End of year one @ Trinity Laban

It’s finally time to say Adios to year one and hello to year 2. It has been one hell of a year – both good and bad. We started off as a bunch of strangers and now we’re a bunch of friends, family almost. We’ve been through it all and yet there is SO much more to come.

We entered the world of Laban back in September where our social lives took priority as we mingled our way through Freshers getting to know each other more and more. A few nights it ended up being just me and Beth partying with the other years which was great fun. We did an array of things like dressing up as pirates, glamming out at the boat party, gender-bendering musical theatre style and much, much more.

Is my Sandy giving you ALL the chills?

Sadly party time eventually came to an end and it was time for us to get straight into our training. I remember in those first few weeks my legs were so sore I could barely walk. Training had killed me off. But as the weeks went on, the pain got easier and I was soon flourishing in what life was really like at Trinity Laban.

In our first term we began working on Naturalism in Acting with Helen Evans, a woman who has broke me but in the best possible way. She’s been a huge support for all of us this year. I worked on a scene from Love and Money by Dennis Kelly. In Dance we were introduced to Dollie Henry and her regime of work – a bit daunting at first but once you get accustomed to it you realise it’s preparing you for the future and its like she always says “it comes from a place of love.” We also worked on technique and performance with our programme leader Vicki Stretton who also took our tap lessons – a skill I am slowly but surely getting comfortable with. She’s been amazing support throughout this year for me. We also had Shannon Hudson, teaching us jazz and style taking us back on a tour of history through her lessons. In the first term we focussed on the time period of black face and other forms of jazz origins. I’ve learnt so much from her and respect her completely for all her work, love and support. In ballet we were working on technique with both Liesel Dowsett and Kim Amundsen. Both have very different approaches towards their teaching. Kim incorporates barre à terre technique in his lessons which has been fun to put into practice. In singing we very much focussed on pre 1900’s Legit styles of voice with Bryan Husband, Tony Castro and my singing teacher Peter Knapp. It’s been a challenge but I got through the early years even if it killed me.

Our second term consisted of Colab and Shakespeare as far as acting was concerned. My Colab was called The Tempest and we created a contemporary dance piece based on Shakespeare’s tale. It was such a good week and I met so many new friendly faces in the process. Then it was into the wonderful world of Shakespeare in which I starred as Silvius in As You Like It.  We worked on Shakespeare with Nina Zendejas our voice coach. I love Nina! In Dance we continued enhancing our technique with all of our teachers and were taught by two lovely gentlemen Jason Pennycooke and Omar Okai. Both of whom have had a vast career in the industry. We workshopped West Side Story and Cats with Jason and had heaps of fun learning technique and performance with Omar. I respect him a lot! In Shannon’s classes we progressed along the history timeline into the world of Charleston and Fosse which was really fun to do. In singing we also progressed through time bringing us more into the early 1900’s. This was a bit more easier for me to grasp.

Next came our final term – show term. Our end of year show was The Dreaming. A show I grew to love in the end. It was an interesting 5 weeks but I’ve learnt a lot about myself from it and about my classmates. In my experience, everyone has been so supportive of each other and it’s honestly so nice to see and be a part of. I don’t think I’d be able to wake up in the morning with a smile on my face knowing people are out to get each other. It would honestly be dreadful. We’ve all had so much fun, even if a few of us injured ourselves along the way. Jenny Coates I’m looking at you. She survived and was a trooper throughout – kudos to you and thankyou for being my amazing waltz partner, what a ball we had.

