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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Eccentric Escapism - The truth behind entertainment




"Harry, why do you like performing so much?"

A question that I, and probably most other performing artists, am repeatedly asked.


The most common answers that I hear are as follows:

I just love it
It's all I can do
I don't know, I just do.

Obviously there are hundreds and thousands of other answers but on the whole, I've noticed that most people find it hard to articulate exactly why it is they love to perform. 


But, when you actually dig a little deeper behind the reasons why we love performing so much, you realise the truth behind the facade that is "entertainment".

The truth behind art, music, acting, dancing, singing, playing video games, watching TV drama's, Live action role-playing,  pretty much most things you can classify as a form of entertainment, is escapism. 

Take away the lights, the camera's, the costumes, the spectacle of a performance and you will find that all we want to do is escape this life. 

When artists perform, we become another person who is living in an entirely different world that is more often than not the complete polar opposite from our day-to-day ordinary lives. All we want to do is escape the world that we live in and envelop ourselves in a completely different place. 

Weird Right? Our sole aim is to escape this world and invite an audience to experience it with us. 

But where else other than all the forms of entertainment that I have spoke about above can you actually escape real life?  Where else can you fully forget the world that we live in? Where else can you momentarily forget who you are and completely become another person in an entirely new world? Entertainment is all escapism. 

Escapism isn't just for the artist though. In fact it is equally for the audience who is watching a performance. The beauty in watching a performance is that you can get fully enveloped in a world you are watching and, equally like the people in it, forget the world we live in. I'm sure we have all had moments watching our favourite TV show where you get so connected to a character and the world in which they live, that in all honesty it is difficult to imagine them not existing. This is what I mean, this is the beauty of escapism. You forget the world around you and for a brief moment, you are encapsulated in another place. 

The beauty in performing is that you get to live in this heightened fantasy. The beauty in watching a performance is that you get to be invited into this world. And both simultaneously escape real life.

Eccentric Escapism.

That is what it boils down too. All entertainment is an eccentric way to forget about the world we live in and live elsewhere free of everyday stress.

So...I guess I love performing so much because I get to be someone else, somewhere else.

Eccentrically escaping life.

That's what I love to do.

-Harry



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Nobody Does It Like Lady Gaga





Nobody does it like gaga. 

Regardless of what you think of Lady Gaga, for example, "She's weird" "She's a good singer but her music is rubbish" "She is a freak"

Something that I whole-heartedly believe, is that she is currently the worlds best performer and entertainer. 

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend Lady Gaga's ArtRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball. This was my third time seeing Gaga live and she still managed to reduce me to tears. 

The artrave is a celebration of  one of gaga's latest albums ARTPOP, an album that people have a marmite opinion on. 

They either love it or they hate it. 






The concert opened with the title song "ARTPOP". As the bass pumped through the O2 arena in London, gaga's vocals powerfully echoed into the hearts of every human being there. From then onwards it was a complete and utter spectacle in which the audience were able to be completely free of inhibitions and simply enjoy the undeniably fantastic performance that gaga was providing. 

It is pretty obvious that gaga has an absolutely astonishing vocal ability. However, what I feel the most appealing and awe-inspiring thing about her is, especially for a performer like myself, is her ability to quite literally pour her entire heart and soul into every note hit and dance move excuted and simply perform and put on a show. 

Call me old fashioned, but I think the most important thing about seeing an artist live, is to see them perform. Nowadays I feel that the masses flock to see an artist perform just to see them churn out all the hits monotonously without actually connecting to the songs or infact the audience themselves. 


But not gaga. 






Lady Gaga will actively look for new ways to re-invent an outfit for a song that she has quite frankly probably sung a thousand times for millions of people. Whilst the choreography might be the same, the outfits will more than likely be entirely different from performance to performance. Regardless of if you are familiar with what song gaga is singing, she will put on such an incredible performance that you are able to dance around completely freely and just enjoy the music. With gaga, you don't have to be lyric perfect or in fact even know the song to enjoy the show. I feel like that is an incredibly rare thing to come across nowadays. To further reiterate my point, in September of 2013, Gaga headlines the iTunes festival which was staged at the Roundhouse in London. Here she performed a plethora of songs from ARTPOP, however these were songs that the general public had never heard before. She only sang two songs in her entire set that the audience were familiar with. 


