Monthly Archives: May 2017

Getting Down and Dirty …

For some, coal is a dirty word. For others, it’s an incredibly refined ancient rock that can be used to create stunning pieces of jewellery.

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Sophia Emmett – Workshop 85

Sophia Emmett hand makes jewellery out of chunks of pitch black coal she finds while walking the beaches of Newcastle. She does so out of Workshop 85, which she formed in 2012. “Exploitation as a fossil fuel has given coal a bad name,” says Sophia. “Appreciating coal as a finite and precious mineral is a different perspective and my pieces highlight its raw and natural beauty.”

Sophia’s professional artistic career began with the world of glass, and has included an artist-in-residency program at the Canberra School of Art, studies overseas, and many opportunities to work with master glass blowers. For years Sophia worked with black glass and wasn’t at all surprised that she was naturally drawn to the intense black of coal once she made the ‘sea change’ from Canberra to Newcastle.


From this …

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… to this – coal stud ear-rings by Sophia Emmett

Dealing with coal is a messy business; it’s oily and dirty. Sophia must also be careful that she doesn’t breathe in any coal dust. She uses a respirator, lots of water to control the dust and works in batches of about three days to cope with the realities of dealing with the raw material. “It takes me ages to scrub down so there’s no point in working with coal for just an hour or two, even though what I find on the beach has been weathered and worn in the water and can be quite smooth to begin with,” says Sophia. And the first step back in Workshop 85 is sorting the coal into sizes.

Next is cutting the coal with diamond tools, which have high grinding efficiency but low grinding force, meaning more pieces survive the process. “I’m getting to the stage where I can pick up a chunk of coal and tell if it will survive,” says Sophia. “Coal is not a uniform material. Some pieces have fractures and I know they won’t work. I have to be careful when drilling since even at the last stage a piece can crack.

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Working with coal

“The piece of coal I find dictates the form and shape of what I make. No two pieces are the same, not even two earrings that form a pair,” says the artist. “They aren’t identical. There are so many variables I can’t control.”

The last step sees Sophia carefully polishing each piece of jewellery. The length of time required depends on the type of coal, with some pieces harder than others. Sophia uses reclaimed silver and stainless silver wire to form pieces, and her range includes cufflinks, pins, hook earrings, stud earrings and necklaces.

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Elegant coal necklace by Sophia Emmett

Karen Lee, who owns Assemblage Project in the Ori Building, Braddon, was instantly attracted to Sophia’s work and now stocks a selection of her women’s jewellery. “I liked the story behind it,” says Karen. “When people see it in the shop and it clicks that it’s coal, they touch it and then look at their hands wondering if there will be dust on their fingers. They’re fascinated.”

The coal jewellery also works well with the aesthetics of the fashion designers who sell out of Assemblage Project, including Karen’s own label—Karen Lee. “It’s not just the colour that works well, since black goes with everything,” says Karen. “It’s the design. It’s unique, well made and I love its simplicity.”

Sophia also sells her coal jewellery The Curatoreum, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

New Season’s Menu at Les Bistronomes!

I love the seasons in Canberra because I love food. I love new menus and being drawn back to my favourite restaurants to try exciting dishes that celebrate the change in weather—especially winter warmer dishes that help us to take comfort from the cold.

BistronomesMultiple award-winning Les Bistronomes in Braddon has recently launched its autumn/winter menu, with a stack of mouth-watering dishes. It’s a true experience dining at Les Bistronomes and it’s no wonder the restaurant holds two Australian Good Food and Travel Guide Chef Hats. Where do I begin?

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Beef Burgundy (bœuf à la Bourguignonne)

I worship Chef Clement Chauvin for his amazing beef tartare and this special version is mandatory. The beef is grain fed and treated with total respect. A confit egg yolk sits pretty on top. All you do is gently mix, pop some mixture on top of the mandolin sliced, micro thin, crispy, gaufrette potatoes (served everywhere in France with tartar) and indulge. The horseradish element is the ‘winter warmer’ part of the dish. Favs remain on the entrée section (Les Bistronomes wouldn’t dare remove some), including the decadent garlic snails—for which the restaurant is famous.

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Black Pudding (Boudin Noir)

New is the black pudding. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to this dish, even if you’re not sure you’re a fan. Trust me, it’s delish. It’s made with pork and apple and served with a fried free range egg and a salad Lyonnaise, so very French, and, without giving any secrets away, the new French onion soup is delightful. Two of us couldn’t pass by the beef burgundy, a new star on the mains. No need to use a knife to cut through the braised beef cheeks in red wine. This dish is so soul satisfying, especially as it’s served with creamy soft polenta, mushrooms, and slow cooked onions.

Bistronomes Lemon sole

New Zealand Lemon Sole (Sole Limande)

The whole New Zealand lemon sole looks stunning on the plate and the fish, cooked to perfection, was moist and delicate. The forest mushrooms, and chestnut and beef burnt butter sauce ramped matters up considerably. And what about the sides? The kitchen excels at French peas and Les Bistronomes makes the most amazing fries. The simple fine-leaf salad with hazelnut vinaigrette is a perfect accompaniment to any dish.

Les Bistronomes has several mains for two to share (pre-ordering is recommended because they take 25 or 30 minutes to cook). Options include Clement’s signature ash-crusted duck a l’orange (served at the table in a dramatic way) and a Beef Wellington with foie gras.

Desserts are to die for and a feast for the eyes. Plating is so beautiful at Les Bistronomes. One of my favourite fruits is lemon and the Tarte Au Citron with blackberry sorbet and toasted meringue packs a punch on flavour. It’s a perfect texture and is bright and chirpy on the plate. If you’re keen on a traditional apple tart tatin for two, just pre-order. You’ll adore the triple vanilla bean ice cream. When you’re at Les Bistronomes, take time to talk to Sommelier Abel Bariller, a professional French Master Sommelier and a ‘Knight of Cognac’. His knowledge of wines, and how to match with food, is astronomical and he never hesitates to discuss options and motivate diners to experiment.

Bistronomes Lemon tart

Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron)

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Chef Clement Chauvin


The dishes at Les Bistronomes are fabulous value for money (mains average at around $34; some of Canberra’s better restaurants are creeping beyond mid-$40s). The atmosphere is charming. The furniture is comfy. You simply can’t go wrong. And, beyond the new winter/autumn menu, stay tuned for the special Bastille Day menu (14 July) or the special Truffle Dinner menu (27 July or 3 August).

Pie in the Sky!

Or in the Southern Highlands …

 Who doesn’t love a good pie? Especially on a cold June day. If that’s you, get yourself to the Southern Highlands this June when you can eat your way through the Highlands as they celebrate the great Aussie pie with Pie Time!

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Home-made beef and veggie pie with filo pastry – photo by LFW

“The Southern Highlands has a large saturation of quality pie producers with everything from your top-notch gourmet pies, to family winter warmers and deliciously sweet dessert pies,” said Steve Rosa, Manager Tourism and Events, Destination Southern Highlands. “What better way to demonstrate some pie parochialism than with a pie festival, pie trail, pie competition and related pie events featuring over 30 local pie sites including bakeries, cafes, restaurants, hotels and associated businesses in the Southern Highlands. In essence, we’ll become the Southern Pie-lands throughout June.”

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Chicken, leek, and bacon pie – photo by LFW

Pie Time has four components. The Pie Time Festival—featuring pie tasting, beer and pie matching, cooking demos, competitions, and music, and will be held on 24 and 25 June in Bowral’s Corbett Gardens. The Southern Highlands’ Best Pie Competition—for professional and apprentice bakers is on 22 and 23 June, also in the Corbett Gardens. The Pie Trail and Dine with a Pie includes pie sampling at hotels, cafés and restaurants during the month of June.

Pies will also be available at key attractions including the Illawarra Fly, Bradman Museum’s Stumps Café, Fitzroy Falls, and galleries, pubs, and restaurants in the region.

