INTERVIEW with Olivia Holland, Dance Teacher and Artist, October 2016

 

Dancer, dance teacher and artist Olivia Holland fills Georgina Butler in on how relocating to New Zealand has helped her rediscover her passion for dance…

 

Olivia Holland is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School White Lodge and Elmhurst School for Dance whose professional dancing career has included contracts with Royal Ballet of Flanders (November 2011 – June 2012) and Northern Ballet (July 2012 – July 2015).

Ever since she started touring with Birmingham Royal Ballet while she was a student at Elmhurst, Olivia has been painting pictures inspired by her life as a dancer. These exquisite artworks are influenced by the performers she has worked with, the ballets she has danced in and the countries and theatres she has visited. A keen photographer, she has also recorded her experiences backstage in captivating snapshots.

Since Olivia last graced this site for an interview in June 2014, her entrepreneurial spirit and sense of adventure has taken her to the island nation of New Zealand, also known as the ‘Paradise of the Pacific’. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, motivated to continue painting and newly devoted to the art of teaching, Olivia is falling in love with dancing – and the life it has given her – all over again.

Olivia Holland 2016 - LEAOD painting.

[© Olivia Holland]

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INTERVIEW with Dame Gillian Lynne, October 2016

 

Acclaimed choreographer and theatre/television director Dame Gillian Lynne is a legendary figure in the arts, with a career spanning more than 70 years.
Her achievements include being a ballerina with Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now The Royal Ballet), performing centre stage as the London Palladium’s lead dancer and choreographing some of the world’s most iconic musicals.
Georgina Butler made the most of an opportunity to converse with this multi award-winning dance superstar…

 

Gillian Lynne is a household name – a VIP in the world of dance and theatre. Her CV is packed with soloist roles as a ballerina; guest appearances as a dancer on the stage and on television; and countless productions on which she has worked her magic as an internationally sought-after director and choreographer.

Joining the Ballet Guild in 1942, aged 16, marked the beginning of Gillian’s career as a professional dancer. By chance, Ninette de Valois, the founder of Sadler’s Wells Ballet (which later became The Royal Ballet), saw Gillian dancing as Odette in Ballet Guild’s production of Swan Lake and immediately decided she wanted the talented young artist in her company. When Gillian accepted this invitation, she was the first dancer to join Sadler’s Wells Ballet who had not studied at its prestigious feeder school (now The Royal Ballet School). Possessing a gift for dancing; a desire to follow her dreams; and a tenacious work ethic, Gillian flourished as a ballerina and was later an instant success at the London Palladium and in subsequent roles in the West End.

Perhaps most famous for her ground-breaking choreography in Cats and The Phantom of the Opera (both with Andrew Lloyd Webber), Gillian has choreographed or directed over 60 productions in the West End and on Broadway. These productions have won numerous accolades and Gillian has been presented with multiple awards, including two Olivier Awards – one an Award for Outstanding Achievement for her choreography of Cats in 1981, the other a Lifetime Achievement ‘Special’ Olivier presented to her in 2013.

 

Dame Gillian Lynne. Photograph by Greg Heisler, April 2009.

 

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INTERVIEW with Nefeli Tsiouti, Project Breakalign, September 2016

 

Dancer, choreographer, educator and researcher Nefeli Tsiouti is dedicated to mastering all aspects of her craft and creating a better future for the next generation of artists.
She took a brief break from her current hectic schedule on a world tour with Project Breakalign – a dance science enterprise focused on preventing injuries in breakdancers – to share some of her experiences, thoughts, advice and ambitions with Georgina Butler

 

Nefeli Tsiouti was born in Sydney, Australia, and has double nationality: Australian and Cypriot (Greek-Cypriot). When she was 2 years old her family returned to Cyprus, where she lived until she turned 18. Aged 9, Nefeli began taking classical ballet classes. By the time she was 15, Nefeli was also learning contemporary and jazz dance technique and had experienced a year of hip-hop dancing. She simply loved to dance!

Between the ages of 18 and 23, Nefeli lived in Athens, Greece. Although disappointed to narrowly miss out on winning a place to train professionally at the Greek National School of Dance, she eagerly completed a Bachelors degree in French Language and Literature at university while also working as a dancer and dance teacher. During this time, Nefeli started ballroom dancing but just a year into forging a professional career she sustained an injury that prevented her progressing. Unfortunately, this was not to be the only time that an injury would curtail Nefeli’s desire to dance. Only a year after rehabilitation, she rediscovered the hip-hop culture and began training in breaking, adopting the name Bgirl sMash. Ten months later, in 2007, she suffered a severe shoulder injury. She was forced to stop dancing immediately and underwent surgery in 2008.

In 2009, aged 23, Nefeli moved to London to do a Masters degree in Choreography at Middlesex University, graduating in 2011. While studying, she formed hip-hop dance theatre company Scope Dance Theatre – enabling her to showcase her choreographic skills and perform alongside her dancers. Besides choreographing, Nefeli has been a lecturer in Dance in colleges and universities across London since 2011 and a freelance sports massage therapist for dancers since 2015. Currently completing a Masters degree in Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (supported by no less than three scholarships), Nefeli has devoted many years of independent research to the sector. In 2013, she founded Project Breakalign – a venture comprising a team of dance and medical specialists who are on a mission to reduce injuries among dancers.

