Different Pathways: Emilia Kallioinen

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to first-year Emilia Kallioinen about her recovery from injury and integrating her physiotherapy studies in Finland with studying dance here at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?
I wanted to study dance but I suffered an injury and couldn’t audition for any programmes. It wasn’t a serious injury but it kept me away from dancing for a few months completely, in a period when I was supposed to apply, so I had to be patient.

I have always been interested in physiotherapy and so decided to pursue that as a degree. When I recovered from my injury I did continue to dance alongside my studies in Finland. I think it’s similar to the CAT (Centre for Advanced Training) programme in here in the UK.

In Finland, the higher education system is a little bit different from the U.K. I have studied physiotherapy for two years and have been able to fast-track my studies. So, whilst I am still enrolled there and need to complete my thesis and a practical training period in the summer before I can graduate, I am also able to study at Trinity Laban. And I can use the courses here at TL as credit for my optional courses as part of my physiotherapy degree.

Before my injury I had planned to study dance, and explore physiotherapy alongside, but now I am really happy it happened the way it has.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?

I wanted to get the focus and length of a BA course and the foundation in technique. I’d heard a lot about Trinity Laban as I have friends who went here so I had insight into the course, and also I really wanted to live in London.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

It’s been really good. It’s so nice that people come from all over the world. We all learn from each other. I really find all the technique classes useful and well structured. Even though some things aren’t my main discipline I find it useful and get a lot of tools from all the classes.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?
I think dance and physiotherapy go together really well. My studies complement rather than detract from each other. I can use the knowledge from my physiotherapy studies in my dance studies. It has deepened my understanding of my body and ways of moving so it is really useful.

I feel like I actually get a lot more from dance education now that I have understanding of things I didn’t have three years ago. I’m also more mature and have learnt to organise my time and work better which is helpful.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

Patience. You can take so much of what you did before into your dancing, whatever it is. It feeds into the dancing you do and makes you even more individual.

Different Pathways: Lewis Sharp

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to second-year Lewis Sharp about his journey from a B. Tech in musical theatre and role as teaching assistant to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

I went to The BRIT School for sixth-form and did a musical theatre B. Tech. for 2 years. Then I applied to musical theatre courses but didn’t get in and my teacher suggested I do a year-long dance course at Lewisham College but it got to a point where I didn’t want to dance anymore, so didn’t complete the year. Later, my singing teacher asked me to choreograph for her opera company in France and I went back to BRIT to assist a dance teacher for 3 months. The teacher I was assisting suggested I should apply for dance at Trinity Laban. It took a while to realise that dance is where I should be. I feel that it’s the right place for me.

Why did you choose TL?

I looked at the dance course here and in the prospectus it said ‘we like the autonomous learner’ and that hooked me instantly – I liked the emphasis on creativity. It’s such a versatile course, it’s so much more than just dancing. It’s about becoming dance artists.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

I’m engaged the whole time, I’m never bored, and there are things to think about constantly. It’s so much more than just the timetable – you’re encouraged to take opportunities – and I’m proactive, I feel like you have to do that to develop your artistry. I’ve been exploring where I’m from and sharing my knowledge.

My first year gave me a foundation of skill level. I wasn’t much of a dancer before, I was more singer/actor so it really grounded me in my technique. I’m learning so much and I’m able to think about my body and what it’s able to do. I can now say I’m a dancer.

Before coming here I thought you had to be perfect before you could dance or that was it. But you’re learning every day and that’s the most rewarding thing. I’m glad it’s lived up to the promise of the prospectus. For me it really works.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

I feel glad I came at 20/21 and took those two years out because I learnt so much in that time. Doing musical theatre before this gives me the skills to think about the bigger picture – to combine all the different art-forms together to push my practise now. Having experienced something already I’m now more focused on what I want to do. I have a more mature respect towards my studies and a level of professionalism, as well as punctuality and time management. And I now have this confidence and presence that I didn’t have at 18. I needed that experience to really be sure this is what I want to do.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

Listen to what you want to do in that moment and if you’re unsure just take that time out. As long as you’re pro-active you can learn so much. Everything is transferrable. If opportunities arrive then take them but also take your time to decide what you want to do. Personally I would recommend that everyone takes a year or two out so you can have more things under your belt.

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Different Pathways: Hannah Thomas

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to first-year Hannah Thomas about her journey from CAT to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

From an early age, I competed in multiple sports events, including football and athletics. Because of this, I already had that muscular foundation built into me. Taking dance as an option for GCSE was where it all really began. At the age of 14, I took part in a dance ‘taster session’, where I found a natural ability for movement. Following this, I began to spend a lot of my time training in a small studio in my Upper School. I then continued to gain an interest in choreography, taking part in One Dance UK’s ‘Young Creatives’ course as a choreographer in both 2014 and 2015. I discovered Trinity Laban’s CAT programme in 2015 when my upper school dance teacher pointed it out to me on the website. Not expecting to gain a place, I successfully auditioned and joined the CAT programme in 2015. From there, my passion for contemporary dance spiralled.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?

