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Feature: Dancers’ Pay Debate

Chaired by Hilary Hadley (Equity) with Nicholas Keegan, Flora Wellesley Wesley; Shanelle Fergus, Dancers United

#DUKfuture, Laban Saturday 11 April 2015

Dancers’ pay has been identified as a challenge for both the subsidised and the commercial dance sectors recently, with social media campaigns such as #paythedancers highlighting the prevelance of low-paid and unpaid work across the industry. This well-attended panel debate explored some of the background to pay issues for dancers, and outlined actions dancers can take to ensure they are paid properly to work.

Independent dance artist Nicholas Keegan introduced the work of the recently-formed Equity Freelance Dance Network, a group founded to improve standards and empower the varied community of freelance dance artists working in the subsidised dance sector. One of the aims of the movement is to instigate a change in dancers’ mentality, explains Keegan: “Dancers are both workers and artists, and we need to move away from the image of an artist working for the love of what they do.”

At present, Arts Council-funded companies and projects are required to pay dance artists at least Equity minimum wage – which does not mean that this always happens in practice; and even National Portfolio Organisations that pay union rates rarely have Equity contracts with their dancers, meaning there is little protection for the dancer in cases of cancellation or injury. According to recent data, only 20% of professional dancers last year were able to live on money earned solely through dance work, and only 15% warned a full living wage. “The responsibility for implementing change is not solely Equity’s,” says Keegan, “it is all our responsibility.”

Why do dancers take on unpaid work? Commercial dancer and co-founder of Dancers United UK Shanelle Fergus explains that few dancers enter the industry in the hope of sitting around on the sofa at home. “Everyone wants to be busy and dancing and improving their CV. If the choice is working for nothing or doing nothing, most will work for nothing.” Unfortunately, this enthusiasm to work leaves dancers open to exploitation, with commercial video shoots and TV spots regulary enticing dancers to come and work for free in the hope of improving their profiles.

“Dance is a profession where you are continually paying – for class, for physio and the gym, to eat well – and the least we should be offered is pay for work,” says Shanelle. “If you go on a shoot, even the runner is being paid – dancers should not be asked to dance for free.” Working with Equity, Dancers United UK have already succeded in improving the pay and contracts on shows including the X Factor, as well as persuading producers to pay dancers on music video shoots.

Independent dance artist Flora Wellesley Wesley acknowledges that it’s not uncommon to take on a certain quantity of unpaid work at the very start of a career, especially when working with friends on unfunded projects, but believes a bigger problem arises when funded projects still expect dancers to come and work for little or no money. “When I see callouts for dancers where the pay isn’t right I’ve starting sending it to Emmanuel at Equity who is in charge of low and no pay work. Because of the scarcity of work and the keenness of dancers – big production houses can get away with these callouts but I think it’s unacceptable.”

Wellesley Wesley also called on funders and commissioners to take part of the responsibility for dancers’s pay – commissions going out to artists for small sums of money mean that there is little funding available for makers to pay their dancers with. “Commissioners and funders and industry bodies need to be clear-sighted about the issue,” she says. “A £1,000 commission will pay two dancers for a week – so commissioners need to understand that and deal with the numbers properly.”

The message of the panel was that change needs to happen at all levels of the industry – dancers need to take responsibility for the work they take on, funders need to work with artists to make sure dancers are properly paid, and producers need to ensure they’re not expecting dancers to work for less money than other professionals engaged on a project.

More info: http://equitydance.org

Report & photos: Lise Smith “Twitter: @lisekit“https://twitter.com/Lisekit

Originally published at www.londondance.com

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April 13, 2015 Posted by | Dance, General Musings, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

NEWS: TALKING CHOREOGRAPHY & COLLABORATION

 

Dance UK’s National Choreographers’ Conference took over the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells on Saturday (11 May) for a day and evening packed with sessions from over 25 speakers working in dance across west end theatre, contemporary dance, film, music and TV. Lise Smith went along to the morning session…

The flawed but widely held image of a choreographer as someone who slaves alone in a studio to create material, neatly counted in sets of eights, that is then simply handed over to a cast of dancers was one usefully challenged by Dance UK’s National Choreographer’s Conference (formerly Choreoforum) this weekend. For one thing, we heard from a range of speakers who have worked with actors, musicians, film extras and community volunteers as well as companies of trained dancers. For another, the central theme was the importance of collaboration in creating choreography, working with a diverse range of other creative professionals from theatre and television directors to lighting and set designers, as well as facilitating input from performers to make work.

Modelled on the popular TED talks format (www.ted.com) where experts speak fairly briefly on a themed topic, this year’s conference, chaired by choreographer Alex Reynolds, welcomed 25 speakers from the areas of dance, theatre, film and television. The first session of the day was a fascinating look behind the scenes of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies, with closing ceremony director Kim Galvin, opening ceremony choreographers Temujin Gill and Sunanda Biswas and their dance captain Eilidh Ross. One of the themes to emerge from this session was the complexity of working on the scale of the Olympic ceremonies. Gill and Biswas choreographed the “swing” section of tap and lindy-hop, memorably celebrating the NHS and children’s literature during the opening ceremony. As well as communicating with 1,400 volunteer dancers, their work had to navigate 350 moving beds, dozens of flying Mary Poppinses and a 90-foot inflatable Voldemort. “Working with mass movement, with these 350 beds was like doing mathematics,” says Biswas. “Working out how many nurses have to push this bed and how many kids. Every time you came into work something had changed, and every time there was a change there was a knock-on effect to the whole piece.”

Gill reveals that the children and adults were taught material separately, requiring even more kitchen-table planning to ensure a successful final result. “The first time we saw it all together, it was so beautiful and so magical that it worked together,” he says. Gill and Biswas found the PREVIS pre-visualisation tool, which allowed them to look at video mock-ups of the whole ceremony on a computer, invaluable to the process. “I didn’t know how to use it at first but by the end they couldn’t get me out of the room, because it’s such a lovely tool to have!” laughs Gill. Dance captain Eilidh Ross also proved a highly useful tool of a different kind, taking on both creative and communication roles with the volunteers.

Choreographer and stage director Kim Galvin, who had previously worked on stadium and arena tours with Take That, faced the unique challenge of creating two closing ceremonies staged four weeks apart, with the first performed just 17 hours after the last event of the Games. The very broad brief for both events was “it had to be a celebration – that’s all I was given.” Volunteers rehearsed in a wet and windy Dagenham car-park big enough to contain a full-scale mock up of the stadium; rehearsal video reveals both the challenges of the weather and the commitment of the volunteers. “Would I do it again?” asks Galvin. “Yes, but not for a while!”

Two themes that rose repeatedly over the course of the morning were the importance of communication between collaborators, and the need to adapt when necessary. Dramaturg Lu Kemp describes her role as being all about communication and language – clarifying ideas in the rehearsal room, facilitating dialogue between artist and performers, and helping artists communicate their work to an audience. Theatre and television choreographer Lucie Pankhurstemphasises the need to make sure everybody is working towards the same aim. “If the dancers understand the bigger picture, especially in comedy where they might be facilitating a gag, if they feel alright they will do it well,” she says.

In a talk reflecting on 20 years of theatre collaboration, director Peter Rowe and choreographerFrancesca Jaynes discussed how a successful collaboration means working together on all aspects of a production rather than strictly dividing roles in the rehearsal room. “I think our contribution comes in three thirds,” says Jaynes. “A third is me, a third is him and the most interesting is the third that’s both of us.” Rowe talks of the need to balance careful planning with responsiveness to what happens in the studio: “One of our great strengths as a partnership is knowing when to depart from the plan. A lot of what we’re working with is performers’ abilities and talents, and trying to incorporate them into what we do in a really organic way.”

Choreographer Liam Steel, who recently worked on Tom Hooper’s film version of Les Miserables, agrees with this principle. “Prepare everything, plan nothing,” he advises. “You never know where the camera is going to be, you have to be able to change everything, rework stuff completely in ten minutes to make sure that things are being seen. You need to have enough research, enough preparation to be able to do that.” Steel’s job also included managing hundreds of extras and negotiating some very fragile star egos, touching again on the theme of communication and diplomacy.

Another key theme that emerged from the morning was that of stepping back and letting go in order to work towards a shared artistic vision. Gill and Biswas knew that they had to shape their section to fit within Danny Boyle’s overall vision for the opening ceremony: “The closer we got to the performance we lost our ‘voice’ and it had to be given over to the creative team,” says Gill. “That’s hard but you have to let that go.” Liam Steel had a similar experience working on Les Mis: “We choreographed this ball, this researched-to-the-hilt period dance. We didn’t finish until 10 o’ clock at night, those poor dancers’ feet were bleeding, and not a bit of it went into the film. And you have to let go of it,” he says.

Afternoon speakers included Dance UK patron Robert Cohan and choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh talking about their experiences of collaboration, and a discussion on gender in collaboration with Charlotte VincentJane Coulston and Holly Noble. Theatre director Rufus Norris talked about working alongside Javier De Frutos, and there were fascinating insights into production design from Michael Howells.

Working collaboratively has allowed all the choreographers present at the conference opportunities to work in a rich and organic way across a variety of media, although it certainly comes with a raft of challenges that must be negotiated with patience, diplomacy – and sometimes with the help of technology. “When I trained at The Place,” says Lucie Pankhurst, “the word ‘collaboration’ conjured up a gorgeous image of everyone wearing hessian in a studio,with somebody banging a drum and somebody painting, and it’s wonderful.” Her real-world experience of collaboration, however, is that it begins online with email dialogue and exchanges of video clips – “and then it comes together in a studio by some dark alchemy. And I love it!”

Links to further information about speakers at the conference on Dance UK’s website

Originally published at www.londondance.com

 

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Dance, News | Leave a comment

Dance: News: Facing Forwards

The first meeting of the Female Choreographers Collective took place at The Actors’ Church, Covent Garden last Saturday. Lise Smith went along to find out more…

It’s a question that rolls around every few years – given the overwhelming prevalence of women in dance (as trainees, performers and administrators), where are the female choreographers and artistic directors, and why are they so much less visible than men in the industry? Pioneers such as Martha Graham, Ninette de Valois and the great Pina Bausch broke new ground for women in the 20th century, but female choreographers seem to be a low priority for major venues currently.

In October 2009, Dance UK and Dance Umbrella co-hosted a debate chaired by dance critic Judith Mackrell discussing the issues surrounding women in dance. Now two young choreographers, Jane Coulston and Holly Noble, have set up the Female Choreographer’s Collectiveto further investigate the causes of women’s under-representation at the top levels of dance, and to provide networking and performance opportunities for female choreographers at all career stages.“I think at the moment what we’re aiming to do more than anything is ask people for their stories, and what they’ve seen through their careers,” says Holly. “We’ve got some very young choreographers that have contacted us, we’ve got some very well-established choreographers and people in the middle; but they’re all saying, ‘why aren’t we out there, why do we not sell tickets, why don’t the big theatres take us on to present work?’”

Since the launch of the FCC just three weeks ago, over 150 choreographers have signed up to the organisation and more are expected to do so in the coming weeks. The aim of the collective is to support female choreographers through forums, performance platforms and information sharing, and to continue investigating the problems facing female choreographers in a more sustained way than previous events have been able to achieve. “We’re here to ask the questions,” says Jane. “We’re not necessarily here to provide any answers, for now, but the more we hear from each other’s experiences, the more we talk in these forums the more we might find out about that.”

The collective aims to build strong relationships between choreographers, venues and dance agencies in order to instigate debate and encourage an ongoing conversation about the issues female dance artists come up against. “So many female choreographers that we’ve spoken to are continually creating and showing work all over the country, they do this for a number of years and still there’s not support. Overwhelmingly people feel like they’re not being listened to, that they get looked over.” A number of female choreographers the pair have spoken to have reported a lack of practical support with commissioning and funding, whereas male choreographers seem to break through and develop a public profile much more easily, with the support of venues and agencies.

The lack of profile for female choreographers – even those with good artistic reputations – has been debated before. “Some dance artists and choreographers we were talking to before said they were talking about this 25 years ago,” says Jane. One of the goals of the FCC is to bring together different networks and forums that may already be taking place across the UK, and look at the questions being asked in a collaborative and comprehensive way over time. “Our role can be to bring these things together, all the pieces of the puzzle,” adds Jane. “We don’t see any end to this, we see just this interesting and fascinating process for however many years to come, so that we really make some headway with it. I’m sure the questions may change, lots of things are going to change along the way.”

The FCC was launched on Saturday with a platform of work by four very different female choreographers. Lucia Piquero’s lyrical piece for Diciembre Dance Group draws on literary sources, where Jane’s own piece for Beyond Repair Dance is much more abstract, movement-led and androgynous. Anna Watkins of Watkins Dance showed a sensual contemporary duet inspired by a developing relationship; Holly’s piece for A.D. Dance Company also examines human relationships, but with a focus on the darker side. Jane feels that there is no single female style or voice that can be identified among women choreographers working today. “The most important thing that we know even from the few things we’ve done so far is that there are a multitude of female choreographers out there making such diverse work, different work. Some (for example, Charlotte Vincent’s ) – will be gender-led and some won’t, so we want to figure out what else is going on.”

For the next year, the FCC’s main task will be to compile information on members using a short membership form. The collective will also share news so that members can keep each other informed of touring and performance activity; and the collective will run its own showcase platforms across the UK. Holly: “One of our ideas that we’re thinking about doing next year is putting a platform on with six excerpts of work, three by male choreographers and three by female choreographers, but we’re not going to say who the choreographers are. We’d invite a cross-section of audience to give feedback and to ask who they think created each work, just to see what happens.”

The next 6 to 12 months will be vital in shaping the ongoing aims of the Female Choreographers Collective, and determining how best the group can support and represent female choreographers. “I think that once we’ve we create that network it’s going to be a real support system and a real kind of push in the right direction,” says Jane. Men are warmly welcomed to the planned discussion forums to give their side of the story and help build a picture of activity. “At the moment don’t know where it’s going to go exactly,” adds Holly. “We know it’s something we feel passionate about, we want to keep doing it, we want to talk to people we want to raise awareness, we want to do all those things, but I don’t know in a year’s time what the answers will be or what will have happened.”

For more information about the Female Choreographers Collective contact Jane and Holly: femalechoreographerscollective@gmail.com

Vanishing Pointe: Where are all the great female choreographers? Judith Mackrell, Guardian, Oct 2009
Originally published at www.londondance.com

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Dance, Features, Interviews, News | Leave a comment

News: Keep safe online – Safer Internet Day

Tuesday is Safer Internet Day, an awareness-raising initiative to help people understand how to stay safe and avoid virus infections, spyware, phishing and other malware when using the internet. More and more of our business and social interactions are conducted online, making it easy for malicious users to target the unwary. We spoke to PC Pro’s Technical Editor and local person Dr Darien Graham-Smith for some expert advice on avoiding nasties when surfing online.

The first thing to remember, says Dr Graham-Smith, is that internet security isn’t just for Safer Internet Day – it’s a constant process and vital every day. “It’s important to understand that you can pick up an inection just by visiting a website – even a legitimate one – because criminals hack into respected servers to get their exploits to the widest possible audience,” he adds.

With malware exploits becoming a possibility for anyone with a basic understanding of computer networks and not just the professional hackers of popular understanding, it’s important to always suspiscious of anything that asks you for a password or installs a program you weren’t expecting. One good way to avoid the majority of malware attacks online is to install a good security software package.

“For Windows users, running a security package is a no-brainer,” says Dr Graham-Smith. “Some people avoid anti-virus software because they think it will slow down their PC, but today’s security software can be very lightweight.”

“Mac and Linux users will run into far fewer malicious programs; but you still need to be vigilant as there are plenty of fake banking websites and email scams that will try to trick you into giving up confidential information.”

Windows users seeking basic virus protection can chose from dozens of commercial packages and several completely free options including AVG Anti-Virus Free, Avira AntiVir Personal, avast!, and Microsoft’s own Security Essentials.

“When you consider only a dedicated security scanner can identify attempts to steal your banking details or use your computer to send spam or distribute viruses,” says Dr Graham-Smith, “it would be crazy to go without, especially since there are several very effective free packages available.”

A lot of malware makes use of bugs in a computer’s operating system, so it’s also important to run your built-in software updater (Windows Update or Software Update on the Mac) to keep your system fully patched.

If you manage to catch a virus or succumb to spyware on your computer, you can normally install a security suite on an infected system and it will clean up as its first action. In the case that malware has really got itself embedded in your system, several security developers (such as Avira) offer free bootable rescue CDs that you download from their websites. If you need further help with your machine, try one of Highgate’s local computer repair stores.

Remember that smartphones are internet devices too – it’s just as important not to enter passwords or install programs unless you’re confident of their provenance. It’s arguably even more important to be wary with mobile phones, because a hacked phone can easily run up bills by silently dialling premium numbers, enabling criminals to get rich at your expense.

If you’re following the right steps, says Dr Graham-Smith, there’s no need to be too alarmed. “Although all this sounds scary, if you’re using a modern computing system with fully patched software – and if you don’t stray into the dark corners of the internet where pirated software and porn are traded – it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter problems in your day to day browsing.”

“But because the potential cost is so high, in terms of inconvenience and potential financial consequences,” he adds, “it’s important not to be complacent.”

Find out what else is happening on Safer Internet Day at this page.

Originally posted at www.highgtaepeople.co.uk

February 6, 2011 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

News: Run off to the circus with Jackson’s Lane!

Jackson’s Lane Youth Circus returns this month to give young people aged a chance to try their hands and feet at a range of circus skills. Highgate People visited the group one Sunday to find out what it’s all about.

Jackson’s Lane Youth Circus is run by artists-in-residence So and So Circus, a touring acrobatic duo who also run regular workshops in Highgate and beyond. Around ten eager youngsters aged 10-16 years old attend every Saturday afternoon to learn juggling, diabolo, unicycle, stilt-walking, acrobalance, acrobatics, human pyramids, walking ball and hula hoop: “Everything ground-based, they learn here,” explains Kaveh Rahmana, one half of So and So.

“We’re not aiming to develop professional circus artists necessarily,” adds Kaveh. “It’s more about them coming and socialising and developing their confidence, but then hopefully alongside that they’ll get a set of circus skills that they can use, too.”

Twelve-year old Freya first tried circus skills at a summer course, and has been coming to Jackson’s Lane since September. “My favourite piece of equipment is the walking ball,” she says, showing off a nifty trick with a hula-hoop while balancing on the ball . “Everyone’s really nice and you get to meet new people. You learn all these new skills and it’s really fun to do – it’s completely different to normal.”

Aaron, 11, has also been coming since September. “I come here to do juggling, acrobalance, stiltwalking and Roller-Bowler [a piece of balancing equipment with a plank on a roller]”. Aaron’s two favourite pieces of equipment are the juggling clubs and the Roller-Bowler. “In the future, I’d like to become a part-time circus artist,” he says. “The teachers are very friendly – they show you skills. With practice it becomes kind of easy!”

As a touring company specialising in narrative circus, telling stories through acrobatics, So and So’s Kaveh is keen for the youth group to have opportunities to perform, too. “There’s obviously a theatre here, so what I’d really like is for them in the coming months to build up their skill base. I’d really like to programme them into our festival so we have Jackson’s Lane Youth Circus first showing in July, and to continue developing them so they have a really nice set of skills.”

New joiners aged 10-16 are welcome to the Youth Circus, which starts again this term on Sunday 16 January and runs weekly from 2 to 4pm (except half term). A ten-week course costs £120, and can be booked online at the Jackson’s Lane website or by telephone on 020 8341 4421. No previous experience is necessary.

