Getting Actors Moving

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JK Photography

Trinity Laban’s Dance Summer School is the perfect induction into movement and physical theatre for aspiring actors. Struan Leslie, former Head of Movement at the Royal Shakespeare Company, tells us why.

‘A dance summer school is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a number of areas of physical knowledge and expression,’ Struan explains. ‘In particular, I think the sheer diversity of the classes offered is what makes Trinity Laban’s Summer School so unique.’

Struan (pictured inset), who has taught on the Trinity Laban Dance Summer School for around a decade, has a wealth of teaching experience across some of the country’s best-loved theatre institutions. He has lectured at RADA, Rose Bruford, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and internationally across the US and in Singapore.

‘On the Summer School, I lead workshops in physical theatre,’ Struan explains. ‘We explore the communicating body with rigour and specificity of intention.

‘Learning on this kind of programme allows participants to gain physical performance skills and techniques, enhancing rehearsal and creative contexts, from ensemble and devising to physical theatre,’ he adds.

Struan’s training began in the early 1980s at London Contemporary Dance School among pupils of world-renowned choreographers Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Doris Humphrey. A prime example of the fundamentality of dance as a platform for any arts career, he now works as a movement director and choreographer in the creation of productions in all areas of theatre and opera.leslie-struan

‘My dance background has meant I can apply the principles of choreography and technique to collaborative, movement-based work with urban designers, architects, visual artists, designers, writers and composers,’ he comments.

Trinity Laban’s Dance Summer School offers a unique opportunity for people of all dance levels aged 16+ to experience training of the highest quality in state of the art facilities, while making new friends from all over the world. Participants can create their own timetable, selecting from a broad range of sessions from contemporary technique to contact improvisation.

‘I think the biggest learning curve for performers on the Summer School, is to learn the day to day experience of what it is to be a performer full time – the energy and focus that requires,’ Struan says. ‘It helps participants discover whether they have the drive to pursue performance work professionally.’

Charlotte Constable

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

To find out more about the Dance Summer School, visit the Trinity Laban website.

Animate Orchestra at the BFI

Trinity Laban’s creative orchestra for young people visited the British Film Institute, Southbank for a creative day of film and music making

A couple of weeks ago, 35 young, enthusiastic musicians took a trip to the British Film Institute to experience a cross arts project involving drama, screen writing, directing, comedy, filming and music making. The group was made up of musicians between the ages of 9 and 15 from the Boroughs of Greenwich, Lewisham, Lambeth, and Southwark who have previously attended Animate Orchestra courses.

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These courses run throughout the year during school holidays and typically involve participants working alongside professional musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra and local music hubs to create a new piece of music from a given stimulus. The two summer holiday trips provide an opportunity for members to try something different, whether this is experiencing a different art form or genre of music, or gaining an insight into a different culture at some of London’s leading arts institutions. In the past, Animate Orchestra have visited Gamelan Southbank, the Royal Academy of Arts, the BBC Proms and Chickenshed Theatre Company.

On arrival at the BFI, the group were presented with a hand held camera, countless boxes filled with costumes and props, face paints and a blank sheet of paper. Within 2 hours, and with the support and expertise of BFI tutors and volunteers, this had been transformed into 5 short zombie movies. The afternoon session saw them returned to their comfort zone as thought was given to how they could use their instruments and percussion provided to create an effective soundtrack that reflected the action on screen. The day culminated with a screening of each group’s film accompanied by a live soundtrack.

Below is just one of the examples that Animate produced on the day, this one is called Zombie Ant!

And below are a couple of screen grabs from the the films Zombie Restaurant (top photo) and Zombie Prison (bottom photo):

Zombie Restaurant Screen Grab Zombie Prison Screen Grab

Lizzy Green
Projects Coordinator, Learning and Participation (Music)

Top tips for teaching dance safely and effectively

Dance Scientist Edel Quin teaching
Working as part of Trinity Laban’s Learning & Participation (Dance) team means that I get to see a variety of teaching practices. We work in all sorts of settings and each of our wonderful teachers brings their own personality and teaching style to their classes.

While on the surface every teacher’s practice may appear very different from the next, core underlying principles and knowledge can be found embedded throughout their work. One such example is their ability to teach safely and effectively which helps to safeguard their participants from injury in the present and future, while also promoting enhanced potential.

So, what are the key elements of safe practice that we need to be aware of when teaching dance?

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Street Dance, by a ‘non-dancer’

Street Dance, by a 'non-dancer'
If you have ever read my blog or seen my posts on Twitter or Instagram, you will know that I am a huge fan of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and their Faculty of Dance at the Laban Building in Creekside, Deptford. This is where I take my daughter to contemporary kids’ classes on a Saturday. The waiting list for kids’ classes is over 2 years long, so you can tell that the teaching is highly regarded, even from the youngest of ages. This year Trinity Laban is top of the Guardian’s University league table for drama and dance for the fourth year running. Importantly for me, as a place to hang out during my daughter’s class, it is nothing but a pleasure.
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Share practice and ideas as a learning community

Being the graduate intern in Learning and Participation (Dance) I have the fantastic opportunity of being able to take part in the specialist training days offered as part of the Learning and Participation (Dance) Continuing Professional Development Programme. These days are open to those wishing to improve their teaching practice and find new ways of delivering dance classes.

I often find myself leaving the Laban Building full of ideas, ready to reflect on my own teaching practice. It is also great to experience new teaching resources that inspire me to create new and exciting lesson plans and schemes of work. It is a privilege to be taught by highly experienced dance practitioners, who can enrich your learning with their great level of expertise.

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Continuing Professional Development offers many ways to keep up with practice and open up further career options.

When attending these days I am able to meet a range of teachers from different contexts, including current school teachers (dance, performing arts and PE), freelancers working in schools, PGCE students and those taking their first steps into teaching dance.

The dance practitioners who lead the days are always enthused to help you discover more ways to teach and solve trickier problems to questions that may be left unanswered. I hope that I will continue to be inspired during the upcoming weekends by fresh approaches and imaginative possibilities for my own classes. A previous participant who attended a specialist training day expressed how she “Learned a great deal and relished the opportunity”. She explained; “I am actually a qualified History teacher, but I attended the session because I am interested in exploring the possibility of transferring my skills and teaching my real passion, Dance.”

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Reading case studies from past students who attended these days, as well as completing the Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning (DDTAL) has given me an insight into what can be achieved in such a pivotal stage of my career. A previous student was amazed by what one qualification can do, opening many doors for her! Since completing DDTAL she has been keen to stay in contact with different teachers as it is a great way “to share practice and ideas as a learning community” and is enjoying a fruitful career teaching dance. She also went on to complete her MA in Professional Practice in Dance Technique Pedagogy at Middlesex University.

I would recommend anyone involved in dance teaching or hoping to be involved to come along to the next Specialist Training Day and see what you may discover. Here’s where you can find out more.

Nick Kyprianou

Graduate Intern for Learning and Participation (Dance)

@nickyprianou

Seasonal sharings at the Laban Building

Well, it’s nearly the holidays and the first term of my internship is almost up. The term may be winding down, but the Laban Building is lively as we celebrate the work of many of our programmes through sharings.

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Festive decorations have now spruced up the L&P Dance office

Kicking us off in Learning and Participation (Dance) we had a mini-sharing with our Retired Not Tired Dance for Health group followed by a scrumptious Christmas dinner cooked by the wonderful café staff at the Laban Building. The Dance for Health group is comprised of 25 people over the age of 60, who are keen to keep moving. They are led by the fantastic L&P Dance practitioner, Stella Howard.

This term, I have had the opportunity to work with this vibrant group, teaching them some fundamental basics of contact improvisation. This form of movement was pioneered by the great Steve Paxton in the 1970s, looking at how bodies can move with each other. It has been very exciting to see the group’s new sense of kinaesthetic empathy. This is a topic of research that Trinity Laban research fellow, Dr Kate Wakeling is delving into, by looking at our Dance for Health group specifically and discovering how people develop a sense of relationship and affinity for each other through the arts. The use of contact improvisation and somatic practice is also something that I hope to begin to research during my time at Trinity Laban, through my own creative and teaching practice.

In our final session, we brought some of these skills together as the group performed Barmy on the Crumpet, a work choreographed by Stella and the group, which was first performed last summer as part of Trinity Laban’s eclectic weekend of music and dance in partnership with, and taking place at the Horniman Museum, called Horniman’s Curious Tea Party. You can see what happened during this fantastic weekend by watching the video. Since then, Barmy on the Crumpet has been performed on Sunday 30 November at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre as part of their Winter Festival – a platform of dance works showcasing a collection of pieces with older people. Here, Dance for Health performed alongside the likes of Sadler’s Wells based Company of Elders and Three Score Dance Company, both of which have established worldwide interest and opportunity in dance for older people.

At the end of our mini-sharing, I showed them a film that I produced using choreography that they had composed before half term. The new perspectives provided by the film left them all overjoyed! It was a lovely end to the autumn term.

Next week we are looking forward to sharings across our Youth Programmes and Adult Short Courses, set to make for a cheerful end to all that has been achieved in such a short space of time.

I wish you all a happy holiday and New Year, and please stop by my personal blog to catch some reviews of work that I hope to see over the Christmas period, including DV8’s new piece: John.

Nick Kyprianou

Graduate Intern for Learning and Participation (Dance)

@nickyprianou

Diary of a Graduate Intern

In September 2014 I began the next stage of my career.

After completing my dance training at the University of Chichester, I joined the Learning and Participation (Dance) team at Trinity Laban as a graduate intern. Trinity Laban offers a range of fantastic graduate internships to bridge the gap between training and employment, and I have already gained skills in many different areas, such as project management, arts administration and teaching dance. Internships are advertised in 2015, so I recommend you look out for them.
The Learning and Participation department offers classes and workshops in the wider community in contemporary dance, street, yoga, Pilates, ballet and other creative sessions. These cater to all needs; with a central focus of ensuring that dance is accessible to all. You will find further details about these classes here.

Alongside my internship I am also completing Unit 1 of the DDTAL (Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning) qualification, offered through the department as part of their professional development programme. This qualification aims to provide specialist training for dance teachers, helping them to find new ways of engaging children and young people in dance. The diploma has four units in total, with Unit 1 focussing on the fundamental aspects of teaching and learning in dance.

As an intern here, I am in contact with many dance practitioners and it has been great so far. It has helped me improve on how I deliver many of the classes that I assist – and sometimes lead, on the Youth Programme and the many Health projects that we also deliver. In completing this qualification I will be able to gain further knowledge as to how I can support dance education. I believe that dance education is paramount to developing creative and imaginative young people who can either progress into the dance sector or become that person who helps businesses to flourish with innovative ideas.

Having access to many opportunities at Trinity Laban, I am starting to find my feet and have been directed towards routes that may be of interest once I finish my internship – from project management to marketing and teaching. It has definitely been an exciting transition so far, working full time across many different projects and still finding time to complete further study.

Nick Kyprianou
@nickyprianou