The New Normal



As we move further towards life back in the normal lane, I take the time to reflect on how things have been over the past few months during lockdown.
We have been most fortunate to get support from The National Lottery Community Fund, Community Foundation in Wales and more recently from GAVO to keep in touch with our community and find new ways of working together.

Children and young people from our dance faktry have written and sent postcards to members of the community who have been self isolating, those who have been in hospital, those who may have needed a bit of “cheering up” and those who are alone.
Our company dancers and teachers have filmed dance classes and exercises to do at home and they have been posted on social media.  We are now in our ninth week of online dance classes via Zoom, having taught 30 classes in that time.  The classes are free for the community and we have had some wonderful feedback from parents and the young people themselves.
I think that we are one of the first professional dance companies in the UK to announce our virtual summer dance school.  This is free to participants of all ages and abilities and will involve the creation of a new dance film to be screened on August 7th.
We have plans to reopen our café with a take away service as our first step to resuming activity in our beloved Beaufort Theatre
We have found new ways of working and will continue to do that, already we have found that many things can be done differently to good effect.

However, nothing can take away the feeling of being together in a studio – creating, learning, dancing together.  Nothing can be as good as the thrill of seeing our Main House full of people coming to watch live performances, maybe for the first time.  Nothing can beat the feeling of family that we have at FFIN DANCE

We hope that we will all be together again soon, in whatever way the new normal dictates.  Stay safe everyone and keep dancing …

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sue lewis

Onwards and upwards

It’s been almost 3 years since we took over the management of The Beaufort Theatre, and I’m delighted to to tell you that we’re going from strength to strength.

I’d like to introduce you to our latest partner Lybec Arts Performing Academy who has become artist in residence with us. We are delighted to welcome the Academy to The Beaufort. Lybec Arts is a qualifications academy offering weekly skills development in a range of performance pathways, all groups are fully subscribed at the moment with new students able to apply in the summer term.

Image Paul Trask

Image Paul Trask

Our dance faktry classes are an absolute joy!  The recent winter dance faktry festival provided an opportunity for our children and young people to showcase the work that they had created throughout the term. The young dancers also got the opportunity to watch each other which is always a most valued and valuable experience. The High Sheriff of Gwent came along to the event and was thrilled to see such energy and commitment.

It’s been a few years since we toured our professional work as our priority has been establishing a stronghold in our own community, however now we are firmly bedded in,  we will be touring to Holyhead in North Wales next month. Canolfan Ucheldre has always been one of our favourite places to show our work and we get a great welcome on the island.  We will also be working with community groups including the Barton Dance & Drama Academy with whom we have had a strong working relationship for many years now. We will be making a curtain raiser performance for the students to perform with us.  We are hoping to make new friends too with other community groups of all ages.

On a personal level, I’m happy to say that I can now see properly after having cataract surgery.  One of my greatest joys is that I can now see the faces of the children whom I teach and see the expressions on their faces in dance class. I am most grateful to the fantastic team at Emersons Green Treatment Centre in Bristol for this miracle.

Now that I am able to see to complete more extended writing, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me. Thank you for sharing my FFIN experiences with me, see you in Holyhead …

sue lewis

Image Paul Trask Design Julian Lewis

Image Paul Trask
Design Julian Lewis

Day 2 Powering On

wdff flyer

After a few aches and pains it was time to crack on with day two of production week! The collaborative work between FFIN DANCE  and The Beaufort Theatre is the foundation for the work we do day to day at the Beaufort and today was no different.
As a community-led building we are forever hosting young people and with Santa heading our way later this December it was time for Sam, The Beaufort Theatre’s Catering Operative and myself to get crafty! A morning making Reindeer Dust is hard to beat!

Then it was all systems go! The company dancers arrive and after the coffees and mini morning meetings, I was once again thrown into Georgina’s Class. The second day of a class always seems to feel just right!, the exercises have settled and it’s time to sweat! A class full of tilts, swings and floor work is a winner in my book! At the end of last class Georgina had presented us with a mighty phrase that would take a week to tackle! Second time round was just as fun and to keep us pushing it was time for the second side. Whilst the dancers spent some time rehearsing their newest work ‘An Inspector Calls’ choreographed by Sue Lewis, I got back to work.

FFIN DANCE  has pioneered the way for high quality dance education in the south Wales area for many years and it’s important for us to ensure that the festival presents not only opportunity to perform but to learn. The invited guests bring a brand new type of training and performance so I think its really important that the young dancers get to watch each others’ work. Finalising the running order and programme was my main focus for the day and before I knew if it was time to get moving again. Tonight marks the start our of Headliner project. Headliner is a collaborative project, very much in the spirit of the faktry festival bringing professional and youth dancers together to create a brand new work for this years performance. Led by the FFIN DANCE professional dancers, we started out with a technique class lead by Julian. It was great to start the project pushing ourselves technically. The project pulls dancers from nearly all of the faktry classes all bringing a different approach to their work. After learning a phrase for the work, it was clear that this project provides challenges for all types of dancers. We finished the evening with a great creative task pulling reference from Julian’s phrase, we were asked to create a solo influenced by the movement but also by the overarching theme of the work; exploring speed. Day two was fab!