Originally published at www.highgatepeople.co.uk

January 6, 2011 Posted by | Features, News | Leave a comment

Dance: Keeping Dancers Dancing

Dance UK, the national dance advocacy body, announced a second major donation towards its National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science this week at its AGM, held at the Royal Society of Medicine on Monday 29 November.

The dance floor manufacturer Harlequin has donated £30,000 to become the project’s first commercial sponsor. The Institute will be the UK’s first, ensuring all dancers stay fit and healthy enough to perform – especially independent dancers without access to specialist care from company therapists.

Dance UK’s two major surveys of professional dancers, undertaken in 1996 (Fit to Dance?) and 2005 (Fit to Dance 2) both found that in any given year, over 80% of dancers have at least one injury that affects their ability to perform. ‘This is too high’ says Helen Laws, Programme Manager of the Healthier Dancer Programme. ‘Despite all the work that we’ve done throughout the Healthier Dancer Programme over the years, that number didn’t change between those two surveys. Only the very largest ballet companies have anything like the medical care they need.’

Part of Dance UK’s ongoing Healthier Dancer project, the Institute will be made up of a consortium of partners across the country including the Jerwood Centre for the Treatment and Prevention of Dance Injuries at Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Dance Science department at Trinity Laban, the British Olympic Medical Institute and the University of Wolverhampton. These institutions will now collaborate on a two-year research project looking at the prevention and treatment of dance injuries.

The approach of the new Institute of Dance Medicine and Science is very much about partner institutions working together, sharing resources, and enabling all dancers to access their facilities.  Dr Emma Redding, programme leader of the MSc Dance Science course at Trinity Laban, explains: ‘This is significant because it’s about partners who have existing infrastructure opening that out to independent dancers; and about working together, collaborating together, joining research questions up so that we can really understand the demands of dance and the provision that’s needed for dancers in this country.’

Over the next two years, a group of 100 professional dancers will work with the Institute at hubs based in London and Birmingham, using the facilities of the four partner organisations. The dancers will visit their hub twice a year for fitness testing and screening, and their injuries, treatment and rehabilitation will be recorded in a central database to build up an accurate picture of the causes and most effective treatments of dance-related injury. ‘By the end of the two years we’ll have evidence that shows what the causes of injuries are, and how best we can provide services to the most dancers across the UK’ says Helen Laws. The aim is for the project to be rolled out across the whole of the UK following this period of detailed initial research.

Almost every professional dancer in the UK has some experience of injury. Rambert dancer Angela Towler explains how a serious hip injury last year nearly ended her career: ‘Last April I tore the labrum [fibrocartilage] in my hip and I didn’t quite know what to do. I didn’t want to stop, I love it so much, I performed on it at Sadler’s Wells because I wanted to perform. I kept going – and that was it, I couldn’t walk.’ Although Towler has now completed treatment and rehabilitation, the injury is still a big part of her life: ‘I still have to work through it.  My way of walking, sitting, sleeping, moving has changed because of this injury. It’s changed my life so dramatically.’

Top ballroom dancer Camilla Dallerup grew up in Denmark before moving to the UK to work, and describes the difference between the approach to bodycare in the two countries. ‘Even as a junior at 12 years old we were treated as athletes -we had a facility with a dietician, nutritionist, physios, any kind of exercise scheme you can ask for.’ Dallerup feels her early education in how to treat her body well has contributed to her own longevity as a performer (she’s now 36), and adds that Denmark has a lot of ballroom world champions who were able to remain in the profession long enough to succeed because of this level of care. ‘When I started dancing in England, it was very different’ she adds. ‘There was no support – you were on your own.’

‘Dancers need what sports athletes get’ says Emma Redding. ‘Athletes get a lot in terms of psychological support, specialist treatment, injury treatment, injury therapists. Dancers, if they’re lucky, get eventually to see their physio after waiting on a long list having seen their GP. So this is about getting the kind of specialist care that sports athletes get.’

