Sunday, 19 February 2017

Reflection and Learning

I have recently been given the responsibility of Kids Captain for Motown The Musical Part of my duties is to teach young performers choreography routines from the show. I teach new cast members and also those who are seen to have the possible potential to play the role of young Michael Jackson in the show. I have begun to keep a reflective journal of my "MJ Camp" sessions (for potential youth cast members) and rehearsals for current young performers who are already cast in the role of young Michael Jackson. Below is an entry from my journal which follows a generic format as instructed by the Module One Handbook -

According to section 2.2 on page 25 from Model One Handbook for Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University

"For reflection to be effective it needs to be ‘critical’, which means looking at your own experiences, actions and emotions with a critical eye and thinking about the following question:

What did I do?

Today I taught one of my students the "audition scene", reviewed the "bows" from the show and " The Jackson 5 Medley". I began the rehearsal with a 15 vocal and physical warm-up which consisted of singing along to an instrumental track of vocalises... while we stretched and physically warmed up while singing. We sang and danced through the numbers one time through, then I gave notes and we cleaned followed by another sing and run through.

How did I feel at the time?

The boys were a bit timid and unsure of exactly what was happening but understood the exercises soon enough. I felt the boys were not quite sure how to approach the rehearsals with me at first. They soon realised the intensity that was necessary coming into the rehearsal. I found that the sense of focus is a. it lost.
I am currently the Kids Captain for Motown The Musical currently playing in the West End

What was the impact or effect of my actions and behaviour?

The boys are very impressive and amenable. They are flexible and unless they are used to working a certain way then they can learn in a myriad of settings. My ability to really encourage them and make them laugh is very helpful in their understanding of the material. Also, I find that at young age children will often work hard and work well so that they impress the authority figure or the one teaching. My experience has shown that there are exceptions to this

What could I have done differently?

My running of the rehearsal can be a bit sporadic and unstructured. That being said, I feel that as long as I have enough time to work through the numbers as I should then the rehearsals go very well. However, I should be more structured in my approach, because it is important in planning to achieve certain and specific objectives.

What did other people think about what I did?

The gentlemen were a bit timid and unsure of exactly what was happening but understood the exercises soon enough. I felt the boys were not quite sure how to approach the rehearsals with me at first. They soon realised the intensity that was necessary coming into the rehearsal. I found that the sense of focus is a. it lost.

The chaperone feels that I was hard on them a d really pushed them, which is promising. Also, the assistant music director's feedback was encouraging as he pointed out that I 'have a good way with the kids'.

What will I do differently next time?

I believe that I will go to the next rehearsal with a more rigid format and structure with a certain time allotment for the material that I would like to cover. I will see how this works. Also, being in the room sooner, and being ready to begin the vocal warmup as soon as possible is important for me. Lastly, I will play the vocal warmup on the piano.

What have I learnt about myself and others and what knowledge, skills and insights have I gained?

I have learned that others see me as proactive and are quite willing to give me certain responsibilities easily when I allow myself to be open to saying yes. I would like to increase my ability to work with children in an effective way and develop the best skills and tools for learning. I have a natural ability to be flexible and adjust my teaching methods to ensure others are learning properly, but a formal structure can be very beneficial in helping the students to learn quickly.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

MAPP DTP Beginnings

Today, I had a Skype call with some students of the Middlesex MA Professional Practice in Dance Technique Pedagogy Course. I approached the skype meeting with some questions for which I hoped Adesola and Helen, our course instructors, would provide definitive answers.

The meeting proved to be more of a discussion, and instead of getting answers to my questions by our advisors, we were provided more questions and ideas to consider. Some of those questions where...

"Where do we draw the line between personal and professional practice in regard to reviewing learning experience?"

"How can we communicate this effectively in academic writing?"

"What is truth?"

"What is ethics?"

According to Google Search, ethics is defined as moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity. It seems to me, though, that I have been considering ethics from a limited understanding. If I consider only ethics from a moral perspective, then my experience is affected from an understanding of right and wrong. For example, to achieve a certain movement with the body is simply that..."to achieve a certain movement with the body", This is a conceptual understanding. But what is the movement? Is the movement right? Is the movement wrong? This is dependent upon the theory from which the movement is being perceived. So, truth or the representation of truth can be argued dependent upon the viewer (the one perceiving) and the projection (the object being perceived).

