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.

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.

Students dance their way on to Lithuanian TV

Two students from Edge Hill University who are studying in Lithuania on an ERASMUS placement have made their way on to Lithuanian national television.

Third year Dance students, Madeleine Jefferson and Chloe Fryer, are on a year-long placement at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where they hope to expand their horizons and experience studying and dancing in a different culture.

As part of their composition module, Madeleine and Chloe worked with Vytis Jankauskas Dance Theatre and performed in choreographic pieces that celebrated 20 years of creative activity of Vytis, one of the most important Lithuanian choreographers.

“The company were putting on a show to celebrate their 20th anniversary of works,” said Chloe. “They re-worked their piece ‘Budejimai’ which in English translates to ‘vigil’ and we performed the piece at the Arts Printing House in Vilnius.

“As Vytis is respected and loved for his art within Vilnius, we were filmed and appeared on a local news channel to promote and celebrate his success and the show itself,” said Chloe.

As well as featuring students from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the performances also starred theatre dancers and well known professionals from the contemporary dance generation.

Click here to watch the news piece

“I feel the ERASMUS scheme is very important for future employability,” added Chloe. “It’s honestly the hardest thing I’ve done and sometimes I feel I am missing out on opportunities at home, however I know I am gaining knowledge and a wealth of experience that I wouldn’t have access to in the UK.”

Professor Vicky Karkou from Edge Hill’s Performing Arts department said:

“Performances received coverage from the National TV of Lithuania, making Madeleine and Chloe a wonderful example of how successful our students can become abroad.”

ERASMUS+ is a student mobility programme organised by the European Commission, which allows students to study at a University in Europe that has an ERASMUS+ exchange partnership with Edge Hill University during their degree programme. The University  currently partner with over 50 universities across Europe in many different subject areas. Find out more here.

Graduate turns tragedy into therapy through theatre

Rachael Mutch was only eight years old when she felt a strange sense of panic developing among her Liverpool FC-loving family one Saturday afternoon in 1989.The next thing she remembers is her cousin Karen in a neck collar and a policewoman being in the house.

It was only much later that Rachael learned that Karen had survived the horrific crush at Hillsborough Stadium and that her dad and another cousin had also been at the match. In fact, Rachael’s dad is one of the people seen carrying victims off the pitch on makeshift stretchers in the now infamous footage from the day. Now an artist and teacher, Rachael has developed a theatrical performance, 96/27, which looks at the personal impact of the disaster in an effort to tell her family’s story and show how the arts can be used to raise awareness of mental illness.

Rachael, who graduated from Edge Hill with a First Class degree in Visual Theatre in 2016, said:

“Being only eight I wasn’t sure what was happening at the time, but it soon became apparent that Karen had been badly affected by the disaster, not so much physically as mentally. She was only 17 years old when it happened. Over the years she spoke about it to me only when I asked but never in great detail and, because of the lies that the media had spread, she had become marginalised and couldn’t really speak about what had happened freely to anybody else. Karen was clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and I knew I needed to tell her story to give her some sense of relief from it.”

Rachael created a verbatim piece from Karen’s account of her experiences for her dissertation, which developed into 96/27 (96 for the number who died, 27 for the years it took to get justice), the one-woman show she performed recently at On the Verge, an arts festival dedicated to supporting and showcasing provocative new work in unusual places and spaces, across the city of Liverpool.

A moving and visceral piece that was made possible an Arts Council grant, 96/27 was performed in a cramped changing room that only accommodated 20 people, creating an intense and immersive experience. Using a powerful combination spoken word and YouTube videos, the play communicates how the aftermath of a traumatic experience can cause mental health issues and asks the question ‘can storytelling start the healing process for people with PTSD? ’

“Creating the piece filled me with a sense of pride,” said Rachael. “To be able to help Karen by telling her story was all I ever wanted to do. She came to watch every performance and after each one her confidence grew and grew – to see this transformation over such a short period of time was amazing. My dad came to watch too, and for him to see what his niece went through in the pen that day helped him to open up and talk to Karen about the disaster, which they had never done before.”

Rachael’s training for mental health and suicide awareness that she received at Edge Hill drove her to combine the arts with mental health as a vehicle to help others. She said:

“Creating 96/27 made me realise that storytelling can really help to reduce mental stress and it is something I will be continuing with in the future.”

Rachael is currently the Curriculum Lead for the BTEC in Acting at Liverpool Media Academy, and is also a part of Confianca Collaborative Theatre Company, an Edge Hill alumni theatre company, allowing her to continue her passion for performing.

“I’m hoping to do some more performances around the time of the Hillsborough anniversary,” added Rachael. “I am always looking for new places to perform and I’m open to exploring different avenues and ways that I can make sure this important story is told.”