TL Life: Crosscurrent – 01 Panama and Plastic

Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Cue: Drip Fed News Feed (drum and bass only)

WH: Hello and welcome to TL Life: Crosscurrent.

We’ll be hearing about the great Pacific garbage patch a little later.

But first – something to clean your ears out with.

Cue: Segway Ride with Zeus


WH: My name is Will Howarth, graduate composer turned Press and PR intern and with this podcast I will be diving headfirst into the Trinity Laban melting pot of artistry and innovation in search of the unique ingredients that make up London’s creative conservatoire.

I’ve been meeting people, asking questions and recording interviews and I’ll be sharing my findings with you fortnightly.


MFA choreographer Kaila Holford got in contact with me because she wants to share a thrilling opportunity with you. In the coming Summer of 2019, she will be visiting Panama to give dance workshops for children in orphanages and she’s inviting you to join her.

I met Kaila in the Laban cafe to find out more about her and about Movement Exchange.


Interview: Kaila Holford

Kaila Holford.jpg

KH: My name is Kaila Holford, I’m studying choreography in my second year of the MFA Choreography programme and I grew up in Santa Maria which is a small town outside of Santa Barbara, California.

I wanted to do a Masters degree specifically in choreography – it’s not something that a lot of schools offer – and I knew I wanted to go outside the country to do my MA so, this being in England, I figured it’s relatively close to the rest of Europe so I could do some travelling while I’m over here.

In my own words it’s basically us working with an organisation that sends people from around the world into various orphanages that they have a relationship with and you put all your experience and all of your knowledge of dance into a place where these kids need someone to facilitate workshops. You just provide a chance to socialise and to give them dance classes that they would never otherwise have the opportunity to.

WH: Could you tell us a bit more about what to expect on the trip day to day?

KH: On the first day we’ll all fly in, we’ll be met with Movement Exchange, we’ll have the evening to get together, have dinner.

The next day, we will be working with the first orphanage. We’ll be there for a good three to four hours. It’s an all girls’ orphanage that takes in girls specifically with HIV and other diseases.


Then we’re going to go to the University of Panama. Another great part about this trip is that we get to engage with other dance majors across the world.

We’ll have time for an excursion. We’ll probably go outside the city. They organise a hike for us to go up to the top of a hill in the rainforest where you can see all around Panama. In the evening we’ll have time to explore Panama City.

The next day, we’ll be taking a couple of masterclasses. So on this day we might have a flying low workshop or we might have Panamanian folkloric dance before we go back to some of the same orphanages.

On the fifth day we will have our final performance so that’s a big day of getting them ready. All their caretakers will come in to watch.

On the sixth day we have a beach day so we’re going out to the beach. It will be beautiful – probably raining because we’re going in August. August is a very wet season but it will still be hot.

On the seventh day, we will have our last day at our final orphanage. We get to say goodbye to those kids, finish reflecting, and on the eighth day we fly out.

The great thing is that it gives a curriculum in the sense it says “these are our value sets: we promote self-esteem and working with civic engagement.” But in terms of what the specific style is, it’s about us bringing what we know, giving from a place that you already have. So if you’re a gifted modern dancer and you have great experience, it’s about facilitating that, or salsa, or whatever your background.


Obviously these are kids that aren’t in dance studios. It’s just about moving with them and giving them a sense of agency over their own body.

It can change your relationship to what movement is and what the goal of teaching any class can or should be. It’s hard to get this experience without doing it. I would encourage you to do it at least once because once you do it once you’re more likely to do it again.

WH: For students who want to be involved in the trip, how can they contact you?

KH: Email’s the best way to get ahold of me. My Trinity Laban email is

I’m still in the stages of getting a team together. I need more volunteers. I would like ten. We can take more than ten but ten is a good number.

This is an opportunity that I was so fortunate to have in my undergrad and it greatly changed the trajectory of my teaching career.

You’re going to take trips over the Summer anyway and you’re going to be travelling and it’s just another way to do what you love. I would really highly recommend it.

Panama 3.jpg

WH: Thank you very much to Kaila Holford. As she said, you can get in touch with her via her email – and you can find more information about the trip on the Facebook page she has created which is called Panama Exchange Trip 2019.

