Hope that you can join us in Germany this weekend:
Well our last 2 weeks of Welsh studio time have ended, and now we see the dancers moving to London to spend time with Gary Lambert for the next three weeks. Gary and the dancers will be making his new work for our Power Of 3 Tour, whilst I will stay in Wales working with the dance faktry ready for our Easter Faktry Festival 2015
The six weeks that we have spent making d-cay and Fascination have been a real pleasure; I know now why I gave up working full time as a lecturer, with a steady wage and paid holidays to start a professional dance company from scratch.
You may have seen the excellent article that Rachel Mainwaring wrote me about in last weeks Western Mail describing my work in the community and how FFIN DANCE started out. Je ne regrette rien: it’s amazing having the freedom to create work, worth every sleepless night and panic about how to pay the mortgage, I’d recommend it to anyone. I will be live on air on Radio Wales tomorrow evening at 6.30pm if you’d like to listen in, I’ll be talking about creativity. It’s such a vital and important part of our being to create, so many people I have worked with over the years have said that creating in some way has been an escape, a day dream, a delicious new recipe and even a glowing work of art – but it’s there in us all, we just sometimes need someone to show us the way.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe, Cat. x
Thanks 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.
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!
So today saw us slot together the jigsaw pieces and go for a first run of Fascination, Sue’s latest work for the company. It’s certainly an exciting stage to reach (with the exhilaration augmented by the fire alarm going off mid-way through!) – you get your first taste of what the piece will be like to perform and start to make sense of it in its entirety.
The different sections of the piece have not been created in a chronological order of how the final piece runs, as is often the case in the creative process. At the start of the day, we knew that we had one final piece of the puzzle to crack before we could string all of the sections together.
What is particularly interesting about this newest addition is that it is going to be a structured improvisation on each occasion that the piece is performed. So essentially, the movement itself hasn’t already been pre-determined; within given parameters we will make different choices in the spur of the moment each time we dance the piece. I think that this is going to be a really interesting challenge for us to maintain a sense of freshness in our decision making whilst simultaneously improvising movement and avoiding looking like rabbits caught in the headlights!
All in all, a good day’s work – from hereon in we will start to clarify our own internal narrative and physical pathway through the piece. If the first run is anything to go by we’re onto a cracker, with a fair amount of vogue sweatiness thrown in for good measure!
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
In less than 2 days time, I will be back in the studio with the dancers making my new piece for the company – Fascination.
The work centres around the fascination that the artist Picasso had for painting 3 figures in much of his work. Three musicians, three dancers, three women, three bathers and more. This fascination with three, called triaphilia, has inspired artists and designers for many centuries and still continues into our daily lives: sneeze three times and make a wish, knock three times before you enter, bad luck comes in threes et al. The figure three also has magical and spiritual connotations like the Trinity, 3 pyramids at Gaza, faith/hope/charity.
It’s this fascination that we will be looking at.
We welcome new company dancer Natasha Wade into our studio on Monday, we hope that she will enjoy being a part of our team and wish her well.
I’ll be tweeting and posting on our Facebook and Instagram profiles over the next couple of weeks, hope you’ll join us on our journey.