Thursday was the beginning of the end for us as we made our final journey from Edinburgh to Canterbury. Before we left Edinburgh we were lucky enough to be shown around the Festival Theatre’s sister venue, The Kings Theatre, by Linda Hogg (Head of Customer Service). This allowed us to see the contrast between the two theatres, with The Kings being much more traditional, but equally stunning in its own right. Seeing both venues also allowed us to understand more about the programming decisions which Duncan Hendry had told us about the day before.
We then made the journey back down south, with the flight being on time (hurrah!) as well as managing to ensure all of the Cubans boarded the correct flight! (Without help from our interpreter Laura who left on an earlier flight with the technicians to set up in Canterbury). After checking into the hotel we had a short supper with Heather before having a much needed early night ready for the final few days of the tour.
Friday began with an early start at the wonderful Marlowe Theatre on the riverbanks of Canterbury. We conducted our essential duties which we had started to get the grips of (setting stage door lists, handing a programme to the stage door… and the essential coffee run!) We were then lucky to meet Marissa Garbo and her colleagues from the marketing and finance team at the theatre. They all had hugely interesting life stories about how they had got to where they were today – but all agreed they had met the right people at the right time to get their foot in the door of the industry. It was interesting to look at how their areas of expertise in programming, marketing and finance compared with other theatres we had visited. We then met with the front of house manager to pass over all the details about the show and the sales of programmes, before borrowing some of the dancers to create social media content for Dance Consortium.
Saturday morning started with a workshop with the company, this time to trainee dance teachers. It was great to see how Dance Consortium create this opportunity to extend the reach of the show to people from all groups in life (e.g. from over 60s groups to dance professionals). We took photos for social media and assisted in the smooth running of the morning. The workshop was once again well received as the group learnt choreography from all three pieces in the show, as well as techniques from the Ballet Master.
The rest of the day was spent assisting Heather with administrative tasks (Josh’s favourite), before her final thank you to the whole team which made the tour happen. We couldn’t go without thanking Heather for her support and for creating the opportunity for us to come on tour… she is now the proud owner of an apple cutter to ensure no more prohibited items are found at airport security!!
Before watching the final show we were lucky enough to be introduced to Adam Knight (or as Heather calls him her older brother) about his wide-spanning career in the industry. He is now the Programme Manager at the Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall. It was interesting to hear what Northern Irish audiences look for in a show- compared to other venues in the UK we had visited. His advice and life story was very inspiring and we will be keeping in contact for the future – he also gave us useful contacts for our placements we are undertaking later this year. It was then time to watch the final performance of Danza Cuba – which was just as much as a spectacle as the first time we watched, before saying our goodbyes to the dancers and crew who were flying back to Cuba later that evening. We gave them our final hugs and kisses on the cheek (how they greeted us every day) before saying an emotional farewell to an incredible company who we had become very close to – although we have been offered lots of spaces to stay in Havana, so hopefully will see them one day in the near future!
The tour has been an incredible experience for making networks, meeting people with incredible life stories and seeing the real workings of a tour (it isn’t as glamorous as we all think!) We are so grateful to Heather and all the incredible team at Dance Consortium for giving us this opportunity to learn. As Heather summed up to us – “this isn’t the end, it is just the beginning”.
Buenas noches for now!
Josh & Kay