Special thanks to Emi Matsushita, MFA Dance Science, for helping with the editing of this interview.


I thought it would be fitting for TL Life: Crosscurrent to include some newly-recorded original music. In order to make this happen, I filled my rucksack with pick-up-and-play instruments – noise-makers, shakers, a book of nonsense poetry by Mervyn Peake, an old cassette tape player and assorted noisy junk – and I took it all to Butlers cafe at King Charles Court. I invited the students I met there to record improvisations with me using the things I had brought.

What you are about to hear is a punk collage I performed with 4th year composers Theo Finkel and James Taylor.

Cue: Punk Collage

WH: What else can we do with all this stuff we’ve got?

JT: What about… Shall we scratch some tapes?

WH: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Alright, let’s begin.

TF: I’ve lost it, Will.

WH: I think that’s perfect really. I don’t think it has to be in response. I think it’s a collage.


We’ll be hearing more from my cafe recording session later.

But first, let’s return from the brink of the avant-garde to meet MMus singer Nicola Roberts who writes her own music. I met Nicola in a quiet nook of the venerable Hawksmoor Staircase at King Charles Court to hear more about her song Human Zoo.


Interview: Nicola Roberts

Nicola Roberts.jpg

NR: I’m Nicola Roberts. I am at Trinity Laban studying the voice as an operatic soprano. I am in my first year of a Masters degree. I play piano and a little bit of guitar.

I started singing when I was thirteen. I was in a rock band. It was like heavy metal. I think it’s still on youtube under The Overnight Angels. But yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing now I look back on it.

And by the time I got to about sixteen years old, I started to feel this classical voice that needed to fly.

I like a lot of music. I love my Dad’s collection. He was a massive Queen fan. I know every single Queen song, every B-side, every naff Queen song as well.

WH: So are you excited about the recent film?

NR: It was so good. But apparently, according to my Dad, the whole timeline is wrong. It’s all skewiff and some of the things in that film didn’t really happen. It was a good film. I loved it.

WH: I would like you to tell us what your pseudonym is and why you have adopted it.

NR: I got really, really bored of my name because it’s such a generic name and there’s already that girl from Girls Aloud called Nicola Roberts. I thought long and hard about changing my name. Nikita Faie came along last year. I’ve always liked the name Nikita and there’s an Elton John song – I think it is actually just called Nikita.

“Oh Nikita is it cold?” . . . That one.

And Faie, I just came up with because I thought it looked cool, to be honest.

WH: So I’m wondering, are you Nikita Faie or is Nikita Faie an alter-ego?

NR: I think I’m Nikita Faie. When people call me Nicola, it just doesn’t feel that exciting. It doesn’t feel like me.

WH: I want to talk a bit about the song Human Zoo.

NR: I wrote this song while I was in my first year of uni. I went vegan.

WH: Are you still vegan?

NR: No, not at the moment because I wasn’t eating properly and I got quite ill at one point so I had to back-track. But in the future, I’d like to think that I will go back there.

Veganism I did for about a year and during that process I had a lot of feelings about the meat industry, about plastic. It really, really grates on me – throwing away stuff. No, I just can’t deal with it.

Anyway, Human Zoo is just everyone, everyone in the world, trashing the planet. That’s practically what it’s about. The hook is, “I can’t be the first to say this but there is no planet B. Please just try holding your breath while you count your money,” because all of this money that we have, all of the time we’re spending our money and we have all of these products, at the end of the day, we’re all going to die and all of this crap that we’ve still got is just going to be here, polluting the world.

WH: Any time Simon Reeve does anything, I’m all over it. So he does programmes where he travels around lots of different places. He did one about the Mediterranean. Because the Mediterranean is sort of a holiday destination, he was trying to look at the dark underside.


And so the thing that struck me most about it was, on the Southern coast of Spain, he spoke to a geologist who was looking at layers of sediment by the sea. He was talking about ‘a new geological era of plastic’. And so he showed – it’s very graphic, you can see it – these layers of plastic within the sediment where you have plastic/earth, plastic/earth, plastic/earth over the last few decades.


NR: This is already happening. Yeah, wow.

