Posts Tagged ‘Queensland Conservatorium

13
Mar
18

Converge

Converge

Expressions Dance Company

With Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University

Conservatorium Theatre, South Bank

March 10 – 17 2018

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

 

Programs such as Converge are essential—a choreographer not only has to have talent, they need to practise their art; it is through these experiences that they can learn their craft and develop distinct choreographic voices for now and into the future.

Natalie Weir

Artistic Director, Expressions Dance Company

 

In its Converge program, Expressions Dance Company gives four choreographers a chance to create new works, as well as to collaborate with emerging composers and an ensemble of 16 musicians performing live on stage. This is the Queensland Conservatorium’s first such opportunity to work with a contemporary dance company, and a rewarding experience for performers and audience alike.

 

The first piece on the program is by Melbourne-based Stephanie Lake, who is now an established choreographer with her own company. Her high-energy Ceremony, originally conceived as an abstract expression of the music (by György Ligeti, Chinary Ung, Javier Alvarez and Steve Reich), evokes the intricacies of fast-moving machinery, its pace and varying rhythms sweeping the audience along with it.

 

 

Ceremony is an exhilarating experience, particularly the sequence for the dancers alone, using body percussion and breath, followed by the hypnotic energy of Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. Together, the six dancers and the musicians create complex rhythms, intertwining movement and patterns of coalescing and unfolding with magnetic precision and energy. The green and white costumes designed by company member Alana Sargent — tunics, shorts, kilts and Tshirts or singlets — have a sporty style that suits the energetic movement.

 

Of the four works in Converge, Lake’s is the most polished and tightly connected to the music.

 

Second and third on the program are works by two of Expressions’ own dancers: Richard Causer and Jake McLarnon. Causer worked with composers Isabella Gerometta, Padraig Parkhurst and Michal Rosiak, and McLarnon with Tanya Jones and Jarvis Miller.

 

 

Causer’s Imposters is about layers of identity, and how we show different layers in different circumstances. Sargent’s costume design contributes to the visually intriguing expression of this idea: pale orange lampshade-shaped skirts with a reinforced hoop in the hemline can be inverted to conceal the dancers’ upper body and heads.

 

A pile of lemons was another symbol of layered identity, the lemon’s enticing colour and smell concealing its sourness and bitterness. The dancers bite into the fruit and spit out chunks onto the floor. (Was this inspired by Will Holt’s 1960s song Lemon Tree with its refrain Lemon tree very pretty …?)

 

 

Elise May is a powerful figure in this work, crouching amongst the lemons, shielding her face, and showing a fear of the other five cast members, which is reciprocated. At times, the dancers appeared to be performing a surreal ritual, twirling like dervishes in their long skirts.

 

Jake McLarnon’s Isochronism is a promising choreographic debut. This duo expresses the theme of performing movements at the same time, or, like a pendulum, performing the same movement within the same time irrespective of how big the movement is – like dancers of different sizes when dancing in time to music. McLarnon also refers to the work of artist Jasper Hills as an inspiration for his piece.

 

 

The movement is athletic and close knit, and on first night was danced by Scott Ewen and McLarnon with a masculine power and energy. It would be interesting to see how the duo differs when danced by a male and a female dancer, as originally cast.

 

Xu Yiming’s Aftermath completes the program, his involvement in Converge being part of EDC’s Chinese Australian Dance Exchange Project. Aftermath brings a complete change of mood and style, although it has a surreal quality in common with Causer’s earlier piece.

 

It shows four people struggling with what life throws at them — a perplexing mix of demands and responses, introduced by the dancers laughing wildly, yelling orders and responding with actions. In keeping with these random challenges and the sometimes clumsy way we meet them, the movement is often hunched and awkward or grotesque, interspersed with moments of fluidity.

 

In contrast, the music (Georgi Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann) is serene and meditative, with its plangent chords and echoes of religious ritual. The feeling is of an underlying harmony behind all the struggle, which is worth it in the end.

 

As always, the Expressions’ dancers give a powerful performance. The dancers are a strong ensemble, with Elise May’s dramatic force, Alana Sargent’s razor-sharp energy, and Jake McLarnon’s expansive strength particularly standing out.

 

With the musicians upstage centre, and the rest of the stage bare, the lighting by Ben Hughes is crucial in creating the different moods and environments for the four pieces.  The musicians are softly lit, but still clearly visible, enabling the audience to experience both the way they convert movement into sound, and the way the dancers respond to the sound with movement. Feeling this interaction adds another dimension to the performance.

 

 

Converge is a program of great variety, with many intriguing and exhilarating moments.

