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13 March 2014

Contributions to charity

We are delighted to announce that we have been able to donate £300 to the Velindre Cancer Centre and £300 to Thinking Development, the two charities the Vorsprung project had chosen to support.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank guests for their generous contributions at the end of each show and Audi Monmotors for their sponsorhip.
 
 

Review of Vorsprung

 
Vorsprung durch Dance

This unique collaboration between the German and Dance departments, featuring 115 performers, examined the history of the Germany through the 20thCentury, through the medium of dance and narration.  Former Head Girl, Laura Meaton, herself pursuing a performing arts degree, came back to watch the show and wrote the following review:

 ‘The show burst into life with ‘Wilkommen’ and ‘Mein Herr’ from Cabaret, dance numbers that exploded with colour and snappy choreography worthy of a West End audience. This was a perfect introduction as the standard of performance was sustaine, if not increased throughout the show.  We were taken on an emotional journey through the turbulent history of Germany, helped by the extremely competent narrative performance of Bethan who played Elke, an ex Weimar Cabaret Dancer, looking back on her experiences.  She gave a very convincing and mature portrayal and her descriptions helped set the tone for the dance pieces that followed, which was helpful as they were so varied!  There were also fantastic acting performances from a group of Year 8 girls who wrote and performed a scene about Kristallnachtwhich was both informative and heartbreaking to watch.


‘Luckily there were very happy dance numbers throughout the show, otherwise we would have been in tears because, as the subject matter suggests, the theme was serious and very sad at points.  Both ‘Beatle Mania’ and ‘Freedom’ were an absolute joy to watch and the happiness onstage spread throughout the audience, especially when the dancers came up the stairs and danced around us, I was even high-fived by the brilliant vice dance captain. The two tap numbers were also a treat; who doesn’t love an army of tap dancers!? It’s lovely to see how many talented tappers there are at the school now, as it is always so exciting to watch.


‘One of the highlights of the evening was ‘Arbeit macht frei’an incredibly accomplished piece of contemporary dance from Year 11.  It depicted the Jewish community at the end of the war and was harrowingly beautiful, a dance worthy of a contemporary dance theatre in London.  This was accompanied by Charlotte and Mathew, both on the violin, whose impressive performances really added a new dimension to the number.   Another highlight were the two numbers dedicated to Audi (who sponsored the show) that looked as if they could have been taken straight from the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The first number was dramatic and daring, as the girls used hoops to create the Audi symbol and from there performed tricks that had me on the edge of my seat! The second number ‘Automotion’ was absolutely genius in its use of tyres and if Audi do not use this as their new advert they really are missing a trick! It was cheeky and innovative and had the audience laughing from beginning to end at the ingenuity of it all.


‘A special mention to both vocalists, Connie and Allegra, who sang Mein Herr and Cabaret respectively.  Both girls sang beautifully and gave entertaining and engaging performances. Also to Dan, the sole male performer in the show, whose role as the emcee was wonderfully charismatic and cheeky.   The choreography by Ms. Parry, Miss Jenkins, Ms. Pritchard and senior girls, was astounding and Frau Smail’s production skills are as impressive and inspirational as her teaching.


‘The entire cast handled very difficult themes and emotions with maturity and grace showing us that they, like their audience, understood the importance of learning from the past. So when Elke asked “Had we learnt nothing at all?”, unlike those of whom she spoke, the audience could certainly reply with a unanimous‘yes’; we had indeed learnt something from this very talented cast.  That the standard of dance, choreography, music and performance at HMSG might never have been higher.’

 

Uncanny coincidence

Our show centred around the life of fictional character Elke Weiss, a Danish Jew, and her personal experiences.  She was played by Allegra (young Elke) and Bethan (Elke in later years).
Elke spent some time in the transit camp, Theresienstadt, in the Second World War and narrowly escaped being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In some ways Elke's life resembles that of Alice Herz-Sommer, who herself survived life in a concentration camp.  Please read  the article below, composed by Bethan (Year 12).

 
 
"I think I am in my last days but it does not really matter because I have had such a beautiful life. And life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love." (Alice Herz-Sommer)

Alice Herz-Sommer, who has recently died at the age of 110, was the oldest known survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. 
Born into a Jewish family in Prague in 1903, Alice spent much of her childhood playing music.  She was taught to play the piano and was a gifted pianist, even studying at the Prague German Conservatory of Music, before pursuing a career in classical music.  However, when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, Alice was forced to stop performing.
Similar to Elke WeiƟ, around whom the story of “Vorsprung Durch Dance” was based, Alice and her son were sent to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia, in 1943.  She remained there until 1945, when the Soviet army liberated the camp.  Approximately 140,000 Jews were sent to this camp during the war, and 33,430 died there. 
During her time at Theresienstadt, she participated in concerts.  Many of these concerts were part of the Nazis' propaganda, the idea being, that by putting on concerts for Red Cross representatives the rumours about the awful treatment of the Jews would be dispelled.
Alice still managed to remain passionate about music during her imprisonment.
She was, according to her grandson, inspirational.   She reportedly continued to practise the piano daily, particularly Beethoven, until shortly before her death in London in Febraury this year.
 
Whenever I knew that I had a concert, I was happy. Music is magic.”


Elke Weiss (Bethan)
           




2 March 2014

Congratulations and thank you

To all members of the cast of Vorsprung durch Dance
 
A huge thank you and well done from Ms Parry and Frau Smail.

We have received a great deal of positive feedback from parents and guests. They were so impressed by the standard of dancing, narration, music and singing.  Many of them have commented on the original, creative and imaginative interpretation of this period of modern German history.
Your enthusiasm and energy have contributed enormously to the success of this project and made it a truly memorable one; you have been a joy to work with!  Thank you.





25 February 2014

A GREAT SUCCESS!

 
 
The Headmistress, Mrs Helen Davy, commented:

"The dance presentations were an outstanding example of talent and imagination and were performed to packed audiences as half-term approached. 
'Vorsprung durch Dance', an example of collaborative effort that results in far more than the sum of its parts."
 
 
 
1930s Berlin: cabaret at the Barberina
                                                                   
                                                                    The Audi Dance


 
  The Winds of Change
 
 
The Holocaust - Arbeit macht frei