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Recent graduates working in specialist fields

While touring with professional ballet companies, graduates still value the importance of their versatile training.
 
Jacqueline Back2
Jaqueline Back in Kingdom of Back, choreographed by Morgann Runacre-Temple - Images Ballet Company 2016 (photo: Brian Slater)
 
Jacqueline Back and Sam Rodulfo, both recent graduates of London Studio Centre, have secured positions in professional Ballet Companies after completing LSC’s specialist Classical Ballet pathway. Jacqueline is currently dancing with Vienna Festival Ballet, and is touring The Nutcracker and Snow White and Sam who is now dancing with Ballet Theatre UK is touring Romeo and Juliet and Giselle in Theatres across the UK. Both graduates toured with LSC’s Images Ballet Company in their final year after choosing to specialise their training in Classical Ballet.
 
We caught up with both graduates to see how they were enjoying life after college:
 
LSC: How would you describe an LSC performer?
Sam: An LSC performer is above all else, versatile.
Jacqueline: Versatile. I am so grateful to have had such a broad spectrum of training that wasn't watered down for ballet dancers. Because despite being in a ballet company, I am still required to perform hip hop. Furthermore, when I am in need of grounding, I am able to customise exercises during pre-show class into more contemporary movements, which not only helps me get onto my legs, but also keeps dancing everyday fresh and interesting.
 
Sam Rodulfo
Above: Sam Rodulfo (photo: Alexander Yip)
 
LSC: What are you enjoying the most about your first professional contract?
Sam: I think the most enjoyable part of my contract with BTUK is having the opportunity to perform in full length ballets - taking the audience on a journey through the story is such a magical experience! And performing the same show over 50 times is really giving me a chance to explore the story in more depth and add more layers with each show - I'm learning all the time and that for me is so important. I also love the other dancers in the company - they're so professional but we also have such a laugh whilst on tour. It's also great to take class with them every day and watch them from the wings in the show - you learn so much from watching and it's always so inspiring.
Jacqueline: I am really enjoying touring the country and visiting places that I would have otherwise never found an excuse to travel to. Theatres by the coast are especially enjoyable, as they remind me of home. The sense of accomplishment and unity in the company during curtain call every evening is also overwhelmingly amazing, under the stage lights and roar of applause.
 
LSC: What skills did you have from your training at LSC that has helped you with your role in the show?
Sam: I think a key skill I learnt from LSC that has helped me with my role within BTUK has been responsibility. It is imperative in a professional company to be responsible in all aspects - from knowing and remembering the choreography, to setting quick changes and helping with the get out after every show. This came quite easily for me after my training at LSC. From the work we did on La Vivandiere in third year and Serenade in first year, another key skill I acquired from LSC has been the ability to stay in line and be aware of spacing. It perhaps doesn't sound that important, but it can make or break the professionalism of a show. I've also gained a lot of knowledge about my body from LSC, particularly from the IPD lessons and this has enabled me to take care of my body (being on tour and dancing on raked stages results in a different kind of physical strain). I've been able to apply my knowledge to ensure I stay on top of my technique (especially when there are no mirrors) and diagnose any niggles quickly to prevent injury.
Jacqueline: Being a part of Images Ballet Company really helped to prepare me for the life of a touring ballet dancer. It gave a big insight to being versatile and adapting choreography to new theatres. I am able to understand what my body needs and how to manage it, as a result of IPD lessons and the self-awareness that was strongly encouraged by the incredible ballet faculty at LSC. In general, LSC's encouragement to become independent, active thinking dancers prepared both mind and body for the professional world. Managing injury throughout my training at LSC has made injury management in the professional world less scary. Although the pressure to be healthy in the professional world is much greater, the self-patience I learnt at LSC enabled me to deal with injury in a calmer and more professional perspective.
 
Jacqueline Back
Above: Jacqueline Back (left photo: Alexander Yip, right photo: Graham Reading) 
 
LSC: What new skills did you need to learn and develop whilst in this new position?
Sam: New skills that I have developed during my time with BTUK have been stagecraft and artistic expression. One of the company's most important values is its commitment to storytelling. I have therefore had to really throw myself into the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Giselle and Alice and Wonderland and work on my characterisation. I have also had to learn to be consistent on stage - I have to remind myself of basic technical underpinnings to ensure that I keep my dancing clean and precise.
Jacqueline: Generally adjusting to the new work load was physically difficult on my body. Touring and working 6 days a week was the most extreme load I had ever pushed my body through. Mental discipline to maintain technique, as class is always on stage and so there are no mirrors to refer to. As well this, listening to the strength of my body everyday, figuring out what my goal for class is that day; to work certain muscle groups or to get centered whilst conserving energy for a double show.
 
LSC: What advice do you have for performing arts students following in your footsteps?
Sam: I think the best piece of advice I can give to future performers is to never listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do something, no matter how qualified they might be. You can achieve anything you set your mind to so work hard, work smart and never give up! And remember that learning doesn't stop after graduation.
Jacqueline: Leaving college is incredibly daunting, so try to overcome the fear with your hunger and love for dance. Every audition is a networking opportunity and lesson learnt, so there's never anything to lose. Each knock back and rejection will help you come back stronger and fiercer for the contract out there that has your name on it!
 
Click here to find out more information about our specialist pathway options, or alternatively, find out if Ballet Theatre UK or the Vienna Festival Ballet are visiting a theatre near you soon. 
 

MOVING WORDS: A captivating and unmissable night of new dance work.

Moving Words Danilo Moroni

After much success Moving words returns to artsdepot for the thrid year running: 12th January 2017, 7.30pm. 

The evening curated by Zamira Mummery; founder of Zamira Kate Dance, presents a series of new and innovative contemporary and ballet works created by alumni and faculty of London Studio Centre. Current students of London Studio Centre perform alongside previous graduates in a programme of work featuring choreography by Caldonia Walton, Amy Sheppard, David Murley, Andrzej Kamienski, Liam Francis (Rambert), Katy Higgins, Phoenix Chase-Meares and Zamira Mummery (ZK Dance).

The evening will include live music and instrumentation, including the accompaniment of composer and percussionist Martin Pyne.

Moving Words is a captivating and unmissable night of new dance work. To book tickets, please visit the artsdepot website. 

Photo credits: Danilo Moroni

Alumni carving their way through the commercial industry

The Commercial industry is a notoriously difficult environment to navigate. Here at LSC we are very proud of our alumni and how they tackle the challenging nature of the industry, taking it all in their stride. 

Entering the industry well prepared makes a big impact in kick starting the careers of our graduates and here at LSC we pride ourselves in producing versatile performers educated and fit for the profession. We spoke with George Hodson alumni of London Studio Centre and graduate from the Jazz Dance specialist pathway to give us an idea of the variety of work he has been involved in after completing his training on tour with LSC's Jazz Dance Company.   

LSC: What type of work have you been involved in since graduating from London Studio Centre in 2013?

George: Since graduating I have danced for artists such as Taylor Swift, Kiesza, Years & Years and performed at events such as The Brit Awards, X Factor, VMAs, Glastonbury and many more. Most recently I've been involved in a hip hop, contemporary, spoken word, theatre production working with Avant Garde Dance Company, which out of all the high profile gigs I've done has to be the most challenging and also rewarding I've been a part of.

As well as having a passion for dance I've always been very entrepreneurial and interested in fashion, therefore creating a clothing line was a no brainer and although dance will be my main focus (for now at least) I'm loving owning my own company and getting to create things I love in material form.

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George (back) dancing alongside Kiesza, 2014. 

LSC: What are you enjoying the most about being part of the Avant Garde Dance Company production of Fagin's Twist?

George: This is my favourite job because it has been the most challenging, inspiring, frustrating and rewarding thing I've ever been a part of, and all these elements are shown through the production. it is made up of only 8 dancers the show is the highest possible quality and each dancer brings a fresh energy. As a collective we have all come from very different walks of life and also dance backgrounds and because of this a beautiful vibe is formed.

George Hodson

Above: George (centre back) with Avant Garde Dance Company's 'Fagan's Twist', 2016

LSC: What skills did you have from your training at LSC that has helped you when auditioning and working in the industry?

George: The main thing I can thank London Studio Centre for is my diversity in dance which I pride myself on. Due to the high standard of the faculty at the college everyone has the opportunity to be trained in many styles to a very high standard which is a great asset in this industry and is one that a lot of other dancers don't get the access to.

LSC: What advice do you have for performing arts students following in your footsteps?

George: Never stop learning, don't just leave college and think you're at the peak of your profession. Keep training, learn from inspiring people on your journey and never be scared to fail. I've talked to too many people who are too intimidated to walk into a professional class outside of college which is ridiculous because 99% of the time every class I've been in has a really positive attitude and everyone there wants to see growth, and if it doesn't then you need to remove that negative energy from your life. 

Polly Clothing 2Polly Clothing is Georges new project; a street style clothing line.

You can find out more information on social media at @pollyclothing and the website www.pollyclothing.co.uk.

 

Click here for more information about our newly revalidated BA Hons course which provides students with versatile skills, while training and supporting them through a specialist pathway into the industry.

LSC's new and enhanced Theatre Dance programme

Pathway Carousel ImageWe are thrilled to announce the successful re-validation of London Studio Centre's enhanced BA (Hons) Theatre Dance degree programme. 

From September 2017, students will be able to choose a focused pathway allowing them to specialise in Classical Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Jazz Dance or Music Theatre, whilst at the same time experiencing the broad range of dance training London Studio Centre is renowned for. 

The new course structure will continue to let students develop through a broad and diverse programme of training, with modules allowing them to explore and enhance additional skills to enhance their versatility as performers. The course now also provides enhanced pathways for students to delve deeper into their chosen specialism throughout the breadth of the 3 year course, enriching their overall progress. 

Throughout the programme, there is a strong emphasis on performance professionalism and employability skills, ensuring students are fully equipped to thrive in the performing arts industry and beyond. 

Applications for entry in September 2017 are open until January 31st 2017. Apply now.  

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. 

Thriller Live1

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

Thriller Live Cast

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.