From Vancouver to Guildford
13 December 2017
Penelope Boyse's memories of summer school 2017
When I heard the news that my beloved summer school was returning, I could barely contain my excitement (Albeit at a different venue). From 2002–2013 Chichester teacher training Summer School had quite literally been the highlight of my year, as it allowed me the opportunity to reconnect with so many of my amazing and inspirational tutors/mentors from Bird College, (Tereza Theodulou, Katie Morea, Lyn Richardson, Tracey Lee… to name but a few). It is also the place where I made some of my most special teacher friends from around the globe.
Since leaving the UK in 2010, I have been lucky enough to live and teach in many beautiful locations around the world, but ISTD courses are rare. So, this amazing summer school is an essential part of my training, a great way of networking, the perfect way to stay connected and 100% updated. As soon as it was possible to make my booking, it was made… Guildford I was coming.
The booking system was a little different this time around. We had to decide on the exact courses we would like to take before making the booking. This course was going to be my only opportunity to learn the new Intermediate Tap syllabus and recap as much of the older Modern and Tap work as possible ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’.
The work was created so beautifully and taught with such clarity
I wanted to train for five consecutive days, and reside at the university campus, as travelling back and forth was just not feasible. My parents lived too far away, I didn’t have a car, plus I really wanted to enjoy the full residential experience that I had always loved so much in the past.
The next few months flew by, and the wait was suddenly over. Summer was finally here and my annual trip to the UK was imminent. The summer school that I had been so eagerly awaiting was just days away.
July 30th 2017
After a lovely lunch with my parents, we began the journey to Guilford.
We arrived at the university an hour earlier than expected, so there was plenty of time to explore and familiarize myself with the new surroundings. Beautifully manicured lawns, plants and trees surrounded the award-winning campus, with a gorgeous lake situated right in the centre. The GSA studios were located at the entrance, our rooms of residence were at the opposite end, and the restaurant was right in the middle. This week would now serve a triple purpose: to gain knowledge, to dance and to walk (a lot).
By the time I had finished exploring, it was time to check in, and whilst doing so bumped in to an old Licentiate training friend. From that moment, I just knew this was going to be the best week ever. It was just like Noah’s Ark, as old Chichester friends and faculty rolled in two by two. Having spent the past four years apart, we were at last together again.
Once we had all checked in, unpacked, and reacquainted ourselves with each other, it was time to head to the restaurant for dinner. The restaurant was your typical university cafeteria. Thank goodness for the salad bar.
Later that evening, all residing delegates and faculty members were invited to the bar for the welcome meeting, which was the perfect environment for mingling and getting to know one another. We were also offered a complimentary drink. The meeting was hosted by the new Artistic Director, Ginny Brown, the newly appointed Chair of the Modern Theatre Faculty, Tereza Theodoulou and Jackie Hayward, Chair of the Tap faculty. All three ladies welcomed us with open arms, updated us with their latest news, and gave us a brief insight into how the week ahead was going to be structured. We spent the remainder of the evening reminiscing, and sharing our excitement about what was to come.
Each day would begin with an energizing warm up of our choice, (either Jazz or Tap or Pilates) and the evenings filled with lectures, additional classes, social gatherings, and the famous trivia quiz night.
Days one and two for me would be Advanced 1 Modern, with the lovely Ruth Armstrong.
Ruth did an amazing job at reading the class and recognizing our needs. We spent the days recapping/learning exercises, dancing our hearts out, and laughing uncontrollably at her hilarious personality. We all felt enormous gratitude to Ruth, for sharing her great knowledge and expertise – incredibly informative and inspiring.
My body now was feeling rather stiff and sore, so it was a great relief to know that my next two days would be spent tapping, with none other than Miss Heather Rees. Time to learn the new Inter Tap Syllabus.
Miss Rees taught the syllabus with great precision, passion, and enthusiasm, and on Day one, we managed to get through the warm ups and drills, leaving a little time at the end to play around with rhythm. Leaving day two for the technical exercises, performance sequences and amalgamations. We were even lucky enough to have Ruth perform her Musical Theatre Amalgamation, so that we could see the detail and style required. There was an enormous amount of information to take in, but the work was created so beautifully and taught with such clarity, that it seemed to flow through our bodies with great ease. It felt so good to just let go and dance.
Day four ended, and our brains were fried. My feet were about to fall off and I felt as though I could sleep standing up, yet our hearts were filled with love and gratitude. It was definitely time for a drink, and what better opportunity than the famous Summer School Quiz (Hosted by the lovely Kerrie Bruce).
We had spent the past couple of days trying to come up with an awesome team name to reflect our experience at Guildford, and eventually settled on ‘Cell Block 47’, the campus building in which we were all residing.
The quiz was one of the hardest we had ever experienced, maybe due to our brain overload. We didn’t win any prizes for our intelligence, but we did manage to win the prize for best team name.
I couldn’t believe that my time in Guilford was nearly over, and it would soon be time to say goodbye to loved ones for yet another year.
On the morning of Day five, I met a sympathetic response from the ISTD staff, when asking if I could drop in and out of classes. I had just one more day to squeeze in as much information as possible, before heading back to Vancouver.
This would be an enjoyable and slightly less taxing day – spent with the lovely Helen Green, Alison Forrester, and Elizabeth Reeves, revising some of the Tap and Modern grade work. What a wonderful way to conclude such an amazing week.
I would sincerely like to thank everyone involved in making this such a special and memorable experience, and I cannot wait until next year.
Penelope Boyse, Canada