Archive for December, 2020

Lashana Lynch Video Completes ArtsEd Centenary Celebrations!

Posted on: December 18th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd was officially 100 years old in 2019!

Throughout 2019/20 we have celebrated this milestone with some of our most successful alumni in a series of videos recently published on our new YouTube channel.

We have now released all of our videos, the final one being a conversation with star of stage and screen, Lashana Lynch!

Lashana will soon appear on cinema screens as Agent Nomi in the new James Bond movie: No Time To Die.

In her centenary video she shares her ArtsEd experience and how training on our Acting course influenced her brilliant career.

On the 100 years of ArtsEd celebrations, Chris Hocking, Principal, said:

“In 2019 we began what we thought would be a year of centenary celebrations marking 100 years since Grace Cone founded her school, which would merge with Olive Ripman’s to form the Cone Ripman School, subsequently named Arts Educational Schools. 2020 proved to be a year like no other, however we’ve recently released our video series, 100 Years in 100 Seconds featuring some of our most successful alumni. We’re thrilled to share our last video, which rounds off our celebrations in spectacular fashion – Lashana Lynch discussing her ArtsEd experience and how our Acting course has influenced her brilliant career. We recently took ownership of our brand new building and will officially launch its studios, classrooms and rehearsal spaces in Spring 2021. We’re already looking ahead and preparing for the next 100 years of world-leading performing arts training!”

See Lashana’s video below and head to our YouTube channel to check out the rest in the series featuring: Miriam-Teak Lee, Stephen Whitson, Danny Mac, Nigel Harman, Islam Bouakkaz, and Thomas Dennis.

Video production: Bad Madam

Saturdays at ArtsEd – Keep Covid Compliant and Carry On!

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd is renowned for it’s performing arts professional training and award-winning independent Day School and Sixth Form, however we also provide a whole host of evening, weekend and holiday courses run by full-time, expert staff.

Covid-19 had a huge impact on how all education providers deliver their curriculum, and it was no different for the ArtsEd EXTRA team who run these popular weekend and part-time courses.

Jessie Hills (EXTRA & Outreach Manager) and James Wilson (Administrator and Teacher) discuss the challenges they faced in 2020 and how they adapted to keep their courses open and available to pupils.

First lockdown – March – what is ‘Zoom’?!

Jessie: “When we went into the first lockdown and were told we could not continue face-to-face teaching, I immediately contacted all of our parents and students and assured them that classes would continue online. If you remember, nobody had really heard of Zoom and performing arts teachers were suddenly faced with adapting their lessons so they could teach from their kitchen or bedroom! Fortunately, ArtsEd was already set-up with Google Classrooms and so we quickly started working out how to adapt to an online platform without compromising the quality of our teaching and the experience of the students.”

James: “We set the students our ‘8-week Online Challenge’, to give them something to focus on and work towards, but honestly it was a challenge for us as well! At that point, we were delivering pre-recorded material only, something we learned a huge amount from.”

Summer School – engaging new students!

Jessie: “We took what we learned from our Saturday sessions into our Summer courses, where we introduced live elements as well as pre-recorded material. This was so important. We always have new students on our summer courses, and we didn’t want their first experience of ArtsEd to be all video recordings – we wanted that interaction. We wanted to (as much as possible) recreate the atmosphere of our Chiswick home and our studios.”

James: “Summer was incredible! Our teaching staff adapted to online class delivery and worked their socks off to ensure our students not only developed their skills but also had a great time. We were so proud of everyone, and the feedback from parents and students reassured us that it was the right decision to go ahead with the school and not cancel. It was worth all the effort to see our students flourish and bring so much energy to their computer screens!”

September – back to school!

James: “When the government guidelines allowed us to return to face-to-face teaching in September we were thrilled at the prospect of seeing everyone in-person again. However, we also knew that there would be anxiety among parents regarding safety, and we knew we had to put in lots of measures to become Covid-compliant.”

Jessie: “ArtsEd is a fully-functioning Day School, Sixth Form and Higher Education institution, so lots of safety measure were put into place over the summer ready for the return to classes in September. For our Saturday classes, this meant we were able to offer Covid-compliant procedures right from the first session back.”

ArtsEd EXTRA safety measures include:

Jessie: “The school building is also ‘fogged’ on a Friday evening when all the full-time teachers and students have left for the weekend. This is a deep cleaning process, which is very effective. Cleaning staff clean and sanitise our studios on a Saturday morning just before we start teaching, as well. The school really has been great in supporting us to ensure we can continue to hold our EXTRA courses.”

The need to provide online, blended learning means that no matter how the guidelines change, Saturday classes will always be able to continue in one format or another.

James: “We can adapt now with very short notice! It seems that every other week there is a new guideline or a fear that we will be in a tier that doesn’t allow face-to-face teaching. We are now really confident in our ability to deliver classes online – we can just swing into action, email all our parents and students and switch to virtual learning with very little fuss.”

January – what’s the plan?!

Jessie: “We are currently in tier 3, however our Saturday classes have finished for the term, so we don’t need to worry about that now until after Christmas. We won’t know until January what tier we’ll be in and how it will affect Saturdays at ArtsEd, but no matter what – we will be back on Saturday 9 January, ready and raring to go!

James: “We’ve made an additional change to our teaching for January. Whereas our singing lessons have all been done remotely since September, we have invested in visors for all our students, which means we can deliver them safely, in-person. Of course, if we are still in tier 3 in January then we’ll start the term with online learning, but the moment we are allowed back into the building, we’ll be there.”

Jessie: “James and I are so proud of all our students and staff for the achievements in 2020 – what a year it’s been – but we’ve soldiered on, and I know we will continue with this enthusiasm in the new year. Whatever the challenges are – bring it on!”

Parent & Student Feedback: 2020

“Just wanted to say a final thank you for the term’s work at ArtsEd. I think what you have achieved via remote learning is really excellent and you set the bar quite high for the children, which is a really good thing.”

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the ArtsEd EXTRA online course. My daughter enjoyed it so much – she really  looked forward to it every week. The course content and teaching was great and really made her think about how to create a character for performing and the google classrooms platform worked well. It was also good for her to get feedback with next steps for improving too. We live in a rural area and we are not usually able to access these kind of courses in person so the online version was a bonus for us.”

“I just wanted to say we really appreciate all that you are doing to make sure the online courses and lessons go ahead.  It must be a nightmare planning it all.  Lottie would be lost without it and it really keeps her motivated and challenged.”

“Annabel’s really excited about getting going with the online classes. Set up was very easy – and it’s the first time I’ve accessed google classroom. The instructions you sent were really clear.”

“Thank you so much for providing an online course this term. It is so frustrating for everyone in the performing arts and you’ve done a fantastic job of keeping the ArtsEd service going.”

“Thank you so much for providing the children with such wonderful content while they haven’t been able to come to their usual classes. It has been so fun for Lauren to be able to watch and follow all the tutorials and go back to them whenever she wants. She has absolutely loved the project and making the tapes was a great way to round it all off.  Thank you so much to you and your colleagues – I think the children must all have learnt so much!”

“Thanks for everything at ArtsEd this term. Lauren has loved every second and I think the blended learning approach you took was amazing in the circumstances.”

Just want to give you some very positive feedback on the Zoom Drama classes! I am extremely impressed with how engaging and entertaining the teacher is, with all the brilliant games and activities he organises for the children! They appeared to be having so much fun – Ellie certainly was! I’d pop my head into her bedroom now and again and see the massive smiles on all their faces. This is really important considering they aren’t able to physically be together, so I want to thank you and all at ArtsEd for your tremendous hard work; I know you all go above and beyond to ensure that the children have the best possible experience, and that’s why ArtsEd is such a prestigious school!

For more information about ArtsEd EXTRA, click here

Stephen Whitson: 100 Years in 100 Seconds

Posted on: December 7th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

As we approach the end of 2020 and what has been a challenging year for all, we’re ready to round off our Centenary celebrations – recognising the incredible history of ArtsEd and its contribution to the performing arts industry.

In this video, ArtsEd alumni Stephen Whitson discusses his training experience in the early 2000s which led to an international career as an actor and now life as a director.

As Associate Director for Hamilton in London’s West End, Stephen knows a thing or two about staging a musical, which is very handy for our current cohort of third year MT students as he directs their upcoming production of Ragtime!

We’re thrilled that Stephen is back in the building, working with our students. Below is the video we made with him earlier in the year as part of our Centenary celebrations.

“Without ArtsEd, we can’t make shows like Hamilton or the numerous diverse types of art that populate the West End, and it’s the people that come out of ArtsEd that allow us to make the best quality art that we possibly can.” – Stephen Whitson


Stephen’s Credits

Recent Theatre Directing credits include: West Side Story (BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall & Edinburgh International Festival, Usher Hall); You Forgot The Mince – a new play by Francesca Joy (Edinburgh Festival/UK Tour 2017); Benighted by J.B. Priestley (World Premiere, London – Winter 2016) [Off West End Award Nomination – Best Director]You Forgot The Mince (UK Tour 2016); The Last Five Years (The Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Criterion Theatre, London), Little Women (Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham), Return To The Forbidden Planet (SWG3, Glasgow), Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together (The Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Dubailand (Finborough Theatre), If Only… by Michel Tremblay (Bread & Roses Theatre, London), Circuit Breaker (Timewave Festival, London), The Wizard of Oz (St. Ives Theatre, Cornwall), Cross Purpose by Albert Camus (King’s Head Theatre, London) and Jubilee Street (Theatre503, London).

