So here I am, with my lifetime supply of stuff! I basically packed everything I might ever need for these next two weeks and with two suitcases, a duffel, two extra bags and bedding to carry… I think I managed that!
My experience so far at GSA has been so incredible I have learnt so much in such a short space of time that I have almost filled a whole notebook. The tutors I am working with are honestly the most inspiring people I have ever come across they are all so experienced and have so much knowledge!
I am currently staying in the University of Surrey accommodation as GSA is on campus and GSA students use their halls. The campus is the most beautiful campus ever and I will add some of my photos to my Photo Gallery . It has an amazing lake in the middle with fountains and there is some amazing art scattered around! My accommodation is on top of Stag Hill and the view on the ten minute walk back from GSA is amazing you can just see for miles it is so beautiful.
Our introduction to the two week course included a warm up which felt intense at the time but writing this now was literally like a piece of cake. (This is not a good thing!) We had some ‘Get to know each other’ sessions which was nice and then we had a really informative lecture by Sean the head of GSA – I was majorly starstruck – who basically pitched to us the school which was unnecessary in my case because I was sold before I already arrived. Now I just have to sell them me.
As dance is definitely my weakest discipline I was very apprehensive but at the same time eager to start the dance classes and what better way to start the two weeks that with an intensive 3 hour dance class. (Hooray!!) This session we split into experienced dancers and inexperienced, I somehow ended up in the experienced end and was more than expecting to be moved down but I didn’t which is an awesome achievement from me and I actually kept up. (VERY HAPPY!) Half of this dance was just a warm up…an hour and a half of warming up…I drowned a wasp in my sweat. Thats actually true. I’m going to take you through the warm up because it is insane and he likes to add in ‘oh yeah this is only half of what it usually is’…. oh great. I say this, but these dance classes are pushing me to my very limit and I can feel myself improving, because i’m in such an intense situation where I have no choice but to do a double pirouette and that pressure makes me work harder and then I end up being able to keep up which is just so great.
- We start by just running round the room, nothing major, totally chill.
- Then we do jumping jacks to the whole song of Black and Gold – he asked us to sing it if we knew the words which I did but didn’t sing them loud enough to be heard. So the second day where we did the same warm up I belted that song out so loud. I mean I wasn’t exactly singing it nicely I was doing jumping jacks for goodness sake and I hadn’t warmed up but I made him smile because I was the only one that did it and I kept it up all the way through. Mark is such an amazing tutor, he has just come off west end, whilst he isn’t a shouty teacher you know when you go wrong because he just looks so disappointed and then you just feel awful.
- Then we move into like side stretches, high releases, flat backs and that kind of pattern to music. Flat backs are like his favourite thing if you can’t do a flat back he wont look at you for the rest of the class. We also have to do plies from 1st, 2nd and 4th position into flat backs then back into the grande plie. STRESS.
- This is where it gets hard. We start in downward dog and we go into a ponche (basically lift you leg straight up behind you) We have to hold that for as long as he says so you can’t even try and count to keep you going. At this point if you drop in this section, everyone starts again. You do not want to be this person. From that on each leg we walk forward into press up position and bring the knee forward to your chest then back into the ponche – it cant touch the floor!- and do that 8 times for each leg. Then into proper push ups for 16. Then straight into a plank till the end of the track. But its one of those tracks he can skip backwards and you wouldn’t notice to trick you into holding it for longer. Literally at this point you can hear people crying (YES CRYING) in the back row and you are just trying so hard not to drop or cry and be the most hated person in the group.
- THE WORST BIT. We do: 8 central chest lifts so not like a proper crunch or sit up but still using your core to slowly curl up; 8 hand to knee; 8 central; 8 hand to knee; 8 central; 8 reaches down to the side; 8 central; 8 reaches down to the side; 8 central; 8 rope ladders (up and down equals one); pulses for however long Mark says THESE ARE SO HARD; 16 pull backs still in like a V position; 8 central; 16 supine bicycles; 8 central then pulse till the end of the track. It is madness.
- ITS NOT DONE! Then we get up and we do ballet stretches, so we do tendu’s, plies ankle roles, lots of balance leg workouts if that makes sense so on one leg stretching the other out then up to your knee 8 times. We then do our lunges with leg pulls.
- The box exercises! Then YAY! we have to stretch in box. This is where you legs our straight out to the side (I am abysmal at this) and we stretch over each leg and into the centre, first for 8 counts in each stretch then 4 then 2 then 1 and 1 again.
That is his basic warm up and adds stuff as it goes on and then with whatever time we have left (if any) we learnt routines. In our three hour session with the experienced dancers we did the Prologue of West Side Story which was tremendously hard and even the best o the group struggled with it so I am just pleased that I kept up really! Then we learnt a quick routine from some musical I cant remember. We have recently started one of our routines for our showcase which centres around the day of the week so we have been doing ‘Manic Monday’, its quite a simple but fast routine which needs lots of like precision and I really like it so far!I do really love Mark our dance teacher he is so inspiring and just a lovely person. What a bae.
So our singing teacher Nick… is not easy. He is lovely, like so lovely and I THINK we have banter I honestly can’t be sure because he is so up front and says what he thinks there is a fine line between him saying ‘Phoebe you’re just crap ok’ and him being like ‘Phoebe you’re just crap, okay?’ So yeah but I like being told all the things im doing wrong as if everyone is too scared to tell me then how am I going to know. This is what I got from Jono too so I felt very prepared as people did not react well to being told they’re not as good as they think they are but Jono broke me in and I have thicker skin now I think. So far this week we have each had a private lesson with Nick and numerous Group Singing sessions where we learn the harmonies for the songs in our showcase and a mock singing audition.
In my private session I did not fare to badly in the scheme of things, the only real criticm he said is that I have crazy Jaw tension which I kind of knew but he showed me in the mirror and I literally can hardly open my mouth without using my muscles. However, he did say that it’s not hard to improve and it doesn’t condemn me from singing so thats fine. About my voice he told me that it’s lovely and quite distinct and ran my songs with me. So mine was very tame. THANKFULLY ahhaha
In our group singing he has been really pushing bringing the sound to the front of our mouths and sounding ugly as possible in American. This sounds awful on your own but in a group really works actually. Articulation is his big thing as well. I’m really enjoying these sessions but he is so tough and on it you have to use every ounce of concentration so you don’t mess up because it will be your funeral.
Our teacher Gerry is the BEST person to be learning from! He knows the industry so well and has been in west end, choreographed and directed in west end also. For our first classes we were working on sught reading, I put myself on the chopping board and went first thinking that because im quite good at reading aloud but I was wrong and I was shit. Lol. But, I did make a good impression by being brave. As we went onto our next segment we did an exercise where we had to memorise/familiarise ourselves with a newspaper clipping and be able to present it with Gerry wispering about traffic news and which camera to look at next. I slayed this exercise and he was like that was excellent work if that was an audition I would hire you. I WAS LIKE OMG. The next lesson he gave us scripts to work on for 5 minutes and present. I was given one of Gerry’s own pieces which was nerve racking but he really liked it which was good!! He has also given me the most speaking in our showcase SO FAR IT COULD CHANGE!! But … Lets hope it doesnt.
Living on your own is like so weird but fine at the same time. I havent starved, my room is really decent and like perfect walking distance to GSA across the amazing campus. We have been given library cards so we can use the photocopier and abuse the extensive selection of plays and scores. Its amazing. I love my flat (63) and all the people are so lovely shout out to Dan and Myles (Dapples) 💜 My GSA group are also really nice and so talented its mad.
I am having the best time I really dont want it to end. I am learning so much so quickly and I am so grateful for this opportunity xxx