danSing triumphs at Music for Youth!
After a compelling performance at the Regional Festival in March, Yorkshire performing arts group, danSing, has been invited to perform at the National Finals of Music for Youth in Birmingham on Tuesday, July 5th 2016. Music for Youth is the world’s largest youth music festival with 40,000 young musicians taking part in the regionals at 50 locations nationwide. danSing’s accomplished young performers were selected for the finals after a powerful performance of songs especially arranged by musical director, Helen Leaf. Stage movements and choreography for danSing’s programme were created by director, Jane Waring and dance artist, De-Napoli Clarke. The performance, which featured gifted young cellist, Anna Staveley, was praised by Music for Youth mentors for first rate communication, drama, balance, control and rich harmonies.
Without holding auditions, danSing develops musical theatre artists and brings together young performers from schools across the area including St. Aidan’s, Ripon Grammar, GSAL, Ashville College, St. John Fishers, Gateways and Harrogate Grammar. Since it was established in 2007, the group has helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity performing at prestigious venues including Harrogate Conference Centre with Lenny Henry, Leeds Town Hall with Rebecca Newman and the Harrogate Theatre at “danSing for Shine” which featured G4’s Jonathan Ansell. danSing directors, Helen Leaf and Jane Waring, are thrilled that the group has now been chosen to perform at Music for Youth’s renowned National Festival. Jane said, “this is a magnificent finale to an amazing year for danSing.”
Harrogate News – May 2016
Grand finalists put the talent in The Big T contest at theatre
danSing makes the front page of the Harrogate Advertiser following a fabulous performance at The Big T Final at Harrogate Theatre. Emma Noble reported “This year’s grand final of The Big T on the main stage of Harrogate Theatre proved a huge success . . . First up were danSing who performed The Who’s Pinball Wizard with a cheval mirror frame as a pinball machine and pitch-perfect harmonies.”
Harrogate Advertiser – March 2016
London stage date for Pupils
Following in the footsteps of Jude Law, Sheridan Smith, Idris Elba and Matt Lucas, seven pupils of Wetherby singing teacher, Helen Leaf, auditioned with thousands of other hopefuls and successfully landed roles with the prestigious National Youth Music Theatre.
In the summer of 2016 the NYMT will stage four major productions and a 40th Anniversary gala celebration in the West End. Sally Hall, Alice Wright, Robyn McIntyre, Kitty Watson and Coraleigh Hobson have all been cast in the London premiere of Benjamin Till’s award-winning World War I musical “Brass”. Dominique McIntyre and Scarlett Watson are set to join the cast of “The Piper of Hamelin” which will be directed by its author Jeremy James Taylor OBE.
Benjamin Till, composer and television director, commented: “I wasn’t surprised at all to discover that I’d cast five of Helen’s pupils in show. They are a hugely talented bunch and always so well-prepared and polished in auditions. They also have Yorkshire grit in abundance – and that’s vital for a show like Brass. London audiences won’t know what’s hit them!”
Singing teacher, Helen Leaf, said: “I was thrilled with the news that so many of my pupils had been cast in NYMT’s 40th Anniversary Season. The NYMT does such incredible work with aspiring musical theatre artists and it will be a fabulous experience for them all.”
Harrogate Advertiser – March 2016
Broadway beckons for Talented Alice
A talented St Aidan’s pupil is heading for the bright lights of Manhattan to train with Broadway professionals. Alice Wright won American Musical Theatre Academy’s worldwide competition for solo performers. The Harrogate sixth form student at St, Aidan’s School and soloist with danSing Performing Arts, studies singing with Helen Leaf and has attained distinctions at LCM Classical and Music Theatre grades to diploma level. Musical Director, Helen Leaf said: “Alice is an outstanding student with a remarkable talent. She has worked incredibly hard over the years that I have taught her and this is a well-deserved opportunity to further develop her musical theatre skills.” Jill Wright, Alice’s mum commented: “We couldn’t be more proud of Alice when we see her performing and following her dreams. Winning this competition is a fantastic achievement and a wonderful recognition of the work she has put in. Alice is looking to enter a very competitive industry and we know that there is a huge amount of talent and competition out there. She will learn so much working with the professionals at AMTA in New York.”
Harrogate Advertiser – March 2016
Taste of West End for performing arts group
After winning a worldwide musical theatre competition, Yorkshire performing arts students were treated to an outstanding weekend at danSing with the American Musical Theatre Academy of New York and London. The workshop, held on 13th – 14th February, was led by AMTA co-founder and principal Kenneth Avery-Clark who is a West End actor, writer and producer. Kenneth was joined by AMTA vice-principal, Mark Goldthorp who is set to star in the new production of Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close. Kenneth and Mark inspired the young performers, aged 11-19, with their enthusiasm, energy and expertise, working on musical theatre extracts, vocal technique, choreography and acting through song. Speaking after the session, Kenneth said: “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the students and to know that they are already receiving a great foundation in singing.
Harrogate Advertiser – February 2016
The Big Picture – January 2016
Brendan Hopkinson’s fabulous danSing photo is featured as a double page spread in the centre of the Harrogate Advertiser with the caption: “Dancers from danSing Studio in Harrogate are celebrating winning the ensemble prize in a competition run by the American Musical Theatre Academy.”
Harrogate Advertiser – January 2016
International Success for danSing Harrogate
It has been an amazing start to 2016 for Yorkshire performing arts group, danSing. Last September, the American Musical Theatre Academy which is based in New York and London, launched a worldwide competition for ensemble and solo musical theatre performers and it has just been announced that danSing, Harrogate, has won the ensemble prize! As a result, AMTA co-founder and principal, Kenneth Avery-Clark who is a West End actor, writer and producer will lead a musical theatre workshop for danSing in February. It was a double win for danSing because one of its leading soloists, Alice Wright, also won the solo competition with a prize of 2 tickets to New York to study on Broadway! danSing co-directors, Helen Leaf and Jane Waring do not audition aspiring young performers to join the school but through outstanding training and professional opportunities are able to develop extraordinary musical theatre artists. As part their 2016 programme of events, Helen and Jane, were privileged to welcome West End performer Jon Robyns (Les Misérables, Spamalot, Memphis, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) to hold a singing workshop on Sunday 10th January.
Jon gave advice and inspired those who are currently auditioning for colleges and youth theatre companies. He said that danSing was doing excellent work and tweeted “a pleasure working with @dansingstudio – very talented and focused young professionals.”
Harrogate News – January 2016
Stars to descend for festive show in town
Performing arts group, danSing, will host a festive charity concert in aid of The Friends of Alfie Martin at St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Monday, December 21st, at 7 pm. Headlining the star-studded When Love Came Down performance will be Mike Lovatt, principal trumpet with the Grammy Nominated John Wilson Orchestra. He will be accompanied by international dance pianist David Plumpton who has worked with the dance legends Wayne Sleep and Darcy Bussell. The concert line up also features Music for Youth award winners Brackenfield Junior Choir, musical theatre artists Amara Okereke (NYMT, Artsed) and Lucy Sherman (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Leeds Playhouse), singer and award-winning fundraiser Bethany Hare (Diana Award, Ambassador for Children of Peace and recipient of the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award), danSing’s own aspiring performers and, of course, Father Christmas.
Wetherby News – December 2015
Performers raise thousands for national charity
Ex Premiership and England footballer, Danny Mills, and Leeds/Reading Festival singer, Katie Skinner, were surprise guests at Harrogate’s danSing Studio when Danny was presented with a cheque for £4,133.47. Aspiring young performers wowed the audience at the Harrogate Theatre on Sunday 21st June in “danSing for shine” a concert to raise funds and awareness for the national charity, Shine, which is dedicated to supporting people affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Danny Mills became Shine’s patron after losing his son Archie to spina bifida and hydrocephalus in 2002. Danny was thrilled with the amount raised and said “the show was absolutely terrific and the hard work danSing put into hosting such a professional event really paid off.”
Successful North Yorkshire musical theatre school, danSing, opened the show with “Shine Medley”, especially arranged for the event by musical director, Helen Leaf. Danny compèred the evening and was joined by an array of talented guests with Jonathan Ansell, G4s multi platinum music artist, headlining the show. Jonathan shared the stage with John Farnworth, world champion football freestyler, Katie Skinner of “Made in Leeds” fame, singer-songwriters Yo Preston, Daniel Webster and Sophie Stott, African drumming group, Belebele, singer and award-winning fundraiser, Bethany Hare, Music for Youth National finalists, Brackenfield School Choir and musical theatre artists Robyn McIntyre, Rosie Winter and Lucy Sherman. Musical staging was arranged by Jane Waring and choreography by De-Napoli Clarke, “danSing for Shine” was directed by actress, Adrienne Posta.
Harrogate Advertiser – August 2015
Danny Mills and Jonathan Ansell Shine
G4 singer Jonathan Ansell, BBC pundit Danny Mills, and other celebrities will soon be taking part in an evening of entertainment to benefit people with disability. Danny Mills will compère the evening and will be joined by special guests, Jonathan Ansell, G4s multi platinum selling music artist, and John Farnworth, world championship football freestyler. North Yorkshire performing arts group ‘danSing’, the hosts and creative inspiration behind the event, will also be taking part. Other guests will include, Katie Skinner of “Made In Leeds” fame, Yo Preston, Sophie Stott and Daniel Webster, African drummers, Belebele, and the Brackenfield School Choir. Danny Mills, who will have completed the IRONMAN endurance challenge in Staffordshire a week before the event, became Shine’s patron after losing his son Archie to spina bifida and hydrocephalus in 2002. The ex Premiership and England footballer said: ‘We hope to raise thousands of pounds for Shine through a great evening of entertainment. It’s hard to explain how essential the work of Shine is. What we went through in losing Archie was terrible, and the advice and support from Shine enabled us to cope at a time when all seemed lost. Shine were there when we needed them and it’s so important that the support they provide can continue.’
Harrogate Advertiser – June 2015
LCM News – danSing
Students studying for LCM music theatre grades and diplomas have been cast in the National Youth Music Theatre’s exciting new production of West Side Story.
Amara (Grade 7 distinction), Megan (Grade 8 distinction) and William (Grade 6 distinction) are all pupils of singing teacher, Helen Leaf, who is also Musical Director of the award-winning performing arts group, danSing. Helen is extremely proud of her pupils and said, “It is a great privilege to be chosen to perform with such an esteemed theatre company and I a delighted with Amara, Megan and William’s achievements. They will have an amazing experience”.
LCM Forte Magazine – 2013 – Issue 1
Wetherby teacher’s trio land plum roles
Pupils of Wetherby singing teacher, Helen Leaf, have been cast in the National Youth Music Theatre’s West Side Story.
Amara Okereke, Megan Gilbert and William Leaf Puvanesan, auditioned with thousands of others and landed lead roles in the production which is to be directed by Nikolai Foster, is of the country’s most exciting directors.
Amara is to play Maria, Megan plays her friend Rosalia and William takes on the role of Chino.
Wetherby News – May 2013
Sound of Music Star’s visit to school
A dance school based in Harrogate has spent an evening with a West End actress. Pupils at danSing met Verity Rushworth who plays Maria in the Sound of Music. She talked to the aspiring performers about the world of theatre and television and treated her captive audience to songs from the show accompanied by her former singing teacher, Helen Leaf, who also happens to be danSing’s musical director.
Harrogate Advertiser – July 2011
Come and Meet Maria
On Wednesday 15th June, students studying for LCM music theatre grades and diplomas had a wonderful evening with West End and TV actress, Verity Rushworth.
Come and Meet Maria is just one of the current series of workshops organised by Helen Leaf and Jane Waring , co-founders of danSing, to help young performers to develop their combined theatrical skills to an advanced level. Earlier in the year an audition workshop was given by stage and screen actress, Adrienne Posta, who currently teaches at the renowned Italia Conti Academy in London.
Pupils who train at danSing have starred with the likes of Tommy Steele, Lenny Henry and Dave Willetts, have featured in TV dramas and soap operas, have attained outstanding results in London College of Music examinations and have successfully gained places at prestigious performing arts colleges.
Forte Magazine, LCM – Issue 2011.1
On the final afternoon I attended solo singing from a show, film or musical and marvelled here at two Year 11 girls, Olivia Jackson who with fine vocal control gained a distinction, as did Leah Weerasinghe for a highly spirited performance . . . There’s a show girl of the future if ever I saw one.
Ken Hulme – Wetherby News – March 25th 2011
Wetherby Youngsters Part in Show
Two Wetherby youngsters have been picked to appear in the UK touring production of South Pacific at the Bradford Alhambra next month. Christian Dumouchel, 7, and William Leaf-Puvanesan, 10, were both cast to share the part of Jerome in the hit musical which takes place at the theatre from June 2-7.
Both youngsters attend the performing arts company, danSing, which runs its classes at Harrogate Grammar School. The duo are now busy rehearsing in readiness for their debut into professional theatre. South Pacific features Dave Willetts, whose West End starring roles include Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Cats and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It also features Helena Blackman, who was runner-up in BBC1’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
Ripon Gazette May 22 2008
Fiesta at Fishers
Fiesta at Fishers proved a knockout success as more than 500 visitors turned out for the first ever arts and crafts extravaganza at St. John Fisher Catholic High School. Opened by Harrogate Mayor Councillor Cliff Trotter . . . . the school hosted an abundance of arts, music and martial arts performances with slick dance, drama and salsa performances by Performing Arts Schools for young people including danSing.
Wetherby News – March 21 2008
Wonderful Effort by Festival Youngsters
Harrogate musical theatre school, danSing, marked its first anniversary in style by winning awards in two categories. The school achieved honours for musical theatre in the 12 and over group and was outright class winner in the 11 and under category.
Commenting on their success, danSing founders Helen Leaf and Jane Waring said: “We are absolutely delighted that our first appearance at the festival has been such a success. It’s a wonderful testament to the hard work of all our pupils”
Harrogate Advertiser – March 14 2008