You Can Stand Under My Umbrella...

It has been a crazy few weeks where I have not had a chance to blog about my Strictly Charleston experience like the other two couples but now that the dusted has settled I can finally write down how happy that my umbrella routine was the winning the number for Strictly Charleston 2017.

My dance partner Agata, who is Business Development Manager at Hilton Brighton Metropole, was an absolute joy to work with through out the whole process. She bought bags of energy to the routine and really gave it her all on the day.

As a professional I still get pre-stage nervous and I was amazed how confident all three girls from the Hilton were on the 6th May. Each girl brought their own unique razzle dazzle to the show.

 First up was Lizzie and Gwen who performed to Strut Miss Lizzie.

Followed by Agata and Amy dancing to Hot Honey Rag.

All three girls were fantastic and I'm delighted for Agata that we was crowned the 2017 winner. But most of all I'm overwhelmed by the huge generosity of this years audience which helped raised over £750 for Whoopsadaisy charity which helps children with cerebral palsy.

Although this event is now over, you will be able to catch me and Rachel perform at Brighton Fringe this week with the Soultastics on Friday 12 May. See you there! 

Elena :)

Strictly Charleston Raises Over £750

Thank you to everyone who attended The I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy which kicked started the opening weekend of Brighton Fringe at the Spiegeltent. We're chuffed that we raised over £750 for Whoopsadaisy, Sussex based Charity helping children with cerebral palsy, through the Strictly Come Dance-style Charleston Competition. Watch our film about the competition here

In partnership with The Hilton Brighton Metropole, I Charleston Brighton trained three members of staff from the hotel over the past month in preparation of the event. The 3 women, Elizabeth, Agne and Agata were paired with a dancer from Savoy Kicks and braved the dance floor to compete to win votes from the audience to raise money as well as setting up their own JustGiving page

Agata was crowned the 2017 winner. You can see all three full routines here.

The three-hour immersive Charleston dance afternoon included also comparing from Dawn Gracie as well as workshops and performances by Savoy Kicks accompanied by live music from The Soultastics and DJ Basschimp along with the Mighty Dance-off!  

View photos

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this event including all of our sponsors and we can't wait to return next year. 

Behind the Scenes of Strictly Charleston

Amy's debut with Savoy Kicks

Amy's debut with Savoy Kicks

Savoy Kicks have had a busy few weeks in the studio with the lead up to the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy event on the 6th of May. I can’t believe it has been a year since my first performance with the troupe and I could not be prouder to be back in the Spiegel Tent.

As part of the Speakeasy, Savoy Kicks have joined forces with our sponsor, The Hilton Metropole to hold a Strictly Charleston competition to raise money for Whoopsadaisy, a Sussex based Charity helping children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities. Over the last few weeks, we have been found dancing all around the hotel with three members of the Hilton team, in some of the most beautiful rehearsal spaces I have seen!

I have had the pleasure of dancing with my amazing amateur partner Agne. In our first rehearsal, I was so impressed with her rhythm and enthusiasm. In only an hour we managed to learn the entire routine! Agne has progressed leaps and bounds since we first met. She has grown in confidence and has a great sense of fun as she is performing. She really understands what the Charleston is all about! I cannot wait to perform with her on the day – I know you are going to love it too! 

The strictly competition has definitely heated up the rivalry between the Hilton team, with rumours about costumes, music and props. I am keeping my mouth shut; you will have to join us on the day to see the excitement yourself!

Amy

Amy will be performing with Agne on the 6th May at the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy. Book tickets:https://www.brightonfringe.org/box-office/shows/view/i-charleston-brighton-speakeasy

Agne and Amy

Strutting with Miss Lizzie

Rowena and Barish, OPEN Space Studios, 2016

Rowena and Barish, OPEN Space Studios, 2016

Well, it's that time of year again! Yes, the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy is just a few weeks away, and that can only mean one thing - the charity Strictly Charleston competition is back! 

