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LA Dance at the Edinburgh Fringe
Posted 08/07/2017 10:00PM

Fringe Blog 2017


By Grace Harlan '18

August 19, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- The only thing required of us today was a morning meeting to debrief with the adults about our plans, and then we were completely free...

Ironically, despite all making different plans in various small groups, the entire dance team happened to go to two of the same shows today. Considering both those shows were dance ones, perhaps it's not so ironic, but everyone seems to share some what of a similar taste. I first went to a two-man show about PTSD, then shopped around the Royal Mile, then watched an all men's ballet group, a modern dance group, and finally a Scottish ballet/hip-hop group.

A lot of dance, yes, but the variety from show to show was still astounding - the possibilities truly are endless.

As busy as today was, Kelli Gifford '19, still made some time to reflect on what her dance experience means to her saying, "I’ve never felt physically able to do anything in my entire life until dance and I feel really confident about it and I really like it. And Brian gives us a ton of freedom, anything we make he will accept it, and he’s such a great person, I really love him and I love working with him. Dance is amazing and we are having so much fun."

The day along with the trip are slowly winding down, but thankfully we still have one last day to soak it all in.


Final Performance

By Grace Harlan '18

August 18, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- An entire month's work of rehearsals and a year's worth of material all came to an close tonight as the girls performed "Room" for the final time.

The performance was gorgeous, the best I have seen it done, and the audience agreed, giving the girls a standing ovation at the end. It was a bittersweet moment as they took their final bow, but Brian helped prep them for it during the morning's rehearsal.

He said, "Don't let your nostalgia or thoughtfulness about your life taking on a new chapter override this incredible opportunity, take this opportunity as a performer, don't worry about the future, don't let that take away from you being 100,000% invested in this moment."

Even though everyone is sad to say goodbye to performing aspect of the Fringe, it is hard to be too upset with full two days left in Edinburgh. Most of our schedules for the weekend include 4-6 shows daily; we will not feel ready to leave until we've seen all that we possibly can.

The dancers set to return to LA this fall are already gaining inspiration for and creating new shows to perform this upcoming year. If there is any place on earth right now that encapsulates creativity, talent, and passion for art, it is the streets of Edinburgh.

Please Note: Check out the photos on Facebook and then scroll down for more social media and blog posts.


75% Done...

By Grace Harlan '18

August 17, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Already 3/4 performances done!

It is so crazy to think how far these dancers have come; from practices in LA's blackbox, all the way to sold out shows at the Fringe Festival.

Before today's performance we attended another high school's play and rehearsed our own. Free moments are hard to come by here, but dedication is engrained in each member of the team. Rising junior Fairlight Chemelli explains, "We’ve worked really hard, we have been rehearsing so much and everyone has been tired but it is totally worth it, this has been a great experience."

After tonight's performance, everyone rushed off to various venues to see shows. As time is running out, we are all realizing how hard it is to fit everything we want to see in our schedule- some tough ticket purchasing choices have to be made in the upcoming days.

A large group of us saw Tape Face, who was a huge star on America's Got Talent last year. He was a riot, but the thing that I have learned through this Festival is that being known does not matter. There are groups here that no one has ever heard of, and yet they are producing some of the most powerful and exquisite work.

This festival is filled with hidden gems amongst the stars, and Lawrence Academy Dance is honored to be part of it.

Dancers' Day Off

By Grace Harlan '18

August 16, 2017

St. Andrew's -- Finally, the team had a well-deserved day off! We took a trip to St. Andrew's on an AHSTF bus where we went sight-seeing and grabbed lunch, and then proceeded to Falkland Palace.

The palace was built around 1450 and, at one point or another, housed numerous Scottish royals. When we got back to the dorms, it was already time for us to head out for dinner. The entire group had tickets to attend the Military Tattoo in the Edinburgh Castle.

None of us really knew what to expect of the Tattoo. The fact that every single seat in the stadium was sold out certainly was a positive sign, but once the announcer stated the guests of honor, we got really excited. Prince William and Prince Charles were in attendance amongst us. We were all shocked, to say the least.

The Tattoo featured military bands and dancers from Japan, India, Norway, the United States, Great Britain, Scotland, and France. Each had the own time at center stage before, finally, every country joined at the end.

The blend between individual country pride and global unity was stunningly portrayed. The show ended with a local children's choir singing Hallelujah while every country stood playing the music on stage. It was so beautifully done and fantastically put together, each and every one of us was humming or dancing along.

We will all sleep with good dreams of the peace and hope filled performance we just watched, and we eagerly await our own tomorrow.

First show


By Grace Harlan '18

August 15, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- It is so hard to believe that an entire week has already past since our departure to London!

The trip has, thus far, been everything we ever hoped for and more. The girls put on another fantastic performance today in front of an max-capacity audience. Despite everyone's hard earned bumps and bruises, each girl has given their absolute best everyday.

As Brian said to them before show time, "You've never done the show your about to do today. We're here for this, and this isn't just a high school performance. We're trying to do something bigger; we've got a world to save."

Brian and the LA dancers channel every single bit of their performance from something much bigger than a "simple dance show." The LA students leave every last bit of themselves out there on the dance floor; creating each-and-every performance is for the first and last time.

We had another required high school performance to attend after our own and then the night was free. Half of the group saw a dance piece that the rest of us had seen a couple nights ago, and when we all met up, the majority of the conversation was shrieks about how completely and utterly fantastic the performance was. The amount of excitement and adoration a single 75 minute performance can bring about is truly incredibly.

Tomorrow marks the first off day from dance the girls have had all month, and it will be sure to bring a whole new batch of adventures.


By Grace Harlan '18

August 14, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- The day started off with a great start due to our first sleep-in of the trip.

After a slow, drizzly morning we made our way to an AHSTF play done by a school from California. We then went back to the dormitories and had one final rehearsal before the thing we've all been preparing for: showtime.

The group boarded the bus back to Central Studio, arriving early enough for the girls to set up the stage and stretch. The audience filed in and it was time to start!

The turnout was amazing with nearly a full house. The girls' performance was captivating and beautiful. Recent graduate Vanessa Hsiao said about the piece, "You feel a lot of parts of your normal life- in the beginning we introduce ourselves, then it becomes very emotional and internal, but then we also do the stress section which is very true to our daily life and the whole piece comes full circle. We reach so many different points with parts relatable to everyone."

To have one show done officially and successfully comes as a huge relief and pleasure to everyone here from LA.

There is truly nothing like accomplishing something incredible through hard work. In the theme of celebration for the performance the entire cast along with their families went out to dinner with our Head of School Mr. Scheibe and his wife Ms. Montesano.

The evening left everyone filled with the joy of success and excitement for another day's performance tomorrow.


Center stage

Flyers & Flash Mobs...

Royal Mile

By Grace Harlan '18

August 13, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- What a whirlwind of a day!

The LA Fringe crew started with a rehearsal in the morning before catching the bus midday to our very own street performance.

Every group gets to advertise their show on the Royal Mile before they perform and today was the girls' chance. They ran through a shortened piece four times, and people came from all over the street to form a horseshoe shape around the students and watch them perform. After each time, the girls would hand out the flyers for the show to the various viewers.

The afternoon schedule was open, and most girls decided to stay in the area of Fringe headquarters meandering through the local markets, venues, restaurants, and street performances.

Finally, at 6:00 PM it was time to perform our flash mob with the rest of the AHSTF on the Royal Mile. The street was packed, but everyone made way for the group of high schoolers as they moved to the Hamilton number. It was quite a thrilling experience to be out in front of so many people.

After the flash mob, we returned to the dorms to learn Ceilidh, a traditional Scottish dance, with the other students from AHSTF. We had a combination of watching the professionals dance and learning ourselves.

