Top theatre practitioner encourages Block 5

Photo by Jack Offord

By Joe Siddle, Block 5

Last weekend Block 5 drama students were lucky enough to be visited by a well-established practitioner, Sarah Butcher, who has worked at the top theatres in the UK. Sarah came in for the weekend and advised and polished the Block 5 BAC scripted performances of Red Shoes directed by Jenni Brittain and 100 directed by Hayley Ager.

Photo by Jack OffordSarah is a co-founding director of the theatre company Non Zero One. She is one of five exceptional artists that make up Non Zero On’ who were formed in 2009 at Royal Holloway University. Non Zero One focus on interaction, conversation and audience participation by looking at relationships between people. Their work explores how relationships can be made and broken.

The company is also interested in the creative application of technology in performance; using live video, projection, hidden cameras, MP3 players, radio frequency headphones, live sound mixing and the Internet. The group makes work for theatres, gallery spaces and museums, with audience participation as a focus.

Sarah helped both BAC classes with blocking, adding soundscapes, and just generally helping to balance out the stage space and making sure that our key moments looked absolutely perfect.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with such a talented practitioner. A massive thank you to Joanne Greenwood, Jennie Brittain and Hayley Ager for a well-structured hard-working weekend and for bringing in Sarah to help take our work to next level.

Leading lights give inspirational jewellery talk

By Veryan Vere Hodge, Head of Development

The Design Hub in the new Art & Design building was packed with students, Old Bedalians, present and past parents on 9 November to hear the life stories of jewellery experts Joanna Hardy (OB 1974-78) and Shaun Leane.

_dsc6901-cropJoanna talked of starting her jewellery-making life in the Bedales workshop with the help of teacher Martin Box, then becoming a diamond grader and a leading trader in the diamond industry.  She was hungry to learn and even though she was a young woman in a completely male dominated industry at that time, her gender soon became irrelevant.  She was respected for her knowledge and quickly realised that knowledge meant power, which no one could take that away from her.  She further inspired with tales of her extensive travels and going down mines all over the world, her incredible detailed knowledge of gemmology, and her experiences working for Phillips and Sotheby’s. She admitted she was terrified the first time she stood on the rostrum, but that she knew she had to put herself out of her comfort zone to keep developing. Joanna is now an Independent Fine Jewellery Specialist and her application to join the BBC Antiques Roadshow consisted of an email with a photo attached of her on her Harley Davidson motorbike – a good way to ‘stand out from the crowd’.

_dsc6869-cropShaun Leane then took to the floor and explained that he had been a restless child and a little bit naughty, but he found his path when at just 14, his school’s careers advisor helped him onto a foundation course and from there he went on to do a seven year apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Hatton Garden.  The fine examples of his early works were astonishing but it was his friendship with Alexander McQueen (known to him as Lee) that enabled him to put the traditional skills he had learnt to new mediums and push the boundaries of fashion.  His skeleton corset has become an iconic piece, showcased in museums all over the world.

He also talked of his honour to design a piece for Boucheron’s 150th anniversary.  The audience audibly gasped at the beauty of his ‘Queen of the Night’ piece as they did for his gauntlet ‘Contra Mundum’ made in collaboration with Daphne Guinness, which had taken four years to make and had pushed the boundaries of what was technically possible.   He now has his own Shaun Leane collection, inspired by his catwalk pieces and he continues to push the boundaries, working his designs onto buildings.  Both speakers had clearly worked hard during their careers, and this drive was evident in their complete passion for their subject matter.  The talk raised £800 for the John Badley Foundation and huge thanks goes to Joanna and Shaun, and also the BPA Fundraising Committee and Design department.

Find out more about Joanna Hardy here.
Find out more about Shaun Leane here.

Bedales meets… Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

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By Anastasia Sheldon, 6.2

Bedales dancers took a trip to the Mayflower in Southampton recently to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s newest works including Revelations, the most widely-seen modern dance work in the world. Many of us have been studying the piece for BAC and A Level Dance, and seeing it live was a very exciting experience. Based on Ailey’s ‘blood memories’, Revelations illustrates scenes from his childhood such as going to church, baptism, and celebrations, all very spiritual and traditional experiences for a young African American growing up in the 1930’s. These stories are clearly translated into movement, dancing to traditional African drumming and gospel song. Other sections of the performance have been recreated and newly choreographed by the company’s current artistic director Robert Battle, who uses Ailey’s’ original techniques with modern stylised tweaks.

Ailey artistic director Robert Battle, dancers Hope Boykin and Rachael McLaren, rehearsal director/guest artist Matthew Rushing, and guest artist Alicia Graf Mack discuss what Mr. Ailey’s masterpiece, “Revelations” means to them.

photo-19-largeWe were also lucky enough to have a workshop the next day run by Matthew Rushing, the company’s rehearsal director. We worked with him for an hour and a half learning some basic Horton technique used by the company and repertoire from the performance. We learnt repertoire from their piece Exodus (2015) which was choreographed by Rennie Harris and looks at the House dance scene in America and was really fun to learn. Then we focused on the piece Revelations (1960) looking at two sections in particular, I’ve Been Buked and Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel, both of which required strength, control and strong alignment to be able to execute the movement fully.

The workshop really pushed our boundaries and Matthew went through the movement with us to help convey the stories behind the movement as we performed. All of us really enjoyed the workshop with Matthew, the way he delivered the movement allowed us to really engage and push our understanding of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre further.

Bedales sixth form dancers perform at The Point, Eastleigh

By Anastasia Sheldon and Ellie Wraight, 6.2

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Arriving at The Point in Eastleigh, ready to rehearse with Luke Brown (acclaimed dance artist and choreographer) was a daunting yet exciting experience. We spent three rehearsals with Luke’s professional dance company to create a piece which we then performed in front of an audience at The Point on 6 October.

