strong Nuclear Force, Weak Nuclear Force, Gravity and Electro-Magnetic Force. With the help of new friends, a quick brainstorming session, and an ever helpful tutor, my experience switched from not-so-good to brilliant in a matter of hours.

The element of string theory the music technology group were working on was Strong Nuclear Force. We used screams, sirens and explosions -what you’d get if an event like Chernobyl happened- and then got to work making and recording sounds. We makey-makeyed (a type of computer keyboard that you can connect to a computer via a USB cable and then wire up with objects containing zinc) a vibraphone with a vocal sample we’d constructed. I then created a soundmap on Soundplant, played with the Borderlands app that allows you to record and manipulate sounds, and pressed dangerously red buttons in rhythm. We learnt that the dancers based their work mainly on cues in the music and the fact that we warmed up together meant that we learnt a bit more about how they warmed up. In turn, they learnt about our methods of getting ourselves ready to play. We also had the opportunity to watch their dances with and without our soundtrack.

I would definitely do this again; the people, tutors and music created were phenomenal and I had the time of my life, especially on the night of the performance!

Marisse Cato (aged 11)

Sunday 19 January

The first day I would say was the best. Everyone was all together – dancers, musicians and tutors. The musicians got a taste as to what it would be like to be dancers. We were split into groups, each brainstorming ideas about what string theory reminded us of. We then got into our orchestral sections to come up with melodies and riffs that could make up our Gravity piece. I play the bassoon, though I must admit that saxophones always have the best and catchiest tunes – they stick in your head for months after the performance.

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February

We spent these days in Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music at the Old Royal Naval College. The site is absolutely stunning – with the Thames and the Cutty Sark nearby, the opportunity of just being there is wonderful. The ideas brainstormed were used for the Electro-Magnetism piece and the Gravity piece. Different sections linked up beautifully; base riffs, soaring melodies, clashing, creating a magical atmosphere that all music should have. The Electro-Magnetism piece was in sections that represented the movement of the photons that are used in Electro-Magnetism. One of these was coils: melodies passed round from instrument to instrument to represent those coils. We then built on those ideas to create our final piece. By the end of the day, the brass section was being most creative, using their instruments in ways not traditionally used for classical music. For example, they lightly blew into their instruments to create a vibrating airy sound that changed the punchy gravity atmosphere into a mysterious, unknown vibe, sending charges through the air.

Sunday 16, Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 March

Following a month long break, I worried about remembering all the ideas we had pulled together in February. It is amazing how most things popped back into our heads once we got together. Another full day of hard work demanding my full concentration; this is my idea of a worthwhile career. These days were at Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Dance and they were all about perfection and precision. The dancers were amazing. They actually got involved with the music as well, performing a small singing part. Tuesday was performance day. Seeing the other dancing acts that were performing – wow! They were of all ages; from primary school children to young adults. We had to perform our original music from memory and it truly was an amazing experience performing in the Bonnie Bird Theatre.

To conclude, there are so many things I have learnt. A new game, how to cooperate with dancers, how hard it is to dance and how many hours you must practice to become any good. The list is endless. Playing the bassoon was a great opportunity as I learnt how other instruments with a similar base range can collaborate with me as a bassoonist. I also was shown a new instrument; the tromboon. It is when you replace the mouthpiece of a trombone with the crook of the bassoon. It made an… interesting sound. Every Animate project has provided a very different experience, widening my perspective of how music can be used. This particular showcase has inspired me to explore further the world of dance. I can hardly wait for the next Animate workshop!

Trinity Laban’s new Musical Theatre Summer School is now open for bookings

The Witches of Eastwick

Musical Theatre Summer School 2014– now open for bookings

Musical Theatre is going from strength to strength at Trinity Laban and this year we’re going to be throwing open our doors for part of the summer to a new group of students.

Our new Musical Theatre Summer School for 2014 (4-8 August) has an amazing tutor line up from across the world of West End, all led by the fabulous folks from our Musical Theatre Department. The timetable is designed to stretch, inspire and nurture you as a performer and has the essence of the conservatoire experience all bottled up in a summer school.  It’s a challenging course so really for those considering Musical Theatre at degree level, as a career or as an accomplished amateur. If this is you and you’re thinking about a long term future in the business then what better way to spend part of the long summer holidays than making new friends in the lush facilities of our Laban Building while learning from the best.