It’s the little things that happen everyday that really count. From Jake always holding the door for me in the corridor like the true northern gent he is to Alessia cheering me up with her sarcastic/sassy comebacks and her beautiful heart. I adore her completely. Truly an amazing friend. Just like Jenny who is always there to have absurd conversations with me about Sondheim being her dad and how we role-play together creating magic in the making. And Barney taking my abuse everyday (I adore him) and rolling with it. It’s all so much fun. And then there’s BFF NIKKI KELLY putting up with me day in day out (thankyou) and having our cute weekly sleepovers and Qureshi, Mac and Amy for giving me abuse back and being the gal group I need and love. Qureshi is the cutest she’s always there to brighten my day except when we bully each other. Mac is adorable, even when we wind each other up we can’t help but love each other. Our chill out sessions in her room are amazing and so is her music taste. Amy you’re just fabulous and whacky and fearless all wrapped into one. You’re beautiful to be around. Moving on to Brendan who is the best person to go to when you’re feeling your worst as he’ll snap you right back out of it with his one-liners that can make the whole room go silent. I’m talking about the boat. If you know, you know. I love you and respect you so much. Then there’s flat 5, each very different – Fran is crazy and I love it, she’s a beautiful human being and has the most amazing eyes. Florence exuberates sophistication even when she has a cigarette in her hand and walks in in pyjamas and then there’s Emily, I only have to listen to the sound of her voice and I’m instantly cheered up. She’s such a laugh especially when she gets angry. I love angry Emily!!! Let’s not forget Ciara, YouTube sensation from Essex ish. I’ve had some right old laughs with her and she keeps me up to date with the Kardashian Kingdom. Speaking of social media let’s all meet Ellie – the girl to document EVERYTHING. From signature poses for venue to singing videos of her insane vocals. She’s got a great heart and soul! Then there’s Kate. Kate’s always one for the take me out jokes and if she’s not on that show one day I will protest. Chats with Kate give me life. Amy Hayes’ fashion sense also gives me life and she’s always smiling! Also don’t ever lose the bun!!! Bobby is a sweetheart. He’s my go to for help and he super talented, especially on the keys! Our banter is becoming more and more amazing!  Speaking of banter, Becca comes out with some of the most ridiculously great tales I think I’ve ever heard. I’m always the one to catch every word she says and I’m so glad I do! Michael aka gossip girl literally knows everything about everyone and I’m so glad I got to know him more and more! On the topic of insider information meet Tom Ball we’re convinced he’s a secret spy with all the gadgets he’s got. He’s such a lovely boy and has a heart of gold. Then there’s the lads. Callum and Harry. It’d be wrong not to pair them together as they’re practically discusssing wedding vows as we speak. They’re a great duo and they’re another two I’m glad I’ve gotten to know a bit more. Both extremely talented and I’m glad they got to showcase that in our show – you both worked hard in that and the results were profound.

Writing all of this takes me back to a moment in Term 2. We all entered the space with a pen in our hands. Laid out in front of us where pieces of paper with each persons name on it. It was our job to fill these papers with things we love about that person. I came out crying, which is a rarity because I don’t like crying in front of people. It was such an amazing moment for us all and it made me love my cohort even more.

Am I really that sassy?

I have the best people in my year, they’re all honestly amazing. We are a year who constantly put ourselves down despite the good work we do. We don’t always know how much of a good job we’re doing until it’s over which I kind of like and think is actually quite humble of us. What’s important is that we’re real. We’ve all walked a way of life different to each other prior to this and over the past year we’ve managed to merge paths. It’s been a rocky road to say the least but we made it in the end. I’m so glad I got to know all of you guys (I hope you’re reading this) and it’s honestly been an honour watching you all blossom and fly along the way. We’ve lost 2 comrades – Alana I will remember you forever – what a sweetheart! Thankyou for everything. Beth it was great getting to know your fun soul for the time you were here. I’ll always remember our down to earth chats! Stay happy! Good luck for the future I’m sure you will both grab it with all you’ve got!

On that note, 3rd years I wish you all the luck and success in the world. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you over this year. You made my transition here a lot easier than I first anticipated with your warmth and kindness and truthful talks. So thankyou and break a leg in your run of Made in Dagenham!

This year I’ve learnt that I do indeed have a little bit of anxiety in certain situations, even if it is in minor form, it is still present. This is something I’m working on. This year I have been graced with plenty of opportunities and amazing new friends. This year has been a whirlwind but I guess you could say I’m attracted to the storm.

