Young Ladies About Town

The girls living and laughing their way around London, meeting lots of fascinating folk along the way...

An evening with Hugh Grant

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 22 January 2015
It's not often you get the opportunity to catch a world famous Hollywood actor perform in the flesh from mere feet away, but for one unique evening I was lucky enough to have that chance.

Earlier this month, I went to see Hugh Grant join a small group of disabled actors and dancers from The Baked Bean Company, as they performed live at Sadler's Wells theatre in Islington, London for two exclusive shows.

The Drama Group was co-authored by Hugh Grant, Nigel Hollins (A member of The Baked Bean Company), Baroness Sheila Hollins and the founder of The Baked Bean Company, Jade Hardrade-Grosz.

When I arrived the whole studio was buzzing with anticipation. After a wine reception for the revellers, the cast kicked off with a routine which saw more energy and excitement in one dance than most professional dance companies manage in an entire two hours. The play's storyline explored facing one's fears onstage and performing without fear of judgement. As the play developed, the acting and dancing drew many cheers, tears and laughter from the audience. Hugh was incredibly relaxed and humble throughout, and in the end the audience gave a standing ovation.

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Since their modest beginnings, The Baked Bean Company has flourished holding 22 classes a week in 3 different locations throughout Wandsworth and the surrounding Boroughs. These classes include Drama, Performing Arts, Musical Theatre, Singing, Djing, Dramatherapy and Life skills.

Jade Hardrade Grosz the founder of The Baked Bean Company and the director of The Drama Group said: "We are all so proud to be a part of something so amazing. Every day brings new challenges but it's the incredible people that we work with that make it so special. We all hope we are making positive steps towards breaking down the segregation and preconceptions of society."

To find out more about The Baked Bean Company and the services they provide in South London please call 0208 9440024 or email Lisa Glithero at lisa@acttoo.com.

Sinéad Nolan
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An evening with The Royal Danish Ballet

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 15 January 2015
It has been ten years since The Royal Danish Ballet last visited Sadler's Wells and their performances in London in January attracted the ballet establishment and dance enthusiasts, eager to see this rare balletic jewel.

In a programme entitled Bournonville Celebrations, soloists and principals of The Royal Danish Ballet presented a programme of classical choreography by August Bournonville, the 19th century Danish choreographer who raised the standards of male dance at a time when the female ballerina dominated the stage.

For Bournonville, dance was 'essentially an expression of joy' and watching his choreography was like being transported back to a more gracious and innocent age before angular movement to pumping electronic music had even been thought of.

Excerpts from romantic ballets such as The Flower Festival in Genzano, La Sylphide and The Conservatory, among others, showed us the lightness of jump or 'ballon' that the Danes are famous for the world over. This was pure classical dance - men and women traditionally costumed with the girls in soft ballet skirts and puffed sleeves.

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A humorous interlude was the Jockey Dance from Bournonville's last ballet, From Siberia to Moscow, choreographed in 1876. Two men, dressed as jockeys, jumped and leapt across the stage in a tribute to the English love of horse racing. Sebastian Haynes sizzled with personality, aplomb and youth.

The programme ended with what has become something of a Danish institution even though it's set in Italy. The three act ballet Napoli from1842 became one of Bournonville's most popular works and has now been in the company repertoire for more than 170 years.

Its 'pas de six' from the last act was a chance for the dancers to show all the rhythm, harmony and elegance of the Bournonville style. It was a happy ending in the best of European ballet traditions and left the audience uplifted, just as the great choreographer intended.

Gillian Spickernell
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Christmas at Kew

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 28 November 2014
If - like me - you live in central London but crave a country walk to escape the Christmas crowds, then head Kew Gardens.  They’ve developed a fabulous night time light installation in the grounds to create a totally new perspective on the gardens. Like a sculpture trail with lights, the effect is quite magical: music comes out of trees and the  fountain springs up with multi-coloured water. The world-famous Palm House lights up from inside, flashing and pulsating in quite a surreal and captivating way. Turn a corner and a plume of flames gives a dramatic flash of light, turn another corner and a wisteria covered in fairy lights creates a secret den to hide in.

Kew-590

I have in on good authority that small children love it. Father Christmas and his band of magical helpers whisper your Christmas wishes to a listening tree.  The carousel, marshmallows to toast on a fire pit and room to run wild makes this a really great children’s experience that all the family will love. On the last bit of the mile long trail we hung a lantern on a tree and made a wish ( I would tell you, but it won’t come true if I do). We drank mulled wine and crunched along the frosty park and the crowded shops and frantic rushing of the city fell away.

If you miss the light show head to the park on a cold frosty day, walk off those mince pies, hug a tree and escape to the country in London.

For more information click here

Marvelling at meditation

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Meditation is in. It's official. There are countless books on the topic, 'workshops' popping up all over London, and just last month this Young Lady About Town interviewed a very famous male singer who was raving about the benefits of his practice.

And yet for many - myself included - the idea of actively not thinking still seems a bit alien.  Why sit doing nothing for 20 minutes when you can read a book? Watch television? Mix a cocktail?

meditation-1-590.jpgYou can meditate anywhere (dappled sunlight not required)

According to Graham Doke, a meditation expert and director of the Anamaya centre in Kensington, this doing nothing actually does a lot for your wellbeing. The way he explains it is quite simple: all babies are born with a blank slate - they are not angry, frustrated or sad. We learn these emotions and behaviours, and over time they literally affect our neural pathways. This means that is you frequently get angry, you will continue to do so, because that pathway is well-worn and easy for the brain to use.

The good news is that we can reset these pathways and utilise more positive ones. Instead of anger, for example, you can learn to feel compassion. Instead of frustration, you can learn patience. Instead of sadness, you can feel hope. You get the picture. This relearning (or resetting if you like) is where meditation comes in.

Attending a one-on-one session with Graham is both illuminating and relaxing. Sitting cross-legged in a dim room, his soft voice encourages me first to concentrate on my breathing, then takes me on a mental journey designed to encourage a sense of calm. Every time a rogue thought threatens to interrupt, he tells me to simply acknowledge it's presence but not 'jump into' it.  

meditation-2-590Expert Graham Doke

'Meditation is not complicated, but it's not easy,' he explains. Switching off is a challenge, but Graham certainly enables me to quieten (if not entirely dispel) my mental chatter. The ultimate goal of meditation, he says, is to occupy the 'mind-like sky'. This is the space below your thoughts - your even, unruffled consciousness. Thoughts are like clouds in this sky: you can observe them, but you don't have to engage with them.

It can take weeks, months or years or meditation practice to achieve this state. When you do, Graham explains, the sense of peace is almost euphoric. Not everyone can have access to a meditation teacher, however, which is why he has created the Anamaya app.  This not only includes guided meditations (with Graham's own deeply soothing voice) but also insights into the theory behind practicing, and a way of monitoring your progress. The idea is that anyone can do it anytime, anywhere.

Even after one session, this Young Lady came away a little bit lighter and a lot more zen. Fired up by this revitalised energy, when I got home I managed to read a book and watch television and mix a cocktail. Perhaps doing nothing enables you to achieve more in the end...Armed with the app, I plan to find out.

For more information on the Anamaya app click here. To download the app click here.

Winter Wonderland opening night

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 21 November 2014
Last night’s opening night of Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland heralded the start of Christmas. This huge extravaganza is now truly a part of London’s Christmas calendar and we Young Ladies About Town were invited to the VIP night. We shared a mulled cider (or two, maybe three) with The Lady favourites including Princess Beatrice, Helena Bonham-Carter and husband Tim Burton. Kirstie Allsopp was also in attendace, along with half the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, including Brendan Cole and his lovely wife Zoe, and Anton Du Berke (who hugged Father Christmas). If you love a celeb in mittens as much as we do, then this was the grotto to be seen in!

Winter-Wonderland-2

Winter Wonderland caters for all ages and is great for families and children, and  has everything you need from bars and food stalls, giant ice rinks, a Ferris Wheel and countless fairground rides for all ages. If you are going with anyone who loves a bit of magic and ice, you must visit The Magical Ice Kingdom. Themed with ice sculptures of giant knights on horseback, dragons with glowing eyes and  swords cast in blocks of ice, this is King Arthur’s kingdom in frozen form. If you love magical fairy tales, Arthurian legends and a bit of Narnia style you will love this.

We were in heaven as soon as we were greeted by a pair of ice wolves howling at a blue ice moon and set in a woodland forests. Suddenly Hyde Park was far, far away and we had been whisked to the Artic world, where hats are needed as the room is set at -12 degrees to keep the statues in pristine condition. We squealed with delight at the ice squirrels, growling bears and sound of galloping horses as a frozen joust scene appeared around a corner.

Winter-Wonderland

The pièce de résistance? You can sit on two giant ice thrones and have an official photograph taken (as we did in a Beckam wedding vs White Witch mash-up). We didn’t want to leave and was slightly disappointed to discover that Hyde Park wasn’t covered in snow and icicles, but since Winter Wonderland is open till early January, maybe there’s still time for the real magic to happen.

Dates: Friday 21st November 2014 – Sunday 4th January 2015 (closed Christmas day)
Times: 10am – 10pm daily (except 21st November – opens from 5pm)
Entry: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is FREE to enter, there is no admission fee however charges do apply for some attractions including the Magical Ice Kingdom, Ferris Wheel and Ice Skating
Online booking: www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

Words by Kitty Buchanan-Gregory


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