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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Angus & The Mearns

Katelyn is dancing for joy after NYDCS acceptance

October 22 2014

An Angus teenager is dancing for joy after earning a place in the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland (NYDCS). Katelyn Bedford, 17, a pupil at Forfar Academy, stood out in auditions involving more than 50 of the nation’s top young dancers. Her eye-catching performance led to her selection by Scotland’s national youth dance organisation YDance for their principal 2014/15 company. Katelyn said: “I feel so incredibly lucky and excited to be part of the 2014/2015 NYDCS. I have worked with YDance before, as a Project Y company member touring Scotland, and that’s how I heard about the auditions. “I can’t wait to get in to the studio and start getting creative. It’s so exciting to be a part of this, performing across the UK with the company, showing off Scotland’s best youth dance talent.” Katelyn has danced at Esk Academy of Dancing in Montrose since she was five and is experienced in a variety of dance styles including ballet, jazz, Irish and contemporary. She is studying Higher Dance at Danscentre in Aberdeen. She will take her place alongside 12 other dancers at NYDCS, building her technical, creative and performance skills. Working with Anna Kenrick, NYDCS choreographer and YDance’s artistic director, the company will join together to create a new piece to be premiered at YDance Routes Destinations in February at macrobert in Stirling.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Doors open at Kingsway dance theatre The Space

September 10 2010

People will have an access-all-areas pass to The Space at Dundee College's Kingsway campus tomorrow. Irene Spain, front of house co-ordinator at The Space, will conduct booked guided tours during Doors Open Day. The tour will include behind the scenes, the wardrobe, dressing rooms and the dance studios, some of which will be in use. Admission is free of charge, although Irene asks those interested to contact her first on 01382 834934. Scottish School of Contemporary Dance from Article19 on Vimeo.

Business news

TAG Games hiring for ‘aggressive growth’

November 23 2013

Dundee’s Tag Games is targeting “aggressive growth” as it gets set for a string of key appointments. Ongoing recruitment will take the city games studio’s workforce to around 35, but founder and chief executive Paul Farley told Courier Business the new additions would also hasten further expansion. He expects Tag’s “massively important” new hires which will include a senior business development executive, art director, and marketing and data management support to help grow headcount to 50 over the coming months. “These are strategic appointments, but we’re being fairly aggressive in how we want to grow the company,” Mr Farley said. “We want to get bigger, but it’s also about planning for the future and ensuring we’ve got the people we need to keep delivering great games to customers. “The industry is more competitive than it has ever been, so this is about some key hires for the next stage of Tag’s development.” Tag is already on course to post its strongest ever turnover this year, but the new appointments are key to the company’s future. Mr Farley said a yearly review of the business had shown areas for new growth. Bringing the marketing function in house is important in the ultra-competitive marketplace, he added, while better interpretation of existing user data will help to focus what Tag offers. “It will mean we’ve got good people in all the key posts and will allow us to get to 50 fairly quickly,” Mr Farley said. “This is about planning for the future and ensuring that we don’t stagnate, which is just so important in our industry.” But he warned that, while Dundee is full of good industry talent, bringing candidates for top jobs to the city could prove challenging. “We could probably maintain our position in terms of where we are at our current size,” he said. “But we don’t want to stay where we are we want to go for the much more aggressive growth. “We think we can get business in the current environment in many multiples of what it is now.” Mr Farley said Tag is “expecting great things” from a busy pre-Christmas period, with several releases on the cards. The studio, which specialises in social and mobile games, has already worked with a range of well-known names including Doctor Who and Channel 4’s Hotel GB. Recent releases included a penalty-kick game for credit card firm and English league cup sponsor Capital One, which hit the top of the UK’s Apple download chart.