Year 2 I’m coming for you!

The Jazz Cafe 31/01/17

Coming home after a long day of what I can only say was hard work and creativity, I was greeted with the arrival of a gift. A gift that came in the form of a ticket. A ticket into Camden’s very own, newly revamped ‘The Jazz Cafe.’

Leaving the flat with my flatmate Stef we were full of excitement. This was the first time, for either of us, going to a Jazz club. Stef came up with a business proposition – due to there not being any form of this styled venue back in Hong Kong she wants to make a coffee shop by day meets a jazz club by night. Whether these dreams will become reality is another story. But a girl can dream. And so she must. Mustn’t we all? Arriving at the destination we were greeted by rain and cold weather. But this was short-lived due to the gentleman who offered us an umbrella whilst we queued. The night ahead was looking one of class. And class is exactly what we got.

Making our way to the cloakroom the bricked walls were quite narrow and mysterious. But this all added to the atmosphere of the club. Heading back up the stairs we emerged onto the dance floor. The stage was directly in front. The instruments were already set up and the lights were shining brightly. It was a rather small area but it gave off a really intimate setting that was perfect. There were two bars either side of the floor and people were crowded round them both. Heading to the bar there were a group of well dressed individuals. They really did look the picture. Very 1940’s and their personalities exuberated this. It was quite refreshing to see, you wouldn’t expect that attire in a normal club, it was different and it was special. Myself and Stef were mesmerised by their appearance we felt like we were back in the actual era of jazz and the blues. We met up with two of Stef’s friends at Kings, Audrey happened to be a jazz enthusiast. Gazing up at the dimly lit room we saw people of all ages dining upstairs at cute little tables. It would be perfect for a date. The ambience was full of warmth and as was the people. That was the best pet about this place. People of all ages were there and they were all having a great time. This is definitely a place I’d take my grandparents and mother.

The evening consisted of a lot of music and a lot of dancing. This swanky club allowed me to let loose in the funnies way possible. The music was uplifting and the act was incredible. Her name was Madeline Rose Witney. She sang a lot of the ‘Jazz classics.’ Whilst I didn’t know many I recognised a few it was a really fun experience. She even sang a song I was preparing to sing in acting through song the next day –  Blue Moon.

Here’s a sneak peak.

Immediately I had to text my friend, Amy, who also has a passion for jazz music and does a fantastic cover of ‘At Last.’ She was envious of my outing. I’ve promised to visit there soon with her. This all came about on a. Last minute change of plans, whilst I was going to be spending the night reading, tucked up in bed with a cup of tea like the Grandad I am, instead I was out dancing my little legs and worries away. This was a brand new adventure myself and Stef went on and I’m so glad she convinced me to go. There will be many more trips to this place in the future if I have my way.

If, like me, you’ve moved to a new city I’d suggest exploring it as much as you can. Go out there and have fun finding new treasures and secret spots in life. You might miss that opportunity if you don’t explore it now. Be free. Go crazy.

But for now though here’s some more footage of the nights event.

"Believe you can and you’re halfway there"

For those of you who don’t know who said this quote it was Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Theodore served as the 26th president of the United States of America in the years 1901-1909. Scholars rank him as one of the greatest presidents the country has ever had.

But lets not make this into a history lesson now shall we.

Instead lets focus on the words used in this quote and the relevance it has to me and the impact I feel it has on many. Now, belief is such a wide area of topic to focus on and can come in many forms whether that be religious or not. In my case, belief has a lot to do with one’s state of mind and spirit. Believing in something can give you the utmost rush of joy whilst at the same time fill you with thoughts of doubt and worry. When you want something so badly you cant help but be blindsided to the things that matter the most. You’re not always level-headed. I’m sure all of us at some point in our beautiful lives have put so much effort into something all at one time but in reflection, when looking back we realise it wasn’t worth it after all. However in regards to the quote, belief means a whole different thing altogether. Something we all, at some point, have struggled with. And that is believing in oneself.