Bookings are now open, places are limited and it’s sure to sell fast so our advice is if you don’t want to be Les Miserables, and Miss (Saigon) out on this Wicked experience, then get your Starlight Express skates on and before you know it you’ll be spending your summer to the Sound of Music.

(oh boy!)

Resistance bands – benefits and uses


Resistance bands improve balance, strengthen isolated muscle groups, reduce the risk of injury, increase range of motion and help with the rehabilitation of injury.

What are the benefits of a resistance band?

  • Adaptable for multiple fitness levels
  • Can be used for whole body exercises
  • Lightweight and easily portable
  • Adds variety to workouts
  • Strengthens different muscle groups
  • Versatile and can be combined with other equipment

When can a resistance band be used?

  • During a warm up
  • For tight muscles and cramping; before, during or after physical activity
  • For use in conjunction with rehabilitation and to compliment physiotherapy treatment

Areas resistance bands can be used:

  • Lower limbs such as thighs, knees, ankles, feet
  • Upper limbs such as shoulders, arms, wrists, elbows

 Why do our physiotherapists recommend resistance bands?

“Resistance bands are great for stretching and strengthens different muscle groups. Resistance bands can be used for exercises for the feet, elbows, shoulders, knees and the middle back to help stabilise the joints.”

Resistance levels and colours at Trinity Laban Health:

Yellow – Very light resistance that provides little tension. Ideal for rehabilitation purposes and exercising small, stabilising muscles such as the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder joints.

Pink – Light to medium resistance that is appropriate for beginner and advanced exercisers or for those who would like to increase muscular endurance.

Purple – Medium resistance that is appropriate for beginner and advanced exercisers who want to work large muscles such as the hamstrings, quadriceps and chest muscles.

Green – Heavy resistance, ideal for, very, advanced exercisers who want high levels of resistance.

If you are unsure about the colour/resistance level for you always talk to your physiotherapist. In the next instalment we will be looking at the benefits of the foam roller.

Warm up and cool down for dancers



Why should you warm up and cool down?

It is important for dancers to warm up before any dance activity in order to prepare the body for longer and global movements and help to decrease tension in the muscles and joints. Through this preparation you can ensure you are able to move without stress and strain during activity. A safe warm up gradually increases the body temperature to a optimal working level and helps to avoid injuries.

The cool down is just as important after dancing as this can help to reduce muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process after the activity.

An effective warm up should:

  • Prepare dancers both mentally and physically
  • Improve performance and reduce prevalence of injuries
  • Increase coordination and proprioception
  • Increase heart rate and blood circulation gradually
  • Increase body temperature
  • Permits freer movement of the joints
  • Improves the effective muscles actions
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Improves the transmission of nerve impulses
  • Should mobilise all the joints that are to be used during the dance class/performance.

You should never feel tired after the warm up, it should always contain simple or low impact movements with no fast changes of direction. The movements should be controlled, continuous with the correct alignment to reduce the risk of injury. A warm up should include exercises for ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, elbows and wrists with 6-8 repetitions of each exercise. By the end of the warm up you should feel warm, relaxed and ready to start dancing Professional Performers should conduct a warm which lasts for a minimum of 30-40 minutes each time.

The cool down is just as important as the warm up

  • If the activity stops suddenly the blood will pool within the muscles rather than return the blood to the brain, this will cause dizziness.
  • Dancing increases adrenaline and endorphins (hormones) in circulations which can lead to restlessness and sleep.
  • Increase in waste products such as Lactic Acid can cause stiffness and soreness as well as cramps and muscle spasms.

By gradually slowing your movements the breathing rate will decrease and reverse the warm up process. Extra soreness may occur due to the intensity of the exercise or unfamiliar movements performed. Stretching should also be part of the cool down process. If you are still sore the following day, doing some light/ gentle exercise and stretching may help.

Tips for dancers:

  • Make sure you move into the stretch slowly, hold it still, and move out of the stretch slowly.
  • Breathe normally and emphasise the stretch when exhaling.