Did we enjoy it any less?
 No. 
Did we still get fully and utterly enveloped into a world free of inhibitions, judgements, prejudice and just enjoy the music and gaga's performance?
YES. 

So no matter what she is singing, whether you know it or not, gaga will entertain you. 





One of the most enticing things about her, I feel, Is the excitment of "What will she do next?" I don't think anybody can deny that gaga's ability to constantly reinvent herself and provide us with the most exhilarating shock factor, is second to none. Nobody else is in her league when it comes to being able to work the game that is fame. Her ability to do all of this however is not the reason that she is famous. What people need to realise is without the costumes, the paparazzi, the shock factor etc she is still one of the most talented musicians currently in the music business. Her ability to craft music in a way that constantly connects to the hearts and souls of her fans on a re-occuring basis is phenomenal. That combined with an absolutely mind-boggling vocal ability is the reason that she is where she is now. Throughout the artRAVE and in fact most of her concerts, the audience are all constantly throwing things that they have painstakingly made as a gift for her to show their gratitude for the impact that she has had on their lives, which if you are fortunate enough, she will pick up and show the upmost appreciation for.

In my opinion,Gaga is one of the only artists nowadays that will actively look for ways to connect to her fans. Be it building an entire website dedicated to the celebration of her music and art, simply picking up a letter written by a fan and inviting them on stage, or like she did for the ARTRAVE, build a stage that stretches over the majority of the standing section that every single person in that arena feels completely enveloped and included by her, she wants to be one with her fans. Even though Lady Gaga seems like a completely out of reach super-star, I can't help but feel like she is as close to me as a fellow little monster.

Lady Gaga is quite simply my idol. 

My idol in terms of the messages she spreads. 

My idol in terms of her artistic talent.

My idol in terms of her as a performer.





I aspire to one day be able to have that level of performance ability that she posesses. Not so much the talent, but the ability to connect with people the way she does. 
I think her talent and her ability to perform and connect to the very heart and soul of her fans, are two completely different things.

So whether you like her or not, if there is one thing I would recommend it would be to see her live. 


She lives for the applause and she puts on the most sensational of performances every single time that is always completely above and beyond deserving of mine.









-Harry 

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Importance Of Rocks



Everybody knows how important it is to have that one person you can rely on.

That one person who you can turn to with literally anything in the world and they will support you.
That one person who knows what you're thinking before you even say it.
That one person who knows what you're feeling without you even saying it.
That one person who you would do anything for and vica versa. 

As I am going through my course at Urdang and receiving the training I need in order to hopefully achieve my dream, there is one person who I know has my back and is quite simply my rock.

Throughout my first week, and to be honest most days still, I would ring him after every day on my walk to the train station and tell him about my day. And whether he is or not, he would sound enthusiastic enough that it would come across that he was interested in hearing about it.

When i'm having a bad day, he will take the brunt of my mood and be there for me to cuddle and cry to whenever I need him.

If ever I doubt myself he is the architect, design team, builder, workforce, cleaner and ribbon cutter behind re-building my self-confidence back up.

Other than my parents there is nobody on this earth who wants me to succeed more than he does.

This post is dedicated to my boyfriend.

To simply say "thank you" is insufficient. 
To buy a present or to take him to a meal in appreciation of all his support, is insufficient.  
The only way that I can possibly give my thanks to his support is by succeeding. 

I think for any artist to succeed, it is vital to have just one person who is willing to be there through every single high and low standing right behind you being your biggest fan. Without that most people crumble under the crippling demands of this industry.

It can be a mother, father, sibling, friend, it can be anyone. So long as there is someone who is helping you through the tough times on the road to success, you'll be okay. 

