Archives For Dance

Opera Mom

January 9, 2017 — 86 Comments

Over the Christmas break at home, I watched with my Mum a TV programme called “Dance Moms”. My Mum is a fan of this program with its many controversies, in the UK it is on 5 Star every weekday with a double bill on a Tuesday. The show comes in for a lot of criticism because it is speculated the fights between Moms are staged to boost the ratings and that some of the competitions are fake. The dance teacher Abby Lee Miller also divides opinion because of her personal teaching style.

I thought it would make an interesting blog post to ask my Mum what it was like being an Opera Mum.

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Mum and Me On My Graduation Day In July 2016

How would compare yourself with the Dance Moms in the TV programme?

Unlike the Dance Mom’s in the series, I’ve always been a hands-off dance/singer Mum and other than dropping you off and picking you up from different classes I shied away from putting any pressure on you or getting involved with teachers unless I felt it was absolutely essential and then only once in 20 years.

One of the things I do not agree with in the programme though is when the Mums pass on their worries and concerns to their children even though at the outset the children don’t have a problem with what is happening in the dance lesson and are only interested in giving their best performance.

But I do like the Mums passion, support and belief in their children and the lengths that they have to go to in order to help them out.

What encourage you to get me involved with the Arts?

I always wanted to be a dancer but my family could not afford the lessons when I was at school. I wanted you to have good deportment, excellent balance, high energy levels, fitness and access to other like minded girls having two brothers yourself.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 

What did you know about the world of the Performing Arts before you signed me up to lessons?

Absolutely nothing, that’s why I love the “Dance Moms” programme so much, it gives me a peek into the training room that I never saw with your training as your sessions were after school and parents weren’t allowed to watch, in fact when it came to ballet class it was your Dad that took you on exam day and learnt how to put up your hair buns, he has nerves of steel! It was always nice to watch your end of term performances in dance and later your drama productions.

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Playing Mrs Banks In Mary Poppins 


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Love 2 Dance

When do you remember, me putting the majority of my focus into classical singing?

Right up until the start of High School we thought you would train to be a dancer or an actress, then a letter home from school to offer piano lessons for 30 minutes and one shortly afterward to offer one-to-one singing lessons for 30 minutes changed everything. After being told for years you sing too loud for school choirs and your voice cuts like a blade through a group you found a niche that embodied everything you loved; singing, dance, drama, a challenge and the ability to sing as loud as you liked without a microphone and whoosh suddenly you wanted to be an opera singer!

This was frankly a bolt out of the blue and something completely outside of our knowledge, we didn’t listen to classical music, we’d never been to an opera or knew anybody that had, although your Grandpa loved classical music and that was the entire family’s awareness. We put our faith in your singing tutor Jayne Wilson to guide you and we just provided lots of encouragement.

How did you find out more about the world of opera and classical singing?

We were encouraged to enter you for singing competitions in local festivals, your first one in Blackpool was nerve-racking for me, in fact, it was always me that had the butterflies and nerves while you swanned in and really enjoyed it all. This was my perfect introduction to the world of classical music, we listened to lots of singers of all ages and levels of experience, varied repertoire, and critique for all entrants at the end of each set of performances. We also saw how the children coped with the pressure of the events and learned a lot from these annual institutions. The realisation of how long it would take for you to achieve your goals and find a career started to dawn on us, this was not a career path for the faint-hearted. But your natural perseverance and willingness to stick with activities that you undertook encouraged us to believe that you could do it, and that it was not just a passing fad. It had to be your dream Charlotte and not just what we wanted you to do.

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Success In The Festivals

After eleven years of training do you still feel the same way?

After working full time in an office from leaving school both your Dad and I just wanted all of you to do what you loved to do and I’m really happy we can still continue to help you to do this, and to thank you for introducing us to this beautiful art form. But I must admit I would try and discourage you if you were not so committed and willing to put so much of yourself into your singing. It is a long and arduous process with no promise of work or success at the end.

But Charlotte we believe in you 100% and will support you every step of the way.

Be Happy, Be Yourself

September 27, 2015 — 71 Comments

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The introductory week for the new term was a great taster for what lies ahead for me and over the coming months I can’t wait to share it with you. One of the reasons that I chose to study here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is that they allow you to follow your own creative pathway.  Dance and music have always been so closely intertwined in my life, though opera is my true passion I was delighted that as part of my final year I got the opportunity to audition for an own choice module which if I was accepted would enable me to take RAD advanced 1 ballet classes.

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I always found that dance was a great way to keep fit and it really helped me with my movement when on stage.  It was fantastic fun to get back to practising, with my tights and leotard on. (Even though in the travel from the changing room to class I kinda wanted a pair of gym shorts).