"Personal" reflection in my "professional" practice will help me to identify knowledge and what I have gained from this knowledge. How do I interpret this knowledge? How does what I already know affect my understanding? How do the actions of others affect how I define myself and my practice?

I know that my practice has already been affected by the introduction into this course and will continue to be affected. The formative assessment portion of the course in the form of reflective tasks, blogs, participation in the MAPP Discussion Group, and observation and feedback within my own practice uses Kolb's Learning Cycle to open up a deeper understanding into our professional experience. In other words, By using reflective observation, I can conclude and learn from the experience. Also, by recalling professional experiences, I can actively plan and try out what I have learned; thereby turning entering again the concrete experience.

I suspect that my practice will greatly benefit from applying the tasks, tools, and theories that I am beginning to explore in the MA Professional Practice in Dance Technique Pedagogy.

A Reflection on Goal Setting, Confidence, and Persistence to Reach A Goal

I am fascinated with the ideas around positive psychology and the ability of our mind to affect our personal lives and professional practice, so I share the following reflection as an introduction and insight into this aspect of my nature.

I moved to the United Kingdom in December 2012 to the chagrin of many friends and family members to “make a new start”. I met the love of my life while employed as a dancer on a cruise ship contract. Since I’d only experienced mild success as a dancer, singer, and actor in America, I thought why not. I felt I had nothing to lose.

I had to follow my heart, and I felt an extreme sense of wonderment and adventure was waiting for me in London. There was something refreshing about leaving all I had ever known. I wanted to create a new life for myself. Everything felt fresh, and I had this sense that anything was possible for me.

I had not properly planned myself for the financial, emotional, and mental struggle I was going to encounter by starting over again in this way, but it was the best decision I have ever made. I have experienced more abundance, joy, professional fulfilment, and personal accomplishment than the ten years previous and I owe it to goal setting, self-belief, and persistence.

Goal Setting

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. – Ben Stein (Canfield, 2005, 2015 p. 135)

I had no clue what I wanted out of life. Many people don’t dream because they forget. Sometimes programming from childhood causes us to place our needs on the backburner. We become numb as we replay over and again in our minds, “Stop being so selfish!” “You don’t feel that way!” “Stop crying!” “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” “You are always thinking about yourself.” In the name of being sensible, we forget to dream. It is no wonder why if you ask some teenagers what they want out of life you get a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders (Canfield, 2005, 2015, p. 135 -138)!

One of the first books I read while I was auditioning in London was Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. In the 1920’s, Hill set out to uncover, define, and present to others the keys to success. In his search, he interviewed 500 of the richest men in America. Some of the men he interviewed included F. W. Woolworth, Theodore Roosevelt, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, Teddy Roosevelt, John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field, and Henry Ford. He disseminated the research and set it forth in Think and Grow Rich. I suggest this book to anyone who desires massive success in whatever profession you have chosen. I have paraphrased the process of goal setting as I learned them according to Hill. I have summarised them in the following and included an example of one of my personal goals.
Determine in detail what you want. I want to perform in West End Show.

Determine what you will do to get what it is that you want (without interfering with the rights of others). Attend every audition my agent books for me. Attend every audition possible. Stop smoking.

Give it an exact date: By the end of the year, December 31, 2015, book a West End gig.

Develop a plan for getting what you want: For instance, take class whenever possible. Sing and practice every day my repertoire so I am ready.

Write it down as an affirmation (happening now) and read it aloud every day to keep it in the forefront of your mind. This helps with belief. I am joyfully working in the West End.

My experience with goal setting has been useful in creating momentum in my professional career. In January of 2015, following the suggestion of Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, I wrote down fifty life goals from the following areas of my life:



Recreation and Free Time

Physical Fitness & Health

Relationships With Family & Friends

Personal Goals (learning, spiritual growth, personal achievements)
Community Service, Contribution & Legacy
(Canfield, 2005, 2015)

I have achieved 10 of the 50 the last time I checked. I suspect, though, that I will become better at achieving my goals as I learn and grow. Also, my list will undoubtedly expand as I evolve. In our school training and at our jobs we are provided with curriculums, guides, aims, and objectives. In plays we have scripts. Why not have a curriculum and guide for your life? Write a script for the star player, YOU?