 

 

 

 

Converge Masterclass with Jake McLarnon –

 

Saturday 17 March, 2pm-3:30pm at Expressions Dance Company Studio, Fortitude Valley

 

An insightful 90-minute workshop with Expressions Dance Company (EDC) ensemble member and choreographer, Jake McLarnon. The workshop will explore the creative process behind Jake’s new contemporary dance work for Converge, EDC’s thrilling first season for 2018.

Foundational contemporary dance training required.

Tickets are $30
A $10 discount is available to the masterclass for patrons who have purchased tickets to the performance.

BUY MASTERCLASS TICKETS

 

25
Jun
15

QPAC Choir 2015 Showcase – 30 Years of Musicals

 

QPAC Choir 30 Years of Musicals

QPAC

QPAC Concert Hall

June 23 2015

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

 

QPAC is turning 30 this year and to celebrate, the QPAC Choir presented a magnificent showcase of musical theatre hits.

 

qpacchoir1

 

In 1985 on the 7th of February, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance was the first of many glorious productions to entertain Brisbane audiences. There have been over 100 musicals performed at QPAC, with some of those being return seasons.

 

The Choir was led by the veracious and accomplished Tim Sherlock and accompanied by the talented Tina Liu.

 

It is easy at times to look beyond the choirmaster, although my eye was continually drawn back to Sherlock, who was extremely attentive to each and every member of the Choir, guiding them through memorable musical tunes.

 

The concert began with the dramatic overture from The Phantom of the Opera, performed with skill and proficiency by Brendan Murtagh on the Klias Grand Organ. The lighting was dim and Murtagh was lost from view as he no doubt sat on high behind an illustrious wooden console. The audience looked up at the pipes reaching towards the high-ceiling, our ears filled with glorious sound. And then silence. The overture came to an abrupt end with the audience unsure whether to applaud, symbolising the grandeur of Lloyd Webber’s score.

 

Feet started tapping and fingers started clicking as the familiar riff of All That Jazz from Chicago began. The lights came up on the members of the QPAC Choir (over 100 of them) and an immediate feeling of warmth and joy radiated from the group. The Choir consists of people of various ages and performance backgrounds that share a common passion – music. There was something cathartic about listening to a large group of people singing together. It reminded me of how powerful music is in connecting human beings. The Choir gave it their all, with Sherlock showing off his best dance moves, welcoming the audience to join them in the celebration. This energy was sustained throughout the night.

 

TheSoundOfMusic

 

A superb Rodgers and Hammerstein medley followed, featuring songs from The King and I, South Pacific, Carousel and one of my all-time favourites, The Sound of Music. A projection screen hung above the Choir providing a visual aid for the audience, displayed famous posters and stills from both theatre and movie productions. There was Julie Andrews as Maria, sitting on a hill of green grass with a guitar perched on her knee and the Von Trapp children gathered around. The Choir’s angelic voices enticed me back into fond memories of childhood.

 

qpacchoir3

 

The night showcased some truly outstanding performances from the 3rd Year Music Theatre students at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. These young artists proved that they are the future of musical theatre. Emily Monsma emanated charm and charisma as she sung Popular from Wicked. Tim Carroll had everyone holding their breath as he performed Tonight from West Side Story. Then came the lovers’ duet, All I Ask of You from The Phantom of the Opera.

 

Hayley Maybury and Oliver Samson have outstanding voices, with technical prowess and stage presence beyond their years. Samson felt like an old soul to me and no doubt will have a successful career.

 

The showstopper from the students was definitely Lloyd Webber’s trio of love songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, Song and Dance and Aspects of Love. Sarah Murr is captivating to watch, connecting with each word and hitting those high notes with such power and control. Jacqui McLaren appears delicate and composed but there is an unrelenting rawness to her voice that demands to be heard.

 

Not only is Hayley Maybury’s high range exquisite, she is beautiful and commands the stage. I can see her playing many leading ladies in the future.

 

The students were accompanied, and are being guided through their education at QCGU by the incredible Paul Sabey.

 

The moment that brought a tear to my eye was when Choir soloist, Charlie Tutt, sang Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Words seem somewhat obsolete but there was a mesmerising quality to his voice that filled every heart in the room.

 

qpacchoir2

 

The energy soon lifted and the lights glowed red as the Choir sang their tribute to Jersey Boys. The guest musicians never missed a beat, remaining poised but also bopping along, losing themselves in the music. People were getting restless in their seats, itching to get up and dance. It was Dancing Queen from Mamma Mia that saw a few audience members jump to their feet and swing their hips. A disco ball lowered from the ceiling and everyone joined in singing.

 

The night was a true celebration. Happy Birthday, QPAC!

 

 

01
Sep
14

Into the Woods

 

Into the Woods

Queensland Conservatorium

Griffith University

August 22 – 30 2014

Conservatorium Theatre

 

Reviewed by Jackson Kellaway

 

intothewoods_company

 

On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing the talent that the Queensland Conservatorium is pumping out. Their graduating students presented Soundheim and Lapine’s Into The Woods and it was a magical masterpiece.

 

The students had the opportunity to have Kate Wilson direct this production. Her extensive career as a director and academic was obviously very beneficial for the graduates. This shared knowledge is something the students will forever remember and be able to apply in their very bright futures.

 

The performance level of these students is nothing less than what you would expect from Queensland’s premier musical theatre training institution. The talent shone through the smoke effect on stage as the company took us into an imaginative world based on our favourite fairy-tales. The cast had fantastic concentration and focus throughout the performance and the comic timing was perfect. Rehearsing since May this year, the production team pulled together a clean-cut musical for anyone who is a fan of the Grimm stories.

 

The Dead Puppet Society oversaw the design elements of this production; an amazing learning opportunity for these students. It was visible from the mixture of old and new school techniques used in the production that the students had embraced the puppetry elements that were taught.

 

Anyone who knows the musical will agree that the music and lyrics are quite intense and wordy. In some songs the words are being sung so fast you can barely keep up and in others the timing must be so precise between the singers. With this in mind it is no wonder the production team included Soundheim expert Stuart Pedler who shared his knowledge on the talented lyricist.

 

intothewoods_cinderella

 

After a bit of confusion as to whether our happily ever after had been cut short or not, we realised it was just interval. Unfortunately a few people weren’t aware of this and didn’t make it back for Act 2. With the vacant seats throughout the audience the lights dimmed and the show went on.

 

intothewoods_princes

 

I almost turned as red as Jack’s hair when I suddenly heard the familiar Nokia ringtone emitting nearby. After what felt like hours the audience member finally turned it off. Then another audience member decided that the orchestra could be improved by her opening what sounded like every bag of chips from a 20-pack variety box. I was secretly wishing the witch would fly off the stage and turn them into an ugly stepsister or even Milky-white, Jack’s beloved cow.

 

All in all my first Queensland Conservatorium experience was incredible! The connection between the cast members and the powerful vocal work presented could not be described as anything but phenomenal. They have definitely gained a fan.

 

Putting the spotlight firmly on the graduating class of 2014, this is pure talent – exposed!

Through blood, sweat, tears and a considerable amount of laughter, this talented group of young performers have worked incredibly hard over the past three years to develop their skills as musical theatre performers. OUR TURN! showcases these students through a delicious taste of the world’s most entertaining and often moving repertoire in vignettes of song, dance and scene in a talent-packed one hour show. Let Queensland Conservatorium’s stars of tomorrow entertain you today!


OUR TURN!
at QPAC begins the showcase tour. Other cities include Sydney and Melbourne.

 

This is a wonderful opportunity to share in the enthusiasm and excitement that has surrounded the Musical Theatre program at the Queensland Conservatorium. Catch a glimpse of Australia’s next Musical Theatre stars!

 

Our_Turn_14_event

 

13
Jan
14

Sunshine Coast Arts January 11 2014

 

SCD Arts Saturday January 11 2014

Xanthe Coward 

 

Success for West Side Story Star

 

Hayden Rodgers

 

Talented local performer, Hayden Rodgers, from Palmwoods, has secured a coveted spot in Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University’s Musical Theatre course.

 

Hayden was Noosa Arts Theatre’s leading man last year, in their acclaimed production of West Side Story, directed by Sam Coward. “It’s vital that our local talent gets a chance to learn from the best in our industry and Sabey’s course offers some of Australia’s top teachers of musical theatre,” notes Coward. Paul Sabey, famed for establishing the musical theatre foundation course at London’s Mountview Academy, created the Bachelor of Musical Theatre, the first of its kind to be offered in Queensland. Rodgers said the offer of a place in the course was unexpected. “I was so resigned to next year being nothing like I hoped but now it can be everything I dreamed,” he said.

 

International Cabaret Contest

Tonight at Brisbane Powerhouse, Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest will see Sam Coward on stage to co-host with Brisbane’s Angela Harding, and local performers competing for a place in the Grand Final, in which one performer will take out a prize package that includes the opportunity to appear at The NY Musical Theatre Festival and cabaret festivals across Australia. Judges include Ian MacKellar, Artistic Director of the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, and competitors include the Sunshine Coast’s Toni Zaffa, Louise Kennedy and (Riff from Noosa Arts Theatre’s West Side Story) Adam Flower. Support our local talent at Brisbane Powerhouse tonight at 7:30pm. Bookings online brisbanepowerhouse.org

 

Adam Flower & Danjal Roi Olsen

Adam Flower & Danjal Roi Olsen sizzled in West Side Story

 

NT Live Screenings

Thanks to Noosa Arts Theatre and Free Air Entertainment, we can catch up with acclaimed productions from Great Britain’s National Theatre this month, including Macbeth on Friday January 17 at 1pm & 7:30pm and The Habit of Art on Friday 1pm & 7:30pm. Bookings online noosaartstheatre.org.au or call 5449 9343