Scottish Dance Theatre celebrates its silver anniversary

February 12 2011

Scottish Dance Theatre marks its 25th anniversary this year with a new programme of contemporary work travelling from home territory in Dundee to venues all over Britain. If you had told people in Dundee 25 years ago that the newly-formed Dundee Rep Dance Company would survive, flourish and become an artistic flagship with a local, national and international profile, they might have said, "Aye, right!" A quarter of a century later, with a change of name, a state-of-the-art studio, a growing audience and an increasing spread of talent keen to work here and acquire the kudos of an association with SDT, the company is still looking forward. Building on the past, of course, but looking forward to the next show, the next tour, the next challenge. And it has been a challenge. Artistic director Janet Smith admits it has been just that to get the best dancers and dance-makers to Dundee, to encourage a local audience, to get a top-quality act together and then take it on the road. The Rep as a venue and a home has been central to the company since its birth 25 years ago with just three dancers Frank McConnell, Craig McKnight and Liz Gardner. It began under the direction of dancer/choreographer Royston Maldoom, who has gone on to global influence. Under Neville Campbell, the company became Scottish Dance Theatre in 1995 and in 1997, Janet Smith took over as artistic director.AwardsIn 2003, SDT won the Critics' Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Modern Company Repertoire and in 2005 a Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, then last year came a nomination for a Total Theatre Award for the performances of The Life and Times of Girl A, also at the Fringe. In 2004, the dance studio was opened at Dundee Rep, transforming working conditions for the resident dancers and allowing the company to offer dance classes to the community. As well as forging international links, Janet has been credited with developing the scope of the company's repertoire, encouraging clarity, simplicity, sophistication, honesty and communication. Now we are living in interesting times and Janet is aware of difficulties looming, saying, "Dance has flourished in the UK and internationally where it has found a home and been supported. "Places like Sadler's Wells sell out throughout the year and take dance all over the world. Where there has been investment in dance programming, it has been a huge success, both in terms of quality and audience numbers. "As a touring company, which we are, Scotland is an ongoing challenge because contemporary dance isn't commercial. In a risk-averse climate, it's risky, simple as that. Resources are needed to build an audience for dance because while young people in Scotland study music, drama, literature and art, there doesn't tend to be the same exposure to dance in schools. "Here, because we have a centre at the theatre building and a strong community link, we can offer ways for people to come into the place both as audience members and as participants, whether for fun or ultimately, as potential professionals. "Our Dance Agent for Change, Caroline Bowditch, has challenged the idea of who can dance and what they can do and runs great Saturday morning classes that include wheelchair users, their carers and families. There is a wide age range, classes are cross-generational and it's a completely open community.ReinventedDundee has largely reinvented itself since 1986 and has forged a creative bedrock without which projects such as V&A could hardly have been thought of. Scottish Dance Theatre is a shining example of the art of the possible, given goodwill, talent, ambition, foresight and true grit. It has put Dundee well and truly on the dance map, making all the right moves to highlight the city as a centre of excellence and the centre of a dance network that now spreads worldwide. Janet explained, "One of the things I'm proudest of is the way the company is spreading we've been to Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Holland, Dubai, China." The 25th anniversary is a landmark, but not a throwback. As Janet says, "The best work will always be the next one." With that in mind, SDT's February season opens this month with a US-inspired double bill, Letters from America, featuring Khaos by Benjamin Levy from San Francisco and Lay Me Down Safe by New Yorker Kate Weare. Janet studied in the US, and this current season has been inspired by the scene there, its past and its current contemporary strengths and aesthetic. An exhibition of photograph and poster images from the company's 25 years including favourites chosen by company members past and present is now on show at the Rep and there will be a welcome for the public at Open Studio days where visitors can watch the dancers work and rehearse. This follows in the footsteps of SDT's first live streaming Meet the Choreographer event, which brought together people from Scotland to America's west coast.StoriesJanet added, "Throughout the year we are going to collect stories and memories of the company and what it has meant to dancers and former dancers. "We have an ambition to work on the archiving, but the nature of the company is that we live and work so much in the moment, we're always concentrating on what is being created now." Janet is far from precious about the public awareness encouraged by TV shows highlighting dance in a way that seems very different from how the art form was viewed in the late 1980s. Then, for example, ballroom dancing was considered rather naff now, telly viewers can't get enough of it, celebrities are queuing up to take on the tango and even in vocalist-dominated talent shows, groups such as Diversity are coming out top of the popular polls as winning performers." Scottish Dance Theatre presents its latest productions at Dundee Rep from February 16-19 before going on tour to Jersey Arts Centre, the Macrobert, Stirling (March 9 and 10), London, Eastleigh, Newbury, the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh (March 31), Coventry, Mull and Huddersfield. The SDT Education Programme also continues with a series of interactive performances in Jersey, Stirling, Edinburgh, Perth and Mull. The exhibition of photographs and memorabilia that opened on February 2 at the Rep is open from 10am daily except Sundays. SDT Open Studio Days are currently from 1-2 pm on Friday, February 25, and Thursday, April 7.


Carrie Fisher’s Dashing White Sergeant on Dundee station platform

January 4 2017

Carrie Fisher went from a galaxy far, far away to dancing the Dashing White Sergeant at Dundee railway station, it has been revealed. The actress, best known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars, died at the age of 60 on December 27, four days after suffering a heart attack on a plane. Her mother Debbie Reynolds died the following day after suffering a stroke. But is has now been revealed Ms Fisher enjoyed a trip to Scotland that culminated in a ceilidh on the deserted platform at Dundee railway station. Writing in The Times, journalist Roderick Grant recalled travelling around Scotland on board The Royal Scotsman with the actress. While The Blues Brothers star was one of the fee-paying tourists on the trip, he had been commissioned to write a magazine article about the journey. He revealed Fisher, accompanied by her French bulldog Gary, had been unimpressed by a visit to Glamis Castle — the Queen Mother's ancestral home — because of the dim lighting within the building. But that did not stop her splashing out £500 on a cashmere dog coat from the castle's gift shop before both Carrie and Gary took part in some Scottish country dancing in Dundee railway station. At midnight, an accordion orchestra led the 28 passengers on the £1,500 a day trip on to the deserted platform at Dundee railway station where they danced The Dashing White Sergeant and eightsome reels. Gilchrist wrote: "I partner Carrie, and Gary is here too of course, dashing in and our of the dancers' feet. Carrie appears transfixed with joy by this simple pleasure." Ms Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd broke her silence about the deaths of her mother and grandmother, who died within a day of each other, on Monday. The 24-year-old posted on social media site Instagram: "Receiving all of your prayers and kind words over the past week has given me strength during a time I thought strength could not exist.” “There are no words to express how much I will miss my Abadaba and my one and only Momby. Your love and support means the world to me.” A joint funeral is planned for the two actresses.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Slessor Gardens hosts Dundee-inspired 2023 dance

October 9 2017

A Dundee-inspired dance to promote the City of Discovery's bid for the 2023 European Capital of Culture has been recorded. Dozens of young movers and shakers took part in a mass public dance event at Dundee's Slessor Gardens at the weekend. Dancers struck an array of unique moves dubbed "The Law Hill", "Sails of The Discovery", "Waves of the Tay", "Telescope from the Mills Observatory", "Football Header" and "Dolphin" Participants were also taught moves inspired by the comical poses of Desperate Dan, Oor Wullie and Dennis the Menace. Dancers struck their poses to the sound of Dundee's official European Capital of Culture song, "Over Bridges". The dance routine itself was created by award-winning choreographer Thomas Small, founder of the Shaper/Caper dance company. As part of the project, Thomas told The Courier he wanted to promote Dundee's thriving dance scene. He said: "There's so much dance going on in Dundee, we wanted dance to be at the very forefront of the bid. "So we brought together all the different dance companies in Dundee, lots of different dance schools and groups, to learn a little dance inspired by Dundee's iconic locations. "We wanted to try and show Dundee is a very artistic and cultural city, but dance can sometimes go unnoticed. We wanted to get out there and really show everyone what we're capable of. "They (Dundee's landmarks) lend themselves very well to choreography, so the Law Hill being this massive structure in the middle of the town and then Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie have key movement characteristics...it all lent itself quite easily to movement. "I'm hoping that everyone celebrates through dance because we're a really great city and, actually, anyone and everyone can dance, that's what I'm hoping for." Dundee's city development convener Councillor Lynne Short was among those members of the public taking part. Anna Day,  bid manager for Dundee 2023, described the event as a "brilliant initiative from the dance community in Dundee".