In the audition we had to wear pinned numbers so that the three teacher panel could make notes on our technique and abilities. It has been over three years since I last participated in regular ballet classes so the audition was quite nerve racking.  As we went through each element in turn it reminded me of Latin and Ballroom dance exams that my brothers and I took part in when we younger.

When the audition was finally over you could tell that it had been a while since my last regular lessons, exercises that I used to do so easily had really taken their toll but inside I felt fabulous.

I’m really excited to tell you that I have been accepted and I will participate in my first class on Monday 28th September. Ballet has many attributes, optimum fitness, deportment, core strength and stamina all of which I can apply to my own performances on stage.

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I can’t wait to get back into my ballet, it really is a joy and a challenge, but one that I know will complement the work that I do in movement classes.  You know me I will give 100% and work hard to try keep up with the ballerinas, (but perhaps not with my legs so high!), they are all lovely and very friendly so I’m looking forward to the classroom atmosphere.

Dancing An Hour Away

April 13, 2014 — 67 Comments
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This is me with my serious face

You know what it’s like when you have to set yourself a goal and no matter what you do it just isn’t getting any closer ? Well after three days working on my compositions for College I was at that point tonight, where I needed to clear my head and take a break.

I find that if I face a difficult challenge, a good place to start is by breaking the problem into smaller tasks that are each achievable, (hopefully). But what happens when the path you’re on needs to change direction and suddenly the method you tried doesn’t work? I think sometimes it is good to take a break and return with fresh eyes.

So tonight I switched off my computer, put down my pencil and decided that if I was going finish off my compositions I needed a little fun and relaxation first. So I invited myself along to my Mum and Dad’s dance class. We started doing ballroom and Latin dancing when I was about eleven or twelve. My Mum wanted something that we could all do as a family so she found a dance school that we could all start together as beginners and have a little bit of family fun together.

The fabulous dance teacher is called Amanda Kirkby and her school is Northwich Dance Company

So tonight I joined them for their lesson and as my brother had a dance partner I was taken through my paces by Amanda.  My parents have been learning six sequence dances and I decided to give each one a go.  They were tremendous fun to learn and all my years of dance lessons from ballet to contemporary helped me remember the steps and fix the routines in my head to the beat of the music, although my dad said it wasn’t fair as it took him weeks to learn them all and he still forgets the odd step here and there 🙂

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Amanda presenting me with my Ballroom Silver medal awards in November 2010.

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IDTA Northwest Ballroom & Latin Newcomers Competition – Oct 2011 – First Place In Latin Under 21s – Charlotte Hoather

At the end of the lesson I felt energised and although tired it has given me the boost I needed to continue with my compositions and push on to the end of my chosen path.

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Here are the dances that we learnt along with videos which will give you a flavour of the evening. Unfortunately these are not from our lessons but from another school of dance that has published them on YouTube.

Sweetheart Waltz

Mayfair Quickstep

Tina Tango

Saunter Together

Queen Of Hearts Rumba

Midnight Jive

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This style of dance incorporates several dance genres such as modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet. I love the structured nature of ballet and tap and enjoyed the classes that I took from pre-primary aged three until leaving school at 18, but I found contemporary dance more versatile due to it’s involvement of improvisation and techniques such as Graham and Horton. These techniques involved a focus of movements being driven by an inner energy. This enabled me to have more freedom of expression within my movement.

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Another subtle difference between ballet and contemporary is that you dance in bare feet.

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Routines could involve Floor work, fall and recovery, controlled legwork, which could be representing unpredictable changes in rhythm within the music.

For my AS lower sixth exam I had to devise a dance for myself…

Unfortunately this was the first time my Dad had used this video camera and as you can see from the ending he hadn’t quite got the hang of it 🙂

For my AQA A level dance exam the following year, we had a choice of artwork to act as an idea to create for your own dance troupe you were not to dance/perform in your own work. I had created a team of five fabulous dancers; Sam Costello, Frankie Gerrard, Emily Bowcock, Emma Morgan and my brother Tom (who has just this month passed his IDTA medal test with honours for his Charleston routine). The question I chose was a picture, a circus scene from the BBC children’s series Mr Benn.

I also had to dance to a set piece by the choreographer Christopher Bruce as part of my exam, here is a video of the dance :

Watching the dancers tonight at the Knutsford Academy Dance Festival bought all these happy memories back. I had a fabulous contemporary dance teacher in Mrs Lisa Scott, and for a short time Mrs Donna North, with lots of the dance students from my school going on to the best dance schools in the Country including PJ Hurst, Caitlin Fretwell-Walsh, Carl Harrison, Josh Scott (who was there to watch tonight and has had excellent news of a postgrad dance placement – well done Josh), Emma and David Lane to name just a few.