Throughout the dance, we partnered with each other, the other students, and even -- at times -- the professionals. It was truly an unforgettable night. Lots of energy was expended during the dance, but some girls attended an additional evening show afterward.

However, the show now everyone's mind is their own...

Tomorrow marks the groups' first performance, and it is sure to be fantastic!


So Much to Do (and See)!

By Grace Harlan '18

August 12, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- This morning after a dorm breakfast we traveled on a double-decker bus to a practice hall in Edinburgh.

The girls danced for three hours, managing to complete an entire run-through after a couple of hours of technical work. We then grabbed a quick lunch and walked to a performance of musical theatre called "The Dreams."

The show was performed in Mandarin and was a modern spin-off of A Midsummer's Night Dream. We had an hour off before our next practice, so most people took that opportunity as a chance to nap.

A bus took us to Central Studios where we had our first official tech rehearsal in the room where the dancers will be performing. It was a shorter practice, mainly used to see how efficiently the girls could run through everything they needed to. Overall it went very well as the piece is incredibly beautiful and fluid. After rehearsal, the night was open until check-in.

The girls that were especially tired went back to the dorm to catch up on rest, while some others of us went and got food. A group of six girls (including myself), went to a dance show "Gossip" with Ms. Mordeno, Brian, and Mr. Sugarman. That was breathtaking.

The dance was phenomenal and the message focused on the impact gossip has and the destruction it can leave behind. The performance was so exciting that afterward, it was hard to go to sleep.

Here at Fringe, it seems like there is so much out there for us to see and not nearly enough time in the day.

Flash Mob


Hello Scotland!

By Grace Harlan '18

August 11, 2017

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- We were off to an early start today, with a 6 AM departure from London to Edinburgh. Our group shared a bus with a theatre group from Michigan and another from New Jersey.

It was a relatively monotonous drive until we entered into Scotland, where we were greeted with a beautiful view of the ocean by the country side.

Even though most of us slept on the bus, by the time we rolled into the University of Edinburgh at 5 PM, we were all tired from a full day's worth of travel. The group was was happy to find excellent accommodations, and -- finally -- we were able to completely unpack.

The most unique experience of the day was, by far, the flash mob rehearsal we attended...

The American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF) organized the dance to the opening song of the musical Hamilton, and it seemed that we were the only group that had never actually seen the dance done before.

The Hamilton theme struck close to home for us LA students, resulting in Fairlight Chemelli '19 declaring, "We should totally preform this for Mr. Scheibe's birthday next year."

And we were in hysterics for almost the entire hour of practice, but we got the hang of it in the end, more-or-less, anyway (check out the video)...

The LA squad moved from the hilarious street practice to a serious indoor rehearsal for the actual Fringe performance. The girls put up a tremendous effort, focusing mainly on the small duo or trio dances that will help to complete the final show.

Perhaps it is a good thing today was so tiring, for now maybe we can all sleep through the jitters and excitement thats await us with the first day of Fringe tomorrow.


Last practice in London

Last Night in London

By Grace Harlan '18

August 10, 2017

LONDON, England -- The morning started out with a quick breakfast and then a group walk to Siobhan Davies Studios. The three-hour practice was used to help the girls go through the entire dance again, section by section, and ensure they are ready to perform this coming Monday.

The practice required lots of concentration, but with the help of Mr. Feigenbaum -- and each other -- they were able to remember all the pieces of the dance, including the intricate details like transitions.

Afterward, we all walked back to the hotel and then proceeded from there to lunch. We were allowed to split up into small groups and explore some more of the city. One group went to the London Eye, one to the Covent Gardens, and another to Harrods, the famous London department store.

After having the afternoon free, we all met up at Thai Square to eat dinner together before going off to a play. The performance was entitled "The Play Gone Wrong," in which every part of the show went wrong - literally (and on purpose, of course). We walked over the Thames River to get back to our hotel, pausing only briefly for a couple "photo shoots" on the bridge.

