Outreach at its most rewarding

2 of our youngest dancers at Desire To Dance Brynmawr

2 of our youngest dancers at Desire To Dance Brynmawr

The past month has been truly rewarding with our dance faktry projects running concurrently at Brynmawr and Tredegar. Our Desire To Dance Project successfully ran at Tredegar and London last season; together with generous funding from Tai Calon Community Housing, we ran a similar project in Brynmawr for the children of the community in that area. They worked for 4 intensive full days over 2 weekends with Effie, Catrin, Louis and Cariad and produced a lovely piece of work focussing on touch and skin.

At Tredegar Comprehensive School Catrin, Julian and Louis worked with a group of young Performing Arts students to create a piece of work that was choreographed to music written by GCSE Music students from the school. 2 intense evenings from 3.30pm – 8pm were spent making the work.  We facilitated this project with funding from a legacy given to Arts Development at Aneurin Leisure, kindly donated to give young people experience with music and theatre.

The 2 pieces were shown to friends and family at the Annual Dance Showcase organised by Aneurin Leisure Arts Development at The Met Theatre in Abertillery, our home theatre.

Desire To Dance Brynmawr

Desire To Dance Brynmawr

The experiences gained by the children and young people were many, but I think the most valuable things learnt were working together to produce a high quality product and digging dip and finding inner strength especially when exhausted!  Of many evaluations from the project participants who were all wowed by their achievements was a comment to Catrin – “you’ve changed my life” – a lump comes into my throat as I write.

Moving on then, we turn our thoughts to our next outreach project, the Summer Dance School. More about that very soon, please feel free to pass on this flyer to all young people who you think may benefit ..

summer school 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

sue lewis

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 :-)

That was the week

PabloPicasso-Three-Women-at-the-Spring-1921_grandeSo that’s the first studio week over creating my new work for the company – Fascination.

I’m working with a trio of women, Effie, Catrin and Natasha examining some of Picasso’s paintings and why he used three figures in his work so much.

I’ve been astounded at the dancers’ response to the tasks that I have set them: such depth of understanding from tiny intricate details to larger more general pictorial representation.

Many choreographers dislike working with 3 dancers, thinking that the numerical variations possible with 3 can be limiting, but I personally love it1 I adore the asymmetry, the lop-sided qualities, the angles, the relationships, the patterns and so on and on.

And then on to my role – the manipulation of material.

Already starting to structure (just can’t help myself ), I have a very clear vision of where the piece will go. My last work for the company – Fractal – was a series of solos that unfolded as episodes, with occasional groupings thrown in for good measure. Fascination doesn’t work in that way: the sections are governed by the score as in Fractal, but each scene varies from the previous and subsequent one. Today we are working on 5 separate vignettes, inspired by Picasso’s Three Bathers including a trio, 2 solos and 2 duets that will be performed concurrently.

It’s been a most rewarding and exciting week, hope the dancers think so too!

Join us next week as we continue our work with Picasso

sue lewis

 

 

 

 

The finale

Burg Namedy

Burg Namedy

Well what a tour it has been. Last week saw the company travelling to Milton Keynes to perform, for the final time this season, in the Motus Dance Festival.

It was such such a lovely day and a great way to say goodbye to the current ‘Still Standing’ tour. The sun was shining and we had an incredible space to perform in. Ffin Dance was a group of happy chappies.

We performed three of the four pieces of rep (Fractal, Sentient Trace and Stand up Straight) which all seemed to go down very well with the audience.

I always feel quite sad to say goodbye to pieces, especially when you have just reached that stage where you know the pieces so well that you don’t have to worry about what comes next, or looking for those little intricate moments, or trying to remember corrections you have been given or one of the other thousands of things that performers have to think about for new pieces. My main aim for our last performance was to enjoy it. Luckily I did.

Fractal is always a bit of nightmare to get yourself ready for. The material for the whole piece requires a lot of stamina, both mental and physical. There’s a lot of standing on one leg, hitting double pirouettes, intricate foot work, unison to get, musical phrasing etc. These combined are all things that I worry about and usually things that I’m trying to get everytime. Sometimes I’d be concentrating so hard on trying to find these that I’d come off stage and would only see the things that I didn’t do right rather than look at what I did get right. It was so nice to come off stage on Sunday after Fractal and think ‘ooo I enjoyed that!’.

Sentient Trace has been a special piece for me to perform this tour. Working with both Gary Lambert and Catrin Lewis was such a privilege. I have known Catrin for many years and being able to work and perform with such a close friend gave the piece a totally different quality. We know each other so well that the piece could grow and change throughout the tour. It was a very different type of piece to what I have performed in previous seasons with Gary but it was definitely an experience that I won’t forget.

Last on the bill was Stand up Straight. I felt that the company really went for it.  We had the space to really indulge in the ‘motion not movement’ brief that we have been working to. I know I woke up with some bruises from this on the following Monday!

It was also a bittersweet end to the tour as it marked my last performance with the company. I joined the company in 2010 as an apprentice when I was a fresh faced graduate and I now leave my position as dancer and assistant to the director with all the knowledge and experience I have gained but hopefully still looking fresh faced.

It has been an incredible journey for me with the company and one which I will struggle to put into words. I have learnt so much from Sue, the dancers and all the other guest artists who I have had the privilege to work with and I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of the Ffin Dance family, past and present, who has been a part of my journey. Words can not describe.

Thank you also to everyone that has supported the company by attending workshops, classes, shows, drink receptions at Hobbits. Your feedback has been invaluable and I will take it all away with me.

I can honestly say that working with the company has never been a chore and I’ve always felt so lucky that I’ve looked forward to going into rehearse and perform during every creation period – except using the bus to get to the valleys!

I have many happy memories to take away with me and I will always look back at my time at Ffin with fondess and a sense of great achievement.

I wish the company the best of luck for their future and I look forward to watching them from the other side of the stage on their next tour.

Diolch yn fawr and toi toi toi.
Meg x

 

Tara Ffin Tara