My boyfriend is my rock. He is part of the fire in my heart that is driving me to succeed. Every time I hit a wall in class and I feel that I can't go on, or I can't do it, I picture his face and I think to myself "Do it for him".

I don't particularly want to succeed to feed my ego. I don't particularly want to succeed so that I'm rich and famous. I don't want to succeed because I want to make millions. I want to succeed because I have a passion for performing and I have a boyfriend who I need to make proud. 

One day I will. 

I want to be able to thank him for having the most unconditional ever lasting love and support for me.  He has helped me through university and he helps me through every day life. 

Life isn't easy and life doesn't always go the way you want it to go. The world beats you down and it is relentless in stopping you from achieving what you want.
But my boyfriend makes me see the world as a better place. He shares the weight of life with me. He makes me feel like I can do anything and be anything I want to be. He's my biggest fan and I am his, and one day I am going to succeed for him.

Recently myself and Damien took a commitment together and invested into starting to build our future. On the 24th of October 2014 we brought home a little miniature daschund puppy who we have name Daura. She is a symbol of our commitment to each other, a symbol of our love and a symbol of our future together.




Take some time to thank your rocks.
The world is a beach full of pebbles but if you're lucky enough to find that special one, hold on to it and don't ever let it go.
I don't intend to throw mine back into the sea.
I intend to jump in there with it. 


So thank you Damien. 
For everything.




- Harry


If you want to read more about me and my boyfriend and my journey coming out, you can see the featured guest post I did on The Gay Men Project HERE


Saturday, 25 October 2014

#AsDarknessFalls - Daily Mix & Gleam Halloween Party 2014








As darkness fell over london, the blogosphere came out to play.

Now, firstly I want to make it clear that I didn't start this blog because I wanted to make a career out of blogging. I didn't start it because I want to be internet famous. I didn't start it because I want a career in blogging.

I simply started it because I enjoy writing and I wanted to share my journey into the performing arts industry with you. Alot of people see blogging etc as an "easy" way of making money. 
1) It's not

2) If you set out to make money from it you dooming yourself to failure before you've even started. 

I am fortunate enough, no in fact blessed enough, that I am close friends with the extremely gorgeously talented Katie Oldham aka SCARPHELIA. She is a person who I believe writes from a place of passion instead of a place of business. Wind back to my First Post about talking to someone about my dreams in a swimming pool and this is who im talking about. 

So when Scarphelia messaged me requesting to be her plus one to the DailyMix and TeamGleam AsDarknessFalls party in Leicester Square, I was gobsmacked, honoured and ecstatic to say 

"ERM YESSS". 

Who better to go with than with someone who I regard to be one of the best writers I know, and someond who I believe blogs from the same place of passion as I do.

The party itself, to start, was in the most stunning location with an absolutely breathtaking view of leicester square and london. Not only that, but we were amongst some of the most influential people from the youtube and blogging community. Such as Alfie Deyes (Pointlessblog), Zoella, Louise (Sprinkle of glitr), Joe Sugg, Caspar Lee, NikkinSammy etc. And to top it all of, everyone was in some amazing costumes. I partied with elsa, thing 1 + 2, several witches, an old fashioned maid and most of the undead. 





To be amongst these people was an honour. They literally live and breathe  the internet community and to be honest it is no wonder. Not only is the material that they post incredible, but they are the most down to earth humble people, so it is no surprise that they fully envelop themselves in this community and enjoy socialising with each other.

To see these people who have an astonishing amount of following on the internet remain humble and, to be honest, just human, was inspiring. 

So many people that were there are incredibly passionate about blogging and youtube-ing, and I felt completely overwhelmed that I was standing amongst these people. All I do is scribble down my thoughts on my commute to Urdang everyday and assemble them into a coherent sentence for you guys to read. 

I guess it's hard to describe the feeling that I had. Somewhere between awestruck and overwhelmed. 

Like I said, I didn't start this blog to make a career out of it. I started it because I have a passion for writing as well as performing. So to be amongst people who have made incredible lives and careers out of doing essentially the same thing as me, was insanely amazing. 


