A is for A Level Dance

Jerome Robbins

Jerome Robbins

This is the second year of our A Level Dance Course for students and we shortly see the young dancers presenting their choreographies and performing solos for their practical test.  Part of the test involves choreographing a group dance based on given stimuli, and the other part of the test sees the students performing a solo dance choreographed in the style of a set practitioner.  In the case of the latter, we have chosen the great Jerome Robbins: our company dancer Catrin has choreographed a short solo in this style which the students will perform for the examiner.

Each week the students have been working hard with their group dancers to make some lovely work.  One piece has examined the music of Goldmund, another has translated a visual image into a 3 minute dance work, another has looked at an Oriental tea garden – very diverse topics.
There will of course be a written examination at the end of the course where the students answer questions on a given period of dance history and a set work.
A really tough course, designed to test the all round skills of a dance student, not the “flinging around a studio waving your arms” examination that some people may have us believe!

I am immensely proud of the way in which our students have undertaken their tasks and sincerely hope that they will be rewarded with good results, I wish them all the luck they deserve for their hard work.

sue lewis

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…

Fascination Image Paul Trask Chor Sue Lewis

Fascination
Image Paul Trask
Chor Sue Lewis

It’s always the way with studio time – it seems that you can blink and suddenly you’re nearly at the end of 2 weeks together. Having said that, I feel like these 2 weeks have really allowed us some time and space to progress both Fascination and d-cay, and given us a good dollop of preparation time for beginning work with Gary next week. (Plus a handy helping of pancakes thrown in for good measure!)

With Fascination, we spent last week working through section by section – refining detail and quality and looking at all of those pesky entrances, exits and transitions between sections. This has helped in establishing a sense of cohesion throughout the piece which we pulled together for a run through this afternoon.

This week also saw us getting a first viewing of the film that has been made in conjunction with Catrin’s piece, d-cay. It’s a very striking watch which will lead into the live movement section of the piece. Having seen the film has also influenced the proximity with which we perform a particular unison section – there’s no room for error or else there’ll be a whole lot of stepping on toes going on!

For Gary, we have begun using the duet Sentient Trace which was created for Meg and Catrin last season as starting point. We are now looking at each person’s role in the duet as solo material – it has certainly been a lot of material to take on board and commit to memory. We have tried several different methods of learning the material – initially from video, then from each other with talking and then just with physical demonstrations without vocal explanations. It has been lovely to devote time to this (although frustrating at times when watching the same moment on video over and over until you can approximate a physical realisation) and I’m excited to see how things start to proceed when we come together with Gary next week.

Here’s to making the most of our last couple of studio days in Wales this week and appreciating our time together while we have it.

Effie 🙂

Authentic and original

Fascination FFIN DANCE Chor: Sue Lewis

Fascination
FFIN DANCE
Chor: Sue Lewis

A productive and exciting week as the company and I distribute morning classes and solid movement practice throughout.

As previously said by Sue, we once more familiarise ourselves with Fascination to proceed forward under Sue’s direction. “Retaining information”- an important skill involving focus, discipline and familiarity that project based dancers constantly battle with. My experience with this tool grows stronger as I myself take notes on how the other dancers reconnect with the piece accordingly. Having always been fortunate with a good memory, I often leave myself unchallenged in the studio. Thus this seasons artwork and war history keeps a watchful eye on us all!  Images and landscape prints being available to us as we drift through D-cay and Fascination.

Effie, Natasha and I would especially like to thank Sue for her sincere patience and understanding towards Gary’s devised work Sentient Trace. A piece that needs exploration, honesty and an opinion! Having performed in the duet last season, I am keen for the girls to capture the essence and quality of the structured tasks. We continue to select the authenticity and originality of the human body next week…

Once again the weekend flies by and we are all one day closer to pancake day. Professional class will be running next week at The Met so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to participate. My email is lewispochin@hotmail.co.uk

Stay safe, Cat. x

Week 5 done

three bathers picassoThanks to all of you who have given us feedback on rehearsals this last week via tweets, likes and comments, it’s been good to know that you’re all with us once again for the new season.

This week we have been re-visitng and rehearsing my new work for 2015, Fascination: we have also been looking at tasks for Gary in anticipation of his new work for us which begins studio time later this month.  It’s wonderful that the body remembers what sometimes the head forgets.  During the time that we have been out of the studio, Fascination has germinated and grown resulting in a more settled and mature piece of work with which I’m thrilled.  There’s still a lot to do in terms of production details, but I’m sure that those of you who enjoy watching my work will very much enjoy this work too.  It has all the usual intricacies of form and texture together with an affinity to the score.  For those who are new to my work I am a stickler for detail and structure and a grounded relationship with the musical accompaniment.

The dancers are really getting into the Picasso fascination for threes which forms the basis of the dance idea and we have become more closely connected with Three Bathers and Three Dancers this week; it’s become quite eery as we now connect with the actual 3 figures in the paintings as well as the painting itself.

Next week we continue with Fascination and Gary’s tasks, but we’ll be spending more time on D-cay, Catrin’s new work based on the Omaha Beach tragedies in WW2.

We have been visited by 3 guests this week in our company class – Krystal Campbell one of our teaching staff for the dance faktry, Julian Lewis a company friend and Matt our technical assistant who also “dances a bit” It was lovely to see you all, please call in again!

More blogs coming up over the next week, please drop by.

sue lewis

Popping in some paint

D-cay Image Paul Trask

D-cay
Image Paul Trask

With advent moving closer towards us, I thought to write a wee blog for the Ffin followers amongst you. Yes, November has been a long one, nevertheless, the company has seen some great progress and involvement with bookings, collaborations and feedback etc. Our Artistic Director Sue and photographer Paul Trask have been putting in the hours to deliver some marvelous marketing material for the season as the dancers and I sit back to wait and see who’s made the perfect “poster pose”! You can see some of the images for D-cay in the gallery sometime later this week.

Working on the practical section of D-cay with Natasha and Effie was an absolute joy! It’s always a cracking feeling when folk recognize your trail of thought during studio time. The dancers work both together and independently for each section, welcoming any disruptions from a spoken text sound score. We introduced sensations getting lost to extremes that measure up to no other feeling. Now having an outline to D-cay it is essentially a case of popping in some paint to really stress the initial idea.

With footage soon to be at hand, my collaborator, film editor and research junky Jose Macabra prepares to figure out order, placement and lighting specs. Remarkably exciting times ahead!
Thanks for reading all and have a lovely week.

Cat

Take 2…

Fascination  Image Paul Trask

Fascination
Image Paul Trask

In synchronicity, October saw us return to Abertillery for our second creation period ready for The Power of 3 tour with Catrin Lewis taking on the role of choreographer for the second time for Ffin.

Those of you who were lucky enough to catch us on tour last year will remember Stand Up Straight, Cat’s first piece performed by the company. This piece had been created and performed in its first incarnation prior to being added to the company repertory and extended. As such, there was a sense of knowing the intended outcome of the process before we began – which was compounded by learning duets and movement phrases from pre-recorded footage of the original piece.

For D-cay, we did not have the luxury of getting a pre-emptive view of what the finished piece may look like but were instead afforded the pleasure of accompanying Catrin as her new piece evolved in the studio. Ever one to challenge our habitual and learned movement choices (remember last year’s task of generating material after spinning for a minute to imbue disorientation), our introductory task for D-cay involved a blackout in the studio and moving through space with our eyes closed: testing our reactions when confronted with a loss of sight.

During the creation of D-cay, Catrin has asked us to share and embody a fair amount of each other’s material with several tight sections of trio unison thrown in for good measure. As a specific cohort of dancers, this is a new challenge for us (having not been required to work all together in unison for Fascination) and is something that we allocated a fair amount of time to early on in the process in order to get a clear sense of working as a unit.

Overall, it has been really refreshing to work with Catrin on a new piece and I look forward to sharing it with you next year – catch you there!

Effie 🙂

2 down, one to go

IMG_3713And so ends our second creative period for this season. For the past 2 weeks we have spent time in the studio with company dancer, Catrin Lewis, who has been making a new piece for the company which is inspired by scenarios surrounding the Omaha Beach Landing in World War 2.
D-cay is a moving exploration of events which takes the dancers into a physicality which is grounded in extensive research from witness accounts and historical documentation.

The third piece of work which makes up our new triple bill for The Power Of 3 Tour 2015 involves a new piece by our Associate Choreographer Gary Lambert.  Gary and I are excitedly planning this venture and we’ll fill you in very soon.

Next, we turn our energies to our Winter Intensive for professional dancers which is December 11th-13th, where we invite trained dancers to come and spend 3 days in our studio in Wales, UK where they will undertake intensive technical instruction and learn current repertory.  If you’d like more information on this, please follow this link.

Please keep posted as to our news and developments, and don’t forget you can write in the comments bubble on this page – we’d love to hear from you

sue lewis

 

Power of 3 Preening…

IMG_0506Tuesday was photo shoot day with Paul Trask in the Ffin Dance studios so there was an unusual amount of preening going on! Having helpfully been sent YouTube tutorials by Sue, we donned the smoky eye look and then set about creating some sleek up-dos with our hair. Let it be noted here that despite having had Meg as a personal hairdresser on tour for the last couple of tours, I was in demand when it came to styling Tash and Cat’s hair!

With hair and make-up up to standard, we danced various sections from both Fascination and D-Cay to capture some images for our marketing material for The Power of 3 Tour coming up in 2015. Due to the nature of the photos being taken and the flash that was being used, we were quite restricted in the amount of space we had to dance in – being limited to only a quarter of the stage space.

Throughout the day, we had a chance to look at the photos on the camera after we’d run a short section which helped to inform our placement and direction before repeating the process. It’s also interesting for us to see those ‘in between’ and transitional moments caught on camera – sometimes it’s rather difficult to figure out from what physical material the moment has been captured!

So there you have it – a quick little insight into our flashy photo day…keep a look out for the new shots hitting your screens on the Ffin website, twitter and facebook pages!

Effie 🙂

Gathering the scraps

Omaha Beach today

Omaha Beach today

After an indulging three weeks off, I begin to gather all my scraps of paper together to start with the lovely ladies of FFIN DANCE on Monday morning. Under a tight ten day creative period, it is of importance to me that I over-prepare, as those of you that are familiar with my lack of organisation skills will know that Megan and Lizzie tend to act as diaries for me! We say goodbye to Stand Up Straight and delve into a very different world from events that took place on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. 1 of 5 beaches that the American Allies tried to land in extremely unfortunate conditions. Little did they know that German general Rommel had every inch of the coast covered with canons, mines and explosives causing 66% casualties in only minutes of the initial attack.

Beaches

Why had the men come ashore under the false pretext that they would be facing little to no enemy resistance on the beaches? What had gone wrong to produce such high casualties amongst the assaulting infantry? The tales and tribulations are endless from this tragic disaster, so the concentration for me as choreographer is to not recreate WW2, but to facilitate characteristics and highlight elements that can be explored through the human form. Creating an intensity and vulnerability for both dancers and audience members. That’s enough for now, but do follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates regarding new work.

Any burning thoughts or ideas are welcome for both my film editor and I, there are interactive bubbles on this page for your comments. Have a top week FFIN followers.

Cat

Cartwheel craze

IMGP2257Morning readers. I hope this blog finds you all well and enjoying your August. Just a quick blog to say a huge thank you to Sue, Krystal and all the beautifully talented and patient volunteer staff at New Ground. Another successful project providing opportunitiy and creativity for young people around the county.
There has been some exceptional work undertaken in all workshops/sharings, and the feedback from parents and loved ones has been nothing but positive. Both Krystal and I have seen endless amount of cartwheels and packed lunches but it has indeed been a humble and rewarding experience that we hope to do again.
Leading these holiday dance clubs in an area where I grew up in, seems somewhat easier for me to teach. I enjoy the challenge of valleys children and how honest they are when it comes to creative tasks and simply communicating. It’s nice to give a little something back where you first started!
The support from parents has been fantastic and we hope to see some if not all of our New Ground children in classes starting in September.

Happy Friday all.
Stay safe, Catrin.