m¡longa on the road – two weeks to go!

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Photo: Tristram Kenton

After six successful m¡longa performances in venues across the UK, the team have had a well-deserved day off to relax and experience the wonderful city of Birmingham and all it has to offer. Everyone did their own thing with many enjoying Birmingham Pride Festival!

Monday morning bright and early our bus departed and we were on our way to Southampton. It was a pleasant journey for what I remember as I slept most of the way along with nearly everyone else. Heather did come and talk to me at one stage though about the wonderful world of visa, certificate of sponsorship aka a work permit and many other aspects to bringing in international dance companies. It was a real eye opener as I did not realise all this work needed to go into it!! Heather also told me some very funny but interesting stories about companies and their journey to obtain work permits or visas. It was a right chuckle and made the journey fly by!

We arrived in Southampton and following check in it was straight to the Mayflower Theatre. We set up the company office and got ready for the few days ahead of us. That evening I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Hannah Binnington who is the technical administrator for the Mayflower, she told me all about her role and we discussed many topics. She was one of the first people involved in Dance Consortium Future Leaders Programme which aims to create future leaders within the theatre.

On Tuesday, it was straight over to the theatre where I met Dom Hart, technical director at the Mayflower. He gave me a great insight to all things technical including the importance of risk assessments; how to plan crew for shows and how The Mayflower operates with various shows coming and going. In the evening I watched the show and following the show I live tweeted from the Q&A. My favourite question of the night was directed at Fernando Marzan (Composer, Musical Director and Pianist): “Why aren’t you in the pit?” His response was very interesting as he stated the dancers use the music to feel the music behind them to help put power into the tango. He also needs to be on the stage to see the projections and the dancers to get the timing of the music exactly right.

Wednesday was another lovely day in Southampton and Heather, Ian the truck driver and myself decided to do the famous beer run for the crew. On our way, I had a little accident with my contact lenses and ended up having to make my way to a Specsavers in the high street with one working eye. It was a funny experience but hopefully one I do not have to repeat. Later that day I went up to the flies which is an area above the stage that holds the lights and anything that ‘flies’ in on stage. It was interesting to see the stage from this perspective. I took some pictures from above there. I also had the pleasure of meeting Michael Ockwell (Chief Executive of the Mayflower). We had a great chat about what I wanted to do for my future career and he gave me some helpful tips and advice. He also showed me how he works his finance system when it comes to booking shows and when they are in the theatre.

Later that evening I took Bruno Gibertoni and Maricel Giacomini (tango dancers) to the local park and we took some pictures for social media platforms. After the show, I cleaned up the company office and liaised with front of house to organise the information for the show including running times. I also discussed with them how they were going to sell the tour programmes. I then packed up and headed back to our hotel.

Thursday morning came and it was onto the next venue which was in Saffron Walden. The venue Saffron Hall had never been used before by Dance Consortium and we were the first dance tour they have had. We checked into our two hotels which were both nearby. We have 10 tango dancers, two contemporary dancers, a company manager and two tech teams to split between two hotels. We then headed to the venue. Heather and myself sorted out the company office before heading back into Saffron Walden for a well-deserved bite to eat. Friday morning, I explored Saffron Walden, walking through its winding streets and discovering some lovely spaces; it was nice to see Saffron Walden as it is not common to get much free time on tour. After some exploring I headed to the venue for the show. We had a lovely office at the back of the theatre overlooking everything. I could see the dancers and musicians warming up and sound checking.

I watched the show on Friday night and it was a pleasure to watch again but especially as we were in a venue known as a concert hall so it was great to see the show in a different space. The concert hall was adapted to look like a conventional theatre’s stage with a proscenium arch. After the show, I live tweeted from the Q&A again. I decided to watch the show again on Saturday as it was my last night on the tour – and it’s a brilliant show!

Overall touring with the Dance Consortium team has been an amazing experience that has opened my eyes and mind to the world of touring!

Next stop Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham where the blogs will be all handed over to Josh… over and out.

Roy Quinn is a Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management student at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts