Get to know us series: First up, Musical Theatre faculty Luke Fredericks

What a key moment for an online presence to speak volumes about who you are and enable you to continue your communication with the world.

So we’re doing just that with a series of Biographies and Interviews from R/A Faculty, Graduates and Students.

Kicking things off is Musical Theatre faculty Luke Fredericks, who has been teaching at Renaissance Arts now for …..

Luke, what are you most proud of in your professional career?

I don’t know if I could pick one thing as it has been so varied and mixed and to choose one aspect of my career would mean ignoring other things within it. Having worked on stage, back stage, front of house, as director, producer and tutor, I have learnt and grown from everything I have done. I have been fortunate to play a wide variety of roles both abroad, regionally and in the West End and subsequently direct productions and work with amazing creative teams to stage some of the best material out there.
If I was pushed to say one thing, I would say the thing I am most proud of is that I work every day in the field and profession I love and get to work with the best people. Be it on stage, or off, this industry is tough and you have to be resilient, work hard and use the knock backs to push you forwards. So actually spending my career in rehearsal rooms and studios creating work with both professionals and students, is the most rewarding! There is no other job like it.

Why do you think your own training experiences helped you achieve a successful career in the performance industry?

I trained at Rose Bruford College and was fortunate to study acting and music in such detail that I still refer back to my student days when I work now. Your training is what you make of it. You can do the bare minimum and scrape by hoping to find professional work, but my passion for theatre meant I could not rest. I trained at college before the days of youtube and wikipedia so I used every opportunity to read plays, see theatre and hit the library to study and research around the performance work I did. This hunger for knowledge combined with a really intense, focussed training meant I have taken this drive and motivation into my career. I trusted my tutors and the work and results they got from me was one of the reasons I was driven to grab every opportunity and ultimately work in the industry.

What key things do R/A students learn in your MT classes?

I trained as an actor before working quite a bit in MT. Also, having directed musical theatre, I bring that focus to my MT classes and work with students to encourage them to engage in material, develop a meticulous approach to character and, most importantly, find their own voice and creativity. Students are encouraged to articulate their responses to the work we do. I want to make students push themselves beyond their comfort zone. All to often, MT training is about making something polished and shiny. This is great when working towards a performance, but training is about taking risks, exploring material and becoming fearless. Ultimately the industry needs this type of performer.
Be it an exercise, a scene or an acting through song class, the ability to analyse the self and grow from this is essential. Students are taught the approaches to character that allow them to deliver truthful, developed characters. They study style and technique. Students are taught Shakespeare as a way of bridging the gap between spoken word and song. Audition technique is also continually drilled and developed so not only are students equipped in their craft but also present themselves as professional and motivated individuals with strong artistic integrity.

 What advice would you give a young person looking for a course to study musical theatre?

Grab every opportunity. If you look at a song in class, go home and find out about the composer, the show, the previous productions. Learn the world you want to go into. It’s more than a soundtrack or a diva belt note. Ultimately you want to work in an incredible industry so find out how it all works and who works within it. 
Be consistent. Never miss a class, always give 100% and push yourself to always deliver the best you can at any particular point. The work we do involves nothing more than the bodies and brains we have. The more we challenge that and develop, the stronger and more resilient we become as performers.

Thrive & Succeed with R/A – Talking Fees, Study outside London and why we won’t offer degrees

At R/A, our unique selling point is our aspiration to deliver uncompromised teaching, ensuring that students receive inspiring and engaging experiences, with professionals who have been and are still working at the levels many aspire to. It’s a unique selling point.

But are we fighting against a culture of academic routes and funded study? 

The government no longer offering professional career development loans, to support those seeking an alternative route. How will our students afford their training fees and does heading to University to study for a Degree offer a more certain career path?

As an Independent vocational training conservatoire, Renaissance Arts offers almost exclusively practical tuition, across 4 days a week, 38 weeks a year. Our unique, industry lead courses are aimed at those wanting a professional career in the performance industry.

Full Fees to study a three year Dance or Musical Theatre course at R/A are currently £7450.00 per year. Study with some of our main competitors, and you can expect to be paying nearer to £14,000 per year. We take students from 16 years old, expecting them to graduate at 18/19 years old and go straight into work, cutting out a further 2 years of study if choosing to take the more traditional route of University, following A Levels or a Diploma.

So, why choose study elsewhere?

One of the key reasons is the ability to receive a government funded loan for degree courses, but how much you receive is very much dependent on your household income, and then there’s the interest that gets added on later down the line.

Why don’t R/A change courses to a degree level?

In short, we’d have to double course fees and reduce practical training by around 35%. This would undoubtedly diminish the standard of the courses and hugely compromise the employment success of our graduates. What we did do this year however, is took the unusual decision to become financially regulated, so that we could responsibly offer flexible payment options for fees.

It’s also worth considering that performance jobs in the entertainment industry are awarded based on practical talent and not where you’ve studied or what grade you received. For students applying to study towards a higher education qualification, in some establishments this could end up costing an additional amount on top of your fees. R/A students leave with a level 4 Teaching Qualification with the ISTD, meaning that between jobs or following professional work later down the line, they are already qualified to formally teach classical dance. They are also able to apply for funding bursaries towards their ISTD qualification.

Does studying outside London really offer value for money and a competitive route into the industry?

Finalist on the BBC’s ‘All Together Now’ and currently playing the role of Dustin in ‘Starlight Express’, 2016 Musical Theatre graduate, Ben Lancaster put it well, saying “The common myth and stigma around the necessity of training in London is incorrect and outdated. The training I received was impeccable and tailored so I could be the best I could possibly be, gaining experience in different styles and genres from a faculty who are at the top of their game in the industry.”

Last year’s data from the Institute of Fiscal studies found that Creative Arts Graduates had the lowest employment figures. 93% of 2019 R/A graduates have worked professionally since leaving their studies with this figure set to rise come the end of this academic year. The conversion speaks for itself.

Health & Wellbeing at R/A – Pastoral Care with Director Neil Rigg

Today we mark #TimeToTalk and wanted to explain to you how amidst providing a safe space to listen, we’re also taking preventative action.

For many students at Renaissance Arts Conservatoire, training is the next step and provides the route towards being a professional performer.

In the professional industry performers are often away on tour or have to work away from home which can constantly bring about social, cultural and emotional challenges. Student life during training can mirror some of these experiences.

Musical Director

The varied Pastoral care we offer helps manage these dynamics and gives strategies to work through them, aiming to equip students with the skills to independently manage their health & wellbeing.

‘By providing pastoral sessions I have found that when students talk through issues, they can often overcome them. All sessions are impartial, and not retention based, dedicated for the individual at that specific time. Student happiness and welfare is our top priority.’ Neil Rigg, Director

Sebastain Binns, Third year Renaissance Arts Student

Health & Wellbeing at R/A – Nutrition for the performer

Whatever your profession, in order to perform at your best, your body needs to be well fuelled and this is especially prevelent for aspiring professional performers.

R/A aims to provide it’s students with a well rounded education, to prepare them for the realities of the performance industry. We invited Nutritionist Josh Dyson, of Nutrition JD, to come in to R/A and talk to our students about how to make the best choices to suit their individual needs, considering a lack of time, space to prepare, and limited finance.

Second year Lucy Richardson felt she’d been struggling with time on a morning to eat substantially enough for her intense training days, and Josh suggested some specific food options and recipes to tackle time saving, whilst enabling the right nutrients, for example overnight oats, which can be prepared in advance and then eaten on the go.

First year Charlotte Marsh found something in Josh’s lecture particularly clicked with her, in regards to her training at RA; ‘Move more, fuel more’ (adjust what you eat depending on training, dance heavy day vs a more static vocals day). ‘It made me realise why sometimes I don’t have as much energy.’

And what other advice did our students take from Josh’s lecture, to develop good habits with regards to their nutrition…?

Here are Josh’s 3 Top Tips:

(1) Plan Out Your Week

Take 10 minutes at the weekend to plan out your nutrition for the next week. Incorporating this planing time will allow you to ensure that you are fuelling to optimise your development, meeting your performance and recovery needs, whilst aiding your health. 

For example during your planning time you may identify meals and snacks that are to be prepared for the week. To save time you may even identify opportunities to bulk prep certain meals.

Some key nutrition behaviours to consider integrating within your nutrition plan:

  • High quality protein sources consumed every 3 to 4 hours to aid muscle growth and repair.
  • Carbohydrate consumption to aid performance and recovery. Fuel for the work required. If you move more, fuel more.
  • Healthy fat sources to aid health, for example: avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, fish, dairy, red meat and eggs. 
  • Fibre sources to aid health, for example: vegetables, fruit, salad and wholegrains.
  • Ensure nutrient density by opting for a variety of food sources. Consider including a minimum of 2 to 3 different colours within a meal for a variety of vitamins and minerals. 
  • Maintain hydration throughout the day. 

(2) Snacks: Your Bag Is Your Tool Box 

With the expenditure of frequent classes throughout the day it is important that you have access to easily consumable snacks to maintain performance.

The bag of the performer can therefore be viewed as their tool box. 

With time sometimes limited between class it is important to opt for low fibre foods to minimise the risk of gastro-intestinal issues (e.g. stomach cramping, nausea, bloating). 

Example snacks could include:

Granola, granola bars, home-made flapjack, home-made energy balls (dried fruit), rice cakes, oat cakes, Ryvitta, fresh fruit, trail mix, dried fruit bar, fruit loaf and fig rolls.

Want to prepare your own snacks? Here are some example recipes:

(3) Develop Your Food Knowledge and Practical Skills  

Nutrition is a life skill, not just something to support your training or performance. It is also of great importance that you enjoy your food!

For R/A students it is therefore important that they consider:

Increasing your food knowledge: Your understanding of foods and how to integrate these into your diet. With the nature of the performance industry, domestic and international travel may be frequent, which could mean a restriction upon food options available. It is therefore important that you can put your knowledge of food in to practice and meet your health and performance needs.

It is also of great importance to avoid nutrition myths, as this can cause unnecessary restriction upon dietary choices.  Below is an evidence-based nutrition guide created by Josh regarding the most common nutrition myths.

https://mailchimp/nutritionjd/nutritionmyths

Improve your cooking skills:  It is important to put your nutrition knowledge and plan in to action. Students should therefore put an emphasis upon improving their cooking skills to be able to create nutrient dense meals. Josh challenged our students to expand their cooking repertoire by coming up with five new meals, and having a go at making them! Did you spot any reposts on our social media stories of our budding #masterchefs?

You can find out more about Josh Dyson and his Nutrition consultancy business on his website http://nutritionjd.com/about-nutritionist-manchester/

Health & Wellbeing at R/A – Skincare with Pure Opulence Beauty

With over 20 years experience in the Beauty Industry, founder of Pure Opulence Beauty, Natasha Howland, found some time out of her busy diary to talk to our students about skincare. It was great for RA students to hear some myth busting truths and receive specialist advice to learn how to keep their skin protected, and in tip top shape, amidst a high energy, hectic schedule.

Here’s small selection of the key things we learnt about skincare:

  • On an evening, wash skin twice, once to remove make-up and again to clean the skin
  • Only use specific eye creams or gels around the eye area. Using general moisturisers can cause puffiness.
  • An SPF isn’t only to protect from sun burn, during winter skin is at risk of wind burn too!
  • When exfoliating, try and stick to once a week to prevent overstimulising oil glands
  • Thinnest – Thickest: use this guide to apply your products e.g. wash face, eye cream, serum, moisturiser, spf

Spot anything you could try or do differently from today?

We asked a couple of our students what they’d do differently as a result of Natasha’s advice: Third year Musical Theatre student Connah Walsh didn’t realise there was so much required to protect his skin; not only using an spf to protect against sunburn but also through the colder months to prevent windburn. Although Connah currently uses a daily moisturiser, Natasha reccomended Connah use products containing rose, to further benefit his skin type. And first year Olivia May Topping is eager to adopt a ‘cleanse twice’ routine, firstly removing make up and then washing the skin underneath. Natasha reccomended this as a part of the daily nightime skincare routine, ensuring make up is removed by 11pm, when the skin begins to actively repair itself.

There were so many useful tips we could go on for pages but instead, have a read through some of our student’s questions for Natasha below, and see whether any of the advice could work for you too! You can book treatments or seek advice directly from Natasha by visiting her website www.pureopulencebeauty.com or via social media @pure_opulence_beauty @the_apothecary_skincare_clinic

Q: I have some marks on my skin and I’m not sure whether I can heal them?

A: If they’re red, they’re still in the process of healing, so something can be done to aid this process. Use a Vitamin C Moisturiser to help regenerate, The Body Shop do a good one.

Q: You reccomended getting a facial once every 6-8 weeks, but there are so many options out there. Which do you suggest?

A: Go with someone who can offer you a consultation first. They’ll ask you what your skin concerns are and be able to pick the right products for your skin type.

Q: If you’re using a Gel cleanser, how do you apply and remove it?

A: Gel will foam to break away dead skin cells and grime. Mix with a tiny bit of water to really foam it up and rub vigorously into the skin, then rinse with warm water (not too hot as this only dehydrates the skin) and don’t forget to wash behind your ears! TIP – Cream cleansers are better for aging skin, and Oil cleansers amazing for really breaking down the dirt.

Q: What’s exfoliator?

A: A gritty product to remove dead skin cells. Use once a week.

Q: How do I get rid of or prevent ingrowing hairs?

A: Exfoliate and moisturise regularly.

Q: How do I reduce redness in my skin?

A: Use Lavendar or Rose Oil or products containing these ingredients.

If you’re interested in hearing more about our excellent industry lead training, or want to #jointherenaissance, come along to our Open Day on Sunday 12th january 2020. Register here http://renaissancearts.co.uk/open-day-2/

NB: None of the skincare brands used or reccomended during this lecture were affiliated.

Health & Wellbeing at R/A – Performance Science

R/A Faculty Tim Jarrett has been leading the University of Leeds Strength and Conditioning department for the last 4 years, having previously worked for Sheffield Hallam University and in roles at 3 professional football clubs. ‘My experience ranges from working with Olympic and World-level athletes to those preparing for regional level competitions around the UK. Having worked across a multitude of different sports and seeing how different athletes prepare, I now enjoy the challenge of applying best practise to a group of talented performing artists at Renaissance Arts.’

Two years ago, directors struck up a partnership with The Edge gym at Leeds University, introducing strength and conditioning coaching in to the course timetable. Students attend weekly sessions with Tim and colleague Ben Warman in small groups to work through a bespoke training program.

Last week, alongside their physical gym training sessions, we invited Tim Jarrett in to present a lecture to Renaissance Arts students on performance science. As 3rd year R/A student Sebastian Binns so elequantly put it …’when you become the athlete, you become the artist.’ But training with Tim and Ben hasn’t only been about physical strength, students are also taught about channelling mindfulness in regards to their training highs and lows. We asked first year student Charlotte Marsh what she’d taken away from Tim’s lecture and she felt inspired by key statements such as ‘a positive outlook on things encourages growth and improvement’, further explaining that she now understands she should be using setbacks as an opportunity to learn.

It’s rewarding for the Directors to see that during the short time investing in this area for the students, their mindset has become much more focussed on not only mastering their performance technique, but also their understanding of how althleticism is a key contributing factor to their future career as professional performers. Good training equals consistency!

‘Through all the challenges young people face, we believe in maintaining this training practice so that they can remain focussed on their personal goals and ambitions and management of expectations. Even when having a bad day, they can still achieve so much. ‘ Martin Howland, RA Director of Ballet

#thriveonchallenge #technicallyexcellent #leedsgryphons #trainwiththebest #professionaltraining #mindfullness #becometheathlete #becometheartist #encouraginggrowth #positivity #focus #managingexpectations

Interested in applying to study on our professional Dance and Musical Theatre training programs? Click the button below.

Exciting NEW Intensive Training programme Summer 2020


Are you 11-19 years old and love to dance? Interested in further development of your technique and gaining advice and tips from our industry experts?

We have launched a weekend of INTENSIVE classes, lead by expert faculty and R/A Directors.
Running across SATURDAY 1ST & SUNDAY 2ND AUGUST 2020, 10am-5pm, you’ll receive full days of training in genres such as Vaganova Classical Ballet, Contemporary, Technical Jazz & Commercial, developing & furthering dance technique.

The Summer Intensive extends a route for us to provide an unrivalled and unique calibre of learning, based in the heart of the Cultural Quarter in central Leeds. Renaissance Arts prides itself on providing an elite world class faculty, to ensure the best possible environment for nurturing and fostering talent.

Capped class sizes will ensure individual focus and feedback. Included in this will be strength & muscle condition analysis and advice, which has proven to be a successful element of our 3 Year Professional Dance programme.

There will also be the opportunity to take part in an Industry & Audition Lecture, for those interested in understanding more about how the Commercial Arts sector works on a professional level.

Across the weekend our Directors will be on the lookout for talent which may also benefit from full time, vocational conservatoire training and future opportunities with R/A.

A place on the Summer Intensive costs £140.00 and we are also offering a 20% sibling discount at a price of £112.00. We ask for a £50 deposit on completion of the registration form in order to secure your spot.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch with us via email to info@renaissance-arts.co.uk or contact us on social media.

Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Why Should You Join The Renaissance?

Looking for somewhere to continue your professional Dance or Musical Theatre training?

The first Audition date for our 3 Year Dance and Musical Theatre courses is just around the corner on Wednesday 6th November, giving you plenty of time to try out and consider your options ahead of your final study and exams period.


We asked some of our R/A Faculty for some tips on how to prepare for an audition to study at Renaissance Arts?:

(Luke Fredericks, West End Director & Musical Theatre faculty) ‘I love creativity and performers who are willing to take risks and try something different.’

(R/A Director & Dance faculty Stillie Dee) ‘In the lead up, get yourself as physically fit and strong as possible, this will give you an edge and help you arrive confident in your ability. Take as many technical classes as you can and follow your teacher’s guidance. Be well rehearsed in any solos you’ll be delivering on the day.’

(Sammy Murray Brown, Choreographer and Movement Director for Theatre, TV and Film) ‘Always keep working to your personal best, keep up classes, go the extra mile.’

(R/A Director and Musical Director Neill Rigg) ‘Make sure music is cut and prepared accordingly. Often 16-32 bars is required. Bring two contrasting genres, an uptempo and a Ballard, to show your diversity.’

And any further advice for Audition day?

Luke Fredericks, West End Director & Musical Theatre faculty) ‘Commit to what you are doing and show grit and determination.’

(R/A Director Stillie Dee) ‘When delivering your performance, be passionate and show a love for what you do. Try to enjoy the experience so that you can let your personality and your uniqueness shine through.’

(R/A Director and Musical Director Neill Rigg) ‘Have sheet music clearly marked, e.g. where to start and stop and knowing what tempo to direct the pianist with. Understanding the story and character behind what you’re performing will male for a more engaging Audition.’

(R/A Director and Ballet faculty Martin Howland) Embrace nerves, don’t let them overwhelm you. Commit 100%. Take risks. Laugh if something goes wrong, don’t take yourself too seriously! Work the notes given in the Audition class and don’t be afraid to ask questions.’

APPLY NOW to Audition on Wednesday 6th November 2019 http://renaissancearts.co.uk/apply/

World Ballet Day 2019

R/A Director and The Royal Ballet Upper School Graduate, Professional Principle Soloist, Martin Howland

Wednesday 23rd October 2019 sees companies from around the world collaborate to celebrate Ballet, posting unique behind the scenes footage and live streamed rehearsals and interviews.

At R/A we believe that Ballet is the foundation of all technical dance and is therefore key in creating strong athletic and versatile performance. Students at Renaissance Arts can expect to be trained to a professional level in classical Ballet, Point, Pas de Deux, Virtuosity and Repertoire, irrespective of their previous experience.

Check out our social media pages on World Ballet Day for our own contributions and some exclusive interviews from our current students.

#BalletBeautiful #BalletSeason #BalletFeet #BalletBoys #RoyalBallet #BoysDanceToo #TahDance #BalletBodies #WorldBalletDay