For me, choosing Trinity Laban was not anything to do with the techniques on offer, or the facilities available. It was merely a gut feeling, a feeling that felt all warm and fuzzy. It was the perfect combination of familiarity and the desire to follow my curious instincts. It felt right.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

So far, my experience of Trinity Laban has been messy… in the best sense possible! I’ve gained connections, friends and numerous experiences. I have learnt so much about the world of dance and even more about myself. I have discovered the importance of well-established technique, and the fun in improvisation; the excitement in new collaborations, and the thrill of performing with some of the most passionate people I’ve ever some across. Genuinely wouldn’t change a thing. If I’m honest, I have no idea where I will go upon completion of my training. I find that spontaneity is a good way to live. Trinity Laban has taught me to put absolutely everything into my daily practice, in order to open as many doors as possible in the future.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

Coming from a non-technical background, my dancing body was raised from the ground upwards. Much like young children learn to walk, we spent the time exploring efficient ways in and out of the floor. Whilst I felt like this initial training gave me a good idea of what it means to be grounded, I was never so confident performing more technically demanding phrases of movement. Trinity Laban taught me how to move confidently when standing upright. I am now able to find the verticality in my movements, without it seeming distant from what I am used to. I now embrace the versatility of movements, allowing me to be a much more adaptable and playful artist.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

My advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in dance is to just ‘run with it’. When it comes to your passion, there’s no point worrying about what others will think or say. Coming from someone who was close to pursuing physics in order to please my teachers, I would suggest that being upfront with what you want is the only way to get what you want.

On a side note, when I say ‘run with it’, I really mean to RUN with it. Don’t waste a minute of the time you have. I wish someone had told me that from a younger age.

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Different Pathways: Paula Jankowska

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

We speak to first-year Paula Jankowska about her journey from a graphic and communication design degree to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

Before coming to Trinity Laban I did a graphic and communication design degree course at the University of Leeds that included a year in industry. Before going to Leeds I did an arts/media foundation and was dancing but stopped when I went to university. In my second year at uni, I joined a dance society which rekindled my passion for dance I guess.

After I graduated I worked as a graphic designer for a year. It was good transitional year, to put the skills I’d learned to work, but it was nice to know that I was looking towards something else after. I love graphics but it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t like sitting in front of a laptop for eight hours a day.

My final year was so intense that my way of relaxing was to take other dance classes and I would end up spending more time in the studio. I realised that that’s what I wanted to do. Every project that I did, especially towards the end, was somehow related to dance, motion and the body. It tells you that you should be doing that.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?
I did a dance summer school at Trinity Laban at the end of my fourth year at university, when I was graduating, and the atmosphere here felt open and welcoming. I wanted to do a BA here because I wanted the intense training rather than a diploma etc. and I could apply what I learned in my four years at Leeds, my academic skills, as well as my dance skills.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

I didn’t have too many expectations as I was trying not to expect too much. Apart from just wanting to dance of course! I’m combining dancing and doing research, which is what I wanted. There are a lot of people here who’ve done a lot of things, there is a mix, so I don’t feel like a mother on the course. You’re physically spending so much time together and putting in as much effort as everyone else that it doesn’t matter what your journey was to get here.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

My degree and year in the profession opened me up to people and contacts and helped cultivate my communication and business skills that are useful in the real world.

I wasn’t ready to do dance at 18. Even if I had got into schools, I don’t think it would have been as beneficial as it is now, because I have a completely different mind-set towards myself as a dancer and towards education in general. When you’re 18 it’s just a completely different world. I’m taking a lot more out of it now which I’m glad about. I was really scared at first. I was scared I was too old at 23 and was so concerned, but now, being here and experiencing what I’m experiencing, I’m really glad. And I’m not too old. Twenty-something is not too old to dance.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

You’ll be fine. The world’s not going to end. It feels like that when you’re changing, turning your whole life around, but it’s not as scary as it seems. I’m actually where I’m meant to be now. Everything goes smoother because you want to do it. If you’re not sure about something, waiting is not such a bad thing, and to actually follow what you think you should do.

Alumni spotlight: Aaron Chaplin

We caught up with London-born contemporary dancer Aaron Chaplin, who graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance with BA(hons) first class honours in 2017, to talk about his training and what he’s doing now.

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Aaron, tell us about studying at Trinity Laban

I very much enjoyed my time at Trinity Laban. The building itself is stunning and being in such a purpose built environment with world class teachers and a community of dancers who are talented, creative and unapologetically individual is something that not everybody gets to experience and for that I am thankful.

How has your training prepared you for your career?

My three years at Laban helped sculpt the dancer that I am today. I was able to nurture my interests in choreography taking advantage of the many opportunities that there were to create while also having that chance to work with a plethora of choreographers such as Jessica Wright of Company Wayne McGregor.

Since graduating, you’ve joined Phoenix Dance Theatre, what’s that experience been like?

Being able to finish my three years at Trinity Laban and step straight into my role as an apprentice for Phoenix Dance Theatre was an absolute blessing. The company has a long and vibrant history and to be chosen to a part of that is an honour. Since joining Phoenix I’ve been afforded so many amazing opportunities. Most recently we performed Troy Game (1974) by Robert North at a Gala honouring Nadine Senior [founding principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds]. Performing such an iconic piece of work only two months into my apprenticeship was surreal and being able to do it alongside past and present company members was incredibly humbling.

What’s next?

Phoenix Dance is currently working towards the premiere of a new work titled Windrush: Movement of the People. The production celebrates the 70th anniversary of the SS Windrush, a ship that brought the first Caribbean migrants to the United Kingdom after the Second World War, and looks at British Caribbean culture and the rise of a multicultural Britain. It has been incredible to be a part of the work’s creation. It is vibrant and fun, but also packed with information detailing the experiences of those who arrived, both good and bad, which will be an eye opener for some.

We also have tour dates in London at the Peacock Theatre from the 26th – 28th April 2018. I’m very much looking forward to being on the road and performing with the company, taking art to various parts of the country doing what I love.

 

Windrush: Movement of the People premieres at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on the 7th – 10th February 2018 as part of a mixed programme.

Find out more at Phoenix Dance Theatre’s website.

 

 

10 Years On: A Catch Up With Trinity Laban’s First Junior Conducting Fellow

Tom Hammond was the first recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Junior Fellowship in Conducting at Trinity Laban Conservatoire (2006-08). Ten years on, Graduate Intern (Press & PR) Robyn met with Tom to hear his thoughts on his training, the music profession, and his career.

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Tom is enjoying success as an orchestral conductor, music educator, record producer and festival founder, and yet couldn’t be further from the Lofty Maestro caricature I was anticipating.  As we chat over Styrofoam cups of coffee in the King Charles’ Court café, he explains how, despite his achievements, he doesn’t subscribe to the Cult of Personality that trails certain individuals in the conducting profession. Instead, Tom believes his job is simply to serve the music.

‘It’s a horrible cliché but it’s true!’ he justifies, ‘The greatest conductors are the ones who actually take a step back.’ One such great is, of course, the late Sir Charles Mackerras, who selected Tom for Trinity Laban’s inaugural Junior Fellowship in Conducting. ‘There he was in his eighties,’ Tom recalls with admiration, ‘but still thinking “every single time I come to something I’m going to approach it like it’s the first time and it’s going to be fresh.”’

Tom expresses how much he learned from his fellowship at Trinity Laban, and clearly enjoyed a wonderful relationship with his mentor – he even had the honour of being the first call Mackerras ever made on a mobile phone, an anecdote Tom shares with a fond chuckle – but Tom didn’t always know how prestigious an opportunity working with Mackerras was. ‘To my shame, I didn’t really know that much about him before…I probably would’ve been incredibly nervous if I had known enough about the incredible breadth of his achievements.’

Perhaps this naivety was due to growing up in the midlands in a place where ‘there wasn’t a huge amount of music going on’. But, as the proverbial black sheep in his non-musical family, Tom went on to study trombone at the Royal Academy of Music. He had an interest in the conducting world throughout his playing career, and only in his early thirties did he hear about the Mackerras fellowship and chose to pursue conducting professionally.

Plagued by ‘terrible imposter syndrome’, Tom worried that he didn’t have a good enough ear to be a conductor, so used the fellowship to improve his skills. Simon Young, Trinity Laban’s Head of Performance Studies at the time, helped him ‘uncover something about myself that I thought I was missing. And now I’m doing CD producing which involves listening to tiny inflections of intonation or ensemble.’

I ask how his producing experience compares to conducting. ‘You’ve got this little barrier when you’re conducting – you have to be driving the car not watching the scenery. It’s amazing what you will hear when you don’t have the distraction of waving your arms.’ Another difference is that he’s not fussy about repertoire as a producer, something that he is zealous about as a conductor, ‘I don’t think anyone should conduct a piece of music they’re not personally convinced is amazing.’