Project Breakalign aims to offer conditioning, strengthening and injury prevention education to dancers – specifically breakers – through the Breakalign Method. The rationale behind the project was the fact that breaking has no established way, or step-by-step sequence, of being taught so it can cause frequent and chronic injuries. As research around breaking and hip-hop dancers in general has been very limited, the team behind Project Breakalign combine and adapt dance science and sports science research. Their approach is based on breaking technique and aims to prepare the body physiologically, biomechanically and artistically for the moves the style requires.

Nefeli and her Project Breakalign team are traversing the globe at the moment giving workshops, partaking in panel discussions and spreading the word about safe dance practice to b-boys and b-girls everywhere. Happily, she managed to set aside some time to answer a few questions!

 

Nefeli Tsiouti (photo by Peter Muller).

Nefeli Tsiouti (photo by Peter Muller).

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INTERVIEW with Robin Windsor, Keep Dancing, September 2016

 

Professional Ballroom and Latin dancer Robin Windsor is a world champion who has toured the globe in critically acclaimed shows, performing in both the West End and on Broadway.
He charmed television audiences in Dancing with The Stars Australia and on So You Think You Can Dance in Holland. Closer to home, Robin enjoyed being a fan favourite on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing for five years.
Currently on the road with brand new dance production Keep Dancing, Robin took a break from rehearsals to talk about the show and his zeal for dancing with Georgina Butler

 

Robin Windsor is brimming with a passion for dancing that he became aware of when he was very young. Known for his easy manner and dazzling dance moves on Strictly Come Dancing, Robin has had an amazing career to date and it all started when his parents enrolled him in a local dance school in Ipswich when he was just three years old. Here, he studied both Ballroom and Latin dance, eventually representing England at numerous World Championships.

Cast in the immensely popular dance company Burn the Floor when he was 21, Robin enjoyed two world tours during his nine years with the troupe. Stints on Dancing with the Stars Australia and So You Think You Can Dance in Holland followed, as well as the opportunity to co-choreograph for the Australian version of So You Think You Can Dance. He was then asked back to Burn the Floor in the role of ‘Swing’, which demanded that he learned and performed all of the male roles.

Robin joined BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2010, thrilling viewers every Saturday night in dynamic group dances and choreographing routines to challenge and showcase his celebrity partners. Teamed with actress Patsy Kensit for his first year, Robin also danced with EastEnders legend Anita Dobson, actress Lisa Riley (with whom he famously reached the semi-finals) and Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden.

Sadly, Robin had to withdraw from Strictly in 2014 due to a persistent and serious back injury. Incredibly, he was back on our screens dancing in a group number just two months after surgery. Since then, Robin has competed in two Strictly Christmas Specials and The People’s Strictly for Comic Relief. During the summer of 2015 he starred in the national tour of Puttin’ On The Ritz with Strictly professional Kristina Rihanoff. For the Autumn stretch of the tour he danced with Anya Gurnis – she has also competed as a pro on Strictly and is starring alongside Robin in Keep Dancing from this month.

Devoted to dancing himself and brimming with enthusiasm for teaching others to dance, Robin was suitably “fab-u-lous” to chat to. I can’t wait to see him in Keep Dancing!

 

Robin Windsor.

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INTERVIEW with Lily Sayuri, Ballet Wear Stylist, August 2016

 

Sparkling Lily Sayuri is an Insta-star among fashion-conscious dancers around the world, thanks to her trendsetting posts illustrating stylish ideas for studio attire. Her feed is simply overflowing with snapshots of beautiful outfits!
Unsurprisingly, Georgina Butler was keen to find out more about the bubbly balletomane wearing the clothes…

 

Lily Sayuri – ballet wear stylist, ballet teacher, photographer, cat lover and passionate supporter of people – is dancing through life with a desire to encourage everyone she encounters to appreciate their own brilliance and seize the day. Whether inspiring her internet fans to get creative with their wardrobes; nurturing adult ballet students in Japan; or championing new creatives, Lily’s upbeat enthusiasm is clear.

Lily was born and raised in Japan, where she currently lives. Her cat Blair (whose Japanese name Bucho 部長 means “Company’s Boss”) is now used to living in an apartment full of ballet clothes and ensures that he gets involved by posing in front of Lily’s camera whenever the opportunity arises!

As founder of Quatre-Quarts Ballet Company, Lily is free to indulge in her love of ballet, art and communicating wherever and whenever – at home modelling and vlogging with Bucho; teaching classes at her dance studio; or posting pictures online while out and about. The Company combines her very own ballet school (exclusively for adult dancers, of all ages and abilities) and her online dance fashion store (stocking everything the well-dressed ballerina could possibly wish for).

 

 

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