14 March 2012

East 15 teacher to perform in Cuba in memory of Kirsty MacColl

Head of Movement at East 15 Acting School Tracy Collier will travel to Cuba at the end of March to take part in two concerts at a theatre in Havana. The theatre is re-opening after being restored by a fund set up in memory of singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl.

Tracy will be performing a dance choreographed by Kirsty’s mother, Jean Newlove, who established the Music Fund for Cuba in her daughter’s memory after Kirsty was killed in a boating accident in 2000. The £350,000 restoration of the Miramar Theatre is the fund’s biggest project yet, and the venue will re-open with two concerts on 30 and 31 March. The refurbished theatre will house a Kirsty MacColl auditorium, a permanent memorial named in her honour as part of the opening events.

Tracy says: “I’ve known Jean for a few years now, and we’ve been working together on movement teaching at East 15. She wanted to create a dance piece for the theatre opening which would be her goodbye to Kirsty, but she’s 89 now. Her mind and her wit are still very sharp, but she’s not as mobile as she was. She said, ‘I need someone to dance it for me’ so of course I said yes.”

Jean set up the Music Fund for Cuba because Kirsty MacColl’s later work had been heavily influenced by Latin America. Her final album was inspired by Cuban and Latin American music, and she finished making a BBC Radio series about Cuban music just weeks before her death.

Tracy says: “While we’re there, Jean will be taking me to watch some of the dancers and actors she’s been working with in Cuba, and to see street dance in Havana – so it’s a chance for me to learn from their movement styles and techniques, too. Jean has been a pioneer of Laban Movement Analysis which we use to train actors at East 15. She was movement teacher to Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, and a co-founder of East 15, so I’m really honoured that she asked me to perform for her.”

The East 15 Acting School is part of the University of Essex, which is funding Tracy’s visit, and which also has links with Latin America through the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA).

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