It was like being invited to the oscars after attending one acting class. 

I am so thankful to Katie and I am honoured to have been considered somewhat worthy enough by her to be there by her side. I had an absolutely ridiculously amazing time. 

Katie also made a Vlog of our experience at the party which you can check out HERE





Everyone who I met, I wish you all the best with the continuing success of your internet lives and careers and I can't wait to read/watch all about it. 



Darkness Fell, the sun rose, and It was back to Urdang the next day for me. 
Back to reality. 
Back on the path to my dream.



-Harry 


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Graduating University







Graduation Day.

I still remember the journey I made down to Winchester to start my first day at University. 


The car was packed so tightly with bedding, kitchen utensils, home comforts, food, a mini fridge, alcohol etc. Remember on those old shows when a conveyor belt of prizes used to run infront of a contestant and they would win what they could remember? Well the car looked like the end of the conveyor belt where everything would fall off and pile up.
With my face pressed firmly against the window and my body contorted into the smallest shape possible so I could fit into the car, me and my parents drove down to Winchester. 

The room was set-up, the internet was connected to my laptop and my room felt like a home away from home. Then my parents left and said their goodbyes. Mum sobbed all the way home apprently but, I didn't have the pleasure of dealing with that. 

And there I was. 
Alone in my room. 
Ready to start a phenominal three year journey into adulthood. 

I haven't shyed away from the fact that I think university was one of the best experiences of my life. When I look back at my time there, I am filled with nothing else but happiness. 

I managed to finally become comfortable with my sexuality, which led me to find someone who I don't think I could function without. 



I met the most insanely talented and all round stunning group of girls on my course who I wish nothing but success for. These girls helped me in ways they don't even realise and they have the most beautiful souls I have ever encountered in a human being before. I want to take this time just to express my gratitude towards them and encourage them to never give up, doubt themselves or settle for anything less than greatness. 


I joined arguably the best social team at winchester university and met the most welcoming and fierce group of people i've met. The time I had with that team and the memories I have had with those people will forever be sacred to me.



I became a part of the most dysfunctional, hilarious, random, supportive, emotional, borderline alcoholic second family. The girls I lived with for three years are four of the most amazing people I have ever met. Without them, university would've been a completely different experience and I can't thank them enough for the memories they have provided me that I will treasure forever. 


I found someone who I consider to be as important to me as my legs. He supports me through thick and thin. He isn't afraid to be completely cut throat with his honesty. He makes me laugh so much that I get stomach pains. He believes in me, and I in him, that one day we will achieve greatness. I love him like a brother and without him, university would've been a different experience. Leaving him to finish his third year without me was heartbreaking, however the fact that he was able to sneak in to graduation ceremony and see me recieve my degree means the absolute world to me. In all honesty, I don't want to live my life without him there. 


And to top it all off, I managed to graduate with a First Class BA(Hons) degree in Contemporary Performance/Performing Arts. 




And now, the end of our three year journey is here. Graduation day

More than anything, I am most excited that I will get to sit down and watch all the people that mean so much to me, walk up to the front of The Winchester Cathedral and receive recognition for all their hard work.


Graduation day will go down as one of the best days of my life. 



Unviersity meant so much to me so closing this chapter of my life is difficult. But I know I have made some unbreakable friendships that I will be honoured to carry through the rest of my life. 





It was a privilege to have made this journey with these people. 

In school, I was told I would never amount to much. On friday the 17th of October 2014 I walked out of the winchester cathedral carrying a first class BA (Hons) degree in contemporary performance

Anyone is capable of anything. 


So I guess, there is nothing more to say other than...goodbye university. 

Thank you for the most unforgettable three years of my life.
































-Harry

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Self Doubt - the moment that you give up on your dream, is the moment that you stop living.




Self doubt is the worst disease I know of.

If there is anything in my life I wish I could change, it would be to get rid of that little part in my head that says

“You’re not good enough, you’ll never make it.”

On the whole, I am a pretty confident, pretty motivated and pretty driven person. I won’t let anything stop me from getting what I want. However, underneath this bravado of self-confidence, there is a tiny part of me that is constantly battling against my drive to succeed.