The aim for the Institute in the longer term is for more partner organisations to get involved, and for more specialist hubs to be made available to dancers. ‘All of the partner organisations felt passionately that dancers outside their institution should have access to their facilities,’ says Helen Laws. Harlequin’s donation follows the Jerwood Foundation’s initial grant of £80,000 in 2008 and £1,500 donation from the Theatrical Management Association and the Society of London Theatres.  Dance UK are now fundraising for the project in earnest. The organisation is taking part in the Big Give challenge this December (thebiggive.org.uk) and if it can raise £4,000 in individual donations, the Big Give will double the sum to £8,000.

‘Ultimately, we want to see a decrease in the injury rates of dancers in this country’ adds Emma Redding. ‘At the moment it’s quite high, so if we see that go down then something’s working.’

Find out more about the Healthier Dancer Programme on Dance UK’s website.
More on our news pages

Originally posted at www.londondance.com

Photo left to right: Angela Towler, Camilla Dallerup, Sarah Temlett (for Harlequin), Kate Prince &  Emma Redding at Dance UK’s AGM 2010.
By Rick Senley

December 2, 2010 Posted by | Dance, Features, News | Leave a comment

News: Make time for me-time in Finsbury Park

Summer is officially over and September always brings with it a definite back-to-school air, whether that literally means the start of a new term or a return to the office after a holiday in the sun. What options does Finsbury Park have for start-of-term R&R? We had a look.

    Hair and Beauty

    A change of hairstyle is a great way to get the new season off to a great start, and Finsbury Park isn’t short of hairdressers who can create a dramatic, or a subtle, new look. Blossoms on Stroud Green Road is housed in a quirky, baroque-style salon that’s guaranteed to help you feel special.

    I’ve used Toni and Guy on Crouch Hill several times, and always been happy. Other readers recommend Idol over in Stoke Newington.

    Massage and Facials

    If you’re in need of some all-over pampering, Aquarius Beauty on the bottom of Stroud Green Road offers a full range of luxurious facials from £25, and massage treatments from £30, to relieve stress and leave you glowing and vitalised.

    Holistic Thearapies on Plimsoll Road can help with muscular tension and pain using sports massage, trigger-point therapy and acupressure. There’s also a range of relaxing treatments including Indian head massage and reflexology. Rates start at £25, and a home-visit service is also available.

    Top to toe

    Don’t forget those important extremities! Hands and feet do a lot of daily work and carry tension, and it’s good to look after them. Hard As Nailz can transform your worn-out, nailbitten fingers into objects of glory with a moisturising paraffin wax treatment (£20), french manicure (£22) or set of acrylic nails (£25). Tootsies are also well-catered for, with foot treatments including massage starting at £25.

    Aquarius also offer mani- and pedicure services, as does Cali Nails on Blackstock Road.

    What’s your favourite way to primp, preen and unwind in N4? Let us know below!

    Originally poted at www.finsburyparkpeople.co.uk

    September 4, 2010 Posted by | Features, News | Leave a comment

    News: Local photographer walks on the wild side

    This weekend, stay out of traditional Bank Holiday drizzle with a trip to Lauderdale House Arts and Crafts Fair. There, among the pottery, jewellery and face-painting, you’ll also find local photographer Dave Stevenson’s first exhibition of wildlife prints for sale.

    tiger

    Highgate-based Dave accidentally took his first snap aged three, and continued his interest in photography throughout his teenage years. In 2004, Dave made the move from film to digital SLR photography and found the medium was perfect for photographing wildlife, his favourite subject. “I love discovering things, which is why photography and nature go together so beautifully,” says Dave.

    “Wildlife can be pretty frustrating,” he adds. “I speak as someone who has spent four hours in a Norfolk field at 5am waiting for a barn owl that unreasonably stayed in its nest – but there’s nothing more rewarding than having a face to face encounter with a wild animal. Being able to photograph it is a bonus.”

