Working in care homes

A massive part of my current performance schedule is singing in care homes. This was an idea which I started in November 2015 – I had just finished a contract working as Entertainment Manager for a hotel in Rhodes, and was desperate for some time spent in England. I missed the roads, the ease of getting places, and the rain (amongst other things!) – and so, I planned on performing in the care industry, for the festive season, before deciding on a contract for the summer.

Two years on, of course, and I am still in England, and still singing to those lovely care residents who I met when I first embarked on my journey! Full Beam Productions, my entertainment company, has gone from strength to strength, and is now one of the largest providers of singers and dancers to care homes in East Sussex. We have a team of people performing for us, which is amazing, and even though I focus a lot on choreography for Full Beam now, plus admin (!!) I also find the time to get out there and sing to everybody as well.

The biggest joy that I find with singing to the residents in homes, is there sense of gratefulness that you are there. They acknowledge that you have taken the time to come to them, set up your equipment, and make them smile for an hour. It’s extremely rewarding.

But it’s also a great place for me to trial new songs! My classical music goes down extremely well in most situations (some homes are simply to small – we would blow the roof off!) and they love listening to my latest find. Recently, it’s been focussed on musical theatre numbers, ready for a duo show I’m doing in September for the company, with fellow singer, Lauren O’Sullivan-Barnes. It’s going to be brilliant, and I’ve been rehearsing hard!

Above is the video of me singing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables, at a care home in Hastings. It was a brilliant afternoon of song!

I hope to continue performing in the care homes, even whilst I take on my new adventure with Classically Natalie. There are lots of plans in the pipeline at the moment, for recording a CD, and performing in front of some important people – but it’s also a good idea to stay grounded, and I feel like care home performances do exactly that – they bring you back to reality, and make you feel very humble indeed.

Have you performed at a care home? Perhaps you’re a coordinator looking for something a little different for your residents? Make sure to leave a comment below, or get in touch today! I’d love to hear from you!

Getting back to business.

After a long period of time “out of the entertainment loop”, I’m finally getting back to it – and it’s a long process!

I graduated from dance college in 2009. This, as you can probably work out, was nearly eight years ago – and in a dancer’s diary, eight years is nearly an entire career.

I’m one of the lucky few dancers who can firmly hold their hand up and say “yes, I can sing” when asked at an audition. It is, after all, a well known fact, that dancers simply cannot sing. I mean, sure, we can stand in the background, with those ugly, Britney Spears style headsets on, and hold a vague tune on the ooo section of the lead male’s song. But sing? Us? No way.

But that’s the joy – some of us can!

So yes, as I was saying, I am one of the lucky few. I could happily switch between the two professions, taking jobs as and when I pleased, for each individual talent. I’ve worked as a dancer, who has then been seemingly “promoted” to a vocalist. And I’ve been a singer who has ended up also fronting the major dance number. I’m extremely blessed to be able to perform both.

But here in lies the problem: I’ve found myself, these past few months, staring at myself in the mirror, and the looking down at my eight years of work experience, and thinking: have I done enough?

To train as a dancer, or a singer, is a very expensive career choice. I fear to ask my dad just how much he has spent on me, from the age of five when I first decided that this was the path for me (yes, I was that young!). I consider college fees, but then I also realise the amount of money before that, on lessons, exams, shoes, leotards and tights… Not to mention the extra sessions, the show costumes, the travel to and from various locations, including weekly Manchester to London train rides… My mind boggles at the expense.

So as I edge ever closer to my first decade in the business as a professional, I find myself deciding that, quite clearly, other professionals have done so much more than me, and I need to fix this.

I have performer friends who have travelled the world. They have danced on cruise liners larger than the average hotel, strutted their showgirl sass on dance floors across the globe, sang whilst hanging upside down from an aerial hoop, surrounded by 1,000,000 unicorns… OK, I may be exaggerating slightly. But, in my mind, this is how it feels.

I took some time out of my career a few years ago, for personal reasons which suddenly caught up with me. It was a tricky, and lonely time, in which I muddled through as a “dance teacher” in primary schools – which involved more cricket sessions and football afternoons than I care to mention, and not many focusing on the joy of dance – and I feel those years destroyed my career in one fail swoop.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I firmly¬†needed that time. I would not be here today, I truly believe, unless I had hit that pause button, said enough is enough, and quit it all. But I wish I hadn’t. I find myself wishing I could reverse, and go back to college, take that extra year, and try again. Impossible, I know – but so desired…

Which is why, I have made the choice that now it the time to start again.

I have started a rigorous training programme, to turn my body back into that of a dancer. It’s tough, and extremely tiring, but it will be totally worth it, when I look at myself, and see a performer staring back.

I’ve also begun to retrain my now matured voice. I’m not the eighteen year old vocalist which I was – my voice has entered a whole new level, which enables me to progress forward with beautiful, new, exciting repertoire – but I’ve neglected the fundamentals of strengthening, and warming up, and caring.

My new branch of business – performing for weddings – is the first step in determination. I’ve performed at many a wedding, hidden by the Full Beam Productions name, but I’m ready, now, to step out of my comfort zone, and be myself.

If you’re thinking of booking entertainment for your wedding, please, look no further. Because I can promise you, that with the level of determination coursing through my body right now, you will receive nothing more than the very best.

Follow my journey back to business – it’s going to be a good one!