DANCE PROGRAMME’S NEW GENERATION SIGNAL BRIGHT FUTURE

Over 40 performers representing all five year groups took to the stage for this year’s spectacular Dance Show. Aptly named A New Generation to represent the new era for dance at Bradfield, the theme ran throughout the show from the music, which included modern covers of older songs, to the pupils, with several new faces performing alongside existing Dance Company members who were performing new styles of dance for the first time.

Preparations for the show began back in November to ensure the choreography showcased the strength and expertise of our pupils, with each piece tailored to fit the right individual or group performance. Variety and talent were plentiful as our pupils performed 18 separate dance pieces covering multiple genres, from Jazz and Street to Contemporary and Ballet, all smoothly transitioning from one to the next in front of sold out audiences across two nights in the Old Gym. Accompanied by specifically chosen music, each piece was choreographed to take the audience on a journey, portraying different emotions throughout the show and enabling pupils to showcase all their skills.

“What makes Dance at Bradfield so special is the number of different styles and classes that are on offer and I have learnt so much from trying new things”, says Shell pupil Lola (I) who was performing in her second College Dance Show. “My favourite style is ballet because it is quite difficult but extremely rewarding and it also helps with some other styles including contemporary. However, in the show one of my favourite performances was Loose Control, a street number. It was completely different from what I usually do but it was a really upbeat dance and a lot of fun to perform.”

The four-month conceptual and rehearsal process is something that Head of Dance Tara Dungate points to as being key to the show’s success. “The rehearsal period for a show is always trial and error and we definitely came across times when things changed because pupils had improved since the beginning and needed more of a challenge. I like to try out as many different avenues as possible to find the right fit. It also gives the pupils time to let the choreography settle in their bodies, enabling them to perform without having to think about what they are doing and ensuring they perform confidently and at their best.”

Upper Sixth pupil Claudia (M) has enjoyed performing in all five dance shows since joining in Faulkner’s and points to the variety of dance on offer as key to the show’s success while she has also relished being an ambassador for the Dance Company. “I enjoyed the variety of styles in the seven different numbers that I performed in and I was so grateful to perform a solo which I felt represented myself as a dancer. We started advertising dance more and I helped to promote it in all of the boarding houses and we welcomed new pupils from all age groups. We had many more classes put on for us for all abilities so people could learn new dances as Beginners while Advanced dancers were able to train to their best ability.”

One of those newcomers was Faulkner’s pupil Bella (LJ) and after appearing in multiple dances during her first Dance Show appearance she was full of praise for the way the dance programme has opened up social opportunities in her early days at the College. “Being in Faulkner’s I have really enjoyed getting to know so many lovely people through dance and working towards the show each week for most of the last two terms with the other 40 or so performers. I have always enjoyed dance and the variety that is offered at Bradfield is really great for pupils of any age and ability.”

The hard work put in over a number of months by those involved was clear from superb pupil performances and stunning lighting and staging coupled with superb direction and choreography by Tara and the Dance team.

The Dance programme caters to all pupils, from Beginners to Advanced, providing every pupil with the chance to learn new skills or build upon the skills they already have, in a variety of dance styles. The importance of offering a variety of styles helps pupils to build themselves into all-round dancers.

DNA – THE FAULKNER’S PLAY AND SUMMER TERM PLANS

Written in 2008, the play DNA by Dennis Kelly has rightly become regarded as a modern classic, especially among teenage audiences.

Originally written by Kelly for the National Theatre’s Connections scheme, the play tells of a group of teenagers whose bullying of another student goes too far and they are left having to cover up a murder.

The play addresses society’s response to cruelty, bullying, peer pressure and pack mentality. The play asks the audience to consider if these behaviours are societal and learned or are they inherent in us all?

There can be no doubt that these are complex and mature themes for our Faulkner’s pupils to consider, but it was felt by director Leah Rees that very often we underestimate the youngest members of the Bradfield community and she was certain they would rise to the considerable challenge of putting on this difficult play.

For those that saw it across its three performances, there can be no doubt she was right. A cast of twenty pupils were able to hold the audience’s attention from the dramatic opening scene to the surprise ending, building tension and suspense throughout. It would be disingenuous to single out any cast member in particular as the strength of the production lay in its ensemble nature. There were compelling performances from many of the young cast and I am certain we will see many of them playing significant roles in the senior school productions as they progress through the College.

Staged against a striking photographic cyclorama of a mysterious wood and utilising only a few logs, tree stumps and a scattering of dead leaves, the production had an almost claustrophobic feel as the audience felt as trapped as the characters as they wrestled with what they had done. A particularly striking moment occurred when a distorted lullaby was played and the Old Gym became a truly nightmarish place.

Speaking of the production, her last at Bradfield, Leah Rees said, “DNA is a difficult play that asks some difficult questions, but it’s been a real pleasure to work with this cast. They’ve approached rehearsals in a disciplined and mature manner and I look forward to coming back to Bradfield in the coming years to see many of them in future productions. I am proud of all of them and pleased to be leaving the school with such a polished and professional looking production.”

The Faulkner’s production is the second of Bradfield’s three major productions – the first being the Michaelmas production and the third being the Summer production in the Greek Theatre. Following the successes of Yerma and DNA, the plan had been to stage a contemporary production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors this summer, under the direction of our Head of LAMDA, Ben Ashton. However, due to the current pandemic that production will have to wait, but co-curricular drama at Bradfield will continue in the Summer Term. This year, under the direction of our Head of Drama Nic Saunders, Bradfield pupils will be working on smaller, intimate performances for our new remote world.

In 2016, the nation celebrated 400 years of Shakespeare and to mark the occasion, The Guardian newspaper teamed up with some of Britain’s best actors to produce a video series of some of his greatest speeches in a series they called Shakespeare Solos.

We are going to do something similar, but with a community twist. Inspired by the videos of celebrities singing together, or musicians collaborating on pieces of music, Bradfield pupils will follow their lead and produce a video series featuring performances of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches. The finished videos will be montages of pupils delivering a single speech with the aim of uploading a new speech each week to the website and Twitter feed for the entire Bradfield community to enjoy.

FAULKNER’S CONCERT

The future of Music looks to be a bright one as our talented Faulkner’s musicians entertained a packed crowd in the Old Gym back in January.

The Faulkner’s Band set the tone for the evening with their opening rendition of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, which you can watch above. A number of solo performances followed covering a number of musical genres.

Nathan (guitar) and Antonia (flute) performed classical instrumental compositions by 18th century composers Ferdinando Carulli and François-Joseph Gossec respectively while Herbie gave a rendition of the harmonics-heavy composition Portraits of Tracy on bass guitar.

Thalia and Bella lent their vocals to pop numbers Stay, by Rihanna, and Wings, by Birdy, before ten-strong A Cappella Group closed the first half with Cups, a modern take on the 1930s Carter Family song When I’m Gone.

Our Faulkner’s pupils continued to showcase a variety of musical talents in the second half with an accomplished piano and vocal duet by Evie and Kaya providing a rousing opening. Eliza gave a haunting yet powerful performance of Hallelujah and an energetic Purdy made the stage her own during her rendition of Valerie.

Adam performed The Nightingale from Grieg’s classic composition Notturno before Arion played East Coast Mainline, the third movement from James Rae’s Sonatina, on alto sax. The singing quintet featuring, Thea, Drew, Freddie, Lily and Thalia, have become one of the finest singing ensembles in the College and that was clear as they brought the concert to a fine end with an uplifting version of What About Us, originally by Pink.

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