Applications Open: English Heritage calls the nation to ‘Dance for VE Day’

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This May, English Heritage are getting England swing dancing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Over the bank holiday weekend English Heritage will be sending out dance experts to help individuals and local groups learn how to Lindy Hop in true 1940s fashion. Applications open today and after the closing date, English Heritage will choose one application from each county in England.

You can apply to be part of Dance for VE Day from 12 February up until 5pm on 8 March and can find the link for entry by clicking here. Anyone can apply, and English Heritage are especially interested to hear from those planning to get the whole community involved.

For more information on English Heritage’s VE Day plans and for resources on adding 1940s feel to your event go to english-heritage.org.uk/ve-day.

Just Announced: Burlesque Bootcamp

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Happy New Year everyone! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be putting on a Burlesque Bootcamp class on 1 February 2020 from 14:00-17:00.

Embrace your personal sexiness this year and come and play on 1 February! Space is limited and I’d love to have you. Sexy is a state of mind! No experience necessary and all genders and orientations most welcome.

We’ll cover key concepts, techniques, choreography all in a safe and supportive space.

For details and to register today click here! 

Swing Sister Swing – THANK YOU

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We are still catching out breath, but for now – thank you to everyone who attended, supported, shared, sent goodwill and tolerating endless social media posts about Swing Sister Swing – we couldn’t be more proud and look forward to keeping you updated on our exciting plans for the future of the project. You all rule!!!

Swing Sister Swing and other stories

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I don’t quite know where time goes?! It’s been a few months of professional and personal development. I spent a week in May with beloved friend and colleague, Alberto Denis here in London collaborating on methods to devise and make immersive theatre (generously supported by Canada Council for the Arts).

I received a £10,000 Arts Council Grant for Swing Sister Swing and I’m in the midst of choreographing and rehearsing a piece for Step Change Studios to be performed at Sadler’s Wells on 27 June. It feels like a moment in my creative practice where things are gaining steam and these successes are incredible, but also hard earned.

There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head about where I want to go and what I want to say about partner dance. Thoughts about the unconscious bias I’ve felt as a female follow, how expanding my practice has eased that tension. The unwavering belief that what we make together in partner and social dance doesn’t exist when we’re apart and is radical in nature! And that we need to include and collaborate with musicians more.

I’ll be posting more in the coming weeks discussing these projects but in the first instance why don’t you come and support?

Love inclusion and 1930s glamour? Come join me for a taster class at Eltham Palace and Gardens on the 21 June for Queer Walls, Exploring LGBTQ history at Eltham Palace. For tickets and info click here.

Come support Step Change Studios and Sadler’s Wells on 27 June in the Lillian Baylis Studio. For tickets click here.

Want to see an original lindy hop show about 6 international women and performed to jazz greats and a bangin’ original score by Two Twenty Two Music? Come to Rich Mix on 12 and 13 July. Tickets are available by clicking here.

Learning to tell stories through lindy hop

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If you’ve read some of my posts about Swing, Sister, Swing or my recent projects you’ll already know that I’m at a point in my dance career where I want to expand my skill set and present more work for theatre and non-lindy hop audiences. In particular, I’m really interested in immersive experiences and how lindy hop could be the primary movement language. It’s fundamentally inclusive, joyous and connective – what stories could I or others tell?!

In October I attended the Future of Storytelling Summit and it was clarifying. I wanted to try and develop and design a lindy hop experience that was ‘theme’ based rather than ‘class based’. Now what would that look like? And how on earth do I even start? In conversation with a friend and mentor, Alberto Denis I decided to apply to Canada Council for the Arts for a Professional Development grant and shockingly – I got it! This is the third time I’ve applied to Canada Council for a personal artistic project and I’ve been recommended but not awarded funding. A demonstration that persistence is key.

Thanks to their support, I’m spending time with Alberto this week in New York and planning to workshop and share something in May 2019 in London. The focus of our work together is around the themes, methodology and stories I could tell through narrative dance and feels like such a treasured and rare opportunity.

If you’re curious and want to keep tabs on what I’m experiencing and working on – watch my Instagram stories for an informal video journal (@nothingbuthitz). Thank you Canada Council for investing in me and my practice. I can’t wait to see what comes from this!!!

2018 in numbers

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It’s a bit late, but I always love putting the year into numbers.

Professionally – it was out of sight!! Personally – it was a challenging year with family deaths, a serious medical problem and some difficult questions about my life, my friendships and my well-being. I feel stronger for it and ready to see what awaits in 2019. Thank you for your friendship, love and support. I taught a few less workshops and a few less students this year, but when I consider the incredible things I got to do and make in 2018 – I am deeply grateful and humbled. Here’s to great times and success ahead.

2018 in numbers…
57 days spent with Mama and Papa Hitz – the most since I left Canada in 2013
5 International/UK Workshops with the wonderful Benjamin Robert Cook and Matthew Lane
3 Collaborative/Self-Produced Shows
Of those shows – all 6 performances were SOLD OUT!
850+ Audience members attended these performances
4,000+ Wonderful dance students from all walks of life
100+ Artists coached on income generation and budgeting

2018 firsts…
My first Step Change Studios and Sadler’s Wells Commission
My first time performing at Royal Albert Hall
My first national media feature in this month’s The Dance Current
My first Arts Council England grant towards my own creative project
My first year teaching with Matt Cochrane at Swing Patrol Old Street and making a new piece with him for the Balkan Lindy Hop Championships
My first 1:1 lessons with Ramona Staffeld in Melbourne which have been so influential throughout the year
My first year teaching the JazzMAD curriculum and teaching both lead and follow to some great students (and proving to myself that I can!)
My first full year of consulting and a 4-day work week and I had 3 fabulous clients
The first year I felt more in control of my finances and financial health thanks to good advice from Jo, Lexi and Cat.

More to come on the year ahead. What about you? What are you most proud of and what was the greatest lesson you learned in 2018?

So we’re making a show: Swing, Sister, Swing

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As I’ve mentioned in the past, I dance and enjoy both roles, but I really love following. At many moments in my lindy hop career, I have felt small, invaluable and disposable. It’s taken a lot to get to a place where I care less what others think of me and my dancing and more about what I think. The thing that keeps me in the ballroom is my overwhelming love for the music, the people and the human connection I help to curate alongside hundreds (many thousands) of teachers and scene leaders.

It was reflecting on my own feelings of ‘enough-ness’ that drove me to seek opportunities to a story through lindy hop in a theatre setting. I am blessed to work with one of my favourite collaborators, Cat Foley, and together we wanted to tell a story about what it means to be a female follow and express the public and private face you feel on and off the dance floor. We wanted to explore who we are when we put our best foot forward on the floor, and who we are when we face ourselves in our bedroom or bathroom mirror. It’s with these things in mind that Cat and I embark on a new project entitled Swing, Sister, Swing. On 29 July, through a cabaret-inspired show, we’ll explore what it is to be in partnership, what is it to be alone and how you find self-acceptance. It’s the most ambitious project we’ve ever undertaken and self-producing is wildly scary. We are surrounded by some amazing talent and we are proud to be making a show for all people and curated and choreographed by women. If you’re curious and want to learn more or buy a ticket to the show click here. I think it’s going to be a very special night.