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The BLYTHE SCHOOL of Theatre Dance

July 2017

We rounded off a very busy term with an examination session of Rainbow exams for our youngest pupils and our first entries for the new Contemporary Modern syllabus which has been launched by the National Association of Teachers of Dancing, the first dance association to produce a graded syllabus for this form of dance. The results are excellent with all pupils passing with either merit or distinction and 3 pupils gaining marks of 90 or over! Well done to those who took exams on this day.

Race For Life

Team Blythe managed to raise £1486.25 for Cancer Research UK by running the Race for Life in June on one of the hottest days of the year! We couldn’t have done any of this without the fantastic support of our school.

Sisters Elsie & Hetty Brown (grade 2 & 3) had their hair cut and donated their plaits to the Little Princess Trust to be made into wigs for children who have lost their hair. They raised £268 from proceeds of a raffle at the last show, and exceeded their target of £700 before they had their hair cut on June 7th.

Ruby Gold Birthday

Our ladies' tap class celebrated a very special birthday with one of our mature students! Ruby Adams joined our adult class over 20 years ago when her 3 grand daughters, Beth, Alice and Kate were all pupils at the school. Ruby, who celebrated her 80th birthday in June, still enjoys coming to class every week with her daughter Jackie.

May 2017

This year we celebrate 35 years of the Blythe School of Theatre Dance, founded in 1982, and were proud to stage our latest production aptly named ‘Dancing Feet’ at the Thameside Theatre, Grays. Our pupils played to packed houses on two consecutive nights and our audiences were treated to some outstanding performances. The team spirit both backstage and onstage truly shone through and we have received amazing feedback from all involved. Visit our gallery and our Facebook page for photographs. The show raised over £3000 for our chosen charities, Saint Francis Hospice and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Guide Dogs Visit

The week after our show we were lucky enough to have a visit from five very cuddly four-legged friends: DJ, Eddie, Fudge, Holly and Josie . The puppies ranging from 9 – 14 months are currently training as Guide Dogs for the Blind and were brought in by their handlers. Brian Breeze gave a very informative talk and the children were able to ask questions and play with the pups. Even those who were hesitant at first were happily stroking these lovable pups by the end of the morning. We have been sponsoring 3 guide dogs for the past 2 years and regularly receive ‘pupdates’ on their progress. As they come to the end of their training we will continue our support of this wonderful charity by sponsoring a new class of pups from the proceeds of our show.

Our Theatre Club continues to be very popular and is open to all family and friends of the Blythe School– we are able to get West End tickets for a fraction of their face value by securing group bookings enabling us all to enjoy top shows, with the comfort of travelling to and from the theatre by coach. In the last year alone we have been to see Gypsy, Guys’n’Dolls, Kinky Boots, Motown, Aladdin and most recently the amazing 42nd Street.

Mardi Grass Troupe

February 2017

In February a troupe of 33 dancers took part in a Mardi Gras production at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We had a wonderful time rehearsing for this and an amazing day out where students had the incredible opportunity of experiencing life backstage and onstage in the West End! The bond created between pupils aged 7-17 during rehearsals has lasted way beyond the day and was life-enriching for all. Our students performed ‘Michael Jackson Tribute’ and ‘Friend Like Me’. We were even lucky enough to get a mention on national radio when one of our troupe members, Catherine Bennett, e-mailed BBC Radio 2 and had a request read out on Elaine Paige’s Musical Theatre Show!

July 2016

We are delighted to announce a 100% success rate for all students who have taken exams this year! There have been 8 full days of examinations, with over 400 entries, almost half of which achieved Distinction with marks of 80 and above.

Lower School Winners

Special Distinction awards for achieving marks of 90 and above for a graded exam were presented to: Felicity Abbott, Emma Richardson, Caitlin Rosendale and Rebecca Stokes, whilst Grace Hood, Caitlin Rosendale and Jessica Stewart gained 6 distinctions – a magnificent achievement! Emma and Rebecca were also awarded bursaries for further training by the NATD for outstanding examination results, with Rebecca gaining the highest mark – 96% - awarded to any NATD student nationwide for a graded modern exam. Primary pupils Kimberley Bensusan and Daisy Pearce completed their Rainbow and Pot of Gold Awards.

