Alvin Ailey yng Nghanolfan Mileniwm Cymru, Caerdydd


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My name is Synne, and I am one of the lucky students from Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts that has been given the opportunity to join Heather Knight (Dance Consortium) on tour with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for a couple of weeks in the UK.

We arrived in Cardiff at 16.00 Sunday afternoon, after a beautiful bus drive on the coach with Alvin Ailey. I tried to hide my excitement for being on the same bus as the dancers, since I have been such a huge fan for so many years.

Monday morning, we went to Wales Millennium Centre, the venue where the performances were to take place the next following days. The venue is an absolutely breathtaking building with a design that are meant to be a reflection of the many different parts of Wales, made with slate, metal, wood and glass materials. We watched how the tech crew unloaded all the materials from the trucks and started the setup for the show. It was amazing to see all the technical equipment prepared in the new venue and how it was organised. Later, Heather gave us a tour around in the building, and told us the importance of being well known in the different venues. Later, we went through the basics of the budget for the tour.

Tuesday was the first performance day in Cardiff. We started the day by learning some more about budgeting before meeting with the Front of House Manager to go through a checklist for the shows, that included all the important things that had to be cleared before the performances. Examples are: the running times, merchandise, press, programmes and announcements about people to turn off mobile phones, no photography and there was no strobes or flashlights during the show. This was especially interesting since we were in Wales, they have a policy that all announcements have to be done in Welsh as well as English.

Before the show began, we were allowed to watch an open rehearsal. The rehearsal took place on the same stage as the performance, and they were practicing the piece called Lift, which is choreographed by Aszure Barton. The choreography was not a part of the performance in the evening, but we were told by the Rehearsal Director, Matthew Rushing that they have to rehearse pieces for other programmes during the days.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's Revelations. Photo by Christopher Duggan

After the performance there was an Q and A, with the Ailey dancers Sean Carmon and Jacqueline Green. Hannah and I were given the task to quote from this and post it from the Dance Consortium Twitter account.

Wednesday started with a masterclass with Matthew Rushing, which Hannah and I were fortunate to be allowed to join. We learned some of the basics from the Horton technique and some of the parts from Revelations, the most famous piece from the company, choreographed by Alvin Ailey himself.

During the show in the evening we got to sit in the wings backstage, where we could see the performance from a completely new point of view. We observed how the tech crew were working and how the dancers were behaving “off- stage”. It was fascinating to see how many people it actually takes to be backstage to make a show this spectacular. I have learned so many new things, just in these few days in Cardiff. I have been challenged to take responsibility in various areas and talked to different people in the industry. Tomorrow we head off to the next city which is Salford, and I cannot wait to see what it has to bring.

Synne Knudtzon is a student at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts