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LSC girls touring with Broadway's classic 'Funny Girl'

Funny Girl was originally made memorable by Barbara Streisand in her break through lead role, Fanny Brice. Barbara notably released the single 'People' prior to opening, leaving audiences clambering to get tickets to see the show! The original production was nominated for eight Tony Awards and the cast recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004. Streisand went on to reprise her role in the 1966 West End production, as well as in the film adaptation of the musical which was released in 1968, and for which Barbara won high acclaim recieving the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best actress that year. 

Above: Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl at The Savoy Theatre last year

Following a sold-out revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2015, Funny Girl returned to the West End in 2016, this time with actress Sheridan Smith in the starring role. More recently, due to high demand, the production is setting off on a national tour; taking in 22 cities across the UK. The tour has kick-started this week in Manchester with the cast and creatives featuring LSC alumni Rebecca Howell (Associate Choreographer), Abigail Honeywill (Swing) and Samantha Wingfield (Ensemble). 

Above: Rebecca Howell (left), Abigail Honeywill (middle) and Samantha Wingfield (right) 

Rebecca Howell has built up an array of choreographer and associate choreographer credits, working alongside choreographers such as Lynne Page. She has worked commercially for the likes of the Pet Shop Boys and Ellie Goulding as well as vastly in the theatre world on productions such as; An American Psycho, Oh! What a Lovely War, Viva Forever! and Billy Elliot to name a few. Abigail Honeywill has recently finished a run as ensemble in the revival of Grease at the Leicester Curve Theatre and toured last year with Guys and Dolls across the UK and internationally. Samantha Wingfield has just returned from Disneyland Paris after originating the role of Elsa in the Mickey and the Magician show at the Walt Disney Studios Park. Before that Samantha has worked internationally with Jean Ann Ryan productions as a lead singer. 

Above: Samantha in Mickey and the Magician at Walt Disney Studios Park 

We caught up with Samantha while the cast were rehearsing in London to see how excited she was to be part of the production:

LSC: What are you most looking forward to?

Samantha: This is actually my first job as a 'dancer'. I have been a singer in all of my other professional jobs so far so I am actually looking forward to dancing everyday! This is also my first UK tour so I can't wait to get on the road and perform to different types of audiences every week.

LSC: What skills did you have from your training at LSC that has helped you while auditioning for the role?

Samantha: I definately learnt a lot from Seedtime Music Theatre Company in 3rd year, especially on the singing element of the audition process. I actually sang one of the songs for the audition that I did in third year with Matthew Shaw (Artistic Director). This show has jazz, tap and pointe work in it and I think at LSC we were especially lucky to have tap classes every week throughout the three years as tap seems to be becoming more and more popular in current music theatre shows. 

LSC: What are you most enjoying about the rehearsal process?

Samantha: I am enjoying watching the show come together and seeing the team work together to create somthing great. It is amazing to watch them work. Rebecca Howell, who taught me at LSC, is our assistant choreographer on the production and is incredible. I am learning so much from the rehearsal process just by watching. 

LSC: How would you describe and LSC performer?

Samantha: It is nice, because where ever you go, whether that be in work or at auditions, there will always be someone from LSC. Sometimes you may not have known them during training but you already have that connection with them and it makes you feel at ease to know that there is someone else there. So I would say LSC performers are always friendly and we have each other's backs. 

LSC: What was the best thing about training at London Studio Centre?

Samantha: The best thing about training at LSC was definitely our 3rd year specialist Company experience. To be able to have workshops with West End performers every week was just amazing, and I have done many of the routines I did in 3rd year in auditions since graduating! Many of the people who would come in to teach were also LSC graduates and it is always comforting to know that there are graduates woking, to meet them and take advice from them as I think it keeps you motivated. It was also great to have agents come in and audition us. We were so lucky to have private auditions as not many colleges do and it really does help you kick start your career. The experiecne of performing in Dance Overture at The New Wimbledon Theatre is great for us as many professional productions perform there and it gives you a glimpse of what working professionally could be like. 