Louis Norman
FFIN DANCE faktry

An Inspector Calls Day 4

Good evening everyone.
Day 4 in the studio making my new work for the company, based on the themes in Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls.

The emphasis today was finding the musicality in the sublime The Lark Ascending composed by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Each duet in Act 2 has varying textures and intentions that we explored through music today.  We have taken on the sequencing of the chronological order of events as described by Inspector Goole in the play – the resulting duets are stunning.  The dancers have made them their own and are really something most special.
Tomorrow sees the last day for R&D An Inspector Calls, more about that next week.
I hope to shoot some film tomorrow to share with you some little snippets.  See you then!

sue lewis

 

We are auditioning

FFIN DANCE Crib

FFIN DANCE Crib

We are looking for a new dancer, male or female, to join the company for the creation of a new work and future projects. The audition will take place on Saturday 7 April 201812-5pm at The Beaufort Theatre, Beaufort Hill, Ebbw Vale, Gwent, Wales NP23 5QQ.

The audition will involve a contemporary technique class, repertoire from our new work Crib,  a creative session and an opportunity to meet and discuss the role with the company. All dancers will be required for the whole session.

Please note, FFIN DANCE is a project-based company, best suited for self-employed artists. All projects are paid. For more information about the company, including commitment and fees, please email info@ffindance.co.uk
To apply, please email info@ffindance.co.uk with your CV and a link to online video footage of you dancing by 5pm on Friday 16 March 2018. This audition is by invitation only and you will be informed if you have been successful by Saturday 24 March 2018.
You must have a minimum of 3 years professional dance training, excellent contemporary dance technique and creative skills. Experience and a keen interest in teaching and working with community dancers is desirable.

Before applying, it is important to understand that the majority of company rehearsals and activities take place in residence at The Beaufort Theatre, Ebbw Vale. FFIN DANCE is unable to provide accommodation and travel expenses and therefore, this role is best suited to dancers who have a base in South Wales and/or have their own transport.

The philosophy underpinning the work that FFIN DANCE produces is centred around quality and innovation. Artistic Director, Sue Lewis, believes in collaborating with her dancers, and the process of making new work is always challenging and of equal importance as the product. Use of music plays a huge part in the company repertoire, as well as a strong emphasis on physicality and technical virtuosity. Alongside the professional company, FFIN DANCE runs an established education and outreach programme, the FFIN DANCE FAKTRY with a series of regular childrens and youth classes, summer schools, professional intensives and one-off projects with schools and community groups.

If you are interested in seeing the company perform before auditioning, the premiere of our new work Crib will take place at The Beaufort Theatre on Friday 6 April 2018 alongside performances from our community groups. For more information, visit www.ffindance.co.uk/the-beaufort-theatre

www.ffindance.co.uk | Facebook: @ffindancecompany | Twitter: @FFINDANCE | Instagram: ffindance

 

Edinburgh bound

cropped-ifringebanner.pngWith just over a week to go before the company heads north, there’s a lot of lists to write, packing to be done, rehearsals and all sorts of things to think about.

 

We have been busy writing press releases and organising our marketing for one of the most competitive and exciting fringe festivals in the world.
viragozooMy piece Virago will be programmed by Zoo Venues (The Sanctuary Venue 124 ) from August 13th – 19th at 7.45pm.  Tickets here

 

We have previewed the piece in London and at our base back here in Wales in various forms and guises, the latter being an interactive performance where the audience was invited to be the jury and decide upon Minnie McGuire’s fate: the jury declared her “not guilty”.  The audience joined in with a final reel celebrating Minnie’s innocence.

 

 

 

Some of the audience feedback:
” there but for the grace of God go I!”

“I have no doubt that Virago will go down a storm at The Fringe.  The story is compelling and the interpretation is excellent”

“Brilliant interpretation in dance, well-executed, enjoyed every minute of it.  Good luck in Edinburgh!”

Keep posted for more of our travel news, get the iFringe app on your phone and book into our show, and share our posts.  Many thanks for your support!

sue lewis

 

Finishing off

102-a4Just touching base after what was a very busy and enjoyable week here at FFIN DANCE. The main goal of our most recent week in the studio was to finish the creation period of Sue’s new work Virago. Not only was this achieved but we also had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with the brilliant Paul Trask, our photographer as well as some exciting conversations about the next steps for the company.

The creation of Virago has been a very special and personal process that I believe has brought the company firmly together ahead of our next performances. The story of Minnie McGuire along with the social issues it relates to have really pulled on our heart strings as well as conjured up many different images and thoughts that have inspired our creative work in the studio. The movement feels very honest and physically challenging to dance and that combined with the way Sue has stitched the work together makes for something that I’m sure will be very exciting to watch. Beyond the movement is a variety of different music as well as voiceovers and there will be plenty more to please the eye including our striking set and lighting designs. I think I speak for all the dancers when I say we can’t wait to share it with our existing audiences as well as with new ones!

