Jennifer Caldwell – 06/10/20 Manchester High School for Girls – Six

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Don’t loose your MASK …

It might have been a windy and rainy October day mid COVID times but that wasn’t stopping Manchester High School for Girls from getting their West End masterclass. With some careful planning from the school and us at NPS, we managed to split up the bubbled groups and arrange for an epic Six the Musical masterclass with Jen all before she starts rehearsals for their opening at the Lowery this Christmas. It was clear to see that we had ALL missed dancing and were completely ready to get back into the swing of things after having such a long time off. With Masks on, hand sanitised up to the max and keeping a safe distance, we got going. Starting with a warm up to Dolly Parton OBVS!

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No way …

After a little explanation about the story to some of the group that weren’t too familiar with the show, (How could you?) Jen went on to tell the group how this musical is NOT about Henry the 8th but his strong 6 wives. She delved into some of the choreographers notes and how the song ‘No way’ is heavily influenced by Spanish Movements. This is because the Queen that sings no way is Catherine of Aragon who was in fact Spanish. The song was based on a speech that she gave at the tribunal at Black Friars where she insisted on representing herself against Henry, who wanted a divorce. What a QUEEN!

The girls were then guided through the movements that the other 5 queens do around Catherine when she is singing this song. Jen explained how the vibe of the dance for the other queens is totally backing up your sister and giving it loads of sass. As they learnt he dance the sass certainly started to take over once these giggly year 9’s put their mind to it and gave it some welly.

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We’re Six…

No matter how much they seemed to protest, the MHSG year 9’s picked up the first dance so fast that Jen decided to teach another. This one was the end number ‘Six’ where the 6 wives come together for one last jam. The song is so upbeat, strong and fierce which Jen explained is all in the torso. With a lot of quick paced feet and strong arm movements Jen explained that everything is very much based around your centre. Including moves heavily influenced by Salsa and a little Beyonce because well …… she’s Queen Bey! The dance concluded with the iconic Six pose which Jen reminded us needed to include raising that chin proud like the Queen you are. What a power pose it is too, especially when the music hits that last beat you can just imagine the lights beaming down on you on stage.

Giving it some sass …

This second dance took the group a little longer to master however it did not take them that long to sing along. I mean …. how could you NOT? With the music giving even those unfamiliar with the musical a boost, we cleaned up a few edges and made sure we had a few opportunities to add our own sparkle onto the movements. The girls picked their fav Queens for the end of the dance and we gave it one last performance!

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Q&A …

Before we said goodbye, the group got chance to ask Jen anything they wanted about her career, life ambitions, shows she’s been in and of course about Six. These girls had some fabulous and intelligent questions which Jennifer loved answering. One of the questions was how did she initially get into performing. Jen told us a story about how her Grandma used to sing on the radio during the war and loved the performing arts. She used to sit and watch the film ‘Singing in the rain’ with her and always wanted to dance and sing because of that. Other questions included intrigue about her favourite Queen, her quick changes in any of her shows, what its like on tour and what does she do in between gigs. It was so refreshing to have such honest answers but also such understanding and accepting students. Especially in the current climate it was nice to have a genuine discussion about the industry and not only its highs but its sometimes lows too.

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Thank you’s …

Thank you again to Mrs Haves at Manchester High School for Girls for organising this Masterclass for her students. They all worked so hard and I hope they enjoyed their time with NPS and Jennifer. I would like to extend the thank you’s to the rest of the faculty for making us feel so welcome and keeping not only my staff but their students safe in such a troubling time.

Special thanks to the wonderful Jennifer Caldwell for travelling to Manchester before she heads off again on tour.

“We hope to see you all again soon”

Keep learning from as many people as you can, working hard and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. After all remember … practise makes permanent!

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Love Jourdan & Jess

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