LSC: What advice do you have for performing arts students who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Samantha: My only advice is to keep going. It is a very hard industry to be in and you have to be focused on what you want. I would advise to watch as many shows as you can and keep active, even when you are not working as this will keep you motivated. And most of all enjoy it, enjoy every audition that you go to. You have to be prepared to be told no, as you will get more no's than you will yes' but it is worth all the sweat and tears, I promise!...All the best! 

Tickets are nearly sold out across the tour, so buy quickly if you want to catch our LSC girls in action.  

LSC alumni have the maddest hip hop skills

ZooNation has once again wowed audiences in London over the Winter season with their irresistible and unique style of narrative hip hop dance theatre. This time the Company took to stage at The Royal Opera House and Round House with their revived production of The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, with LSC alumni once again in leading roles. 

Mad Hatters 1

Teneisha Bonner (Queen of Hearts), Rowen Hawkins (Tweedle Dum) and Kyla Lomas-Kirton (Alice), all trained at London Studio Centre and have danced regularly with ZooNation, in previous productions such as Into the Hoods and Some Like It Hip Hop. Betweenn them they have amassed an array of commercial dance experince working with artists such as, Rhianna, Alesha Dixon, Black Eyed Peas, Kylie Minogue, Take That, Cheryl Cole and Girls Aloud. Collectively theu have performed on TV programmes such as The Brit Awards, MOBOs, MTV Awards, Britain's Got Talent and on films such as Harry Potter and StreetDance 3D, while also working with hip hop dance company's such as Blue Boy Entertainment, Blaze Dance Group and dancing on the West End in Thriller Live.

Kayla Lomas Kirton

Above: Kayla Lomas-Kirton as Alice

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party puts a new twist on Lewis Carroll's children's classic 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', highlighting the weird and wonderful nature of Carroll's story, the show relocates the action to a psychiatric hospital. "True to form, Prince presents a narrative which (mostly) elevates hip hop beyond the realms of competitive battles and proving that this disciplined movement practice can embody genuine emotion in it's characters" (Rachel Nouchi, London Dance). The production is cleverly able to open discussions on mental health with wide audiences as the narrative creates depth to the dancer's characters giving them the opportunity to share real issues, the White Rabbit has OCD, Alice have body image troubles and Tweedle Dum and Dee have split personality disorder.

mad hatter 4Above: Alumni Teneisha Bonner as The Queen of Hearts

In addition to alumni on stage, Managing Director and Producer of the ZooNation, Chantal Spiteri also trained at LSC, so it is great to read all the reviews, see the success of the show and the impact the company is made in the world of Hip Hop Dance Theatre and narrative dance theatre combined. We are already looking forward to the next ZooNation production. Stay tuned into ZooNation.co.uk for updates of performances in 2017. 

"This is a company that is exciting to watch. They know how to communicate with an audience and generate joy even when some of the things they are saying have a dark side. The dancing is stunning" (Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide).

Diverse skills help LSC dancers take on any role

At the close of 2016 we caught up with LSC alumni Jasmine Takacs who spent her festive period dancing in BBC's Strictly Come Dancing for the 4th year running.

Jasmine Takacs 5 Strictly

Jasmine (left side) dancing with Jay McGuiness on Strictly Come Dancing (2015)

Jasmine has built a well-developed career working all around the world in theatres and arena tours, as well as appearing in music videos, commercials and some of the UK's biggest TV shows; including The X Factor (ITV), Britain’s Got Talent (BBC), Dancing On Ice (ITV), Let’s Dance (ITV), Splash (ITV), The Brit Awards (ITV) and MTV Europe Music Awards (MTV). She started her career working mostly as a commercial dancer dancing behind stars such as Justin Bieber, Blue, Taylor Swift, Jessie J, Gary Barlow, One Direction, Steps, Pet Shop Boys, Fat Boy Slim, Katy Perry, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Florence and The Machine and Olly Murs to name a few.

