We are all thrilled for 2019 #TaitAwardee Kiandra Howarth for winning this years AUD$30,000 Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award and Foundation #BelCantoAward which was recently announced in Sydney. Kiandra was also awarded the AUD$1000 Audience Choice Prize, and was also placed third in the Elizabeth Connell Prize for Aspiring Dramatic Sopranos, winning $5000.  The Gold Coast-born soprano holds the distinction of being the first finalist to ever participate in both competitions, Kiandra is a former member of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme,

Kiandra secured her Bel Canto Award win with a performance of Dove sono from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta from Puccini’s La Rondine. In the Elizabeth Connell Prize, the soprano sang Das war sehr gut, Mandryka from Strauss’ Arabella and Senza Mamma from Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

Second place in the Bel Canto Award was awarded to New Zealand soprano Eliza Boom who won the AUD$10,000 Richard Bonynge Award, while Australian soprano Michelle Ryan received the AUD$5000 DECCA Award & the Tait Memorial Trust Award for placing third.

Earlier this year Kiandra and fellow Tait Awardee, Krystal Tunnicliffe, piano delighted our Tait Friends singing, “We’ll Gather Lilacs” by Ivor Novello at our annual Friends event at Stoke Lodge, the official residence of the Australian High Commissioner, London. We thank the High Commissioner, His Excellency the Hon George Brandis QC most sincerely for inviting us into his home for such a special occasion.

To learn more about the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation please click here

Tait Awardee to compete in the 2019 BBC Young Dancer competition!

Chloe Keneally has been a Tait Awardee since joining the English National Ballet School in 2016.  She is completing her third year which is flying to a close.  As an exciting development opportunity for Chloe, the English National Ballet School nominated her to compete in the 2019 BBC Young Dancer competition.  This is held every two years and this year will see five talented young South Asian, contemporary, ballet and street dancers dance for a place in the Grand Final in May. Each dancer will perform three pieces, two solos and a duet, which showcase versatility and individuality.  A panel of expert judges will choose a winner.

We look forward to seeing how Chloe progresses.  Look out for her in the final for the ballet category which will be shown on BBC 4 on the 3rd May.  Fingers crossed we get to see her in the Grand Final on the 18th May on BBC 2.  Stay tuned!

Lauren Fagan selected as Australian representative in 2019 Cardiff Singer of the World

We are delighted to confirm that Lauren Fagan is to be the Australian representative in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

To be selected as your nation’s representative is  a great honour, we are thrilled for her

Twenty singers from 15 countries have been chosen for this summer’s competition.
The contestants come from 15 countries – three Russians, two each from South Korea, Ukraine and USA, and others from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, England, Guatemala (for the first time), Mexico, Mongolia, Portugal, South Africa and Wales.

Lauren was supported by the Trust in 2013 & 2014 during her studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Her award was funded by Michael Whalley OAM & Karen Goldie-Morrison.

To learn more about how to support a young artist from Australia or New Zealand please contact James

james@taitmemorialtrust.org

To learn more click here

Glowing reviews for Jessica Cottis conducting ‘The Monstrous Child’

The reviews are in for the world premiere of The Monstrous Child’ by Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon, a new production directed by Timothy Sheader and designed by Paul Wills, at the Linbury Theatre, The Royal Opera House. We are thrilled to see that #TaitAwardee, and Chair of the Tait Music Board, Jessica Cottis has received such glowing reviews for her work. Brava Jessica, we are so proud of you.

Isla Baring OAM, Chairman of the Tait Trust

“I had tickets for the opening night of The Monstrous Child,  and it was sensational!  Jessica Cottis was brilliant the way she handled this modern music, the incredible production, and the singers in this new opera. Bravo to Covent Garden at the newly refurbished  Linbury Theatre. The reviews say it all! We are so proud of Jessica who is really making her way Up!! I am sure.”

Isla Baring OAM with Jessica Cottis

 The Times: 

“…superbly delivered by the Aurora Orchestra under Jessica Cottis’s direction” 

The Telegraph:

“Jessica Cottis conducts the Aurora Orchestra with aplomb.”

Financial Times

“…strikingly brought to life by the Aurora Orchestra conducted by Jessica Cottis” 

The Arts Desk: 

“Jessica Cottis directs members of the Aurora Orchestra with incisive clarity, deploying her forces strategically, always mindful of the singers who must project Simon’s text without the help of surtitles. It’s no small praise to say that you hardly lose a word.”

The Stage: 

“riotously conveyed by the Aurora Orchestra under the baton of Jessica Cottis” 

Classical Music: 

“Cottis creates an ideal balance”

Planet Hugill: 

“In the pit, Jessica Cottis drew a striking sound world from the players of the Aurora Orchestra” 

 

Connor D’Netto youngest ever Composer-In-Residence at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Connor D’Netto set to shine in home state, in a year of major works!

We are thrilled to share this wonderful news about our 2017 -2019 Tait Scholar at the Royal College of Music. 25-year-old Brisbane-born composer – Connor D’Netto, was unveiled last  week as this year’s Composer-in-Residence for the internationally famed Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) – and the youngest in the 29-year history of the event!

Under the leadership of acclaimed pianist and Artistic Director Kathryn Stott, the AFCM this year will feature five world premieres and five Australian premieres from composers around the world, and 40 of the best chamber musicians on the planet – including 15 international artists, five of whom are performing in Australia for the first time, and with D’Netto as the Composer-in-Residence, also at the festival for the first time

Taking over Townsville for 10 days of world-class music-making from Friday 26 July to Sunday 4 August, the AFCM will celebrate music from over 80 composers, 21 of whom are alive today. World premieres by D’Netto and fellow Australian composer Jessica Wells will feature.

AFCM’s 2018 promotional video

While D’Netto is making his AFCM debut, his music isn’t! Last year Australian musicians Claire Edwardes and Karin Schaupp premiered his vibraphone and guitar duet Brief Moments, which received a wonderful audience response.

“Over the moon is an understatement!  It’s such an honour to be taking up this residency, one that has been held by some of Australia’s most celebrated composers whom I admire greatly. It’s such an incredible opportunity to work with so many of the world’s best soloists and chamber musicians, and I’m also really looking forward to working with the students at the Winterschool.”

Currently based in London studying his Master of Music at the Royal College of Music, D’Netto is proudly Brisbane born and bred – having lived at Wishart until his move to the UK capital in 2017.

And he is excited about the year ahead, one which sees world premieres of his works around the globe. Already he has composed a new piece for leading Australian songstress Katie Noonan for her upcoming album with the Australian String Quartet, The Glad Tomorrow, which sets the searing poetry of Australian writer and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal to music (the album was recorded a few weeks ago and will premiere during the Queensland Music Festival in July).

Connor is also co-writing a ballet with fellow musician Matthew Lomax in London called Non-Place. A 50-minute work for dancers, chamber orchestra, electronics and visuals, inspired by French anthropologist Marc Augé’s writings on transience, anonymity and out-sense of individuality in public spaces, it’s a collaboration with London’s Central School of Ballet. To premiere on April 26 at the Britten Theatre, the score will be performed by chamber orchestra Cats Cradle Collective and conducted by António Breitenfeld Sá-Dantas – with both Matthew and Connor performing the electronics and visuals.

As for his musical muses and mentors, D’Netto says it’s a moving feast!

“If you asked me a couple of years ago, I’d have said the likes of John Adams and Steve Reich, a few years before that I’d say Barber, Bartok, Stravinsky, and before that it would have been some musical theatre composers, Jason Robert Brown for example, and film composers like Hans Zimmer. Now? Having fairly recently worked with Bang On A Can, I’m incredibly inspired by the work and works of Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon. Other contemporary composers include Unsuk Chin, Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Kaija Saariaho and Donnacha Dennehy.”

“I also get as much from “popular” music artists as I do “classical composers” – from artists like Troye Sivan, Haim, Local Natives and CHVRCHES, to Sufjan Stevens, Blood Orange and Knower, bands like Palm, Grizzly Bear, Radiohead and Foals, and electronic artists like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Autechre, Floating Points and Rival Consoles. And of course, where would I be without my composition teachers over the years, Stephen Stanfield, Robert Davidson and William Mival.”

ABOUT CONNOR D’NETTO 

Connor D’Netto is a composer of contemporary classical music, described as “the model contemporary Australian composer” by ABC Classics. His music has been commissioned and performed across Australia and the world and in July this year, it will star at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.

In 2017, he was selected for a fellowship with the prolific New York new-music collective Bang On A Can. His music was featured at Bang On A Can’s Summer Music Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (MASS MoCA), having travelled to the USA to take part in a three-week residency with the ensemble.

Two years before that, he was named winner of Chamber Music Australia’s Australian New Works Award, with his winning work, String Quartet No. 2, becoming the set work in the finals of the 7th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition at the Melbourne Recital Centre. He has also been awarded an APRA Art Music Fund Award 2018, the Brisbane City Council’s Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship 2018, a Brisbane Arts and Cultural Innovation Award 2017, the Percy Brier Memorial Composition Prize 2016, and the Donald Tugby Musicology Prize and Scholarship 2015.

He is also the artistic director, producer, and co-founder of the Brisbane-based contemporary classical concert series “Argo and in 2018, was shortlisted as a finalist in the APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards in the “Excellence by an Individual” category for his artistic direction of Argo throughout its 2017 Concert Season.

As a performer, Connor is one half of “We Are Breathing” alongside American cellist Ben Baker. After the pair met in July 2017 when both were artists-in-residence at the MASS MoCA, they sought to collaborate on a project bringing together their various musical backgrounds spanning classical, folk and electronic music, their love of diverse musical styles from minimalism, electronica, alt-rock and jazz, and their drive to create art that breaks down the barriers between genres and audiences.

Connor is a trained classical bass, also a talented photographer, videographer and visual-artist, creating and shooting not only material for his music, but also for a number of other artists and musicians. He has a Bachelor of Music (Honours), graduating with First-Class Honours in 2016 from the University of Queensland. Connor is a Tait Trust Scholar at the Royal College of Music, where he is completing his Masters, with his studies further supported by the Australian Music Foundation Award, the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship, the Tait Performing Arts Association, a Churchie Foundation Scholarship, The Julian Baring Award and by the Big Give Campaign at RCM.

International Artists of the 2019 AFCM
Roberto Carrillo-Garcia (Double Bass++) UK Australian debut
Rachael Clegg (Oboe) UK Australian debut
Alexandra Conunova (Violin) Moldova Australian debut
Amy Dickson (Saxophone) UK Returning Artist
Liza Ferschtman (Violin) Holland Australian debut
Pavel Fischer (Violin) Czech Returning artist
Martin Kuuskmann (Bassoon) Estonia AFCM debut
Yura Lee (Violin) USA AFCM debut
Wu Man (Pipa) China AFCM debut
Johannes Moser (Cello) Canada AFCM debut
Charles Owen (Piano) UK AFCM debut
Kathryn Stott (Piano) UK Artistic Director
Jennifer Stumm USA Australian debut
Ruth Wall (Harp) UK AFCM debut
Australian Artists of the 2019 AFCM
Lotte Betts-Dean (Mezzo-Soprano) AFCM debut (London)
Timothy Constable (Percussion) Returning (Sydney)
Connor D’Netto (Composer-in-Residence) AFCM debut (Brisbane/London)
Aura Go (Piano) AFCM debut (Melbourne)
Ben Jacks (Horn) Returning (Sydney)
Elizabeth Layton (Violin) AFCM debut (Adelaide)
Christopher Moore (Viola) Returning (Melbourne)
Neal Peres de Costa (Harpsichord) Returning (Sydney)
Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello) AFCM debut (Sydney)
Sally Walker (Flute) AFCM debut (Melbourne)
Arcadia Winds (Wind Quintet) AFCM debut (Melbourne)
David Reichelt (Oboe), Kiran Phatak (Flute), Lloyd Van’t Hoff (Clarinet) and Matthew Kneale (Bassoon)
Australian String Quartet AFCM debut (Adelaide)
Dale Barltrop (Violin), Francesca Hiew (Violin), Sharon Grigoryan (Cello) and Stephen King (Viola – has been to AFCM previously)
Ensemble Liaison AFCM debut (Melbourne)
David Griffiths (Clarinet), Svetlana Bogosavljevic (Cello) and Timothy Young (Piano)

Dates and Ticket Details

General public tickets, passes and holiday packages go on sale on Monday 25 February.

