#FriendsFriday 44 - Laonikos Psimikakis-Chalkokondylis

Lao is one cool dude!

Lao is one cool dude!

Lao Likes an adventure, just like the guys in #NightAtTheTheatre!

Lao Likes an adventure, just like the guys in #NightAtTheTheatre!

The Team!

The Team!

How are you/have you been involved with Casson & Friends?

I am currently standing in as a production manager for a couple of weeks of the Midlands tour of Night at the Theatre this spring. This is both exciting and a lot of fun — it's so great to see the same piece eliciting different responses from each audience, and to see so many young people being inspired and enthused by this piece. I get to drive the set from one place to another, which I love, and I get to do all the technical bits for the performance, with the help of the often fabulous staff at each venue we visit.

What do you love about dance?

As an artist, what I love about dance is that dancers work directly with their material: there are no words, musical instruments, etc to get in the way—the dancer is the dance! This makes it very grounded in the human body, gravity, etc, which I find fascinating. I also love it as a social practice, dancing is a very beautiful and playful way of getting people to move in rhythm together — much easier to dance the salsa with a stranger than to join a salsa band..

What song always makes you dance? (We have a a Spotify playlist!)

Wade in the Water by Eva Cassidy — I was learning lindy hop some years ago and this was one of the tunes I would practice with, so now it's stuck as the go-to song for lindy hop! 

Also I love music with irregular rhythms, Radiohead's 15 Step comes in mind.

In Finland I did a master in Global Music, so I came across and played a lot of music like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2wV283ykk - this kind of very earthy, groovy music definitely gets those feet moving!

Last, but not least, I love Scandinavian (particularly Finnish) folk music, and together with a bit of social lindy hop and latin, is a kind of music I love because is so much intertwined with a social dance tradition, and I have danced to myself quite a bit.

Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify

What else are you working on at the moment? (Upcoming performances, exciting projects, holidays!)

In December 2017 I took part in an outrageous deconstruction and reconstruction of Beethoven's Violin Concerto Op.61 at The Old Dentist in Hackney. This was actually only just broadcast on BBC Radio 3's "Hear and Now" last week, and is still available for another few weeks! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tmhvc (at 54:10 there's an interview, to give a bit of context for the piece, and the actual music starts at 1 hour in).

I recently started working for Eden Project Communities, where I am part of a team developing a network of community projects and individuals across the UK. It's fascinating, because it's a very ambitious task (to create a self-sustained, resilient network of community initiatives), has a direct impact on the people in the network, and it means I get to meet a lot of ordinary people doing extraordinary things all over the country.

In 2014 I co-founded artArctica, an arts organisation in Helsinki, and I am still involved although this is now a bit in the back-burner because of other commitments. We are aiming to produce a CD-album with music recorded from festivals we produced sometime in the near future.

I am also learning the shakuhachi in my spare time, which I love because it brings together the breath, sound, and mindfulness, as well as my passion for Japanese aesthetics and philosophy. I am trying to learn a bit of Japanese on the side, which hopefully I can put into use when in the future I have the opportunity to take lessons from a Japanese master — this is a big project in itself!

Any links? (Links to your work, your company website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud etc?)

You can find Lao on his Website, Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter!

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team on Fridays with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 43 - Andrew Gardiner

Andy in motion!

Andy in motion!

Rehearsals were all a bit much for Andy...

Rehearsals were all a bit much for Andy...

"Hello...?"

"Hello...?"

How are you/have you been involved with Casson & Friends?

I have recently joined Night At The Theatre as a performer for the 2018 tour. Along the way I will also be learning how to deliver Casson & Friends workshops and The Dance We Made.

What do you love about dance?

I think that because there is always something to discover and work on I don’t easily get bored as with other things. It’s a passion where you really can follow your own interest within a wider context.

What song always makes you dance?

212 by Azealia Banks (its a little explicit) but it just never fails.

Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify

What else are you working on at the moment? (Upcoming performances, exciting projects, holidays!)

My biggest project this year is my Wedding that will happen in France in June. 

For work I will be rejoins Protein Dance and the work Border Tales that will be touring nationally in the UK and also internationally to Korea, Italy, Switzerland, Romania amongst others.

I have just finished a project with Curious Seed in Scotland called teenage trilogy also as a performer, this is set to tour autumn 2018. I will be back with Zoielogic Dance Theatre for upcoming works and artistic assistance.

You can find Andy on Twitter and Instagram.