Rehearsal 1

There was a nervousness in the air while we sat in a lobby surrounded by other dancers for the first rehearsal, but as soon as Luke entered the room his bright and wide smile soon washed away our uncertainty. None of us knew what we’d be creating and this gave us a certain freedom to create movement without limitation. We learnt some of Luke’s choreography, then developed it into our own styles – playing with our strengths and imagination. Being put in a room and told to start working with new people was intimidating, but we had no option but to get on with it and doing this forced us to our extremes; we ended up producing some really beautiful movement. This proved to be really quite successful and by the end of the rehearsal we had a four and a half minute piece which is half of what our final overall performance would be.

Rehearsal 2

sixth-form-dancers-perform-at-the-point-1-cropReturning to The Point, having just got over all our aches and pains from the last rehearsal, we were still enthusiastic to see what more work we could produce. We layered choreography together, creating a full and rich performance, based on caring for one another and community. Our movement uses a communal undertone throughout as we shift from space to space forming images of family portraits and soft love. Having developed choreography in our previous rehearsal we began to build on these concepts and form a structure to our piece. Playing to our strengths, Luke generated ideas and choreography which flowed and intertwined through our existing structure. As soon as we had a finished piece, we rehearsed for the rest of the day. Refining the movement and going through each section tying up loose ends and correcting every detail really helped to enhance the choreography and each movement became clearer to understand.

Performance: For you I long the longest: a double-bill consisting of Second Self and Princess

sixth-form-dancers-perform-at-the-point-3-cropLuke Brown’s company performed with such elegance and fluidity and highlights of real humanistic moments really illustrated the story clearly to the audience. Their closeness and engagement with one another conveyed the true feeling of family and friendship. Using contact both to support the happy, togetherness as well as the darker emotions experienced with love. The piece, Second Self, explores the idolisation of each other and one’s characteristics as well as the comparison to one’s self. For their second performance, Princess, only three dancers were used to create the darker undertone and harshness of love. While one narrates the other two dance to illustrate their words, their movement slowly became more and more aggressive towards one another. As well as being a nonfictional piece, it had a fairy-tale-like feeling, this subtly commented on our day-to-day relationships aided by the use of props and costumes helping it to be suited to all ages.

Overall

Walking away from each rehearsal having learnt new material and experimented with new ideas was extremely satisfying. Luke’s crazy personality took charge of our rehearsals and promised us a good time, this made it very easy to work with one other having not met before. His material and concepts were so different to anything we’d done before and really challenged our imagination to push for the best ideas we had. The rehearsals were tough and tiring but we produced some amazing work which ended up being used in our final performance.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

Matthew Bourne’s different way of thinking has yet again spawned an amazing take on one of the world’s favourite ballets. The legend, who goes by the name of Matthew Bourne, has formed something else: a new type of dance combining two into an irresistible umami of dance fusion.

His brilliance shines throughout the whole performance, as he puts his own unique twist on every step, producing moments of humour, sadness and pure joy.

But it’s not entirely straightforward.  At times he goes too far, blurring the boundaries of reality and fantasy too much leaving the audience confused.

Furthermore, a side of Bourne that wasn’t expected is shown through the projection. A lazy side. One that can’t make it obvious in the performance what is happening or think of a more creative way to do so, instead opting to project onto the curtain.

However, he redeems himself with the cliff hanger that is the interval.  A bite from a fairy is the last image the audience is left with before the curtain goes down. Making us wonder for a full 20 minutes: is that fairy bad or good?

Well played Bourne, well played.

By Tiger Clothier, Block 4
Block 4 Dance trip to Sleeping Beauty, Woking Theatre, 4th February

Lemons…

The first time I saw Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons was at the National Student Drama Festival in 2015. It’s a cliché, but it was even better the second time around. The simplicity and beautiful elegance of playwright Sam Steiner’s words echoed throughout the Olivier Theatre and they concluded that it was one of the best venues they’d ever played, along with the biggest audience.

For those who didn’t see it, Lemons came to Bedales from Warwick – an original work written, directed and performed by students. It tells the tale of Bernadette and Oliver – a dysfunctional but totally relatable couple who find themselves constrained by the latest legislation – the ‘Hush Law’ – as it is coined by activists. It limits them to 140 spoken words a day. Immediately, the audience is thrown into their relationship, and Bernadette and Oliver, directed by Ed Franklin, switch between time zones, language limits and spaces alike.

If the Q&A session at the end was anything to go by, we loved it and just wanted it to go on for longer. Full of questions and love and regret, Lemons enthralled students, parents and teachers alike.

By Eve Allin, 6.2

An evening at Christie’s inspires

On Tuesday 3 November Christie’s Auction House, in South Kensington, opened their doors at 6pm for their highly anticipated ‘Christie’s Lates’, a regular occasion which opens late on the first Tuesday of every month. Anyone can drop in to Christie’s at 85 Old Brompton Road, between 6.00pm and 8.30pm for a post-work drink and to hear inspirational talks from the masters of the trade.

On this particular evening, they hosted a conversation between Joanna Hardy, Old Bedalian and independent fine jewellery specialist, author and expert on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, and Shaun Leane, Britain’s most innovative jewellery designer who worked closely with the late Alexander McQueen.

Between the two, the discussion touched on an array of topics; it was inspiring listening to Shaun talk about his early career and his great achievements, one of which included creating a one-of-a kind necklace commissioned by Boucheron. This unique and inspiring piece of jewellery was to commemorate its 150th anniversary.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would highly recommend ‘Christie’s Lates’ to anyone in town that seeks to hear amazing speakers at a wonderful venue which leaves you inspired and stimulated.

By Scott Emerson, 6.1