Edge Hill dancers feature in video for Liverpool band The Coral

A group of Performing Arts students from Edge Hill University were recently given the opportunity to perform in a music video for Merseyside indie group, The Coral.

Following a collaboration with Stealing Sheep at Liverpool’s Sound City, Director James Slater needed dancers for The Coral’s Sweet Release video and approached the dance companies at Edge Hill.

All Dance students were invited to audition for the project and 15 were selected to be part of the music video, which was filmed over one day at The Invisible Wind Factory in Liverpool.

James, along with Debbie Milner, Senior Lecturer in Dance who choreographed the video, looked for students with the ability to perform material accurately and a flair for improvisation and character.

“The inspiration for the video was old 70’s Top of the Pops/ The Old Grey Whistle Test, and it was shot on a vintage camera,” said Debbie. “The Coral are known for their slightly bizarre videos, and the video for Sweet Release is no different!

“It was an amazing opportunity where the dancers got to work to a professional brief in a professional environment.”

Watch the full video here:

Find out more about Edge Hill’s Performing Arts Department here.

Liverpool Sound City 2018: The Review pt1

“Liverpool is the centre of the music world,” contends Sociology with Politics student Amos Wynn, who covered the festival for Edge Hill. “The city has produced bands like The Beatles, The La’s and The Wombats, and continues to see new artists coming through.” Here’s his round-up of Sound City, Liverpool’s annual musical beanfeast.   Liverpool Sound City is a great opportunity to see the future of the city’s music scene in action, as well as many more great acts from across the world. Headlining the event are the likes of DMA’s, Peace and The Night Cafe. Friday was the Sound City+ conference, taking place at Liverpool’s historic Cunard building. This event offered various opportunities to gain an insight into the music industry. It certainly set the tone for the following days of music and offered advice to anyone wanting to appear there in years to come, with plenty of stalls dotted around the room where people could talk to industry experts. One person I spoke to was from a musicians’ charity, Help Musicians UK. Their role is to help any upcoming or retired artists who rely on music for their income. They could be integral for anyone looking to forge a full-time career in music.
The day also had a range of guest speakers, talking about personal experiences and giving excellent advice. One speaker, who works for a music label, spoke about what labels (Sub Pop) are looking for in emerging artists. The first thing is, of course, the music itself. He also believes they are after songs that are ‘personable,’ which can have different meanings. A must-see for me was Alan McGee [above, in conversation with journalist and singer/bassist in The Membranes, John Robb], founder of Creation Records and the man responsible for discovering Oasis. He spoke of his own time in bands and how Creation came about. Listening to someone with as many stories as him was a great insight into life working at a record label. He said he “never realised [Oasis] were such a great band.” For me the aim was to gain some advice on entering the music scene from a journalistic perspective. The different people I spoke to all gave the same advice: to write as much as possible practice technique, with plenty of blogs and websites looking for writers. Another set of advice was to read as much as possible. As well as reading stuff in my own genre, it’s important to read a range of literature. That would develop my writing skills and show different ways of writing. It’s also important to impose ideas and have clear, concise opinions. The Sound City conference was an interesting and excellent event to attend.
The festival itself was superb. With the sun shining down on the Baltic Triangle, the scene was set for an excellent weekend of music. Walking round you wouldn’t think it was the kind of place to host a music festival, but the choice of venue was an inspired choice. On Saturday night DMA’S headlined Camp and Furnace. The three-piece put on a wonderful performance with their Britpop-sounding songs; not bad for a band from Australia. Also, on Saturday Liverpool band SPINN impressed at District.
“We are SPINN, and you’ve been spunn,” were the words of band frontman Jonny Quinn, upon leaving the stage.  
He wasn’t wrong. With catchy indie songs, constant changes of sunglasses, and chucking water into the crowd, it made for an entertaining 20 minutes. It was same again on Sunday, with the sun shining once again. The two stand out acts that day both came from Liverpool.
Paris Youth Foundation (above) and Night Cafe (below) were exceptional. Both mustered up a great atmosphere with Camp and Furnace bouncing.
Sound City was a truly wonderful event, and I’m already looking forward to next year. My top ten acts: 1.      The Night Café (Camp and Furnace) 2.      DMA’S (Camp and Furnace) 3.      Paris Youth Foundation (Camp and Furnace) 4.      Picture This (Hangar 34) 5.      SPINN (District) 6.      Peace (Camp and Furnace) 7.      Neon Waltz (Camp and Furnace, lead pic)) 8.      No Hot Ashes (District) 9.      Little Thief (Brick Street) 10.    Novustory (Brick Street)

Students join Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep for empowering festival performance

Stealing Sheep (credit: Tandem PR)









Electro-pop trio Stealing Sheep will present their Suffragette Tribute at Liverpool’s Sound City festival this weekend.

The all-female performance piece is commissioned by Edge Hill University as part of its Wonder Women campaign which celebrates the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, and will feature 11 of the University’s BA (Hons) Dance students as well as 15 percussionists alongside the band themselves.

The performance will take place at Camp and Furnace on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May at 8pm, and will then tour a further five UK festivals, including Latitude, Museum of London Food Festival, End of The Road, Festival Number 6 and Head for the Hills.

Co-commissioned by Edge Hill University and Manchester based creative music charity Brighter Sound, the tribute performance will bring together female musicians from the Liverpool area with design, audio-visual and production students to create a marching band and procession featuring brand new music from Stealing Sheep.

Stealing Sheep said: “We want to work with women from different ages, backgrounds and a mix of musical influences and styles, with a shared vision for celebrating women and suffrage. This incredible anniversary has inspired us to create a new piece of music that will come alive during this residency. We want to make a bold statement, bring women together and get loud!”

The performance will be the culmination of a five-day artistic residency led by the band themselves at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory. The residency is part of Both Sides Now, an initiative led by Brighter Sound to support, inspire and showcase female artists based in the Merseyside region.

Edge Hill’s presence at the festival will also include performances from dance groups 3rd Edge and EdgeFWD. Bands from the University’s ground breaking record label including Aztex, Ceemax, Oranj Son, Fox Trap and Vain Male will take over the 24 Kitchen Street venue on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May.

Edge Hill University is Sound City’s Innovation Partner and has an ongoing partnership that provides career-enhancing connections to students. Edge Hill is committed to producing industry-ready graduates with real-world experience of working in the creative sector, which is essential in the UK’s competitive job market.

Cathy Butterworth, Arts Manager at Edge Hill said: “It’s very exciting to be working with the

Cathy Butterworth

amazing Stealing Sheep and empowering to have so many women in one ground-breaking performance.

“Our contribution to Sound City this year really establishes us as Innovation Partner and pushes the boundaries of what we think of as arts programming, how we perceive festivals and what happens at them. This work is important to Edge Hill as arts and culture is so central to the University’s student experience.”

Edge Hill students dance their way to New York

Students in Edge Hill University’s resident dance company 3rd Edge travelled to New York last month to perform at the US launch of the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing.

The event was hosted at New York University by the Drama Therapy Programme, Dr Nisha Sajnani and Professor Vicky Karkou. Students Emma Allen, Amelia Shallish, Ruby Rose Tate, Georgina Fowler, Lauren Green, Gabriella Orr, Maria Mortimer, Sophia Thomas and Scarlett Primrose, closed the event with a performance of So Love…, choreographed by renowned dance artist, Mathieu Geffré.

Co-editor of the book, Professor Vicky Karkou, Chair of Dance, Art and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University said:

“Our students gained not only an experience of performing in a different venue such as New York University, but an international experience of performing in one of the most exciting cities in the world in terms of contemporary dance.  They had opportunities to meet students and professionals from the dance and related fields, to try out dance classes at well-known dance studios, to wander around the city and get exposed to different cultures, offering them opportunities to try and taste an international career beyond the boundaries of the UK and substantially advancing their employment opportunities. They impressed our hosts and the audience of the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing launch.”

Watch the video of the trip, edited by Amelia Shallish:

Directed by Debbie Milner, Senior Lecturer in Dance at Edge Hill University, So Love… is the portrait of a generation looking at tomorrow’s adventures. Negotiating in between expectations and authenticity, this piece gathers a cast of young women building the path towards their empowered future.