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team on Fridays with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 41 - Alice Shepperson

Alice Shepperson by Zoe Bradley

Alice Shepperson by Zoe Bradley

Alice in Dirtmarket's 'The Dancebombing Project' -  Copyright DWC Imagery

Alice in Dirtmarket's 'The Dancebombing Project' -  Copyright DWC Imagery

Alice in Dirtmarket's 'The Dancebombing Project' -  Copyright DWC Imagery 

Alice in Dirtmarket's 'The Dancebombing Project' -  Copyright DWC Imagery 

How are you involved with Casson & Friends?

I’m an access worker for Laura Dajao whilst she is performing in Night At The Theatre (NATT). I am also NATT's number 1 fan!

What do you love about dance?

The vibe that dance creates, internally and externally, makes me feel alive and healthy (physically and mentally). Dance is for everyone and anyone. It's so malleable; they're are endless possibilities, which is so exhilarating for me to do and watch. I am forever learning.

What song always makes you dance?

I find this THE hardest question, but today I’m going for Jax Jones- You Don’t Know Me ft. RAYE

Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify

What else are you working on at the moment?

Around Easter, I will be back with Dirtmarket, a dance company I joined last October as a main dancer. We will continue with ‘The Dancebombing Project', performing in Burton Upon Trent and sharing the work at the Curve in Leicester. 

Also, I will teaching and assisting for various other companies.

You can find Alice on Facebook and Instagram

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 38 - Laura Dajao

Laura Dajao in Night at the Theatre (Image: Alicia Clarke)

Laura Dajao in Night at the Theatre (Image: Alicia Clarke)

Laura Dajao in Night at the Theatre (Image: Rhiannon Williams)

Laura Dajao in Night at the Theatre (Image: Rhiannon Williams)

Laura Dajao in Night at the Theatre (Image: Rhiannon Williams)

Laura Dajao in Night at the Theatre (Image: Rhiannon Williams)

How are you involved with Casson & Friends?

I'm currently a part of the Night At The Theatre Cast for the 2017 Tour. 

What do you love about dance?

I love the way it makes me feel: whether it's watching a clip on youtube, dancing in an empty lift, or watching people completely forget where they are when the music takes over! The freedom to be whoever you want to be, however you want to be in whichever way you want to be! Pure awesomeness! Just makes me smile is all! 

What song always makes you dance?

General Levi - Incredible - always takes me back! 

Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify

Laura Dajao in Sardines Dance Collective's Me, Me, Me... and You?

Laura Dajao in Sardines Dance Collective's Me, Me, Me... and You?

What are you working on at the moment? (Upcoming performances, exciting projects, holidays!)

Currently enjoying touring NATT! I am also Associate Director of Sardines Dance Collective, the most current work is with Sardines Dance Collective: Me, Me, Me... and You? A fun duet about the competition in the Dance industry, how far are you willing to go to make it to the top?

In May, I'm planning on a Dance Holiday with Impact Dance to Escape 2017 - packed full of classes and sunshine! The last time I went it was pretty awesome so definitely looking forward to that! 

Find out more about Laura here, and learn more about Sardines Dance Collective or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 15 - Cherie Brennan

Cherie Working with Stopgap's Youth Companies

Cherie Working with Stopgap's Youth Companies

Cherie and Dan share a joke in rehearsal!

Cherie and Dan share a joke in rehearsal!

How are you/have you been involved with Casson & Friends? 

I am involved with Casson and Friends for Night at Theatre through Stopgap as one of the dancer's access worker (Nadenh). I also help out with other things too, such as constructing the set, welcoming the audience, handing out programes and feedback forms and most importantly the 'I Made a Dance' stickers. I also dance along with the kiddies and make sure they don't run on stage. I sometimes lead vocal warm ups too.

What do you love about dance?

I can never really put into words what I love about dance. I just love moving, letting go, feeling free, not caring, getting lost in the music and movement... Lots of things :)

What song always makes you dance?

A song that I quite like at the moment is DJ Snake-Middle ft. Bipolar Sunshine
Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify 

What else are you working on at the moment?

I haven't long got back from a holiday in Croatia which was lovely. I am currently sitting in on the Creation of Stopgap's new work The Enormous Room and making a creation diary which has lots of different things in it, as well as supporting Lucy or the dancers where needed.

Stopgap's youth companies have started back and I am heavily involved with those groups, we will be working towards a small summer sharing. Night at the Theatre continues to tour and we are in Colchester and RichMix next. I have also just organized a graduation meal for 2 of the dancers that are now progressing into Stopgap's main company. Lots of different things... I'm an all rounder!

Find our more about Stopgap and their work here and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 13 - Lou Rogers

The lovely Lou Rogers!

The lovely Lou Rogers!

Lou is producing our collaboration with Stopgap, 'Night at the Theatre'. Image by Camilla Greenwell

Lou is producing our collaboration with Stopgap, 'Night at the Theatre'. Image by Camilla Greenwell

How are you/have you been involved with Casson & Friends? 