 

Season Launch Soiree

Join Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance President, Sam Coward, and member theatre companies for the Season Launch Soiree on Saturday February 8 at Noosa Arts Theatre, for an evening of fine company, fun, drinks and canapés, all for just $35. Enjoy a preview of each company’s 2014 season, with each company offering a sneak peak of their upcoming productions. Catch up with old friends and if you’re new to the scene, meet new friends and put names to those familiar faces from our local stages. Limited capacity. Bookings online noosaartstheatre.org.au or call 5449 9343

 

See Cinderella Before She Disappears Like the Fine Morning Mist!

See Cinderella, a traditional pantomime presented by BATS and directed by Mary Newton, today at 10am & 4pm. Season continues tomorrow and January 18 & 19 at Buderim Memorial Hall. Bookings online batstheatre.com.au or call 5445 2515

 

 

The Making of the Great Lover

Written by local identity, Jo Denver, and directed by Denver and Michelle Connelly, The Making of the Great Lover is a deliciously decadent tale of exotic desire…from the pen of the wife of an English Pig Breeder. As fate would have it, there is just the young Italian to play the sensual title role in the screenplay she comes up with, and it’s a hit! Book early for The Making of the Great Lover, a fantastic comedy to see with the other half or a bunch of good friends, opening at the Lind in time for Valentine’s Day. February 14, 15, 19, 21 & 22 at 8pm. Matinees February 15, 16 & 22 at 2pm. Bookings online lindlane.com.au or call 5441 1814

 

Images: West Side Story. Images by Andrew Seymour.

24
Oct
13

Our Turn! Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium’s first Musical Theatre Showcase

 

OUR TURN!

Final Year Musical Theatre Showcase 2013

Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium

QPAC Cremorne

22 – 26 October 2013

 

Attended by Xanthe Coward

 

OUR TURN!

Through blood, sweat, tears and a considerable amount of laughter, this talented group of young performers have worked incredibly hard over the past three years to develop their skills as musical theatre performers. OUR TURN! showcases these students through a delicious taste of the world’s most entertaining and often moving repertoire in vignettes of song, dance and scene.

 

The first graduates of the Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium Musical Theatre course are:

 

Rex J Ablett

Jason Bentley

Kristyn Bilson

Ben Chambers

Stephanie Dean

Zachary Denman

Vivien Emsworth

Marybeth Harvey

Kimberley Hodgson

Luke Hodgson

Henry Kafoa

Vanessa Krummenacher

Kathryn McIntyre

Edward J Mead

Belinda Hanne Reid

Becky Rhodes

Marcus Skeggs

Chloe-Rose Taylor

Chris White

Lisa Woodbrook

Natasha York

 

These 21 performers are off to Sydney’s Slide, and Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel next so you’ll need to be quick if you want to catch the next wave of Queensland’s musical theatre stars at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre (until Saturday).

Featuring extracts from works including Antigone, Ferret Envy, The Notebook, The Dreamer Examines His Pillow and The Intricate art of Actually Caring, and songs by Jonathan Reid Gealt, Scott Alan, Frank Wildhorn, Marc Shaiman, Marvin Hamlisch, Pasek & Paul, and Trey Parker, Robert Lopez & Matt Stone, the pianist in Brisbane deserves mention. This is Daniel Grindrod; the production is as much a showcase for him as it is for the graduates!

Guest directors include Wesley Enoch, Michael Futcher, Helen Howard, Lewis Jones, Michelle Miall, Andrea Moor and Kate Wilson…in other words, anyone who is anyone in Brisvegas!

Choreographers, whose work we saw briefly on screen, included Shannon Atkins, John Clarke and Helena Moore. I have to say that I was disappointed most of the dance was pre-filmed – it is far more thrilling to watch it happening live on stage – and Sam was underwhelmed by the filmed aspects generally (Griffith Film School). An extract from The Notebook, directed by Kate Wilson and featuring Stephanie Dean and Jason Bentley was beautifully executed, but suffered from sound issues and a couple of questionable shots, and I had to agree with Sam, despite enjoying the performances as they were captured for the screen, I might have enjoyed that performance more if it were live.

We spoke to Kate after the show about the challenges of putting together a showcase. What a tricky job it is, to put together a true “showcase”, to shine a light on real versatility, and the ability to work equally as impressively as an individual performer and as part of an ensemble.

It will be up to the agents and casting directors to hone in on the talent they know they can employ and (kindly, we hope) put them through the wringer of the audition process in order to confirm their first impressions. CONGRATS & CHOOKAS!

 

See the second year students in HAIR at Brisbane Powerhouse next week!

 

HAIR Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium

 




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