For the first part of the week we were joined by Rochelle who is on work placement from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Rochelle joined us for company class as well as observing our (sometimes chaotic) rehearsal process! With all the current company dancers having spent some of their training at Trinity Laban, it was lovely to welcome Rochelle and we hope she enjoyed her time getting a taste of how a small professional dance company works.

The week was also underpinned by the looming result of our bid to become the new leaseholders of Beaufort Theatre & Ballroom, an exciting prospect that could bring in so many more opportunities for the company and the surrounding community.

Watch this space for more information about all that is FFIN DANCE!

Julian x

Virago’s ready to go

Berry's BarWe have just spent the past week finishing off our new work Virago.  A productive and action-packed week including our new season photo shoot with Paul Trask, a work-placement by a lovely dance student from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, an exciting glimpse at our new logo and marketing strap lines designed by company dancer Julian and of course the underlying tension of just under a week to go before we hear about our bid for Beaufort Theatre.
I’m thrilled with Virago, it’s a tale of social injustice: although inspired by Minnie McGuire the most arrested woman in Victorian Wales, its social issues are as relevant today as back then.

 

Threaded through the work are references to the Irish Holocaust, extreme poverty in Ireland and Wales, alcohol abuse, immigration and prostitution.

We are most fortunate to be working alongside author John F Wake whose book The Cruel Streets Revisited has inspired Virago, and who has written the lyrics for the cover song for our work.

The song is composed and performed by Lorraine King especially for us, we hope you love it as much as we do.

So, on to another week, hoping to hear that we have become the new lease holders of The Beaufort Theatre and Ballroom.  More news soon.

sue lewis

 

 

Moving On

As the company moves on into its second decade, we have plans to expand in a variety of different ways, one of which includes the expansion of our Board of Trustees.
We are delighted that Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE has joined us as Patron and Andrew Tuggey CBE is our Company Champion.

Here’s a little more about them:

Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE

Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE

Brigadier Aitken is currently Lord Lieutenant of Gwent and has lived in Gwent since childhood.  Following a choral scholarship to Oxford, Brigadier Aitken was commissioned in the Royal Regiment of Wales. He had a distinguished military career lasting 34 years during which time he was awarded a CBE.
He is currently the Director of Music in Hospitals Cymru/Wales, a charity that provides live music events in healthcare settings. He is an Officer of the Order of St John Cymru, and chairman of 3 military charitable trusts. He is also Honorary Colonel of Gwent and Powys Army Cadet Force.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Tuggey CBE

Andrew Tuggey CBE

Andrew Tuggey CBE is Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK’s Chief Executive & Secretary; he also is Secretary of the CPA British Islands & Mediterranean Region. Highly experienced in international outreach, parliamentary strengthening and parliamentary diplomacy, he served in the Army prior to his current appointment, latterly as a Defence diplomat with the FCO. Andrew has a BSc (Eng) and speaks French, German, Malay and Nepalese. He served as High Sheriff of Gwent and is currently a Vice Lord Lieutenant (VLL) in Gwent

We are seeking offers from the community for other Trustees, please contact us by e mail info@ffindance.co.uk
More of our new ventures to follow.

sue lewis

 

A fond farewell

Missing Pages Photo Paul Trask

Missing Pages
Photo Paul Trask

It seems fitting somehow to say “cheerio” to our senior dancer Effie, after such a successful run of events to celebrate our 10th anniversary season. Our season will continue into the spring of 2017 with new dancer Sarah joining Catrin, Natasha and Julian, whilst Effie is moving on to pastures new.
Effie has been with the company for 5 years, having met us at our Winter Intensives.  We were so impressed with her that we offered her a place to learn some of Gary Lambert’s work for the company, to replace Lucille Tappa in Synapsequence.

Effie has created and danced many lovely roles for the company over the years, but I think it was Missing Pages, that really brought out her lyricism and technique more than any other.

Effie has been a wonderful workshop leader and teacher too, with her quirky ways of motivating children and young people; especially noteworthy is her “bananas of the world unite” and her numerical jogging pattern warm ups. We will miss her zany music in professional class, Dr Who will never be the same again!

The image by Paul Trask that is featured above, carries a story, I’m sure that Effie won’t mind me sharing it.  The company was in Llanhilleth Wales, shooting some images for our tour Inspired: Paul wanted to shoot somewhere local and out of the studio.  This obviously caused a bit of a stir in the village and gathered quite a lot of spectators who were generally supportive and also inquisitive. After a little while, word got around and we were hailed with some children shouting “come over here boys, there’s a stripper down by the railway station” The photo above and some others too, were the culprits of this mistaken identity. We laughed about that one for quite a time, as you can imagine.

So finally it’s time to say a very fond farewell.  We wish Effie well in her future pursuits and will miss her tremendously as a wonderful dancer and warm, faithful friend.  Please keep in touch.

sue lewis