I am the Creative Producer for Strategic Touring at Stopgap Dance Company and have been working with Tim to produce Night at the Theatre

What do you love about dance?

Dancing makes people happy! We have a rule at home which is to dance every day. (We have three rules: Always have olives in the fridge, always buy quality toilet paper and dance every day)

What song always makes you dance? (We are creating a spotify playlist!)

Loads of songs – I have very eclectic taste! I’ll pick December 1963 (Oh What a Night) as my ten year wedding anniversary is coming up and this was our first dance!
Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify 

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 9 - Tim Van Eyken

Tim Van Eyken & Dani B Larsen in 'Untitled' (Image by Camilla Greenwell)

Tim Van Eyken & Dani B Larsen in 'Untitled' (Image by Camilla Greenwell)

Tim Van Eyken

Tim Van Eyken

How are you involved with Casson & Friends?

I created a new work, 'Untitled' with dancer Dani B Larsen for Casson & Friends 'Wild Card' at Sadler's Wells last year, I'm the voice of 'The Director' for Night At The Theatre, and am about to start collaborating with Tim on work for my new theatre company Native.

What do you love about dance?

I think dance distills emotion in a unique way, it atavistically connects with gut-instinct very powerfully, and I love how that can simplify and clarify a story.

What song always makes you dance?

'Le batteux / La grande gigue simple' by La Bottine Souriante

(Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify Here: http://bit.ly/friendsfridayplaylist)

Follow Tim on Facebook here, on Twitter here and visit his website at www.timvaneyken.co.uk

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 8 - Lou Cope

Lou Cope :)

Lou Cope :)

How are you involved with Casson & Friends?

I am working with Tim as his dramaturg, we worked together on Night at the Theatre.  

What do you love about dance?

It makes me want to dance! and I love that it can communicate what words cannot.

What song always makes you dance?

I Love to Love - Tina Charles (always gets my dinner parties going!!)

(Check out the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify here: http://bit.ly/friendsfridayplaylist

You can find out more about Lou at www.loucope.com, she is also South East Dance's Dramaturg in Residence, learn more at facebook.com/LouCopeSED

Casson & Friends are thrilled to be working with Lou via South East Dance's COLLABORATE Scheme.

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

And here's a quick video from our premiere at The Vaults last weekend!

#FriendsFriday 7 - Valentina Golfieri

Valentina makes some last minute alterations to the Wizard's cape

Valentina makes some last minute alterations to the Wizard's cape

The finished costumes for Night at The Theatre

The finished costumes for Night at The Theatre

Valentina as Angelica in Arthur Pita's 'The Little Match Girl' 

Valentina as Angelica in Arthur Pita's 'The Little Match Girl' 

How are you involved with Casson & Friends?

I have just designed costumes for Night At The Theatre, and I also perform The Dance We Made 4 from time to time. 

What do you love about dance?

I love the feeling of dancing, I love watching people dance, and I especially love social dancing. A couple of years ago I worked on a show that revolved around social dancing in the 30s and it was a proper penny drop experience. I realised that for too many years I had been preoccupied with dance solely as an elevated art form, which of course it can be, and forgot how fun it can be. It's also a universal means of communication; I've performed and taught around the globe, and it never ceases to amaze me how although I can't speak Japanese or Thai or Russian I have taught and communicated to dancers from all over the world thanks to the language of dance and movement. 

What song always makes you dance?

Fred Astaire, Cheek to cheek.

(Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify Here: http://bit.ly/friendsfridayplaylist)

What about your other work?

I am Associate Director for Arthur Pita's Open Heart Productions with whom I have just finished the Christmas run of The Little Match Girl at Sadler's Wells. I love that show, we made it three years ago and it feels very close to my heart. In it I get to play the spoilt brat Angelica, the villain of the situation. She's so much fun! I have also been a member of Protein Dance since 2011 as performer as well as rehearsal director. I also guest teach regularly at NSCD. 

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!

#FriendsFriday 6 - Dougie Evans

Photos by Dougie Evans

How are you involved with Casson & Friends?

I’ve written the music for Night at the Theatre. It’s a mix of sound effects, guitar, piano, percussion, and synths.

What do you love about dance?

I love watching people move so beautifully and expressively.

What song always makes you dance?

All My Friends- LCD Soundsystem

(Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify Here: http://bit.ly/friendsfridayplaylist)

Dougie has also written his own blog about his work on Night at the Theatre here

Find out more about Dougie at www.dougieevans.com and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Spotify and Soundcloud

Meet more of the Casson & Friends team every Friday with #FriendsFriday!