The performance was met with phenomenal feedback. 3rd Edge dancer, Amelia Shallish said:

“Many people found the piece extremely moving and really commended us on how well we performed as a team. Diane Amans, who we were all familiar with, having quoted from her books numerous times within our essays, told us that our performance was the best thing she had seen in a long time.”

The trip was paid for by the Student Opportunity Fund (SOF), which enables students to take advantage of career enhancing and life changing opportunities. The fund also allowed the students to partake in one-off classes during their visit and to soak up the culture that New York City has to offer.

Speaking about her experience on the trip 3rd Edge dancer Maria Mortimer said:

“Attending and performing at the launch was not only a rare and greatly valuable experience, it also gave us the opportunity to talk to industry professionals and those who had been published in the book. Not only was it a meaningful event and beneficial to our studies, but it gave us the chance to perform in front of academics, allowed us to make international links, experience America and represent the University.”

The fund ensures that costs are not a barrier to students making the most of their experience at Edge Hill. It allows undergraduate students to apply for up to £2,000 which can help towards the cost of activities designed to prepare them for the future and enhance their employability skills.

3rd Edge dancer Emma Allen said:

“I enjoyed everything about the trip, it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Student Opportunity Fund completely made this possible for us. To be able to network and discuss arts related topics with people at the event, some of which I know as authors and practitioners, was amazing.”

Students perform in anniversary production of Broadway musical

A group of Performing Arts students from Edge Hill University have recently performed in a critically acclaimed production of West Side Story at Buxton Opera House.

The students took part in the musical, which marked both the 60th anniversary of its Broadway opening and the centennial of its composer Leonard Berstien, thanks to the University’s Student Opportunity Fund.

Paul Kerryson, chief executive of Buxton Opera House, felt West Side Story would be the perfect show to celebrate both milestones and to give aspiring young performers in the High Peak an opportunity to shine.

He said:

“We have taken people who may never have been on the stage and turned them into performers, and that is something I am really proud of and I hope they are too.”

Open auditions for the production were held in October, and joining the 50 strong cast were second year Musical Theatre students; Luke Fraser, Sean Roberts, George Coubrough and Naomi Athay.

Reflecting on her experience Naomi said:

West Side Story was fantastic, I met some wonderful and very talented people, some which I have kept in contact with. The production as a whole was amazing, to work with such a talented team was incredible. I would love to work with them all again.”

Debbie Norris, Senior Lecturer in Dance at Edge Hill University, choreographed the musical. She said:

“The students gave some outstanding performances and brought enthusiasm and passion to the stage, as we have come to expect from our students in the Performing Arts Department. The director Paul Kerryson noted their dedication to traveling the 100 mile round trip to Buxton for rehearsals each week. The support from the university and the Student Opportunity Fund made this experience financially possible.

“For Edge Hill students and myself, being part of this critically acclaimed production was a real privilege and a wonderful way to celebrate Bernstein’s phenomenal influence on Musical Theatre.”

Reviewing for Manchester Salon, John Waterhouse noted:

“The level of professionalism and polish could hardly be bettered by any West End production, with the energy and enthusiasm of the cast never wavering from start to finish”.

This experience was made possible by the student opportunity fund, which allowed the students to travel from the University to Buxton for auditions and paid for their accommodation for the week whilst the show was on.

The Student Opportunity Fund is an exciting initiative that enables you to apply for financial support and take part in activities which enhance your employability and develop your transferable skills.

If you are an undergraduate or PGCE student at Edge Hill University, you can apply for up to £2,000 to support a career-enhancing project, initiative or opportunity that will enrich your student experience and enable you to stand out in a competitive environment.

Recital from acclaimed musicians will accompany Professor’s public lecture

vista da sotto il pontile

Acclaimed composer, conductor and broadcaster Professor Stephen Pratt will give his inaugural public lecture at Edge Hill University on Thursday 15 March.

Taking place in the University’s historic Hale Hall, Stephen will discuss his compositional techniques, focussing on his most recent piece, Symphonies of Time and Tide for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO).