Film Directing credits include: Loved Before (Music Video – Eighty8 Films), Da (2019 Release – Rare Moustache/Crixus/Criaglockhart Road Productions), The Trip (Short/London Sci-Fi Festival 2014), 13 (Short/Rare Moustache) and Shooting Star (Music Video/The Big Bads).

Associate/Assistant Director credits include: Hamilton (Associate Director – Victoria Palace Theatre, London – West End), 42nd Street (Associate Director – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London – West End), Barnum (Cameron Mackintosh/Michael Harrison/UK Tour), From Here To Eternity (West End, 2014 Cinema Release), Private Lives (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), La Fanciulla del West (Opera Holland Park), RENT (Greenwich Theatre), Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten (Aldeburgh Music Festival/BBC), What You Will (The Globe Theatre/London 2012 Festival), While The Sun Shines (Top Goat Productions, Lion & Unicorn Theatre), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (LOST Theatre).

Chris Hocking Appointed New Chair to the ISTD Board of Trustees

Posted on: December 4th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd Principal, Chris Hocking, has been appointed as the new Chair to the Board of Trustees of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD). He was elected to the position by the Council after the Society’s 2020 AGM on 18 November. 

Formally trained at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet, studying Cecchetti Ballet and National, Chris enjoyed a successful performing and choreography career with West End shows such as Chicago, Carousel, The King and I, The Rocky Horror Show and much more. His career saw him direct and choreograph numerous pantomimes around the country which led to him being awarded an MA in Choreography from Middlesex University. Chris has also been awarded the Fellowship of the British and International Federation of Festivals, is Chair of all England Dance, and a Head Judge for Dance World Cup. 

Chris began his career in performing arts education in 1992 as Head of Performing Arts at Centro Internazionale De Danza in Cosenza, Italy. He was Head of Dance at Mountview Academy of Performing Arts from 1993 to 1999, when he joined ArtsEd as Director of Musical Theatre and Head of Dance. He was appointed Principal in 2017. 

On the announcement of his appointment, Chris Hocking said: 

“In my journey from a young boy taking ISTD Primary Tap, through to a teenager passing the ISTD Cecchetti Associate Exam with Distinction, I am now currently the Principal at ArtsEd, one the UK’s oldest and most well-known performing arts institutes. I have dedicated my life and career to dance and its associated genres by performing in West End shows, teaching in vocational Dance/Musical Theatre/Drama schools, choreographing major productions, adjudicating Dance Festivals around the world, increasing representation in Dance of people from diverse backgrounds and being involved in charitable activities for the world of Dance. I relish the prospect and honour of being Chair of the Society in this challenging and thought-provoking time, as Benjamin Franklin said “out of adversity comes opportunity.” 

Chief Executive of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, Ginny Brown said: 

“It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Chris as the new Chair of Council. Chris brings to this role a wealth of experience as a performer and Principal of one of the country’s leading vocational schools. I know that he shares my commitment to diversity in the dance sector and I am looking forward to working with Chris to maximize the future impact of the Society.” 

Photo Credit: Robin Savage

ArtsEd Create Free Courses to Assist Under-Represented Groups

Posted on: December 3rd, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd have created two, free short courses designed to assist young people from backgrounds that are consistently under-represented in the arts, in the drama school application process. The three-day courses in Acting and Musical Theatre Audition Preparation are aimed at young people aged 17 and over who identify as Black, East Asian, South Asian or any other under-represented Ethnic and Cultural group.

Focusing on building skills and confidence for drama school auditions in 2020/21, students will work with ArtsEd’s expert teaching staff alongside visiting industry professionals.

At the end of the intensive courses, full of useful and practical advice, students will be given the opportunity to showcase their skills in a mock panel audition and receive valuable feedback.

The courses have been created as part of ArtsEd’s ongoing commitment to widen participation, building on existing schemes that address issues of access. These include audition fee waivers for students from low-income households, an increasing number of bursaries and scholarships, and participation in the Dance and Drama Award (DaDA) provision.

Director of the School of Acting, Julie Spencer, said:

“We want to reach all young people who are interested in a career in the performing arts. Our new courses aim to introduce drama training to young people who may never had considered it before.”

ArtsEd’s Principal, Chris Hocking, said:

“At ArtsEd we’re passionate about attracting the very best young people to our courses in terms of their raw talent and potential. It’s vital that drama school training is accessible to all who would benefit from it, and our new courses demonstrate our commitment to reaching those who are currently under-represented in our industry.”

The latest round of these courses take place from 14 to 16 December 2020. Places are awarded via an online application form, which can be found here

Application deadline is Tuesday 8 December.