Last year, Savoy Kicks performed at the Speakeasy in the beautiful surroundings of the Brighton Spiegeltent as part of Brighton Fringe. And I must say that my personal highlight from the event was taking part in the Strictly Charleston competition. In 2016 I took the role of professional dancer, but this year I'm taking on a different role - team captain. 

I've been working with the lovely Lizzie Matthews, who will represent our Premier sponsor The Hilton in the competition. She'll be dancing with our new professional dancer Gwen, and competing against two of her colleagues at The Hilton. We're all really excited about it!

Lizzie and gwen in rehearsals

Lizzie and gwen in rehearsals

So far we've done two rehearsals and Lizze and Gwen have learnt the whole routine, which is fantastic. I'm so pleased with their progress so far. Lizzie has been an absolute star, throwing herself into the experience with energy, enthusiasm, and a cheeky flapper attitude to boot! 

Better still, it was only after I'd chosen our music and started choreographing the routine that I learned that I would be working with Lizzie - and the track she'll be dancing to is called Strut Miss Lizzie! Good, eh? And she certainly can strut.

Rowena 

Gwen will be performing with Lizzie on the 6th May at the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy. Book tickets:https://www.brightonfringe.org/box-office/shows/view/i-charleston-brighton-speakeasy

Pretty Eccentric Window Takeover!

On Saturday we made the shop windows of Brighton come to life! Wearing fabulous dresses from Pretty Eccentric in Brighton. 

Savoy Kicks at Pretty Eccentric

Pretty Eccentric stock a wide range of vintage inspired dresses and they are absolutely perfect for a little Charleston fun especially in the sunshine!

The performance was a little taster of what you might see at the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy on the 6th May at the Spiegeltent. We were glad that so many people stopped to watch and clapped and smiled along with us. 

Savoy Kicks and Pretty Eccentric

Its always great to perform in our beautiful city, and we are counting the days until the Brighton Fringe. 

Savoy Kicks will be performing on the 6th May at the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy. Book tickets:https://www.brightonfringe.org/box-office/shows/view/i-charleston-brighton-speakeasy

Rachel

 

How to get the perfect 1920s Bob

Having long thick blonde hair is far cry from the traditional flapper girl bob of the 1920s but when it came to our photo shoot last month I needed to make my hair a lot shorter without taking a pair of scissors to it.

Usually for performances we tie our hair up with a Heidi roll which is perfect for events as it keeps hair in a place for energetic shows but when it came to the photo shoot we wanted to capture the 20s look in a more authentic way.

Curly Bob

To make my hair bobbed I followed this guide where I divided the hair into two sections. Firstly, with the undercut I made a small bun then with the rest curled each section using moose and spray the night before the shoot.

In the morning I look all the clips out and brushed them out and clipped the curls into the bun. After a few cans of hairspray the look was complete and just about stayed in place.

Once the shoot was all over and all the clips were out, my hair decide to try another look and embrace my inner Bonnie Tyler…

Elena

Charleston meets fan dance

Toe tapping, high kicking, of course – but what about fan flicking?

Starting this month, Savoy Kicks are spicing up Charleston. This time it comes with a fan!

Not just any fan, we are going East, inspired by Ying's upbringing on Hainan, a tropical island off mainland China. 

fan dance.JPG

 In the Far East, a fan is not just a pretty accessory or a gadget to cool you down, it can be as essential to a dance as the shoes for a tap dance or your partner for a tango.

The first session of working out the choreography was so much fun. We were playing with all possible Charleston steps and kicks to figure out the best moves with the fans. At first it wasn't easy as we suddenly realised that some of us are left-handed so the fans struggled to open due to their design. Plus, with something in your hand the distance between you and your partner disapears. The consequence is either the fan being kicked out from your hand or trying to avoid being hit with it, OUCH!

Amazingly, the first practice turned out to be a success. We choreographed half of the routine and the recording of it looked great. We will carry on next week, aiming to finish the whole routine. We can’t wait to showcase our new Charleston kicking and fan flicking routine!