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Hearty lamb and veggie pasties – photo by LFW

You can also get a Pie Time break package—a ‘pie-cation’ at the iconic Peppers Craigieburn in Bowral where you can enjoy their signature pie and wine for two people, plus a welcome drink on arrival—from 1 June to 31 August. Pie-cation packages, and Southern Highlands’ hospitality, is also available at The Robertson Hotel, Peppers Manor House, Mildenhall Guesthouse, Fitzroy Inn Historic Retreat, and Gibraltar Hotel Bowral.

Pie eaters can also win an Ultimate Pie Lovers Experience including a gourmet pie lunch for 10 people at award winning Centennial Vineyards Restaurant, simply by buying a pie or pie dish, throughout June, and entering the comp on

Pie Time

So lock this fun event in your calendar now!

For more information on Pie Time visit  To book your stay in the Southern Highlands for Pie Time 2017 visit or call 1300 657 559.

Mapping the Terrain—Architecture and the Hand

Architecture. Landscape. Jewellery. The Body. The intimate connection between these four fascinates contemporary jeweller Sabine Pagan.

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Sabine Pagan – ‘Anew’

Sabine designs and makes large, bold statement rings that might look simple at first glance, but don’t be fooled. Sabine designs by thinking about the position of the piece on the finger and its relationship to the hand as a whole. Her bespoke pieces have a special relationship between the round part of the ring and the detail on top, with light shining through the gaps between elements.

“Contemporary jewellery is about the body,” says Sabine. “My pieces are about the spatial and sensorial relationships we develop with our built environment. They’re not miniature but definitely wearable.

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Sabine Pagan ‘Untitled’

“When worn, the ring is unlike any other kind of jewellery. Anchored to the hand, a ring acts as an extension of the body. It’s visible to the wearer and viewer. I’m drawn to the intimate scale of rings and the roles they play both when worn and detached from the body.”

Mapping the terrain between jewellery, architecture and landscape is what Sabine will discuss this Wednesday, 24 May, at the 5×5 ACT Speaker Series, hosted by the Design Institute of Australia. And she’ll show images of some of her amazing work.

Sabine uses a range of materials including monel (a nickel-copper alloy), Delrin (a crystalline plastic), sterling silver, and anodised aluminium, and her biggest challenge is creating jewellery in time. “My work looks simple in some ways but is difficult and time consuming to achieve,” she says. “I spend weeks working on one piece.”

Later this year, the jeweller will design a collection influenced by Canberra, with ideas already dancing in Sabine’s head. “I’m thinking about the idea of ‘mapping’ since Canberra is a designed city,” says Sabine. “I’m also thinking of the four seasons and how that plays on light and buildings. I walk the dog around the lake two to three times a week and I see how the buildings and environment continually change.”

Sabine says she is an active observer and user of the architecture that surrounds her: “Its presence affects me. I’m curious about how I relate to, and interact with, places and I search for possible connections with the emotional sensibilities we hold towards the wearable object. Then, with a jeweller’s eye, I dwell on detail, function, material and craftsmanship.”

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Sabine Pagan- ‘Site Specific’

Born and educated in Switzerland, Sabine is also a gemologist and educator. She established an independent studio practice in Australia in 1998 (currently working out of Queanbeyan). She’s widely exhibited and works on commissions and limited editions of jewellery.

This is the DIA’s 70th year in being the voice of professional design in Australia. The 24 May 5×5 ACT Speaker Series will also feature Tim Fulton, a graphic designer with Swell Design Group, Philip Quartly, who works in exhibition design at Designcraft, Jeremy Lepisto, a glass artist from studio Workshop Level, and Rolf Barfoed, a nationally awarded fine furniture maker.

“The 5×5 ACT Speakers Series is designed to be a stimulating evening exploring experiences, projects, successes and failures,” says Lisa Biddiscombe, President of the ACT Branch.  “And it’s about inspiring people to value design, promote Australian design and connect designers with others.”

