Performing Arts Tour USA 2018

May 08, 2018 at 12:43 PM

With thanks to Year 13 student reporter, Georgia Cook

San Francisco
After delays and a couple of long and restless flights, 42 students and 6 teachers touched down in San Francisco. Upon arrival we were transported to Fisherman’s Wharf, an experience to remember due to the unique array of shops and the sea lions noisily chilling on the wharf. Before checking into our hotel, we ate at the famous Hard Rock Café.

The next day we toured the fascinating San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Centre. In the afternoon the dancers headed to ODC, to participate in a contemporary class, tour the amazing facilities and watch the company rehearse.  We did a class to live music which was a new experience and a highlight for us all. The drama and music students went to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Connecting with Sam Rich, a former College student and hearing a variety of musical instruments being played gave students an opportunity to see how the facility provides programmes to enhance talent. Lastly, we were all let loose at a shopping mall!

For our last day in San Francisco we visited Alcatraz. As we got on the Island, we were surprised to hear from a former Alcatraz prisoner. Our visit consisted of an audio guided tour through the cell house, where we observed each section of the prison and the lives the prisoners lived. Hearing about the complex and crazy great escapes was a memorable moment for many of us, especially because these stories were being told by actual prisoners and officers from Alcatraz! Heading back to the mainland, we visited the Golden Gate Bridge, caught a tram, did more shopping and ate at The Pub in Ghirardelli Square.

New York
With many of us barely able to contain our excitement, landing in New York was an unreal moment. The yellow cabs and constant hustle and bustle was an exciting sight. We headed out to navigate Times Square at heart of ‘The City that Never Sleeps.’ On the first day, we saw Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Lincoln Centre and finished by attending the show Kinky Boots. This show was mesmerizing and the whole audience gave a standing ovation. Two students attended YAGP Ballet with Mr Wilcox and observed high level ballet dancers competing.

The next day we met a member of the cast of Kinky Boots for a Q and A session. We learnt about both the ups and downs of her journey to Broadway. That afternoon, the dancers headed to Broadway Dance Centre and participated in dance classes ranging from Street Jazz, Hip Hop, Heels, Contemporary and more. Dancing alongside others who dance regularly at BDC was an absolute privilege. The Drama students toured the NYU Tisch Drama Department and browsed the NYU and Broadway Drama Bookshop. Mr Gilmour also took Amy Savory to the NY Guitar School for a lesson with Alana De Lage. That night we saw the city lights from the Empire State Building.         

Day 3 in New York consisted of an Aladdin Broadway Workshop in the morning. We did a vocal warmup and were taught the dance and song from the opening number of the musical itself by a chorus member. That afternoon we took the subway to the Apollo Theatre where we were lucky enough to meet Billy Mitchell a.k.a Mr Apollo. His story was a highlight of our tour and a few of the students performed for us including Mr Harada who did interpretive dance while Ms Horder sang. Following this, we toured the streets of Harlem with a guide who explained the Performing Arts history of the area. That evening we watched Chicago. Many of us commented on the difference from the film to the Broadway Show.

On our last day in New York, we headed to Radio Music Hall. The stage is capable of hosting basketball matches, ice skating and performing arts events. The Art Décor was incredible, resembling something off The Great Gatsby. We then met one of the Rockettes who compared her training regime to an Olympic sport. Time for more shopping before watching Aladdin. I can say this will be a show I will never forget. The set was unbelievable and the singing and dancing was beautiful. And the magic carpet – how did it fly?! Still buzzing from the show, our last dinner in NYC was at Applebee’s. Ending the night, we went to the 9/11 memorial which gave us an opportunity to absorb the enormity of this tragedy. Taking a detour through Grand Central Station we headed back to the hotel to pack our bags.

Los Angeles
Following a smooth transition to LA we were all very excited to be a part of the live audience of ‘American Idol’ shortly after landing. Broadcasted to 10 million people worldwide, it was a treat to be in the same room as Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie and Luke Bryan as well as getting an insight into how live TV works. With lost voices and/or sore throats we headed to the Grove Markets for dinner.

On Day 2, we headed to Warner Brothers Studios. We toured various studios with a select bunch of us recreating a scene from ‘Friends’ on the actual set. Next the dance students headed to Millennium Dance Complex. We were challenged to dance from our heart. Our teacher Cat was one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the privilege to meet. Many of us cried due to the emotional atmosphere and felt like new people with a fresh perspective. Drama students went to the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and did a workshop. They were challenged to find true meaning of the character they embodied. Three music students and Mr Gilmour toured the MI College of Contemporary Music. The company provides courses in modern music, composition and music technology. Dinner and a Forrest Gump quiz was at Bubba Gump’s on Santa Monica Pier. We wandered the Pier, taking in the views of the gorgeous ocean and browsing the quirky shops.

The next morning, we were ecstatic to be spending a day at Disneyland. We thoroughly enjoyed both California and Disneyland Park. The rides were absolutely amazing and we all shared many laughs and smiles throughout the day.

On our final day in LA we visited Walt Disney’s Concert Hall. We all were impressed by the stainless steel architecture and the acoustically designed curvaceous wooden panels. Finally, we explored Venice Beach and while waiting for our airport transfer we spent our last dollars, literally.

Overall our tour was an experience I will never forget. I was lucky enough to share so many amazing memories with the best bunch of people. I would like to say a huge thank you to Brent Imrie from Tour Time and all the teachers for making this trip happen. I am forever grateful to you as I have lived some of my dreams and its been absolutely unreal. Oh, and also, a huge thank you to our legend of a bus driver Kenny. Not all superheroes wear capes!


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