AFCM Friends have been able to purchase tickets since 3 December. The AFCM Friends program is new to 2019 – join now at afcm.com.au/friends.

Australian Festival of Chamber Music: 26 July – 4 August 2019 | Townsville, North Queensland

www.afcm.com.au | Facebook | Twitter | #afcm19

AFCM principal partners include; Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Arts Queensland, and Townsville City Council. The multi-award-winning Australian Festival of Chamber Music is recognised as a major event on the Tourism and Events Queensland calendar. The Queensland Government is proud to support the Australian Festival of Chamber Music through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar. Queensland, just the place to experience Australia’s best live events.

 

For more information, artist interviews or imagery etc, please contact Kath Rose for the AFCM on 07 3357 9054 or 0416 291 493 or email kath@kathrose.com

Tait Awardees to star in Opera North production of La Boheme

We are delighted to announce that #TaitAwardees, Lauren Fagan, and Samantha Clarke are to sing major roles in Opera North’s production of La Boheme later this year. Lauren is to sing Mimi, Samantha the role of Musetta.

Lauren Fagan
Lauren was generously supported by a grant from Trust donors, Michael Whalley OAM & Karen Goldie-Morrison for the duration of her advanced operatic studies in 2013 and 2014. This financial support assisted with her fees at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she was a member of the prestigious Opera Course. After graduation Lauren was offered a coveted place in the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House which gave her two years of training as a junior principal.

 

A review of her recent appearances as Alcina with the Handel Festspiele, Karlsruhe, Germany.

“Unusually for Europe, the two main roles were sung by Australians, up-and-coming soprano Lauren Fagan and the more established countertenor, David Hansen. Fagan was a convincing sorceress from the very start, with a strong rich soprano, inducing sympathy in “Ombre pallide” as her shades desert her, spitting venom in the trio “Non è amor” and finally collapsing as all conspire to defeat her. ” Sandra Bowdler, 25 February 2019. Bachtrack.com

Lauren Fagan, Alcina. Handel Festival, Karlsruhe 2019 ©Felix Grünschloß

Lauren’s website

Samantha Clarke
Samantha is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and is supported by a grant from Tait donor, The Thornton Foundation and is currently in her second and final year at the Opera School at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Samantha Clarke in the title role of Handel’s Theodora © RNCM

Samantha is also supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, and was recently awarded the Nora Goodridge Developing Artist Award from the Australian Music Foundation
Samantha is a Baroness de Turckheim Scholar at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

“There was no lack of chemistry between him and Samantha Clarke as a pure-toned and vulnerable Anne Trulove. Her Act 1 aria “Quietly night” (with Ana Docolin’s beguiling bassoon) and florid cabaletta (with a fabulous closing top C) were both wonderful – her traversal from despair to determination utterly convincing.”  , 06 September 2018 | Bachtrack.com

Samantha’s facebook page

Jessica Cottis to conduct ‘Monstrous Child’ at the Royal Opera House

Tonight Australian conductor (and Chair of the Tait Music Board) Jessica Cottis conducts the world premiere of Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon‘s opera The Monstrous Child at the newly re-opened Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House.

Directed by Timothy Sheader, designed by Paul Wills, with singers Marta Fontanals-Simmonds, Daniel Shelvey, Rosie Aldridge, Tom Randle, Lucy Schaufer, Graeme Broadbent, and Elizabeth Karani, and the Aurora Orchestra.

The Monstrous Child is the first opera by Gavin Higgins, a young British composer with a reputation for boldly imaginative music. The text is adapted by bestselling author Francesca Simon from her own darkly humorous novel. Puppetry and the inspiration of the Norse landscape contribute to this theatrical spectacle about one teenager trying to find her place in the world.

To learn more about this production and book tickets click here

Jessica Cottis’ website

Songhaven Concert in 10 DAYS!

The Tait is delighted to support the inspiring work of Songhaven, a dementia friendly concert series founded by a young Australian mezzo-soprano, and former Tait Awardee, Vivien Conacher.

Their next concert is at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge on Saturday 9th February. More below.

Hi all,

A friendly reminder that booking is now open for our next concert on Saturday 9th February at St Paul’s Knightsbridge.

I will be singing alongside my dear friend, the incredibly talented soprano Alice Privett. Alice has performed for companies including Longborough Festival Opera and Garsington Opera and has been a finalist in numerous prestigious competitions including the London Handel Competition and the Kathleen Ferrier Awards. We also have pianist Chad Vindin joining us again. Chad was the winner of the accompanist prize at the Royal Overseas League Competition and he is a real rising star of the piano accompaniment world, performing all over the UK and Europe!

For those who would like to know a bit more about the programme… we will be performing selections from Cosi fan Tutte by Mozart, some Schumann lieder, Puccini, Lehar, Rossini, Gershwin and some familiar favourites we know you will love!

Hope to see you there! Booking information for all our upcoming events is below.

Viv 🙂

Saturday 9th February at 3:00pm
Songhaven at St Paul’s Knightsbridge

32A Wilton Place, SW1X 8SH 
(closest tube station Hyde Park corner – exit 4)

Concert by Alice Privett (soprano), Vivien Conacher (mezzo-soprano), and Chad Vindin (pianist) followed by afternoon tea.

FREE – BOOKING ESSENTIAL
ONLINE: febsonghavenknightsbridge.eventbrite.co.uk
PHONE: 020 7201 9999
EMAIL: knightsbridge@songhaven.co.uk

Saturday 9th March at 3:00pm
Songhaven at St Paul’s Knightsbridge

32A Wilton Place, SW1X 8SH 
(closest tube station Hyde Park corner – exit 4)

Concert featuring Claire Eadington (mezzo-soprano) and Sam Jenkins (tenor), followed by afternoon tea.

FREE – BOOKING ESSENTIAL
ONLINEmarchsonghavenknightsbridge.eventbrite.co.uk
PHONE020 7201 9999
EMAILknightsbridge@songhaven.co.uk

Saturday 30th March at 3:00pm
Songhaven at Lumen

88 Tavistock Place, WC1H 9RS
(closest tube Russell Square or Kings Cross St Pancras, street parking free from 1.30pm on Saturdays in meter spaces or on single yellow lines)

Concert hosted by Vivien Conacher with (performers to be announced), followed by afternoon tea.

FREE – SUGGESTED DONATION £5
BOOKING ESSENTIALONLINEmarchsonghavenlumen.eventbrite.co.uk
EMAIL: songhaven@songhaven.co.uk
VENUE/ACCESSIBILITY QUERIES ph: 020 7833 1080

Source: Songhaven Concert in 10 DAYS!

About Songhaven

Songhaven is a dementia-friendly concert series launched at the start of 2017. Founder Vivien Conacher, a mezzo-soprano opera singer, realised that there was a need in the London concert scene for inclusive and relaxed events that also feature professional, high calibre performances.

Songhaven concerts are a safe space where people living with dementia, their companions, carers, and family members can enjoy quality music making in an atmosphere of kindness, understanding and joy. At our concerts, we actively strive to make our audience members feel comfortable and free to be themselves. We warmly welcome singing and moving along to the music, without shame or shushing.

Songhaven concerts are a manageable 45 minutes in length, finishing with an audience singalong to a well-loved song. We then provide afternoon tea so that people can socialise with each-other, and the professional performers, and also make song requests for future concerts.

Songhaven is currently based at two venues in London, each hosting the series on a monthly basis on a Saturday afternoon. We have gained a large and devoted following at both locations, and a very real sense of community has formed due to the regularity of the events. Audience members come back time and time again, which means they get to know one another, and develop new connections based on a mutual love of music.

Songhaven aims to address the stigma and social isolation experienced by older people, people living with dementia, and carers. By catering to the specific needs of this group, we are able to create a positive space where people feel valued, connected to their communities, and respected. Great music & kindness are the magic ingredients, ensuring that everyone leaves a Songhaven event with a smile on their face.

SONGHAVEN AUDIENCE FEEDBACK
“one of the most lovely events I think I have ever been to”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a concert so much”

“you’ve brought some real joy and fun into our lives”
from a carer… “[her] condition has improved, in the sense that not only she recalls…but also she actually asks me when the next concert is taking place. We go over the songs, we sing together and she feels so happy that she has become part of Songhaven”

“a beautiful and entertaining afternoon”

“I loved every minute of it.”

“Fabulous quality… vivacious… such beautiful voices”

“impeccable standard of performance in an atmosphere of relaxed generosity, inclusivity and love.”

“My partner responds to music with his whole body and soul, so it’s wonderful to be in a space where his responses are welcomed and understood as appreciation and expressions of joy.”

[the event] “leaves us buzzing, feeling part of a community, and not isolated with the exhausting complexity of the impact of Alzheimer’s on us as individuals and as a family”

“What I like so much is the chance to hear superb musicians. What treat to hear excerpts from opera!”

“It was all very welcoming, everything explained in the introductions. Lots of favourites”

“Brilliant – so friendly and the beauty of the voices and the selection.”

“I loved the operatic bits. I don’t get to go [to the opera] as much as I’d like to, so this was perfect for me.”

“Beautiful and very professional”

“Beautiful and very inclusive, especially when they got everyone singing.”

“Singing is wonderful- even when the short-term memories are gone, you can still remember words from 40 years ago!”

“People come alive here… it’s a privilege”

“It made me smile and cry, very emotional… a wonderful atmosphere.”

“The way they performed was superb.”

Venue Partners:
Lumen URC (Bloomsbury), St Paul’s Knightsbridge (Westminster)

To find out more:
Visit our website songhaven.co.uk (to see photographs, filmed footage, upcoming concert dates, and to sign up to our concert announcements)

Contact Vivien: songhaven@songhaven.co.uk or 07576 318 456

Follow Songhaven on social media:

Facebook: facebook.com/SonghavenUK

Twitter: @songhaven_uk

Instagram: @songhaven_uk

 

Community Interest Company Number: 11317064
Basement unit 3, 31-35 Great Ormond St, WC1N 3HZ, London, UK

If you have any questions about the concert or the Songhaven series, feel free to email songhaven@songhaven.co.uk or visit our website songhaven.co.uk

 

Andrey Lebedev, Classical Guitar | August 2018 Newsletter

Andrey Lebedev (2016-2017 Awardee) has enjoyed a busy few months with several exciting projects and awards to announce.

Andrey Lebedev

Highlights have been:

  • Awarded the inaugural New Elizabethan Award in duo with singer Lotte Betts-Dean. The prize includes a recital at Wigmore Hall on 9th February 2019.
  • Placing 3rd at the Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition.
  • Realising Death Speaks, an innovative and ambitious concert project with singer Lotte Betts-Dean and the City Music Foundation.

If you’re interested in further information or would like to say hi, feel free to drop Andrey an email.

Cheers, Andrey.

To read Andrey’s newsletter click here

Tait Awardees, Rebecca Blenkinsop and Breanna Foad join English National Ballet

Below is an article recently published in Ballet News about Tait Awardee, Rebecca Blenkinsop. Rebecca has been supported by an award from the Tait funded by Australian Impressario, John Frost AM. We are delighted to see she has had such great success.

Good news come in twos as another Leanne Benjamin Awards recipient, Breanna Foad has also been offered a contract from the English National Ballet.

Breanna was born and lived on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia until the age of 14. She was then accepted into The Australian Ballet School, Melbourne Australia for full time ballet studies. In January 2016 Breanna auditioned for the chance to be accepted into the English National Ballet School in London and was one of only three Australians to be selected and offered a place. She then left The Australian Ballet School and started in September 2016 into 2nd year of a three-year full time course in London.

We are thrilled for them both!

From Student To Star | Rebecca Blenkinsop | The Royal Ballet School

Rebecca Blenkinsop

Rebecca Blenkinsop

From Student to Star is an interview series featuring graduates from vocational ballet schools as they begin their professional careers. The questions have been updated to reflect reader feedback; I hope you find them helpful.

Rebecca Blenkinsop, The Royal Ballet School, 2017, Credit: Johan Persson

Rebecca Blenkinsop, The Royal Ballet School, 2017, Credit: Johan Persson

You’ve been studying at The Royal Ballet School. When did you join the School and what made you decide to train there?

I joined the school in September 2015 and I decided to go there due to its renowned classical ballet training and it had been a dream of mine.

Prior to joining RBS, where did you train, and how early did you start ballet ?
Before I joined RBS I trained at The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School at the age of 11.
What do you think are the important things to focus on during training if you hope for a vocational career as a ballet dancer?

I personally believe during training that it is so important to focus on yourself and your own personal journey without comparing yourself to others, everyone progresses at different rates. Listen to your body and be aware of aspects of your training which you need to improve and focus on that. Also take advantage of any performance experiences that you get and cherish these moments as a chance to develop yourself as an artist. And finally never forget why you do what you do, find constant inspiration in other dancers around you and professionals that inspire you.

Have you entered any competitions during your training and if so, which ones, and what would you say about your experiences ?

In 2015 I participated in the Prix de Lausanne from which I was fortunate enough to receive a place at The Royal Ballet School. I have to say this was one of the best experiences of my life. I particularly liked the process of the competition as it gives all of the dancers an opportunity to be seen in classes throughout the week as well as onstage in a performance setting. I was lucky enough to make it through to the finals which was an incredible experience, although I must say I found dancing on the raked stage incredibly challenging as I was not used to working in these conditions; however I still really enjoyed the performance. I highly recommend this competition as it is a platform for students to be chosen by the best schools in the world.

Rebecca Blenkinsop and Harris Bell dancing Robert Binet’s Self & Soul. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Rebecca Blenkinsop and Harris Bell dancing Robert Binet’s Self & Soul. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

You’ve accepted a contract with English National Ballet. Congratulations ! What was the process you went through to be awarded the contract and and when do you start work?

Thank you, I was fortunate enough to be seen by Tamara Rojo during ballet class at my school where she offered me a contract. I begin working at the beginning of August this year.

What do you know about English National Ballet & have you spent any time with them yet ?

I have seen the company perform multiple times in London and was amazed by the technical standard and performance of the dancers. I also love the company’s classical repertoire combined with many modern contemporary works. I have not yet spent any time with the company but look forward to starting the season.

What are you looking forward to about joining the company?

This season I am very excited to learn and perform in Manon, Swan Lake, Cinderella and Akram Khan’s Giselle. I am also looking forward to the international tours to Chicago and Russia. I love to travel and can’t wait to see many new places with the company.

How do you think company life will differ from your student days?

Obviously no more uniform which I am very excited about. In a company you have to draw from skills that you have learnt as a student to maintain and improve your technique as you do not receive feedback and corrections as often as in school. Also I am going to have to prepare myself for finishing late at night after shows, and performing constantly, which is very exciting.

What do you think you will bring to the company?

I hope to bring my enthusiasm and passion for dance to the company and wider audiences through my  performance.

How are you preparing yourself for your first professional contract?

Sewing lots of pointe shoes! But on a serious note as I have three weeks before I begin, I am going to the gym to complete a fitness program created by the sports scientists at RBS focusing on cardio, leg strength and abdominal work to maintain my fitness levels over the holiday period. I plan on doing holiday classes as well before the season commences.

What are you your best achievements as a student?

My best achievements as a student include being a finalist of the Prix de Lausanne, dancing Robert Binet’s Self and Soul on the Royal Opera House stage for the RBS end of year show and of course being offered a contract for English National Ballet.

Why ballet?

I love the technical challenges of classical ballet and the physicality of the art form. For me there is honestly nothing more rewarding than performing a piece on stage that you have worked so hard to achieve. I love the feeling of taking the curtain call and feeling proud of how I danced. I was also attracted by the beauty of the art form and how such complex movement can appear so graceful on stage.

Do you have a dream role and/or dance partner and if so what/who are they?

I have a few dream roles/works I would love to dance including Manon, Juliet, Aurora, After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon and Petite Mort by Jiri Kylian.

What would you say to students entering their graduate year ?

Work hard, stay focused and enjoy every opportunity you are given. In terms of auditioning for companies I would say to be confident in your abilities, make an effort to stand out and focus on yourself and not the other dancers in the room, and always remember you never know what directors are looking for so never give up on what you want to achieve.

Where would you like to be this time next year and how will you measure your progress over the year?

I would like to continually improve my technique, become a stronger dancer and to have enjoyed my first season as a professional dancer.

Rebecca Blenkinsop

Rebecca Blenkinsop