Ying x

Dancing in the Rain at Brighton Half Marathon

Where to start? Well, the weather was grey and dull to say the least for the Brighton Half Marathon! We found ourselves in the delightful Grand Hotel on Brighton seafront to support the runners on this years Community Stage. Bright eyed and bushy tailed we headed straight for our dressing room and what better way to start the morning than with Eye of the Tiger! Our favourite warm-up song to really get the blood pumping. Once warmed up and fully clad in our 20’s attire, we sprang to action in support of the Brighton Half-Marathon runners; bringing some much needed glitz and glamour to the grey and blustery day.

Savoy Kicks getting ready backstage

Savoy Kicks getting ready backstage

Savoy Kicks braced the rain and took to the streets! The wet and windy weather was a good excuse to wear our beautiful new kimonos. We got things off to a lively start with a traditional Charleston, making plenty of silly faces and smiles to our audience. Then came our rendition of All About The Bass, a favourite of ours, and our fans! Our kicks and spins certainly showed the crowd that we had all the right moves in all the right places. 

Quick snap before embracing the rain!

Quick snap before embracing the rain!

After our final routine, we got behind the runners as they made their final dash of triumph! Many sodden and weary competitors were egged on towards the finish line by our gang of cheeky flappers. After cheering the runners to finish, the troupe went off to The Soultastics Swingporium to dance the rest of the day away.

Amy x

Swinging and the Swingporium!

Savoy Kicks with Soultastics

What’s better than tea and cake on a Sunday afternoon? …. Tea, cake, live music and some Charleston fun!

Savoy Kicks had the honour this weekend of performing and teaching at the Swingporium hosted by the amazing swing, jazz and soul band, The Soultastics. We kicked things off with a fun and simple Charleston combination suitable for everyone, it was great to have so many people jump straight up and join in as often we need some warming up or a little Dutch courage ;). Once everyone had perfected their swivel and flick, it was straight in with the live music. There really is nothing better than dancing to a live band.

We also were treated to a fabulous Lindy Hop demonstration from Sam and Gabi from Jumpin' at the Seaside. It really got everyone inspired and soon there were couples kicking and flicking round the floor.

Savoy Kicks at the Swingporium

... And of course Savoy Kicks can’t go anywhere without also showing off their own dance moves. Rachel and Elena treated the crowd to some fun, and at times silly Charleston.

I can’t talk about this event without mentioning all the fantastic students from I Charleston Brighton coming along to support us and of course having a good ole boogie themselves.

We can’t wait to see you at the next one, so save the date for our next gigs with The Soultastics on the 6 and 12th May in the Brighton Fringe.

Rachel x

Lights, camera… pose!

We’ve been meaning to get some more photographs done of the troupe for some time now – the last time we did a proper photoshoot was back in 2014, when we had only just started dancing together. How time flies!

Since then, a couple of new faces have arrived and one or two others have departed for pastures new, so we organised another shoot to get some up to date photographs for our website and publicity.

Savoy Kicks at Worthing Pier

Worthing Pier Southern Pavilion, which has recently been restored in vintage Art Deco style, turned out to be perfect for us! They kindly gave us access to the space before it was open to the public, so we could have the run of it, which was brilliant.

We invited the photographer from our first shoot to photograph us again – Kandy Ackland was a dream to work with first time round and we had a ball again this time!

Savoy Kicks at Worthing Pier- Charleston Troupe

That just left us with the fun task of organising the photography brief, planning hair, make up, costumes and shots, which we did as a bit of a group effort. We’re all about the team work!

Our lovely friend Andy, who has been a loyal attendee of I Charleston Brighton classes for the last three years, agreed to make a cameo appearance in the shoot and help behind the scenes – he even snapped a few behind the scenes photos for us – bonus! 

Rowena x

Savoy Kicks at Worthing Pier- Charleston Troupe

Get on your Dancing Shoes!

Savoy Kicks -Firle Vintage Fair 2016

From Han Christian Andersens Red Shoes to Cinderellas glass slippers, dance shoes have often been imbued with magical qualities. So how important is it to get the right shoes when dancing the Charleston? Whilst in many dance forms just bare feet is fine, The Charleston really does require the right footwear. 