Stephen’s talk will be followed by a cello and piano recital from international soloist and RLPO Principal Cello Jonathan Aasgaard and pianist and director of Pixels Ensemble Ian Buckle.

The recital will set works by Professor Stephen Pratt within a varied programme of music for cello and piano, including the Sonata by Debussy.

Professor Stephen Pratt’s longstanding association with the RLPO and its musicians has seen him premier over a dozen works for the full orchestra and its ensembles. Stephen has written for The Guardian and Classical Music magazine and has presented shows on BBC Radio 3 and 4.

Stephen Pratt holds Emeritus Professorships in Music from Gresham College, London, and Liverpool Hope University. He became Professor of Music at Edge Hill University in the spring of 2016.

This event will take place at Hale Hall in Edge Hill University’s Main Building on Thursday 15 March from 5.30pm. It is free to attend but places should be booked in advance, click here for more information and to book.

Stephen teaches on programmes in Edge Hill’s Performing Arts department.

Dance alumni return to University stage with professional companies

Company Chameleon

This March, two of Edge Hill’s alumni will return to the University’s Arts Centre with professional dance companies Mapdance and Company Chameleon.

Mapdance (2nd March) offers an enticingly varied set of exciting commissions of new works by renowned and upcoming international contemporary choreographers. This year’s artists include Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor (Israel), Laila Diallo (UK), Laura Aris Alvarez (Belgium/Spain) and Helen Parlor (UK). Mapdance’s diverse repertoire offers audiences a refreshing mixture of gritty dance-theatre, wry humour, and intricate and questioning choreography. The nine dynamic young dancers include 2016 Edge Hill Dance graduate, Rachel Hancock. The evening will also include a curtain raiser by Edge Hill University’s male & female dance companies: EdgeFWD and 3rdEDGE.

Performing ‘a triple bill of its time’, Manchester dance company Company Chameleon, celebrate 10 years with their UK tour anniversary production 10 (15th March). Through powerful and original dance and movement, the Manchester-based international touring company, will tell three stories of masculinity, love and self-deception in a brand new triple bill.

Both retrospective and up-to-the-minute, 10 features Rites, the male duet that launched Company Chameleon onto the dance scene a decade ago, alongside two new works by the Company’s Co-founders: Imprint by Kevin Edward Turner and Trip by Anthony Missen. A full-time dancer with Company Chameleon since 2015, Edge Hill Dance Graduate Theo Fapohunda will feature in the performance. The evening will also include a curtain raiser by Edge Hill University’s male dance company: EdgeFWD.

For more information and to book tickets click here for Mapdance and here for Company Chameleon

Day of performance and debate will launch major Arts and Wellbeing textbook

Arts Council England Chief Darren Henley will speak at a launch event for The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing taking place at Edge Hill University on Friday 23 February.

This major work is being launched with an array of performances, workshops and presentations exploring many perspectives on the relationship between arts and wellbeing. Colleagues from the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, US and Argentina will present their contributions, discuss their perspectives and encourage participants to engage with the topic through performances and workshops.

In recent years, a growth in dance and wellbeing scholarship has resulted in new ways of thinking that place the body, movement, and dance in a central place with renewed significance for wellbeing.

The new Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing, a large text book of 1000 pages with over 90 contributors from around the world, examines dance and related movement practices from the perspectives of neuroscience and health, community and education, and psychology and sociology.

Professor Vicky Karkou, Chair of Arts, Dance and Wellbeing at Edge Hill, is one of the book’s editors. She said: “I have spent over 25 years studying the area of arts psychotherapies and related fields, with focus on dance for wellbeing and movement psychotherapy, so it’s extremely exciting to have been so involved in this new book and to have it launched at Edge Hill. Arts for Wellbeing is a key research theme for the University on which we are continuing to build.”

Professor Karkou and fellow Edge Hill academics Dr Mark Edward and June Gersten Roberts, who also contributed chapters to the book, will be among those presenting their work on the day.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “Engaging in arts and culture can transform everyone’s life – young and old – and have a positive effect on both individuals and communities. From easing loneliness to enabling people to learn new skills to helping those with dementia or mental health issues, taking part in activities such as art or dance classes or visiting a museum can give a great sense of wellbeing. We’re passionate about ensuring that everyone has access to opportunities to enjoy arts and culture and I’m delighted to support the launch of The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing.”