This is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Sometimes just the inability to progress and move forward puts you in a place where you’re left asking Why? What more can I do? Why isn’t this working for me? Why can’t I just let go? Am I good enough? These are all questions I’ve asked myself and I think every performer has their own set of questions they ask themselves in every class. I feel as though these questions daunt on me mostly in my acting classes. I have always said that this is the discipline I have the least confidence in and this is the one I try my hardest in, in order to get better. Despite the grades I’ve received in the past there’s just something inside of me that knows or rather tells me I’m the worst at this discipline. I guess knowing this is detrimental to my learning as if I keep acknowledging these thoughts and telling myself ‘yeah it is my worst one’ then these feelings aren’t ever going to go away. All I can do is try to flip them around or turn them off. But this is a lot easier said than done. I honestly don’t know why I have these thoughts because I know that I can act. That was meant in the least arrogant way possible, I promise. But for some reason I’m stuck on this cruel cycle that just keeps repeating itself over and over. When you lack self-confidence in anything you do you’re left knowing you could have done more or better. Over time I know this will get easier to manage but, with 3 more years to go I’m ready to keep on fighting and come out on top. A whole load of people experience performance anxiety and sometimes it can be the scariest thing in the world. It stops you from going out there and getting that job you want or experiencing different things and trying something new. You get comfortable, when really you should be throwing yourself out there. It happens in everyday life. We all suffer.

What I will say is that this has gotten a lot easier to manage now that I’m in higher education. Before coming here I said to myself ‘Right. Leave your old worries behind you and step up your game. They’re only going to get in the way in the long run so its best leaving them behind now.’ This is something I have to remind myself on the odd occasion. It’s usually when working towards acting monologues and so forth. Don’t get me wrong I do love acting but I’ve always found myself taking more of a lean towards the theoretical side to the craft. I like to sit out, watch, and give my suggestions. However when I do get these moments of doubt I like to close my eyes, conjure up my ball of stress and worry and panic in my hands and then throw them away. A technique my acting teacher, Abbie Rippon, showed me before starting improvisation lessons back at college. This has stuck with me and I’ve found it really helps. But when I can’t do that, in fear of looking like a psycho in front of my peers around me, I similarly close my eyes, inhale and say to myself in my head ‘Fuck it’ (pardon my french) and get on with doing what I’m doing. This always leads to me doing my best work and its a trick that’s helped me thus far. This sensation makes me feel like I’m flying, soaring across the air. I just forget about looking like a loon and I’m totally in the moment of just doing and creating without really putting too much thought into it. I find that when I over think and over analyse my work starts to plummet. I get myself worked up and it’s not healthy.

Last term we were working on duologues and this was the perfect boxing match for myself and my doubt. But like everything in life, I overcome it. I remember one of my last few rehearsals at Laurie Grove, a few days before my actual assessment. Helen was pushing and pushing and pushing me to find more of a sense of my character. At the time I was confused and lacking in confidence shall I say, but I’m glad she kept at it. She took me by the hands and spiralled with me around the room telling me to close my eyes, it was just me and her; everyone else disappeared, all the while asking me to find my character through my breath – something that was relatively new to me in an acting sense. There was something so magical about this moment that I’m really grateful for. Whilst spiralling there were, for a brief moment, glimpses of me just letting go and being free almost. It felt like I was teleported to a room where everything was white and serene. It was like being in a meadow full of daisies and greenery being 5-years-old again playing without a care in the world. I was lost but in a good way and when she finally let go of my hands allowing me to find my feet and embody the character through my senses, text and physicality I found it really helped me get to know this person and become him. This was another of those ‘fuck it’ moments but without my mantra so to speak. My mind was calm and at peace and I just went with it. It was beautiful. To me anyways. Whilst this may not work for you, it certainly worked for me.

You’re probably thinking I’m a nutter right?