We were all happy to get the chance to go to bed after a long day of hard work. However, Victoria Hodgkinson '18 said, "I wish we didn't have to leave London so soon."

Our brief stay in the city has been more entertaining and eventful than anyone had foreseen, so it is a good thing the Fringe festival has so much in store for us.

Scotland, here we come!


London Calling

By Grace Harlan '18

August 9, 2017

A selfie from London...LONDON, England -- Despite landing at what felt like 2 AM, we all managed to successfully pass through customs and receive our luggage this morning at the airport.

Immediately upon boarding our bus, the tour of London began. We passed by the streets of South Kensington, the Royal Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Church, and the Parliament village all before 10 in the morning.

The bus then dropped us off and we were able to explore and eat lunch in small groups.

London boasts some exceptional cafés and most everyone was able to find something they enjoyed. However, to simply meander through the West End would have been enough of a treat, considering all the shops, theaters, and restaurants it contains, but moreover we all visited both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery.

The National Gallery is home to some of the world's most famous pieces of art, including Van Gogh's sunflowers and chair, along with several of Monet's works. The National Portrait Gallery displays the best and most vivid portraits of the UK's finest people, from the likes of Kings to pop-star Ed Sheeran.

By the time we got back to the bus, fatigue was settling in, but there was still more to see. Our tour guide, Natalie, took us to the top floor of a local mall, which just so happens to have the most spectacular view of St. Paul's Cathedral. After a quick photo shoot, we were off again, this time to another museum.

We ended the outing at the Tate Museum of Modern Art, where we were allowed to split into small groups to admire the unique and vibrant work. Our boarding accommodations were a mere two minute walk from the museum. The day had thus far been incredibly well-spent, and luckily for us, nap time was set aside before dinner at the hotel.

With a three hour practice in store for the girls bright and early tomorrow morning, it will be an ensured night of rest and relaxation.


At the airport...



Preparing for Fringe Festival

by Grace Harlan '18

May 24, 2017

Brian FeigenbaumGroton, MA -- As LA dance gears up for their trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it's obvious that a whole lot of work goes into the preparation - and not just from the student performers.

Three faculty members, Director of Dance Brian Feigenbaum, Director of Theatre Joel Sugarman, and art teacher Dina Mordeno will be accompanying the twelve student dancers (and one student journalist) on the trip to the world renown two-week art festival in Scotland.

Sure to be a life-changing experience, not only will the students be performing on numerous occasions on two continents as they prepare and perform for the Fringe, but they will also have the chance to see other acts, representing dance, music, and theatre.

At the beginning of the summer, Mr. Feigenbaum detailed the heavy workload ahead. The long-time Lawrence Academy teacher explained that the students would be challenged to remember steps, sequences, and rhythms for their longest performance yet; never mind the fact that that this will also be the largest audience that this LA ensemble has performed for, as well.

“We are preparing for a show that is very different than the ones we do every term, usually 15 minutes or so long, which in itself is a lot," he said. "However, we’ll bring a show [to Scotland] that’s 40 or 50-minutes long.

"That's something that they’ve never really done before."

Feigenbaum, a weathered veteran of Fringe, knows the students will come away with so much more than just the experience of their performances in Scotland.

“This festival is unique as far as what I would call a progressive arts festival," he said of his takeaway from previous festivals.

"A lot of the world misunderstands art," he continued. "So, I would say my biggest takeaway is just admiration for the Scotts; I think they’ve done an amazing thing these last 60 or 70 years with these festivals they hold."

The world of art is expressive and inclusive, which, as Brian points out, is something to admire. The LA dancers are lucky to have the opportunity to see how artists from all over the world choose to express themselves.

"Art is made up of people who observe and reflect and use their skills," he said. "So, the other take away is that art should be central to all education -- all over the world -- no matter what.”  

This festival is something they would never experience otherwise; thanks to LA, they now have the chance.


Past Fringe

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