Upper School

Our school cups for commitment were awarded in the lower school to Sophie Brazier & Elsie Brown (Ballet), Hallie Hood (Tap), Aimée Flint (Modern) and Hetty Brown (Singing), and in the upper school to Katie Vine (Ballet), Sophia Irtelli (Tap), Cerys Barden (Modern) and Catherine Bennett (Singing).

March 2016

We continue our examination period with all students having the opportunity to take graded exams in ballet, tap and modern. Their hard work has paid off and we are seeing some excellent results.

This term our Theatre Club enjoyed trips to see Guys & Dolls and Kinky Boots.

Congratulations to the winners of our colouring competition for Guide Dogs for the Blind: Tilly Payne, Daisy Pearce, Molly Smith, Lauren Bridge, Becky Tattan and Mia Popkin.

December 2015

After a well deserved Summer break following on from the hard work of the show, we returned to classes in September with preparation for exam work. Our first session took place in November and we are delighted to report a 100% pass rate with almost half of our pupils achieving Distinction. Congratulations to all pupils who took exams at this session.

We also welcomed our new singing teacher, Kirsty Cherrett, a graduate of the London School of Musical Theatre. Kirsty is an enthusiastic and dynamic young teacher and we are sure that the children will enjoy classes with her. We received news that out puppies are now happily settled with their handlers and pupils had fun tracking their progress on a giant wall chart.

Recent Theatre trips with the Blythe School Theatre Club have included Memphis, Beautiful and Gypsy.

June 2015

Three Guide Dogs

Our latest production, 'Dancing on Sunshine', was a huge success and played to packed and appreciative audiences at the Thameside Theatre, Grays. Visit our gallery to see some of the photos from 'Dancing on Sunshine'.

Our chosen charities are Saint Francis Hospice who received a cheque for over £2500 from the proceeds of the show, and Guide Dogs for the Blind, where our donation has contributed to the training of 3 puppies, Legend, Goldie and Felix, pictured on the right. Many thanks to all pupils and parents for their support.

April 2015

Mardi Gras in Pink

How time flies when you’re so busy! We started the new term in September buzzing with the exciting prospect of starting work towards two new productions; the first involved 37 students age 8-16 who were lucky enough to have the opportunity to dance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in February. We travelled into London by coach on a cold Sunday morning laden with costumes and enough food and drink to get us through the long day ahead! Nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of our excited troupe as we arrived at the theatre and took over the second floor dressing rooms, spilling out into the corridor when the mirror lights made the rooms too hot to bear. After a briefing in the auditorium of the running order of the day, the girls changed into their first costumes for the dress rehearsal, and the rest of the day flew by in a whirl! We had a few costume malfunctions which needed putting right before the evening performance and everyone pulled together to help; the older students took great care of the younger ones and there was a real sense of team spirit. The girls were so excited as their families and friends arrived to support their performance, and they danced beautifully to rapturous applause. We arrived back at 10pm, and far from being worn out, they were still singing heartily! It was a wonderful day and we are so proud of our Mardi Gras troupe. They will perform both dances at our next production.

Mardi Gras in Blue

For the rest of the school, rehearsals began in earnest in September for our show this coming June, 'Dancing on Sunshine'. We are making good progress with all the dances, costumes are ordered and the show will be upon us before we know it!

Our Theatre Club, open to all family and friends, has enjoyed trips to Miss Saigon, Cats, Made in Dagenham, and Memphis. We can see these shows at greatly reduced rates with group bookings and we travel in comfort by coach.

Former student Amy Ross, now professional dancer and actor, received an exciting birthday treat from her family recently when they organised a dancing lesson for her with Strictly Come Dancing’s Aljaž Skorjanec. Her jive can be viewed on Youtube here. If Aljaž ever needs another partner, we think he knows where to look!

We ended the last day of term with a non-uniform day in aid of Walk the Walk for Breast Cancer. Former student, Jennifer Mankelow will be running the London Marathon. With sponsorship raised from our Ladies’ Tap class and non uniform day we are delighted to give Jennifer £220.00!