What I’m really trying to get at is, just have the faith to say ‘yes I can do this’ and go with it. Let go of all inhibitions prior to that moment and leave them at the door. Having someone who believes in you even when you don’t always believe in yourself shouldn’t ever be disregarded. Thank that person. So Helen, if you’re ever reading this thank you. But when you do finally believe in yourself, like I did 5 minutes before my call, you’re already halfway there. What is left is the trust in yourself to know that the hard work and commitment you’ve put into this piece for weeks pays off. Like with anything in life, you have the power to shape your future, if you don’t take the risks and you don’t believe in what you can do, you’ll never get the chance to fly. It has to come from within. Its inside of us all. You can do it.

 Yes, that is me and yes I am flying..

Flat mates.

Moving to London in the beginning was turning out to be quite stressful. I had secured my accommodation but the move in date was 10/9/16 6 days after I was due to leave for the big smoke. Luckily I managed to bag myself a cheap deal on Airbnb.com. In the end I was sharing with two young travellers who just so happened to be brother and sister.

Arriving at the Cutty Sark I had a small suitcase with me, a ginormous hold-all bag and 2 other bags. Yes that’s right, I looked like the biggest nob to grace this planet. And to top it all off I was lost. I did a complete circle around the area and ended up having to be picked up by the home’s host. Not my finest moment I can tell you that. 

I’ve never been that good at orienteering to be honest.

Upon getting into my home for the next 2 nights I threw my stuff down giving my back and shoulders a solid rest. This felt awesome. But as they say ‘no rest for the wicked’ I quickly neatened myself up and made my way to the first freshers event. Everything was going smoothly. 

That is, until I returned home.

Me being me, in my not so sober state of mind, couldn’t for the life of me open the door to the flat. This meant I had to awake my flatmates. Bearing in mind I hadn’t even met them yet and it was 3am in the morning. Whilst they said it wasn’t a problem and that the door was difficult to open due to a fault I still felt extremely embarrassed and guilty. But they were really nice people and they were moving on, on their journey the next day. Meaning I had the house to myself. 

My first real slice of independence.

I, too, was moving on, on my journey. To save me some costs, my lovely friends and lifesavers, Christy and Danni, opened up their home to help me out. They were the best and made the transition to London a lot easier. It really does help having someone you know down here.

September 10th arrived and my Mum and my Gramps travelled down with all of my moving in stuff to take to my new home for the year. Carting everything from the car up to the 7th floor did prove to be quite strenuous and tiring but we did it in the end. They had to get back though and I tried my best to organise my room as much as possible before getting ready to go out for my birthday. Lets drink to Venue and the amazing yet embarrassing night that I’ve talked about in one of my earlier posts.

I can’t really complain about my accommodation at chapter, there’s an onsite gym, I have my own en suite and a nice open plan kitchen. I have the best housemates. It’s quite nice to be living with non musical theatre people, it opens up possibilities to try new things you may not get to experience in a more ‘stagey’ household.

Living next door to me there’s the wonderful woman that is Temi. Temi is Korea obsessed and it just so happens that one of our housemates is from South Korea 🇰🇷 Stella or Sujin in her Korean name! She’s studying at Goldsmiths in the media department whereas Temi is studying Fashion Journalism at UCA Epsom. I guess you can say we’re on the more creative courses in the household. Then there’s Miranda who lives the next room down from Temi and she’s doing a financial masters degree. Next door to her is Stef who’s doing a business degree at Kings. 

I guess I’ve became the closest to Temi and Stef as they’re both my age and first years. They’re my gym buddies and we do a lot of stuff together. Shopping for groceries together is always fun; Stef has now cut out sugar in her diet so it’s hard picking a desert when eating together. We cooked Thanksgiving  dinner together – that turned out well even if we did undercook it and risk possible food poisoning. Fortunately though, we all turned out just fine. We also had Christmas dinner together prepping everything from scratch, I even marinated and seasoned the chicken. Someone, god knows who, decided it was a good idea to cook the chicken on the top shelf in the oven. 

