This week our student of the week is Emma Curran née Hignett. Emma attended The Hammond from 1985 to 1988.

What course were you on?

I was a dance student on the three year senior school course studying dance and training to teach.  In year 2  I converted to the Musical Theatre Course.  In my final year I was Head Girl.

What is your favourite memory from The Hammond?

That’s a hard question to answer, but it’s probably the school production in our first year.  It felt like we rehearsed for weeks and I loved the intensity of that rehearsal period, spending 10 hours a day at college, probably more, with rehearsals all weekend too.  I was involved in the jazz, tap, contemporary and ballet pieces.  It was a steep and intense learning curve; memories include Sara Neil spending an evening teaching us how to do our hair and make up for Les Sylphides (in a studio behind no 12 Liverpool Road); Suzanne Cunningham developing and choreographing the contemporary piece as her pianist composed the music alongside her, rehearsals in the theatre with Gillian Anthony and Sara Neil watching armed with a microphone for instant notes, and the genuine thrill of spending so much time in Chester Gateway Theatre.  I had such close friends at the Hammond, and it was a wonderful experience to share with them.

Hammond image 1
The Hammond – Emma in second row back and third from left.

Another favourite memory was during my second year, when a number of us were selected to attend a week-long course at the Royal Ballet School, in its old location on Talgarth Road in London.  We had a crazy and great fun week racing around London, taking classes, choreographing, performing in Covent Garden Market and more.

Hammond 2
The Hammond – Emma is posed in the middle on the floor.

What did you go on to do?

Having completed the Musical Theatre Course I wanted to get my full Equity card on leaving The Hammond.  Together with several other girls from my year at Hammond, I joined Circo Magico Italiano touring Mexico for 9 months.  That was one hell of an experience – with highs and lows, but it’s a story I still use to surprise people who know me now!  After the circus, I danced for a few more years, performing in Japan and in France.  I was however plagued by bad knees, and in my mid 20s I moved into radio presenting, and later a little bit of television presenting.  The Hammond and my dancing career taught me to perform – and that’s what I did in my radio and tv work – and still do!

Circo Magico Italiano
Circo Magico Italiano

What do you do now?

 I guess to get to my career/ business now I’ve built on both my broadcasting career and the acting and performing training I had while at the Hammond.  I’m now a voiceover artist.  I have a studio at home, and I record voiceovers for many different clients across the world.  I work on corporate films, training programmes, commercials and more.  However, I’m best known as the voice of London’s Buses, Overground Trains and Riverbus and soon will be the voice of the new Elizabeth Line.  I love this job too!

http://www.emmahignett.com/

Voiceover studio
Emma  in the studio.

Anything else you would like to add?

Facebook has been a wonderful way to reconnect with my many friends from The Hammond – without it, I simply wouldn’t be in touch with so many of my contemporaries.  It’s been great to see what everyone’s up to, to compare and contrast, to share our experiences and stories.  We organised a reunion a few years ago and several people came back to Chester from across the world – many of us hadn’t been to Chester since we left at the end of our years at Hammond.  We went to see the Hammond Summer Production – the Hammond didn’t have its own theatre in our day, and in fact the studios that were by far the best in our day are not a patch on some of the facilities they have now.  It was lovely to see how the school has developed in that time.

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