“Confidence is the bottom line. The business of acting is actually relatively simple – anybody could do it. The business of making a living as an actor is the difficult part. Being able to keep your head above water requires a type of operation that is beyond the work itself.” – Bill Patterson (Barnett, 2014 p. 45)

Auditioning; singing to a panel of menacing glares; dancing in a room of strangers; screen-testing – not to mention getting over your nerves to perform opening night. Every aspect of this profession takes self-belief and confidence. To succeed at auditions, you must believe in yourself. Matthew Colthart, currently a swing in Beautiful - The Carol King Musical (Aldwych Theatre) gives the following advice about confidence before an audition. “Remember the people on the panels want you to do well! They want you to solve their problems and be the right person for the role! It’s not an exam. [It’s not a test!] It’s an interview, a meeting.”
Simone Mistry-Palmer, currently resident choreographer of Motown The Musical (Shaftesbury 2016), believes that preparation and mindset are the keys to being able to maintain confidence and self-belief. A key is remembering that none of us are meant to be carbon copies. Therefore, we must always bring our energy and to the roles, we play, especially as a cover. “Just say to yourself, ‘You are great,’ and you deserve the job; then you will be calm and not too nervous. The job will not be too big for you.”

Once I developed a sense of self-belief, I started getting more opportunities. Self- doubt is a perpetuating cycle. For example, there have been times in the past when I have felt inferior and undeserving of a part. As soon as I walk through the door to audition, everything about me oozed doubt and unbelief. The panel can feel this energy, and if you do not believe in yourself, neither will they – most of the time. There are exceptions to every rule, and on the odd occasion, I have been forgiven. I have even had brief pep talks from directors and casting agents. This encouragement is very rare, and eventually, I have had to muster enough confidence to get myself further along in the process. No one is going to give you a pep talk at your fifth or sixth and final call back for a show.

“Succeeding in auditions is all about believing in yourself. I had a mad, insane belief in myself when I came into the business. I felt I had something unique: I thought, ‘Well if you don’t want me, you’re not worth working with.’ That’s the attitude you’ve got to go in with. If you believe you have a unique talent, you have, basically: unless you’re completely potty. And even then, if you believe it, it’s there.-Julie Walters (Barnett, 2014, p. 44) You can get very far with confidence. I am not simplifying success to self-belief. I know that success in this industry takes much more than self-belief, but it is my firm belief that trust in your own ability is the magic ingredient to success.


I’ve gotten a lot of “No’s” over the years. In the performing arts industry, you better get ready to be told no. Rejection is part of the profession. Rejection moulds those who have staying power into strong characters. If you can recover from missing the many opportunities that will inevitably pass you by, you can succeed in this business. A small part of it is sheer probability. The more directors you can get in front of, the closer you are to getting a yes…eventually…hopefully. And still then there is no guarantee. It all comes down to how much you want it. If you want it, you will keep on, and if you do not want it, then you will give up. If I did not want it, then I would have gone on to do something else. I tried. I have given up more times than I care to share. Ha ha ha! I am laughing now because I used to give up after every audition. Mainly, in the early days. If you find yourself quitting often, I suggest burning your bridges so that you have nowhere else to retreat. Then, and only then will you develop the strength of a true warrior. By moving to London, I had no other prospects, no other family besides my husband (and he wasn’t going to let me quit). I had no friends to complain to or nurse my wounds. I found solace in positive self-help and success books and audio. There are so many other factors that go into whether or not you land a role. You may too fat, too thin, not tall enough, not muscular enough; or there may be a hundred more different reasons you do not get the part. If you let it affect you personally, forever, then you are doomed to be an emotional wreck. You may have been the best in your school back at home, but once you come to play in the ‘big leagues’, every other person who is in that room dancing with you was the best in their school. “There’s a philosophical nature to acting. My mother used to say, ‘What’s for you will not go by you.’ It’s a phrase to keep in mind when you don’t get a job. –Brian Cox (Barnett, 2014)


Goal setting, confidence, and persistence will keep you going. These three tools will help you get from where you are to where you want to be. It is important to remember to stay inspired, grateful, and positive. Ambition will never allow you to be content with where you are. Desire is born from wanting to expand and grow. When you reach your goals, the artist in you will become restless and seek new ways of expression. Ambition is great! Restlessness can because for growth. Be grateful for the jobs when you get them, and remember to BE KIND!. “Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and indulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.” – Rick Pitino (Brainy Quote, 2015)

Please, comment below for any questions you may have. Like my ">Facebook Page or message me for any questions, suggestions, or just to connect. All the best to you in this life, and I pray you overcome fears, self-doubt and limiting behaviours to tap into your infinite potential for peak performance and exceptional success! Yes, you can!