BIG mistake.

This video sums up the experience.

In the end it turned out amazingly well and it was a good old laugh in the process. In the first few weeks Miranda cooked us all a traditional Chinese meal – which was such a nice treat. However I must say my favourite by far has to be the sample Stella let me try. All I know was that it was porkbelly and a whole lot of other stuff wrapped in a lettuce leaf. It was like heaven in my mouth. So many flavours exploded – it was delicious!

It’s going to be quite sad when we depart after this year, but I know I’ll definitely keep in touch. But for now though, here’s to making amazing memories and getting fit together in this new year. 

I love you all.

My trip to the farm.

After my last few posts having a hint of melancholy in its material, I’ve decided to write about a happy time near the end of 2016. After a long day of work, I came home and made myself a well deserved cup of tea. I was joined in the kitchen, this particular night, by Stef who was making oats – she lives, breathes and sleeps oats, I swear. We told each other about our day, like we do on several occasions, and she mentioned the idea of visiting a farm. At first I was like a farm? In the city? Yeah right?

It’s hard to believe I know.

But I was intrigued and was left wanting to know more. I had nothing else planned the next day and I figured a bit of animal loving was just what I needed to keep my spirits high. We awoke bright and early and made our way to the bus station to catch our bus to Vauxhall. Stef proceeded to tell me the WORST joke in the world, she’s good at that. Her bubbly persona makes up for it though and it’s a trait we all love about her. So if you’re reading this Stef maybe a career in stand up comedy isn’t quite for you 😉 The bus journey lasted a little over an hour but it was nice to get out of our neighbourhood and explore the city together. A vow myself, Stef and Temi have decided to make more of this year – Three Musketeers and all. The journey was over in no time and we were making our way towards the farm to meet some of Stef’s classmates from Kings. Shout out to Sangeeta and Sonja, you were both lovely.

The entrance was the most adorable thing ever. It had a childlike feel to it, splashing bursts of colour onto a white canvas. It was extremely inviting and of course I stepped right on in. With it being the Christmas season there was a special set created that resembled that of a Nativity. Ahead of me in the pen was a donkey and children’s nativity costumes ready to be used. It took me back to playing a shepherd and the Angel Gabriel back in my younger years. My inner 6-year-old was dying to hop over the fence and squeeze into the tunic.

After rationalising with this idea for a moment or so I decided to navigate my way to the alpaca’s. This was one of Stef’s main reasons for coming. Each alpaca was very different in character. Like with all families there is always the greedy goblin of the bunch. In this instance that would be Stef. Stef’s alter ego was there that day, in true alpaca form.

Meet Stef…

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The other two could barely stand a chance next to that powerhouse however they loved being petted. FUN FACT: An alpaca’s wool is much softer than its often mistakenly identified species – Llamas; whose fur is much more rough and coarse.

There was one in particular alpaca who reminded me a lot like all the DIVAS I know. He really was channelling his inner vogue. YASSSSS!

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Being on the farm for those few hours I was, enabled me to truly love life and all it has to offer. It’s little spontaneous trips like these that count. It was a really cute day. I felt like this was our secret magical place. I got to pet so many farm animals and relax at the same time. A lot of universities are now using this as a tool to help relieve students from exam stress, Bath Spa University being one of them. This is a really effective way to reduce stress levels. It helps you forget about your worries for an hour or two. I’d highly recommend, its cheap, its fun and you can snap some really great photos! The staff there at Vauxhall City Farm were all wonderful and helped out a lot, answering any queries we had. You can even volunteer at the farm and help with it’s daily duties. I found myself not wanting to leave, there was something nostalgic about the whole day that stuck with me since. It took me to a place in my childhood exploring the forests and going to Walton Gardens to visit the animals. It was special. I encourage all you animal lovers out there to visit this magical place. You’re never too old to be a 6-year-old again.