August 2014

Teachers with Len

BLYTHE SCHOOL principals Sue, Debbie and Ann attended the NATD Annual Congress in Cheltenham during August. 'Strictly Come Dancing' head judge, Len Goodman, was interviewed by Angela Rippon during 'An Audience with Len Goodman'. Fellow judge, Craig Revel Horwood, watched on from the front row to add to the evening's entertainment!

July 2014

What a busy year! Since our show in November 2013 we have had 8 days of examinations across all dance disciplines. Our pupils have taken almost 400 hundred exams and all have passed, with almost a third receiving distinction - 80 marks and above! Five students received our Special Distinction Award for attaining 90 marks or more for at least one of their exams: Felicity Abbott, Madeline Doyle, Molly Edghill-Lane, Caitlin Rosendale and Jessica Stewart. A fantastic achievement for all students and well deserved.

Lower School Winners

In July we held a prizegiving day where all pupils entertained a packed audience with their singing projects which have been running alongside their dancing exam classes. Their performances were wonderful and very well received. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Gemma as our singing teacher as she is about to embark on Cameron Mackintosh’s national tour of Barnum as the Assistant Musical Director – this is a great achievement for her and we wish her every success in her career.

The Teacher’s Progress Awards were given to students who show tireless commitment to dancing and who, in the opinion of the teachers, have made significant progress because of this. This year, in the lower school these awards were given to Lola Belle Fordyce (Tap), Neve Popkin (Ballet), Edie Wells (Modern) and Amy Lock (Singing), and in the upper school to Olivia Payne (Tap), Emma Richardson (Ballet), Catherine Bennett (Modern) and Caitlin Houseago (Singing). Congratulations to all our students – we are delighted to see their hard work rewarded.

Upper School

Blythe Theatre club enjoyed a trip to ‘I Can’t Sing’ in March - watch this space for future plans.

In April, student teacher Grace Unwin raised almost £4000 for Great Ormond Street by running the London Marathon. We had a non uniform day at dancing to help her fundraising efforts and we are all very proud of her.

January 2014

St Francis logo

Pupils had an exciting Autumn term preparing for our latest production ‘Strictly Blythe’ which was held at the Thameside Theatre in November. The show was a huge success and we were delighted to send a cheque to Saint Francis Hospice for £1,640.01. We have received a certificate from the Hospice confirming that we have raised £14,000.87 since 2004. This is a huge achievement for the school and we are delighted to support this worthy cause. Visit our gallery to see some of the photos from 'Strictly Blythe'.

Snowman

In December it was our turn to be the audience once again as the Blythe School Theatre Club visited the Peacock Theatre for the annual production of ‘The Snowman’ ballet. Our vocal coach, Gemma Hawkins, was a band member for the London production and is currently the Musical Director of the National Tour. We had the privilege of going backstage after the show and meeting the Snowman himself!

July 2013

2013 is proving to be one of the busiest and most progressive in the history of the Blythe School which probably explains why it is flying by so quickly!

Exam award

By Easter we had completed our examination sessions which included all grades, medals and awards for ballet, tap and modern. There were exam opportunities for every pupil in the school and pupils worked very hard towards these. Exams are an important stepping stone to pupils’ progress, and their dedication and commitment were worthwhile. We are delighted to announce 100% pass rate which was very well deserved.

Knowing how much our pupils enjoy stage work and not wishing to neglect this during exams, our singing teacher and Musical Director Gemma Hawkins provided this opportunity for them in March. Family and friends were invited to a ‘work in progress’ performance held in St Nicholas’ church and we were astounded at the audience turnout as the church was packed on a freezing cold day when the rain was relentless! The children sang beautifully with acting performances introduced to some groups. It is wonderful to see their confidence and stage presence, and there is no doubt that the support that they (and we) receive from you goes a long way towards the success of our school. Gemma has since been working on the UK tour of the Lion King and in her absence the children have been led by a number of experienced coaches from the West End and further afield.

Drama class

This year has seen the launch of two important new enterprises at the Blythe School: the introduction of drama classes and our children’s theatrical agency, Lollipop Kidz. These have been inspired by Nicola who is keen to show students the way into the world of acting. Our first drama course themed ‘The Circus’ has proved a real hit, and the energy generated during the 2 hour weekly sessions has to be seen to be believed! Our drama courses will be led by highly trained actors and the course leader will vary depending on their commitments, as is the nature of the profession. We are very fortunate to have such contacts. To secure your place on the next course please see your enrolment note or contact us for details if you are not currently enrolled with the school. The agency, Lollipop Kidz, which aims to represent children wishing to enter into West End shows, advertising and tv work, is in its early stages and further details can be found on the agency page of our website (coming soon).

And when we’ve got time to spare, the obvious thing to do is take a trip to the theatre, and there’s no shortage of takers for Theatre Club tickets! So far this year we have had sell-out coach trips to see A Chorus Line, Matilda and The Bodyguard, and over 100 of you will be joining us for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in October. Further trips are planned.

We were delighted to hear that grade 3 student Caitlin Rosendale will be returning to the cast of Billy Elliot in September.

We are now looking forward to our production ‘Strictly Blythe’ which will be held at the Thameside Theatre, Grays, in November.

January 2013

We’ve had an action-packed Autumn term with a whole variety of events taking place!

Grace Hood

Our Theatre Club is proving a huge success as we are able to offer such a wide choice of shows at discounted group rates. There is always something for everyone! Grade 3 student Caitlin Rosendale finished her run in Billy Elliot in November, and we enjoyed a coach trip to see her in September. Caitlin is pictured below at the stage door with some of her fellow pupils. Shrek was our next trip in December, followed by Top Hat in January. We’re all now looking forward to A Chorus Line in February and Matilda in May!

Grace Hood (grade 2 pupil) enjoyed a panto season in Jack and the Beanstalk at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, appearing as a villager, sprite and goblin.

Billy Elliot

Our singing coach Gemma married Andrew Stainer in November and they were presented with their wedding cake as a gift from the dancing school!

Our December examination session was very successful with many pupils gaining distinction. Congratulations to Cerys Barden who achieved the highest mark in the school with 89 marks for Grade 3 Modern. Well done, Cerys keep up the hard work! Tap exams take place in February.

We can now confirm the dates for our next show which will be held at the Thameside Theatre, Grays on FRIDAY and SATURDAY 22nd and 23rd November 2013.

September 2012

More than 80 pupils, family and friends of the Blythe School of Theatre Dance enjoyed a trip to the Lion King in London's West End during June organised by our Theatre Club. We are delighted to be able to offer group theatre trips at greatly reduced rates. Look out for our next exciting trip!

Following a very successful medal examination session in July, we had an awards presentation on our return to class in September which was very well received by pupils and parents alike.

Rainbow awards

Congratulations to Sophie Brazier, Elsie Brown, Bronwyn Byrnes, Millie Goldsborough, Hallie Hood, Ruby Langan, Eloise Morrison, Mia Jo Osholake, Marina Wegner-Hamilton, Amelia Winegarden, Lola Belle Fordyce, Libby Ramsden and Amie-Louise Williams who all completed their Rainbow Awards.

A special mention must also go to Victoria Sharpley who gained Distinction with 94 marks for Senior Bronze Ballet Medal.

May 2012

Congratulations to all the pupils who took part in our recent show On Your Toes! at the Thameside Theatre. From three successful performances we raised an amazing £2141.99 for Saint Francis’ Hospice! Our thanks go out to all the people involved backstage, selling programmes, and those involved in many other ways who made this possible.

We also donated £250 from the show proceeds to the May Moon Walk in aid of breast cancer awareness. Assistant teacher Jayne Tether and former pupils Jennifer de Rijk and Leila Scott walked through the night on 12th May and we raised a further £180 through our ‘pink’ days on 9th and 12th May where pupils wore pink (and lots of it!) in return for small a donation.

Girls in pink

From the sale of photo CDs which contained photos from the show and rehearsals we have also managed to raise £220 towards Race for Life, which Gemma Hawkins will be running in Regent's Park on 14th July.

Well done to all pupils who passed their Rainbow Exams in May. Special congratulations to Aimee Flint, Emma Gibson, Isla Morris and Mia Vanderson in Primary Grade and Aimee Garman, Scarlett Payne and Heather Turnbull in Grade 1 who completed their awards!