Alumni demonstrate their versatility performing to 45 years of musical history
Thriller Live is now in its 8th year after opening in the Lyric Theatre in 2009 to rave reviews. To celebrate its 7th birthday in the West End, Thriller Live embarked on a world tour and a sell-out UK arena tour, played over 5000 shows globally to over 4 million fans, visited over 30 counties and entered the West End record books by becoming the longest running show in the Lyric Theatres 125 year history. This year the show has also been given a re-vamp, with new music, video elements and special effects being added to help reflect the magic and flare influenced by the latest technology that Michael Jackson always added to his stage performances.
The stage show also emulates the groundbreaking dancing and overall spectacle imagined and created by Michael and his creative team. LSC currently have 3 alumni members working in the Thriller Live cast, Aisling Duffy (Swing & Resident Director) as well as Victoria Lamm and Helen Parsons who are both dancers in the cast. They perform a series of high intensive show stopping routines in a wide variety of styles as the show takes the audience on a journey through Michael’s 45 year musical history, with hits inspired by pop to rock, soul to disco
From left: Aisling Duffy, Victoria Lamm and Helen Parsons.
Upon graduating London Studio Centre Helen Parsons received the award for Most Outstanding Performance, before joining BirdGang Dance Company, furthering her experience in Hip Hop, House and Funk styles. Helen’s other credits include amongst others, the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Formula 1 Grand Prix, and The National Television Awards. She has danced for numerous advertising campaigns including Adidas, New Balance, Reebok, Sports Stylist and 3 Mobile. She has also appeared in music videos, TV commercials and presented for dance DVDs including Just Dance as well as performing for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15 world tour as dance captain, dancer and acrobat.
We caught up with Helen to find out more about her experience in her current show:
What are you enjoying the most about being part of the Thriller Live cast?
Helen: Being part of such a supportive and inspirational team is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. The energy, chemistry and fun we have on stage is really unique and keeps every show fresh and fun. They are some of the most talented and enthusiastic artists I've ever met and being able to work with them and share a job we have all worked so hard on is a great feeling. We are a little family and really rely on each other to consistently perform such an intense, high energy show.
We saw you recently travelled to China to perform with the cast? What was that experience like?
Helen: Travelling to China was a great experience to share with the cast. It is one of the great things about the show - Micheal Jackson's music is still recognised and loved internationally. It was a great opportunity to perform in Macau and visit Hong Kong whilst working and we all felt very lucky that our job allows us to travel.
What skills did you have from your training at LSC that has helped you with your role in the show?
Helen: For an ensemble member of Thriller Live, your track is extremely heavily danced based from the first number of the show. The female members of the cast are in 11 numbers in the first half and 10 in the second half. Performing all these numbers at the energy levels required, is very reliant on your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems so our fitness levels must constantly be kept at an optimum level. Having such a full timetable at college which demanded our fitness levels to increase and being part of our final end of year tour in the Jazz Dance Company really made me realise how tough a professional show would be on our bodies. We gained knowledge as to where our fitness levels needed to be, how to prepare and strengthen ourselves physically and what we needed to eat and drink to be able to meet the demands of many West End shows. In terms of dance styles, Thriller contains many different types of dance including commercial, hip hop, jazz and dancing in heels. The variety of styles given to us in our training at LSC helped us become versatile enough to have experience and knowledge of many styles and be able perform them all.
What new skills did you need to learn and develop whilst in Thriller Live?
Helen: Learning how to look after my body in terms of avoiding an injury, or if an injury does unfortunately happen, how to manage it, is the main thing I have learnt during my contract. Doing 8 shows a week, even when making sure we are warming up and stretching properly, the physical exertion can sometimes lead to physical problems no matter how careful you are. I have learnt to listen to my body and muscles and take proper care of it. This includes not dancing on an injury, extra strengthening of weak areas, visits to the physio and a lot of ice packs and hot baths.
What advice do you have for performing arts students following in your footsteps?
Helen: My advice would be never let someone else's journey make you question your own. The industry will sometimes make you think you should be at a certain point in your career at a certain time, or you should want to do certain jobs because that is what other people are doing. Being true to what you want to do, regardless of what others are doing is so important. Trust yourself and make sure you are doing everything you can to get to where you want to be. That way you can never look back and feel like you could have done more. A certain Buddy Watkins (faculty member at LSC) once said 'if your dream job came up tomorrow, would you be ready?' and this has always stuck with me. You never know what auditions will come up so as long as you are working hard and being patient - you are on the right track. Let the space between where you are and where you want to be inspire you, not scare you and always remember why you started in the first place.