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December Alumni Roundup

Thu 7 January 2021

A roundup of TL alumni news, performances and creative projects in December.

December saw many alumni feature in national and international media.

Deschanel Gordon discussed his musical inspirations on Jamie Cullum’s The Jazz Show, while fellow jazz alum Ayanna Witter-Johnson talked with Jess Gillam about the music they love on BBC’s This Classical Life. Radio listeners also enjoyed an interview with saxophonist Camilla George on the Soho Radio channel.

In an insightful interview with The Dance Enthusiast, alum Dante Puleio discussed the challenges of leading a dance company during the pandemic, while Sam Yo talked to Popsugar about the benefits of Pilates and his Peloton classes that launched in December.

TV audiences enjoyed dance performances from TL choreographers this festive season, with screenings of Ballet Lorent’s Rumpelstiltskin and Sir Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet and The Red Shoes on Sky Arts.

TL alumni were featured in best of 2020 lists as the year came to its close. Nubya Garcia’s album Source appeared in the top ten of NPR’s albums of 2020, while fellow jazz alum Laura Jurd’s latest offering with ensemble Dinosaur was featured in The Guardian’s top ten jazz album selections. John Powell’s iconic score for animation film How to Train Your Dragon was highlighted in Variety’s picks for the best classic film albums of 2020.

Congratulations to alumni who received industry awards last month. Dance alum Luca Silvestrini received a prestigious Premio della Critica by the Associazione Nazionale Critici di Teatro, for his company’s work in championing diversity. Protein also won an LA Film Award for their dance film The Sun Inside, created with alum Roswitha Chesher, which was named the Best Musical/Dance Film of December.

TL alum and violinist Lana Trotsvek was awarded a Prešeren Fund Prize, announced by the Culture Ministry of Slovenia in recognition of artistic accomplishments, and Dominic Veall won the Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition 2020 for his composition Dormi, Jesu. Listen to Dominic’s previous work performed by the BBC Singers.

Conductor Duncan Ward’s concert received critical acclaim in the Guardian, who also praised the Gorillaz collaborative performance featuring TL alum and drummer Femi Koleoso in a review last month. Bass-baritone John Savournin and Charles Court Opera’s pantomime Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown also found critical success, described as having its ‘own zany wit and musical dexterity’ by The Hackney Citizen. The pantomime  went on to receive an OnComm Award, a commendation that recognises excellent online work from fringe theatres.

In the face of ongoing restrictions, alumni continued to create digital and audio-visual projects throughout December.

Alum Antigone Gyra’s work with mature dancers was celebrated in the ΚΙΝ.Ω documentary. Fellow dance alum Amina Khayyam premiered her self-directed, written and choreographed dance film, CATCH THE BIRD WHO WON’T FLY.

The 12 Days of Christmas campaign, coordinated by Elliott DeVivo, saw numerous TL alumni perform festive favourites, while Musical Theatre alum James Darch continued to star in the ongoing YouTube series, On a List.

On the big screen, dance alum Flora Grant starred as Scrooge’s sister in the dance adaptation of A Christmas Carol, alongside cast members such as Martin Freeman and directed by Jacqui and David Morris.

December also saw alumni sharing knowledge through digital platforms. Roswitha Chesher shared her insights into capturing dance on film during her webinar Filming Dance for Screen, while fellow alum Erin Sanchez discussed supporting dancers’ wellbeing in this Psychological Skills Training podcast and Maciej Kuźmiński took part in the choreographers’ round table at the CLASH! Festival.

During her time as artist-in-residence at Flux Laboratory Athens, choreographer and alum Chloe Aligianni explored the astronaut experience through her work The Space Cadet. Find out more.

TL alumni continued to perform their work during a uniquely challenging festive season.

Pianist Matthieu Esnult gave a concert with Stradivari violinist Yury Revich at the beginning of December, while fellow piano alum Yuki Negishi’s Boxing Day recital continued the CityMusic Live festive series.

The English Chamber Orchestra’s series of specially arranged carols saw TL alum Bethany Horak-Hallett perform ‘I Saw Three Ships’ at Cadogan Hall. Watch the recorded performance.

The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel, dedicated to sharing the best of musical theatre performance, streamed Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds, recorded in 2012.

Saxophonist and jazz alum Leo Richardson played at Hampstead Jazz Club, alongside Damien Flood and Ciyo ‘Guitar’ Brown, while Reuben James streamed a performance from the Metropolis Studios, described by CLASH as ‘a privilege to behold’.

Dance collective masshysteria premiered their latest online work,, co-produced by Dampfzentrale Bern.

TL alum Karen Hill choreographed Lockdown Live, a piece from Nova Grace Productions performed in the latter part of the month. More TL choreography was shared during December with Rosemary Lee’s work featuring at First Light Lowestoft’s Winter Solstice event.

Coming up:

Get tickets for the Open Online Festival 2021 which runs 1-6 February. The festival is led by Artistic Director Joumana Mourad and features choreographic work by alum Daisy Harrison.

Catch James Newby performing a world premiere commission by Judith Bingham, as part of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama digital spring programme on 29 January.