Ravi Patel is a long time member of our very first choir, the Voices, and also struts his stuff as a member of our Tango Company. We caught up with him to talk about de-stressing and who he admires in music and dance (among other things)…
You’ve been singing with the Voices for a while now, how did you first find City Academy, can you remember your first class with us?
I joined the choir because my friend was a member of the Voices and encouraged me to join. It was my first time singing in a group in over twenty years so I was somewhat trepid. However, the other choristers were very friendly as was Richard, the choir master, which put me at ease quite quickly. I’ve enjoyed every rehearsal and performance since.
What is your profession and do the classes you attend complement your working life?
By day I’m a doctor and while I don’t think that attending classes has improved my working life in a significant way, I do think that both the classes which I attend [choir and tango] serve as de-stressers and are a great way to unwind and to challenge myself in a different way.
The choir and tango classes have been a great way to meet people from all walks of life and both classes have a social aspect to them that has become almost integral to both.
You’re also a member of our Tango Company, how did that come about?
I was looking to take up a latin dance class and deliberated between Salsa and Tango. I settled on Tango because it seemed more technically demanding, meditative and focused when compared to Salsa.
Do you have a background in dance or singing before joining the groups?
I sang in a church choir when I was younger for about three years. I had no background in dance, other than the fact that I love moving to music!
What do your friends and colleagues think of you being a member of the groups? Are they surprised when they see you in action?
My friends are quite intrigued when they learn that I sing in a choir, though they appear more impressed when I tell them about my tango dancing. I wouldn’t say that they’re surprised when they see me in action but they are always very generous with their compliments which makes it very rewarding indeed.
My most memorable moment was when a member of the audience at our Tango show said that she was moved to tears when she watched us.
Do you socialise outside of the classes at all?
Both the choir and tango classes have been a great way to meet people from all walks of life and both classes have a social aspect to them that has become almost integral to both. I’ve made many friends thanks to choir and tango and we regularly have nights out and plan lots of extracurricular activities.
What was your experience like with our tutors?
Richard Hartley-Wilson has been a fantastic choir master, he takes frequent opportunities to give us tips and hints on improving our singing techniques. I especially liked the fact that he encouraged us to perform our concerts “off book” which made for a more engaging performance and also made me raise my standards of learning the new material and led to a greater sense of achievement. He also encourages the members of the choir to perform in smaller groups and with material that we prepare on our own, this makes for a more interesting repertoire and a wonderfully varied concert performance.
Adrian Del Arroyo is a brilliant dancer who is very approachable and friendly. I especially like his innovative choreography and his ability to blend various disciplines of dance into our tango routines. He constantly challenges us with intricate routines which makes for a tremendous sense of achievement when we get it perfect.
How has your dance and singing progressed since being with the Tango Company and Voices Choir?
My singing has definitely improved over the last two years with the choir. I am more confident singing in front of others and there has been a clear improvement in my technique and range.
Since starting tango over a year ago my stamina has improved as has my core strength. I am also more flexible and more confident with complicated choreography now.
What has been your most memorable experience with the Voices/Tango Company since joining?
Another great memory was from at one of our many free shows as a part of ‘Summer Streets’ on Regent Street, where a little girl asked to dance with me, it was brilliant watching her match me step for step.
What would your advice be to someone considering joining a dance company or choir?
Simply…do it! It’s brilliant! What’re you waiting for?!
Ravi is a member of the Voices Choir, find out more about them here.
For more information about Tango classes and the Tango Company see here.