The main reason shoes are so important in Charleston is so you can swivel the feet; the foot swivel is a defining characteristic of the Charleston style so non-grip shoes are a must. Back in the day dance floors were waxed and offered a lot of glide, modern dance floors and studios are smooth but not slippy. The dilemma then is getting shoes which offer some glide but not so much that you end up kissing the floor with your bum. Another thing to consider is how much support the shoes offer the foot, if you have weak ankles or collapsed foot arches you will need more supportive shoes.

So here is the low down on shoes we know and love and the pros and cons of each …

Greek Sandals – Cheap, light, strike a good balance between grip and slide. The down side is they don’t offer much support and they definitely aren’t outdoor shoes, so save them for the dance studio and you’ll perfect your swivel in no time.

Jazz Trainers – More on the grippy side but offer good support to the foot, super comfy and hardwearing.

Jazz Shoes – Light and good for swivel, again they offer limited support but one up on Greek sandals.

Toms – These fashion shoes are very popular in the Lindy Hop scene. They are a solid pair of shoes, good on swivel but the soles don’t offer great flexibility.

Character Shoes – A lot of dancer find a bit of heel is actually quite helpful. I’m a big fan of character shoes but would advise going to a dance shop and getting ones which are a really good fit, if the feet are in any way sliding within the shoes you will feel unstable.

Fashion Shoes – Well its luck of the draw but some of the best shoes people have showed up to class in have been bought in Charity Shops – Win! Often in the style of pumps or brogues the best ones tend to be made of softish leather and with leather soles which offer glide.

Well happy shoe shopping and please keep us update with your posts on shoes that work for you.

Fiona x

Dancing in the Streets

Savoy Kicks at Brighton Seafront

If you were out and about in Brighton last Sunday you may have noticed Savoy Kicks high kicking, toe tapping and Charleston Squatting under the British Airways i360. Dressed in our summer attire of bright red and blue dresses on a miserable January morning, we were out and about filming for our latest video project which has been commissioned by Visit Brighton.

This March Visit Brighton is hosting ExploreGB, VisitBritain’s flagship event providing British & Irish tourism suppliers the opportunity to meet and do business with international travel buyers from 40+ countries.

The summit will open with a gala dinner for a 1000 delegates at the Hilton Metropole and to launch the whole event the ‘I Charleston Brighton Official Film’ has been selected to open the show!

For those who don’t know about the film, Savoy Kicks featured in I Charleston Brighton’s iconic viral video in 2014.  The film is an energetic, colourful spectacle of dance, costume and humour. With music to match, the viral video captures the quirky character of Brighton, its people and frivolity. Standout scenes include a fan dancer, Charleston dancing at the naked bike ride, two pole dancing builders and a scene shot of the iconic piers. The film originally launched on the 5th September 2014 at a private screening attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Brian Fitch.

Three years since the start of the project, the film is now having a facelift for ExploreGB to showcase Brighton’s latest attractions, predominately the British Airways i360 which opened in the Fall of 2016.

Getting back out dancing on the streets was great fun however we were not so lucky with the weather. Trying to recreate a beautiful summers day in January was quite a challenge but fortunately the rain stopped and we manged to film some create shots including capturing our reflections in the glass of the i360. The tourists looked rather bemused but even after three years since the original film was convinced we are still showcasing Brighton’s dance talent and the sites of one of the UK’s most flamboyant cities.

The updated film will be showcased on the 2 March but in the meantime check out the original here:

Elena x

Seeing Double

Your performance at our daughters’ 40th was amazing. A perfect entertainment for the 1920’s theme. And young and old joined in the lesson and haven’t stopped talking about it since! Thank you so much.

Double Trouble last weekend as our Savoy Kicks duo performed at Brighton & Hove Cricket Ground for a private 1920s Party. Looking forward to our next Private Charleston party in a few weeks! #savoyselfie