Self doubt. 
Not believing you’re good enough.
Being your own worst critic.

It is quite simply one of the most poisonous things I think any human being can possibly experience. The feeling in your heart that you are not worthy of achieving greatness is truly horrible.

At Urdang, we are told more often than not, the reality of getting a paid job in the performing arts industry.

Yes. 
We know there is little-to-no chance and yes we know that the majority of us will end up not doing the thing that we love. We'll end up doing countless other things moving from job to job because we can't quite satisfy the craving we have for performing.

I know they tell us this because they are trying to prepare us for the outside world and they’re just being completely honest with us, which, I hugely respect and admire because there is nothing worse than having your head filled with delusions of grandeur. 

But Im telling you now, to swallow that pill of cold hard truth is difficult. 
It’s is hard to not completely give up on yourself and let that voice saying “you’re not good enough” win.


Something I admire in a lot of artists is the ability to pick themselves back up and carry on after the constant repetition of not achieving their dreams. And Something a lot of people need to realise is that, the performing arts may look glamorous from the outside, but behind the curtain is a lot of people who have picked themselves out of dark places to get there.

This doesn't apply only to artists though. This disease is present in every single human being, and yes honestly I would go as far as to coin the term "self-doubt" as a disease. Everybody who walks this earth will at one point or another feel that they are not good enough at doing something. The voice in all of our heads that is constantly reminding us of how terrible we are, is malicious, soul-destroying and can honestly end up having quite devastating effects.


However, the voice in my head will not win. It might be there for the rest of my life, it might not, but for all the time that it is constantly making itself known to me that it is still there, I will not only do my upmost to ignore it but also question it with.

"Why not me?"

Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I succeed? Why can’t I achieve everything I have ever wanted? Why can’t I provide for my loved ones whilst simultaneously doing what I love? Who am I to tell myself that I can’t do it?
I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again,If it's meant to be, it's up to me

I am solely responsible for making something of myself.
And I'm telling you:

One day, I am going to make my boyfriend the proudest boyfriend in the world.

One day, I am going to make my parents, the proudest parents in the world.

One day, I am going to be able to provide a future for the child I welcome into this world.

One day, I am going to win this battle.


Because the moment that you give up on your dream, is the moment that you stop living. And i’m not quite done with this world yet.

Self doubt is the worst disease I know of, and the only cure is yourself. So fight it. Beat it. Achieve it.


-Harry

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Cost Of Compromise




Compromise.


In whatever form, it’s never the easiest thing to do.
You want to eat there, someone else wants to eat here. You compromise.
You like this colour, someone else likes that colour. You compromise.


Compromising is sometimes the hardest thing to do especially if you are a strong minded person.

Recently, one of our teachers at urdang gave us one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard. In fact it was so good, it almost reduced me to tears.It was all about what we have to give up in order to achieve our dreams.

For the audience that watches artists perform, all you see is the facade that we want you to see.


But what you don’t realise is the amount of sacrifices we have to make in order to be successful. We risk so much in order to at the very least feel accepted or regarded by you, the audience.


We risk our health. Dancing as a physical activity can lead to literally crippling you for life if practiced wrong or even too much.
We give up our social lives. There is no time at all to have one. No birthday celebrations, no festive celebrations, no holidays, nothing. You have to commit to succeeding and commit to giving things up.
We put our relationships at risk. Be it with a partner, family, friends anybody. The amount of time we have to put into this takes it’s toll on not only us, but the people around us. And you better pray that these people love and support your dream as much as you do because by god it’s impossible to do this on our own.


We put so much at risk just for the applause that we crave. For the recognition we so desperately want. For literally a pat on the back to say it’s all been worth it. All the hard work, the blood sweat and tears, it was all worth it.


Compromise. 

If you want this, you need to compromise or at least be prepared to compromise a hell of a lot.

We have to compromise ourselves in order to be able to sell ourselves.


It’s so difficult. Physically difficult, mentally difficult and emotionally difficult. So much is at risk so is it any wonder why we get so passionate about achieving these dreams?


- Harry

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

University or Dance School?





Before coming to the urdang academy in london, I had already completed three years of study at the university of winchester and achieved a first class BA (hons) degree in contemporary performance/performing arts. Above is a picture of me just before our summertime ball.


On the whole, university was one of the best experiences of my life. I would recommend the whole university experience to anyone, first and foremost for personal growth reasons, but also because you not only learn about the profession your studying but also learn valuable life lessons. 



So why is it that people choose to do vocational courses, or go to drama schools/dance schools, instead of going to university? And what is the difference?
In my opinion people choose to study vocational courses or go to these schools because of the three following reasons:

1) Their is more of a practical aspect to the course than you'd typically find on a university degree course

2) In our heads we feel we stand a better chance at success in this industry if we can say we went there

3) We want to fully envelop ourselves in a creative atmosphere instead of a half creative half academic atmosphere. 

So what are the differences between the two strands? 

This is coming from somebody who had experienced the university side, and is currently experiencing the vocational drama school/dance school side. Im not saying i'm completely right, i'm just stating the differences I have noticed.

FREE TIME.


- Degree: 
Plenty of it, infact enough of it to become a master of time management. The amount of free time, not only me, but as a whole most students have, is crazy. You might think that because you're doing work or studying in this free time, in doesn't count as free time, but in actual fact it is, you're just choosing to time manage and use this free time efficiently. If you have time to sit in a library for 9 hours at a time, you have enough free time.

-Drama school/Dance school: 
Free time? The notion of this doesn't exist. I, personally, am up from 5:30am commuting to get to college for 8:30am, to then work practially, with if i'm lucky 2-3 15minute breaks, until 6:00pm. To then commute home and be home for 8:00pm. To then have dinner, do the extra stretches and work outs that we are expected to do, and be in bed by 10pm to repeat the next day. Obviously I am speaking from a personal view, but I can guarantee that most students at these types of places will say "Free time? I don't have any."

SOCIAL LIFE

-Degree: 
If you weren't out at least three times a week, most people would wonder what had happened to you and whether or not you were still actually there. The social aspect of university is absolutely incredible and i stumbled into countless lectures either still a little drunk or so hungover that I wanted to ground to swallow me up. My motto for university was "work hard, party harder".

- Drama school/Dance school:
Social life?!?! Don't make me laugh. I either don't have the time, don't have the money, or more often than not quite simply don't have the physical energy to do it!! The amount of physical work I do a day is insane and the concept of then going out drinking and partying is ludicrous. I wouldn't dare turn up to a day at college hungover. 

SKIPPING LESSONS

- Degree: 
"I'm so hungover"
"It's raining and I can't be arsed to walk in the rain"
"I haven't done the work so i'm just not going to go in"
" I just can't be bothered"
All these excuses, I have either personally used or I know of others who have. Now don't get me wrong, achieving a first was not easy and if i ever did use one of these excuses I would more often than not catch up on the work i'd missed. But realistically, if you didn't want to go to a lecture, you just didn't. There is obviously attendance policies to adhere too but, university seemed to have a lot less pressure about turning up. And quite frankly, you could always get a friend to mark you present anyways. 

- Drama school/Dance school:
No. No. No. Honestly the sick to your stomach fear of either being late too, turning up with the wrong uniform too or simply skipping a lesson isn't even worth it. These courses are strict. They are hard, they are brutal, and they are strict. Even if i was throwing my guts up from food poisoning I would drag my sorry arse up to that college and at least sit in the lesson. Skipping lesson because " I can't be bothered" just doesn't work in this industry. Either you're there working, or you're not and you're left behind. 



These are just a few differences I have noticed, there are tonnes more but these are what I feel to be the main ones. 



For anyone considering either courses, you need to really be aware of what you are letting yourself in for before walking either path.



Work hard, keep determined and do what is right for you.



If you seriously want to make it and succeed, you will do so regardless of where you go.



- Harry