Jasmine Takacs 4 Strictly

Jasmine backstage with Anton du Beke

In 2013 Jasmine’s career took a change of direction into a whole other platform of dance when Jasmine joined the cast of Craig Revel Horwood’s Strictly Confidential UK tour. Since then, Jasmine has been a part of the Strictly Come Dancing family; working as a troupe dancer and dance assistant on the live TV shows every year since. She has also danced in Pasha Kovalev UK tour (2014), as a dancer and aerialist on Strictly Come Dancing arena tour (2015 & 2016), The People's Strictly (2015), Keep Dancing (2016), represented Strictly Come Dancing for BBC Worldwide and even travelled to LA to appear in Dancing with the Stars (CNN).

We caught up with Jasmine to find out more about how she side stepped her way into the world of Ballroom dance using her diverse and transferable skills developed during her time at London Studio Centre:

LSC: What have you enjoyed most about your latest contract dancing on Strictly Come Dancing?

Jasmine: Strictly Come Dancing, really is a dream contract, the costumes, the make-up, the choreography, every day, every minute is enjoyable and inspiring. However, I have to admit that performing at the O2 Arena in front of thousands of screaming people all who love dance is a pretty insane feeling and when you realise how many people are actually watching at home on a Saturday night. It’s a huge moment of feeling proud! To have achieved such dream job in one of the biggest shows in the UK.

Jasmine Takacs 3 Fiona Whyte Strictly

Jasmine Takacs on Strictly Come Dancing - photography by Fiona Whyte

LSC: What skills did you have from your training at LSC that has helped you with your role in the show? 

Jasmine: My skills as a versatile dancer with the ability to look at a movement and style and to pick it up and copy it onto my body has been a massive skill I have used while working with Strictly Come Dancing. I did not train in Latin and Ballroom, although SCD choreographer Jason Gilkison calls me a "natural", this is because of the training I received at London Studio Centre. I would never get the job if I wasn't so versatile and able to switch from Commercial to Latin and Ballet to Ballroom.

LSC: What new skills did you need to learn and develop whilst in this new position?

Jasmine: After being introduced to the Strictly Come Dancing world I quickly realised it was a world I was fascinated by. I wanted to have my own dance partner and be able to execute the Latin and Ballroom dance styles as well as possible, so I started to take private Latin and Ballroom classes, going out to Salsa clubs to learn social dance styles such as Salsa, Batchata and Kizomba to become comfortable being lead and practicing social dancing. I also learned how to do aerial silks for the Strictly Live tour in 2015 and aerial hoop for the Live tour 2016. Many people thought I was an acrobat previously, however I had a minimal amount of training to pick up and develop these skills. The strength in my upper body that I have developed during many years of committed weight training in the gym helped me learn quickly because I already had the strength. Many people say I am crazy but to succeed in this industry you have to be able to offer more than others to get the work, diverse training, core strength and technique really helps!  

Jasmine Takacs 2 Fiona Whyte Strictly

Jasmine Takacs performing aerial silks on Strictly Come Dancing - photography Fiona Whyte

LSC: How would you describe an LSC performer?

Jasmine: An LSC performer has great style and does very well in the commercial world. Great technique and stage presence. 

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

Jasmine: Don't be afraid to try something new, remember that all dance styles are steps at the end of the day which anyone can learn, even your Grandad! However, it’s the style that makes the performance, you have to pay extra attention to the fine details, analyse how exactly a move is being executed by the teacher or choreographer and adapt it on to your body. Be willing to always go the extra mile, that is when you learn more and develop as an artist, learn new skills and styles, grow as a dancer and where the choreographer remembers they will book you again!

Jasmine Takacs 7 Strictly

Well it is certainly a 10 from us at LSC! It was great to catch up with Jasmine and hear all about her progression into the world of Ballroom and Latin dance. Follow this link to learn more about the BA Hons course at London Studio Centre, designed to give students specialist training with added versitility.

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