Sabines piece - On the Way to Vals

Sabine Pagan – ‘On the Way to Vals’

5×5 Speakers Series, 24 May at 6pm, 12 Pirie Street Fyshwick. Non-members $25; Members $20; Students $15. Refreshments and beverages provided. Register here.


Life is a LEMON

For Timothy Fulton at least—life is a LEMON.

Timothy Fulton is one of 5 speakers from 5 disciplines who will each share 5 minutes talking about what makes them tick at an upcoming event hosted by the Design Institute of Australia (DIA).

Tim FultonA young graphic designer with Canberra’s award winning Swell Group, Timothy hasn’t always had it easy. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Still’s, a rare auto-immune disease that affects 1 in 500,000.

“I went from having a game plan mapped out in my head on how my career would unfold, to being in hospital lying on my back and unable to move,” says Timothy. “I quickly worked out that life isn’t linear and wasn’t going to play out as planned. I knew the quality of my life for the foreseeable future was going to be challenging and painful but believed deeply that I had control over my attitude and how I was going to respond to the shattering situation.”

Timothy is back on track, having been in remission for six months. As a young graduate, he now works at Swell, which has been breathing life into brands, digital experiences and environments for close to two decades. Timothy’s been awarded a Chancellor’s Commendation and the student prize for Best Graduating Undergraduate, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.

Fulton_XO_09“The art of listening and being empathetic is the most powerful tool a designer can have,” says Timothy. “It’s exciting that we get to step into other people’s worlds, see another perspective and then use our design expertise to make meaningful change and help people bring to life their goals and aspirations.”

At the 5×5 ACT Speaker Series, Timothy will also talk about the challenges of designing in a fast-paced world and the difference between good and bad design and effective and ineffective design. “We need to educate people that there is a difference. Computer literacy is increasing. Design is more than being able to work and computer. It’s a problem-solving process that needs to be carefully developed,” says Timothy.


One of Tim’s award-winning student assignments—to design a cover for the annual anthology ‘First’. The cover explores the process of formulation.

So why is life a lemon for Timothy? L means life isn’t linear, E is for empathy, M for meaning, O for opening eyes to new possibilities and N is for learning to say no so you protect yourself and be able to do your best.

This is the DIA’s 70th year in being the voice of professional design in Australia. The upcoming 5×5 ACT Speaker Series will also feature Dr Sabine Pagan, a Swiss-born Australian contemporary jeweller, gemologist and academic who is working on a collection of pieces celebrating Canberra. Philip Quartly, who works in exhibition design at Designcraft will speak as will Jeremy Lepisto, a glass artist from studio Workshop Level and Rolf Barfoed, a nationally awarded fine furniture maker.

“The 5×5 ACT Speakers Series is designed to be a stimulating evening exploring experiences, projects, successes and failures,” says Lisa Biddiscombe, President of the ACT Branch.  “And it’s about inspiring people to value design, promote Australian design and connect designers with others.”

Fulton SWL_Office_02

5×5 ACT Speakers Series is on 24 May at 6pm at 12 Pirie Street Fyshwick. Non-members $25; Members $20; Students $15. Refreshments and beverages provided. Register here

Diana Cheetham at Fiji Fashion Week!

Diana Cheetham knows a thing or two about makeup. She’s been the Director of Makeup for FASHFEST, Canberra’s annual red-carpet fashion show, for three years. She teaches makeup at CMA Training Group and is a professional makeup artist who owns a freelance makeup and hair business.

Diana has now added another string to her bow. She’s been selected to travel to Fiji Fashion Week, to be part of the Harlotte Cosmetics official makeup team.

Carlotte 1_Doug Hall

Michelle Crofts, owner of Harlotte Cosmetics, has selected Diana for her skill, creativity and flexible approach when working in the hustle, bustle and pressure of backstage at major fashion events. Makeup artists must be skilled at interpreting creative briefs quickly and working with precision to bring fashion design to life on the catwalk. Diana’s talents also saw her work with the Harlotte team at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia.

Harlotte is the official sponsor of Fiji Fashion Week, celebrating 10 years of fashion in paradise. Diana leaves at the crack of dawn on 24 May for the 11 hour journey to Suva and returns on 28 May. It’s Diana’s first international event and she hopes it’s not the last.

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FASHFEST – photo by Doug Hall Photographer

“There are no words to describe the feeling of being selected,” says Diana. “I’m so excited to be working in such an extraordinary location and to experience how another major fashion show works. And I’m looking forward to working with other skin tones.”

At FASHFEST, Diana is in charge of a team of up to 45 makeup stylists who produce high-glamour looks for up to 150 models wearing new collections by 50 fashion designers. This year’s event is 28 to 30 September.

“Make-up is a fashion accessory with the power to complete, perfect and refine an outfit,” says Diana. “Backstage has such a vibe but there’s never a minute to spare during show time. The pressure is non-stop.”

Away from formal fashion events, Diana is busy as a new mum and with her business—Diana Cheetham Hair and Makeup Artist. She services the ACT, Goulburn, and the Southern Highlands.

So what tips does Diana have for makeup this winter? “A hot trend is peach,” says Diana. “Adding peach tones to any skin colour gives a lovely, soft glow. Simply place a dewy blush to the apple of your cheeks and blend up and out toward your hairline.”

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Harlotte behind the scenes at FASHFEST – photo by Sparkling Weddings

Another winter tip is the half lash, which Diana says has an uplifting effect that will make you look refreshed. “Cut full band lashes in half and use them on the outer edges of your eyes, with the longer ends at the outer corners. The effect will be amazing,” says the makeup pro.

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Photo by Doug Hall Photography

Diana also recommends knowing your makeup products and learning how to use them properly. “Don’t hesitate to have a lesson from a professional so you know how to apply products in a way that suits your age, skin type and eye shape.”

You can follow Diana on her Facebook page, and check out Harlotte Cosmetics on their website or Facebook.


FASHFEST 2017 is on the hunt for models of all ages, personality types and sizes to bring designer fashion to life at the red-carpet event on 28 to 30 September.


Model crowds at FASHFEST 2016 model casting – photo by

The annual model casting is being held Sunday 4 June at the National Convention Centre Canberra and only time will tell if FASHFEST smashes its 2016 record, with more 550 models registering to strut their stuff. While it’s serious business, it’s also a fun day, packed with wannabe models meeting new friends, snapping selfies, getting measured up, and—with butterflies in their tummies—walking the makeshift catwalk, alone and in pairs.


Walking the walk at FASHFEST 2016 Model Casting – photo by

“We look for different ages, body profiles and nationalities since our designers are so diverse,” says Andrea Hutchinson, from HAUS Models and one of the four judges on this year’s panel. “Depending on the final cut of designers, we might need mature models, athletic models, models with a sophisticated look or models from various ethnic backgrounds. And we need a mix of male and female.”

The casting is ‘open’ which means models don’t have to belong to an agency. Indeed, since FASHFEST is big on training, applicants don’t need previous modelling experience. If they have what it takes, they’ll cross the line and get to be in Canberra’s red-carpet fashion event. The only restriction is that models must be 16 years of age by the time FASHFEST rolls out that red carpet.

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FASHFEST 2017 Model Casting Pane l-r: Victoria from Victoria’s Models, Tina from Devojka Models, and Andrea from HAUS Models

Joining Andrea is Victoria Schnabl, Victoria’s Models, and Tina Nikolovski, Devojka Models, meaning that all three of Canberra’s top modelling agencies are represented on the judging panel. And for a different perspective, FASHFEST’s Director of Photography, Leighton Hutchinson, will also judge.

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FASHFEST 2016 Model Casting – photo by Sparkling Weddings

The models will walk to music organised by FASHFEST’s official music director, Ashley Feraude. The music creates a unique vibe for the day and helps keep nerves calm.

If you want to give it a go, register on form only takes a minute or two to complete and registration closes late on 3 June.


In pairs at FASHFEST 2016 Model Casting – photo by


Capturing the Moment

The collaboration between a photographer and a contemporary dancer is creative and challenging. Capturing movement at the perfect moment takes time, patience and skill, which is evident in Enigma, a new exhibition by local photographer Lorna Sim, opening 19 May at The Photography Room.thumbnail_16_Eliza_Lorna Sim_2015

Enigma presents the form and free spirit of Eliza Sanders, a young contemporary, award-winning and independent dancer, choreographer and visual artist who dances wherever the wind takes her. When Eliza’s in Canberra, she’s often found in front of Lorna’s camera. Lorna has been shooting Canberra’s youth dance group, the Quantum Leap Youth Dance Ensemble (QL2), since 2009, including alumni members such as Eliza.

During Enigma, Eliza’s dance was spontaneous, fleeting and emotional. Lorna’s challenge was to capture the moves at the right moment. “When she dances, Eliza is unconstrained by norms and is fearless in her approach,” says Lorna. “The excitement is the anticipation of what she’s going to do as her body moves and capturing that in a still frame. The challenge is that I never know what’s going to happen from one quick moment to the next.”

Enigma image 1During the shoot, Lorna experimented with a new flash working hard to predict what Eliza’s peak moments would be and then catching them as a still frame. “Eliza’s dance can’t be totally predicted or controlled, and she’s fast,” says Lorna. “The new flash gave me more flexibility but it still took ages to capture the elusive beauty of Eliza’s movements.” The images in Enigma are unedited, making them all the more captivating.

Eliza holds a Bachelor of Dance Performance from the New Zealand School of Dance. She began dancing at the age of five in Canberra, where she was born and raised. She has trained in classical ballet, jazz and contemporary dance.

Lorna creates art, marketing and documentary photos for performing artists. She regularly works with the Street Theatre, Photoaccess and QL2 Dance and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions here and interstate.  Lorna has dedicated Enigma to all artists whose practice and survival is increasingly precarious. “This is a tribute to the courage these artists exhibit among all the challenges they face,” says Lorna.

thumbnail_11_Eliza_Lorna Sim_2015Also showing at the same time as Enigma is What Comes to Mind by Dörte Conroy, who has created small-scale, transitory sculptures and then turned them into permanent photographs. With the right light, Dörte’s images feature dramatic shadows. Absence of Sunshine, by Maurice Weidmann, is a series of black and white photographic prints that The Photography Room’s Director, Sean Davey, stumbled across at an op-shop in Yass. Sean bought 12 of the photographs, which depict theatre productions from Canberra in the 1980s.

These three exhibitions run from 19 May to 25 June at The Photography Room, an artist-run gallery that specialises in photography. It’s open every Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is free.

Local Composer has World Premiere in Canberra!

Have you heard of Michael Dooley? Well you’re about to … Michael Dooley is a Canberra composer and pianist, and can usually be found with jazz duo In2Deep or conducting local choral group Rhythm Syndicate. But, on Saturday 20 May Michael will be the focus of Canberra when his Piano Concerto No.1 has its world premiere!


Michael Dooley – image courtesy City News

Sydney-based pianist Andrew Rumsey returns to Canberra with a collection of esteemed colleagues for an evening of unforgettable music. Joining him will be Mia Stanton (violin), James Larsen (cello), Tom Azoury (clarinet), Laura van Rijn (flute) and Matt Withers (guitar). Pieces will include works by Rachmaninov, Debussy, Williams, Kovacs, Piazzolla, Edwards, Clarke, Dooley and more. This concert will be Rumsey’s final engagement in the ACT before he begins his USA tour, starting with an appearance at Carnegie Hall on 3 June 2017.


Michael Dooley and Rachel Thorne – In2Deep

“I am delighted to be giving the world premiere performance of Michael Dooley’s Piano Concerto No.1,” says Andrew. “Michael has such a fresh and unique compositional style and I’m so excited to be sharing this amazing work with Canberra. It has all the right ingredients; lyricism, tenderness, subtlety, virtuosity, and power. Definitely a captivating piece to listen to, and perform!”.

Rumsey & Friends New Directions will premiere on Saturday 20 May at 7pm at the Wesley Music Centre, Forrest. Tickets available from Eventbrite.

Accommpanist and composer Mike Dooley

Pianist and composer Mike Dooley – image by LFW

You can also hear more of Michael Dooley on Sunday 21 May when ART Song Canberra presents The Voice of Heroic Love with well-known Canberra soprano Louise Page, Rachel Best Allen on clarinet, and Phillipa Candy on piano.

This work will also include a new song cycle composition by Michael Dooley.

The Voice of Heroic Love, Wesley Music Centre, Forrest, Sunday 21 May at 3pm. Tickets at the door from $15 (students), Art Song Members $25, Concessions $30, Full price $35. Tickets include program and light refreshments. For more information contact Art Song Canberra on 6286 7373.

You can follow Mike Dooley on his Facebook page.

Get on Board the Swing Train!

Have you heard of SwingTrain? This is a brand new fitness workout inspired by Vintage Vibes and Street Dances, and brought to you by Savoy Dance Canberra, and is the first place in Australia to offer this fantastic workout based on swing dance. SwingTrain is a terrific fitness regime open to all levels of fitness and you don’t need any special gear—just your favourite workout clothes and sneakers.

So what is SwingTrain?  SwingTrain is the vintage inspired cardio workout launched by BBC Dragons’ Den success Scott Cupit and backed by Deborah Meaden, and was launched at the start of this year. It now has 45 venues across the UK and has been recruiting in Australia, and the very first Australian SwingTrain opened in Canberra on Saturday 6 May.

Swing fitSwingTrain is an elating exercise experience accompanied by the vintage vibes of swing, gospel, rhythm & blues and jazz, and is a marked difference to the electronic music that dominates the majority of cardio exercise classes. The fitness regime was developed by Scott Cupit, the award winning London-based, Australian, dance teacher and entrepreneur. Now, SwingTrain is launching under the guidance of investor Deborah Meaden, and local Canberra dancer and fitness instructor Cathie Gough, Founder of Savoy Dance which offers weekly swing, slow balboa and tap classes here in Canberra, has been selected as the first SwingTrain trainer in Australia.

Cathie Swing fit

Cathie Gough, owner and founder of Savoy Dance Canberra, and first Australian SwingTrain instructor.

“We’ll be fostering both fitness and friendships at the SwingTrain Canberra sessions,” says Cathie. “The music and atmosphere is designed to be supportive and uplifting, so that participants don’t even realise they’re burning up to 500 calories an hour because they’re smiling so much. The best thing about SwingTrain is that it’s accessible to everyone, no matter their age, fitness levels or abilities. We will always warmly welcome absolute beginners to fitness. All that’s required is a desire for a positive experience.”

No dance or fitness class experience is required and qualified SwingTrain fitness instructors lead participants through a series of fun, follow-along moves inspired by the vintage street dances of Charleston, lindy hop, and shag. The full body cardio workouts exercise legs, arms and core, as well as developing coordination and mental agility through memorable routines. Each SwingTrain session lasts for an hour, including warm-up and warm-down times.

“Each routine throughout the workout has elements that can be adjusted for different levels, so you can take it at your own pace,” explains Cathie. “The overall program does aim to burn calories, so if you have an injury, be sure to let the instructor know in at the start of class, so they can keep you in mind as they take everyone through the program, and make sure you take care of yourself. Mothers who are nursing little ones are most welcome to bring their babies along to class and attend to them as needed; I am a new mum myself and encourage gentle exercise for mums!”

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SwingTrain is an aerobics workout and is open to all ages, and people are welcome to come and watch a class first before they decide to participate. For more information and to book a class visit Savoy Dance website, or SwingTrainCANBERRA FB page.

Weekly classes will take place every Saturday 9.30am at Kmotion Dance Studio (54 Northbourne Ave Canberra City). Classes cost just $14 at the door.