Have you heard about the great Pacific Garbage Patch? So in the Pacific Ocean, there’s a patch of accumulated plastic that is three times the size of France. There’s something to do with where it is in the sea, it all comes together. It’s basically an island in its own right – it’s so big.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch.jpg

It’s mad. I’ve said this to a lot of people and it’s surprising that not many people know about it.

WH: I wanted to ask you about the music video. The dancer I think is Charlotte Rintoul. So how do you know Charlotte?

NR: I met Charlotte on the beach one Summer. I don’t think I’d actually envisioned a music video for the piece at all. But she told me she was a dancer and I thought, well, I’ve got a song. Why not?

WH: Is the song in an album? Is it part of an on-going piece of work?

NR: No, this is just a standalone single. I don’t feel like I need to say any more about how I feel on the subject. I think this brings it all together in one song.

Really, with my music, just look out for music videos because I love visuals. I’m going to release single after single with a music video. I’m not into doing a whole album because I just think, why do an album when you could just release one piece of music, one at a time, and really make the utter most of that one piece that you love and that you’ve enjoyed creating.

I have got something in the pipeline at the moment called Your Ghost which is very emotive. Cinematic, I think, is a very good word to describe it. I haven’t decided when to release it because I feel like I need another music video so we’ll see.

But that is of a completely different subject. My story line I’ve had for it is, someone loses someone and they feel their presence – they know that at that moment they’ve passed on. And it’s about that sensation. You feel it in your bones that someone has died, even though you don’t know that they have.

WH: Have you had an experience like that?

NR: I haven’t myself, but there is someone in my family who has and I think that’s where I got the idea from.


Hidden Gem Listening Recommendations

WH: I wanted to ask you for hidden gem listening recommendations.

NR: Can I give you two? Because they’re so lovely, I feel like they need to be heard.

So for my Bachelor’s recital last year in Southampton, I sang a French chanson:

Louis Vierne’s Chanson pour Avril from his Four Greek Poems song cycle. This piece is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I think I’ve ever heard. It’s so pretty.


The second song that I really want to share with you – you may have heard it – it’s called High Grove Suite – Goddess of the Woods by Patrick Hawes.

WH: Perfect. OK.

NR: Hi, I’m Nikita Faie and this is my song, Human Zoo.

Cue: Human Zoo by Nikita Faie

WH: Thank you Nicola Roberts, AKA Nikita Faie, for that beautiful and thought-provoking song. I do strongly recommend you find the music video for Human Zoo on Youtube or on the podcast page where you can also find her hidden gem listening recommendations.


We return now to my assorted noise-makers in Butlers Café for a chance meeting and some spontaneous music-making.

Cue: Sidd chat

WH: The thing is that – oh… how are you doing Sidd? Nice to see you.

SL: Is this the Trinity Laban podcast?

WH: It is, yeah.

SL: I hope we’re not live now, are we?

WH: We are currently live.

SL: Oh wow!

Hello everybody, Siddhartha Lethbridge here, AKA Bicep King 3000. You might have caught some of my Youtube videos. If not, go check them out: How Did That Bicep Get There? On Youtube. Thanks very much.

WH: We’re just talking about how difficult it is to be in the café full of musicians, who are used to performing, and giving these completely impromptu and slightly rubbish sounding performances. My response is that although it might not look like a performance and doesn’t stand up as one, that’s not really the medium that we’re writing for. We’re writing for the recording so it will make more sense in a podcast format, and kind of edited.

JT: I just find it interesting – the things that sit between boundaries.

SL: Do you know how many people are listening to this?

JT: We’re actually on radio right now.

… How do you turn this (music box playing A Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles) off because this is really annoying me now. I used to like this song.

WH: Yeah, you can’t turn it off, that’s the trouble.

JT: Are you serious?

WH: It will wind itself down eventually.

JT: It’s winding me up.

Cue: Unpitched / Pitched

WH: Oh, well I guess that’s the end.


You have been listening to TL Life: Crosscurrent. If you have a project, a piece or an idea you would like to share on the podcast, please do get in touch with me via my email:

Next time:

Cue: Sample of Kristjan Kannukene’s Chant

Cue: Emi Matsushita: Everything that we do with our physical body is an expression of who we are and I think to lose that would be a disservice to dance in general.


The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the Trinity Laban student body and do not necessarily represent those of the institution as a whole.

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