Anyone is welcome to attend this all-day event, book online and view further details here

The full programme for the event is here

Students take a step towards their creative futures

At a Creative Futures event within their department, Performing Arts students were given the opportunity to network with industry professionals and receive advice from successful Edge Hill graduates.

Students across the whole department had the chance to enhance their employability skills and find out exactly what employers in the world of performing arts are looking for in a prospective employee.

Five members of Performing Arts’ Employer Advisory Panel (EAP) gave advice to students and discussed their own career experiences, and talked about the skills and attributes they look for in a potential employee. Students were then given the opportunity to network and ask questions.

Students were also able to listen to a panel of Edge Hill Performing Arts graduates who talked about what they have been doing since they graduated and the career paths they have taken.

Following this, the former students held individual workshops which geared towards practical demonstration of their current or recent work. Phil McGuinness gave advice about self-promotion and marketing as an actor, Lauren Sanders and Mitchell Rowland talked about their work in the popular entertainments/summer-camp industry, and Alex Parsons and Isobel Davis gave workshops about community dance practices and freelancing as a dance artist.

James Hewison, Senior Lecturer in Dance, said:

“The Creative Futures Alumni Workshops give current students a genuine taste of professional contexts and working practices from recent EHU graduates who have succeeded in their chosen careers.  It’s also a perfect networking opportunity that allows participants to get really useful tips and advice first-hand. The fact that these are recent graduates is key, as our students can more easily bridge the ‘gap’ between themselves and the workshop leaders, and project themselves into future working practices.”

“This event introduces real world networking opportunities with arts employers and offers valuable advice to students who wish to work in the creative industries sector,” added Karen Jaundrill Scott, Director of Employability and Senior Lecturer in Dance.

Isobel Davis graduated from Edge Hill in 2015 with a BA (Hons) Dance.  She is now a Dance Development and Learning Co-ordinator at Déda, teaching and supporting a range of classes, including aerial, and encouraging other young people to get involved in dance and the arts.

The workshop she delivered to students consisted of practical exploration looking at all aspects of her current role including funding and evaluation.

“I feel sharing is a great tool when developing as a Dance artist so naturally I wanted to share my stories, advise and hopefully offer students the encouragement continue to pursue their ambitions of working in the Arts,” said Isobel. “I am a great believer in sharing best practice so I was delighted to pass on some of my experience to the students at Edge Hill University.”

Edge Hill graduate features in popular music video

A former Edge Hill student has recently featured in popular music video by the band Feeder.

Through networking with colleagues in the industry, Philip McGuinness, who graduated in 2012 with a BA (Hons) in Drama, stars in recent music video Figure You Out for the popular band Feeder. The video has gained increasing popularity with over 51,000 views and over 1000 likes.

Philip plays the lead role of a solider returning from conflict in the video. It shows him with the band and a growing crowd of people walking home where he is reunited with his loved one.

Philip McGuinness recently returned to campus to advise and inspire current students

“I worked with a fantastic guy called Wes on a previous production,” said Philip. “We kept in touch and a friend of his was looking for an actor to play a soldier in a new music video. I was recommended to the director and got the job.”

“I have done a lot of theatre however I really enjoy filming. I am always intrigued by the process of film making so getting to see the director and his team work was fantastic. I really enjoyed working with the band who were incredibly humble and very generous with their fans. I also enjoyed the responsibility that came with playing the lead role. We were on set from 7.30am until 5pm, and believe it or not we had everything from snow, sleet, rain, wind and sunshine so I saw it as my responsibility to keep everybody entertained during takes and we all had good fun in the snow -even if we couldn’t feel our fingers.”

“I still love being part of Edge Hill, it’s such a big part of who I am,” added Philip.

Philip has appeared in a number of TV commercials and theatre productions, and we will continue to see Philip on our screens in the exciting new short film ‘Being Keegan’, playing the role of ‘SPUD’, which is due to go to film festivals across the globe as well as featuring online.