Synne Knudtzon on the Ailey tour, beer runs and live tweeting


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LIPA student Synne Knudtzon updates us on the company’s time in Southampton, at the Mayflower Theatre for Ailey’s eighth show of the 2016 UK tour…

On Sunday evening we arrived in Southampton. Sadly, this was the last city for Hannah and I with Dance Consortium and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. We used the evening to explore the wonderful city of Southampton.

Monday morning we arrived the Mayflower theatre! Monday was a day off for the dancers, which meant that there was no show that day, and the tech crew had the whole day to do the set up.

Hannah and I began the day with discovering the theatre. Mayflower is an absolutely stunning theatre and is the biggest theatre on the south cost with over 2,300 seats, and presenting a mixture of touring productions, from musicals, to dance, drama and comedies.

We met some people from the executive management team and asked them to tell their life stories and how they ended up in the theatre industry. It is always very interesting to hear people’s stories and if they have always been interested in theatre. Afterwards, Hannah and I did a beer run. Heather likes to have as a tradition to give beers to the theatre crew as a big thank you for all their hard work. We later visited a hotel that Heather has been considered to use for one of the next tours in the future. In the evening, we went out for dinner with Heather and two other girls, Hannah and Becky, who are in an excellent programme called Future Leaders. The programme is organised by Dance Consortium and is for people in the age between 18-25 who want to become future leaders in the theatre industry.

Tuesday was the first show day in Southampton. Hannah and I met the Front of House Manager to sort out the programmes and other information from the company’s side. We went thereafter to the open rehearsal, which means that the audience may come and watch watch they are practicing for later shows. This time they were practising Night Creature, choreographed by Alvin Ailey himself. At 7.30pm, the showed started and in this performance they performed the following pieces; Exodus, Four Corners, After the Rain pas de Deux, and Revelations. After the show, there was a Q&A with the Ailey dancers Samantha Figgins and Chalvar Monteiro. Hannah and I did a live tweet session for Dance Consortium where we posted some of our favorite quotes:

No matter how much technique you have, it always feels like you’ve been shot by a cannon by the end”- Chalvar on performing Sinner Man.

“To switch gears and go into ballet us hard on the body. A welcome change. It’s a challenge!”- Samantha on transitioning between dances.

My mum put me and my sisters in dance class because we were all a bit clumsy…” Samantha

You audition for everything in this company… Sometimes you don’t even know you’re auditioning!”- Chalvar

Wednesday morning started with me escorting Matthew Rushing (Rehearsal Director and Guest Artist) to the Bedales School, where there should be a workshop. The students that attended the workshop were between 16 and 18 years old. Matthew taught them some Horton technique and introduced them to the style of House dance. After that, I went straight to the matinee performance where the piece Night Creature was performed (the choreography that they had rehearsed the earlier day), and ended with Revelations. In the evening, I watched the evening performance for the last time of this tour, which was very emotional. Hannah and I  ended the day with a meeting with the Front of House Manager to sort out how many programmes that had been sold and said goodbye to the rest of the team.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's Night Creature. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

On Thursday I took the train back to Liverpool and used the time to think about everything I have learned in the weeks on the tour. I cannot say thank you enough to Heather Knight and Dance Consortium who have given me this opportunity to join this tour. I have experienced so many things which I would never would have done without.

Synne Knudtzon is a student at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts