So, how do you measure success? A variety of ways I rather imagine, but in the case of our Easter Intensives and Easter Dance Faktry Festival, we like to think that it’s quality performances and happy people.
We recently spent time in the studio with 3 amazing people: Sarah Lee Pryke (professional dancer), Louis Norman (dance graduate) and Jasmine Morgan (youth dancer and trainee) as part of the Easter Intensives where our company dancers taught some of my new work True to our guests. The end result was performed in the festival in front of a packed and appreciative house at our home theatre, The Met in Abertillery. In addition to our professional guests, we had over 60 children and young people performing and sharing their new work which they have been rehearsing since Christmas. I’ve said it before, and will doubtless say it many more times, it’s such a huge privilege to share in work created by these young people and to treat them to a platform where the work is staged and managed by our professional technical team.
So next up is another week in the studio with myself and the FFIN company dancers finalising our work for our new t e n Tour 2016. If you would like to do professional company class with us, drop us a text 07854 910926 or e mail email@example.com
Hello all, this is my first blog post as a new company member of FFIN DANCE.
I was delighted to be offered the role of company dancer back in August and feel especially privileged to be joining the company ahead of the 10th anniversary next year. My first encounter with the company was back in 2012 when I participated in the professional Easter intensive and performed in a new piece, Homage to Cello, as part of the Easter Dance Faktry Festival. I thoroughly enjoyed the taster of Sue’s detailed choreographic style, the connections to the music and how she allowed each dancer to play to their strengths in the work. I was encouraged to apply for this opportunity by fellow company dancer, Catrin Lewis, with whom I was in the same year of study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
My working relationship with Catrin began this same year, performing in each other’s choreographies as well as sharing the Laban stage in a commissioned work by Kerry Nicholls in 2013.
Catrin continued to keep me in the loop with all the goings-on at FFIN DANCE when she officially joined the company upon her graduation. I also maintained contact with Sue, informing her of my own professional development as I toured with EDge, the postgraduate performance company at London Contemporary Dance School. This contact sustained my interest in the company and in February 2014 I made a trip to The Met in Abertillery to join company class. I was then offered to shadow some of the company rehearsals with Gary Lambert and in July joined Catrin as a teacher on the Blaenau Gwent Senior Summer Dance School. As a new company dancer, I am full of excitement as to what the coming year will have in store. I look forward to the studio research and all of the creative outcomes and challenges it will bring. I also can’t wait to perform and share our work with a variety of audiences in different locations. I’m hopeful that I’ll offer a new flavour to what is already a dynamic group of professional dancers.
Its been a while and this week so far has certainly been a busy one and as soon as I get home my brain just goes ahhhhhh. But here we go……
It has been so nice to be back in the studio after the Christmas period and to start working on our new pieces with our associate choreographer Gary Lambert. The first is a group ensemble and the second is a solo for company dancer Megan. I’m looking forward to seeing her work with the material, and the small snippets I have seen her rehearsing look very interesting.
Over the last few days we have been learning a vast amount of duet material and some ensemble phrases which have been quite taxing on the brain but incredibly exciting. The duets are full of athletic lifts (which are making several muscles ache lol) and moments of small interactions. Its also been interesting revisiting Gary’s notion of ‘paralysis of analysis’, his dynamic approach to movement, his eye for detail and his utter passion for his art.
With regard to the new duets we have been learning, Gary has been instilling into us to have the calmness and smooth quality that marking material can bring yet still executing clarity,form and articulation when moving at a fast pace. A contradiction but a fascinating one. The group phrasing is meaty, fast and dynamic, and is going to be fun having to develop it
In addition, this week we have had the pleasure (more than I can truly express) this week of having our company class being led by the lovely Ben Craft, a close friend and fellow Royal Ballet school mate of Gary. To be taught and to learn from all of Ben’s many years of experience in many different dance and somatic forms has been beyond a privilege. Its going to be very sad when he returns to Arnhem, Netherlands.
Our first week is almost over and we still have a lot to do but let’s meet the challenge head on
Off to write up some notes from the past few days before next week as my computer has not been my closest friend of late.
So we are now nearing the end of our first week of studio time with Gary Lambert recreating his work Axiom Tangent ready for the Inspired triple bill. Each morning has also seen us take class with Ben Craft, who has travelled all the way from Arnhem to work with us.
This is certainly a treat, not only in terms of the wealth of dancing knowledge that Ben is sharing but also as it gives us a little bit of respite from planning/ leading classes for each other in addition to our jam-packed day of rehearsal!
One of the approaches that Ben uses has been to teach a simple phrase which can be repeated alternating between sides (right and left); once we know the movement he gives us several different directional facings in which to dance the material. This means that we have to really keep our minds in gear and be thinking ahead as to where we are facing next, it is easy to get confused in the middle of a phrase. I think this learning device has been a really useful challenge – it has helped me to build in coping mechanisms whereby even if I do make a mistake, as long as I stay calm, I can quickly adapt and correct myself using visual clues from the space around me and the other dancers. This is also handy for the rehearsal process with Gary as there are lots of repeated variations of phrases to learn often with a sneaky change of facing to catch us out!
In terms of the studio time we have with Gary, it is a very different process compared with last year working on Synapsequence – this time around we are recreating a pre-existing choreography of Gary’s and so must use video footage to learn the material we will be dancing. This in itself demands a very different skill set from us – rather than generating material on our own bodies, we are having to pick up as much detail as we can from the videos (slow-motion playback is particularly handy!) before transferring this into physical information.
Within the piece, there is a lot of duet work and for the most part we are working within the same partnerships that we established in Missing Pages during our last rehearsal period. In Missing Pages rehearsals, Mike and I had to learn several of Adam and Meg’s duets and vice versa so we have already had some experience of learning and adapting material to work in our partnerships. What I have found really interesting in our current studio practice, reconstructing duets from video, is how much more quickly Mike and I have been able to make connections more organic between us allowing the duet material to find a flow. Part of the reason for this is that we are all in the same boat – it is not a case of Meg and Adam already having created their duet and being familiar with it before we try to pick it up. When this was the case, there was always a sense of looking over to Meg and Adam for clarifications – it felt like we were paying more attention to them than each other and as a consequence would miss the real sense of combined momentum by not focussing on one another. Certainly reconstructing from video has been a lot of work for our minds and bodies but I feel that there has been a really positive impact on how Mike and I are relating to each other as dancers.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend the whole day in the studio today without having to rush off to a meeting, or similar.
The day started with Ben teaching class: it’s been really interesting to watch the development in the dancers’ technique this week. Such a great treat for them to not only be taught by such an expert in various techniques, but also a teacher who plays for his class. In this way the musical phrasing for the exercises is played by the person who has set the exercise patterning, this is rare!! I hope the dancers know how lucky they are (in fact I know they do appreciate it)
Our guests for company class, Dan and Jess, are developing too in their confidence around the sequences and looking much more assured.
As I write, Gary is teaching a wondrous meaty phrase full of shifts and changes of facings and energy. Dancers looking great. Gary makes it all look so easy, so effortless and this is very inspiring for the dancers, having such a great performer who has personal informed knowledge of his material is a great learning tool.
Ben is creating music on his laptop and already coming up with ideas for our time together in September (fingers crossed that we get the funding).
So indeed masters at work, and we can’t wait to share it all with you, hope you can get along to one of our performances
The arrival of our associate choreographer Gary Lambert met with a great air of excitement and anticipation.
We began work on Gary’s new work Axiom Tangent this week and it’s fantastic! For the past 2 days the dancers have been working on some double duets, which will form a large part of the total material for the complete work. The work is exceptionally physical and the dancers are digging deep working long hours with tough lifts and partner work.
Today we start on a larger group phrase, I’m sure that the dancers will enjoy the meaty phrase that Gary has prepared for them.
I have the privilege and pleasure of hosting Gary and our guest technique teacher Ben Craft at my cottage. The tales that Ben and Gary share with me about their days together as children at The Royal Ballet School and later as colleagues together in Rambert Dance and Small Axe are worthy of published biographies – it’s like a living history of dance, with some hilarious stories thrown in.
We have guests with us in company class this week, which is always a pleasure – we hope that they are enjoying being taught by master teacher Ben.
Snowing at the moment in the Welsh valleys, completing a marvelous time that we are all experiencing.