 

Tom is clearly bonkers for classical music, his eyes shining with childlike delight as he discusses his work. One project he is particularly proud of is the Hertfordshire Festival of Music that he launched in 2015 with composer James Francis Brown. Tom insists that he wasn’t looking to start a high-level classical music festival, but with its picturesque location, cultural history, and core loyal music audience, Hertford seemed too perfect to resist. Originally just a one-day event, it has expanded into an entire week for 2018 and has been backed by local politicians, authority, and individuals. ‘What we want to grow is a really major addition to the music calendar every year and a place where we can nurture new music, home-grown talent, community events, and feature a living composer every year. We’ve got huge ambitions.’

Given Tom’s disapproval of the “boys club” of the music profession, I noted that it was funny that he was, by his own admission, playing the same game, having called on his professional contacts when putting together the festival programme. When I queried how he got such big names, such as Tasmin Little and Dame Emma Kirkby, involved, he deadpanned: ‘Pay them.’ Modestly he continued, ‘I’m lucky to work with some fantastic people.’ But one doubts it is simply luck. ‘We got to know these artists personally and hopefully they like us and see what our vision is. We also offer them quite a lot of flexibility. Each year we work with that principal artist figure and say “let’s develop a theme together”’.

This same generosity abounds when he speaks of his fellow musicians. In fact he speaks so highly of internationally-renowned pianist Stephen Hough – who will be the Featured Artist and Composer of the 2018 festival, and who Tom has previously worked with performing Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 – he sounds like he’s in the deep throes of a bromance: ‘He’s a lovely guy…he can be incredibly easy-going without losing any of the gravitas… in the performance he will bring something extra which is exciting…and he’s genuine as well…and a dry and infectious sense of humour.’

And Tom talks just as animatedly about his ongoing roles with the Palestine Youth Orchestra, Ingenium Academy, and the Yorkshire Young Sinfonia, sounding almost like a proud dad. It is evident that he relishes working with people, whether it’s seasoned pros or aspiring young musicians, and feels strongly about music education and young musicians’ engagement with classical music, wholeheartedly supporting the ethos of music as a tool to foster human connections.

This seems especially important today when, as Tom puts it, ‘Classical Music word is no longer a pastime in which many participate.’ He points to the sector’s necessary and increasing reliance on private funding, and the financial risks associated with pursuing a career in classical music, as reasons why ‘those without resources are excluded.’

To help counteract this, Tom believes that music professionals ‘need to better understand where their audience comes from and find ever increasing ways to feel linked to those they perform to’. It is something that is already part of the ethos at Trinity Laban, which Tom finds deeply encouraging.

We end our chat feeling like we’ve put the world to rights, and I, with tongue firmly in cheek, enquire what his goals are when he grows up. He offers a candid response, ‘frankly just being able to continue to conduct the repertoire that I love until I fall over, I’d be very pleased.’ Wouldn’t we all.

 

To find out more about what Tom is up to visit: http://www.tom-hammond.org.uk/ and www.hertsmusicfest.org.uk

If you’re interested in studying at Trinity Laban, you can find out more at: https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/study

 

Written by Robyn Donnelly, Graduate Intern (Press & PR)

Careers in Music Leading: 5 reasons to come along to Press Play

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Thinking about the next steps after you complete your music studies? Starting out and looking for some guidance?

Here are 5 reasons why you need to come along to Press Play…

  1. Get your foot in the door

One of the best ways to get started is to put yourself out there, whether that be through volunteering or shadowing, a social media presence, making and nurturing connections with employers or meeting people who are already established music leaders. Everyone has to start off somewhere and those in the business coming along to Press Play have their own journeys and experiences to share with you.

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  1. Find out what employers want

Do you really know what they’re looking for? Our visiting organisations and professionals are coming along to Press Play so that you can ask them your questions. Find out what they look for in potential employees and what they think makes a stand out candidate. They can also advise on further development routes such as postgraduate study, trainee schemes and one-off training days.

  1. Know all of your options

Having an open mind and the willingness to explore a variety of work routes will get you far. There are so many rewarding possibilities available to musicians in education, teaching, community settings or arts organisations and being open to trying something new can introduce you to amazing careers that you perhaps never knew about!

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  1. Turn your ideas into reality

You don’t need to be a contestant on The Apprentice *sigh of relief* to get your project idea off the ground! It’s all about having the drive to make things happen. Press Play provides you with the opportunity to seek advice from experienced producers and find out about the practicalities and logistics of producing your own participatory music project.

  1. Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Being prepared to step out of your comfort zone is a hugely valuable way to learn. By coming along to Press Play, you can discover new and exciting career paths for you to follow and discover exactly what you need to do to get started. So whether you are in your first or last year of studies, recently graduated or just starting out, now is a great time to think about your future and get ahead on your career.

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27 OCT 2017 10.00 – 17.00h

Laban Building, SE8 3DZ

Light lunch and refreshments provided

£15 for Trinity Laban students | £20 for other students | £45 for standard admission

Find out more and book your place here.