    Dave, who also works professionally as a freelance writer for a number of technology publications, will be selling a range of wildlife and nature prints for the first time on Monday. He describes himself as “relaxed” about the exhibition, which will include prints from a recent trip to India and another to Skomer Island in Wales.

    What advice does he have for aspiring photographers? Move around, says Dave – “Wild tigers aren’t going to pad through your flat, so you actually need to go to their habitat if you want to be in with even the slightest chance of photographing one.”

    Moving your feet is also good advice for composing individual images: “If the shot you’re framing doesn’t look right, don’t start tinkering with your camera’s settings or zoom: move around your subject to get a better shot. Photography is not a static activity.”

    A happy Highgate dweller, Dave’s favourite place in the area is popular local pub The Flask. “I’m an enormous fan of the Flask,” he says. “For me, it’s on my way home from Hampstead Heath which makes it perfect for a sneaky pint or a Sunday lunch.”

    Check out more from Dave on his website and Twitter feed, and let us know if you go to the craft fair on Monday!

    Image courtesy of Dave Stevenson

    Originally posted at www.highgatepeople.co.uk

    August 28, 2010 Posted by | Features, News | Leave a comment

    News: Will recycling incentives help to keep local boroughs green?

    A survey by the Green Party published this month had good news for two of Highgate’s neighbouring boroughs – Islington was named the greenest London borough, with Haringey picking up a special mention for reducing its energy use most over the last year.

    The survey took into account carbon emissions, energy usage, recycling and household waste disposal. The news will be particularly good for Haringey, which pledged to tackle climate change and protect the environment in its 2008 “greenest borough” strategy.

    In more environment news this week, the new coalition government proposed to scrap plans for a “bin tax” on homes, replacing this charge with rewards for recycling. A pilot of the reward system was recently hailed as a success in Windsor, and local councils are now being encouraged to launch similar incentive schemes.

    Some critics fear, however, that financial rewards might incentivise the wrong behaviour, leading to people recycling more purchased packaging in order to reap rewards, rather than reducing consumption in the first instance.

    Camden, Haringey and Islington all run roadside recycling schemes and each borough has its own reuse and recycle centres for larger items. It’s clear that all three local councils want to encourage residents to recycle as much as possible in order to retain their green credentials and promote a sustainable future.

    But is a reward scheme the best way to do this? Is ease of recycling a better incentive than reward-card points? Would you prefer to penalise bad habits with a “bin tax”, or perhaps retain such a tax alongside the reward scheme? Or should greener living be its own reward? Let us know what you think below!

    Originally published at www.highgatepeople.co.uk

    June 15, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

    News: Elections 2010 – Lib Dem local councillor Ursula Woolley speaks to Highgate People

    Polling day is drawer ever closer, and this weekend Cllr Ursula Woolley popped into Highgate People’s kitchen with a timely reminder about casting your vote in the local elections on May 6 as well as the general.

    Ursula

    Cllr Urusla Wooley launching an emergency pothole fund this February

    Woolley has lived in the area for ten years and been a councillor for the past four. “When I moved the the area Labour were still in control. The area had a really bad reputation, but everybody here seemed lovely – it seemed mad not to do something about it!”

    Woolley represents Junction ward, the area of Islington borough surrounding Archway station. Working alongside colleague Cllr Stefan Kasprzyk, Woolley’s priorities for the ward include continuing to improve schools – “there’s been a lot of investment in school buildings, but now we want to continue to raise educational standards”; improving environmental sustainability; getting more local police on the beat, particularly after dark; and keeping council tax “on the low side” by delivering services efficiently.

    The council is currently under no overall control. with 23 Lib Dem and 23 Labour councillors representing the interests of local residents, and both parties making no secret of the fact they would like to take full control of the council.

    “It’s very close,” says Wolley. “In every ward there will be about 40 or 50 votes in it, so your vote really can make a difference.”

    What are the local issues you would like to see prioritised by councillors? Let Ursula and the team know on info@junctionliberaldemocrats.org.uk, and let us know below!

    Originally posted at www.highgatepeople.co.uk

    May 2, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment