New company dancer – part 1

523238_10151376905219344_497662062_nHello 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.

Julian

 

Sunshine at Namedy

Namedy 2015 posterWe’re currently being treated to some gorgeous sunny weather which complements our surroundings here at Namedy perfectly. So much so, that both nights of our stay so far we have been able to remain outside late into the evening – enjoying the good company, conversations, card games and some incredible live music being played by fellow artists.

Of course, we are also spending time in the ‘studio’ ahead of our performances this weekend. It has been good to touch base with Gary once more, especially in terms of the parameters of presenting Retracing Emergence. Here, we are without the fourth wall of a traditional theatre setting which we have been used to encountering earlier in our tour. We have been rehearsing with defined ‘islands’ in the space, within which we can relocate, fragment and leave the trace of our physical movement language. It certainly feels different already, and I’m sure the sense of the piece will change again when we are joined in the space by an audience who have freedom to move amongst us.

There is definitely something to be said also for combining work and play, in keeping both ourselves and our work fresh for performance. Yesterday, Cat, Tash and I wandered down to the Rhine for a little bit of toe-dipping and swimming to cool off after our dancing exploits. I retreated to the shade fairly quickly in order to keep my pasty white skin happy (and Sue for that matter – I’m sure having dodgy sunburn marks for the weekend would not go down well!). As I sat back and watched, I was very struck by the relationship of this scenario to our explorations of Picasso’s 3 bathers for Fascination. Notably, I also saw a connection which I hadn’t previously thought of – when I saw Cat negotiating the rocks, with their surfaces of all different angles and steadiness, up and down from the water. It related very much to a little copycat interplay that myself and Cat share during Fascination – where we lose and catch our balance within our footfall with studious attention to observing one another’s feet. I look forward to remembering this image during our performances this weekend.

For now, it’s time to have a moment a peace in the sunshine (or more sensibly, shade!)

Effie :-)

Power Of 3 Tour 2015 starts soon

Première of Power Of 3 Tour 2015

Première of Power Of 3 Tour 2015

Today marks the start of the marketing of our new show The Power Of 3.  To celebrate with us, we thought that we would let you in on a preview of the animated film that will be part of Catrin’s new piece d-cay.  You can read a little more about d-cay by following this link.

We open the show at our home theatre, The Met in Abertillery, South Wales UK on Friday May 8th at 7.30pm, you can get tickets from the box office by calling 01495 355800 or follow this online link 

We would love to hear what you think, please use the speech bubble above with your comments.

Language, images and reflections….

B0001467Firstly, apologies – I meant to write this blog after our first couple of sessions with Gary a week or so ago, but always got caught up in something else. Now, I’m finally realising my good intentions before returning to the studio with Gary this evening – hopefully it will give me some time and space to recap and reflect the thought process we have begun using.

I think one of the things that has most struck me about working with Gary this season is how he is using language and evoking imagery through what he is saying to compel us to explore movement rather than physicalising much himself. Essentially, he is trying not to show us too much so we don’t get bogged down in searching for an aesthetic or codified movement language which appeals to him.

Instead we are currently playing with a lot of constituent parts, thoughts and images to get a grasp on what will work going forwards. So what are some of these things?

First off, we have the solo material which we learnt from video during our time in Abertillery – a linear form which takes us from A to B. This acts as an existing world and reference point that we can improvise from and return to. The phrase gives us a commonality of language – otherwise it is like having 3 dancers in the space speaking French, German and Italian – all valid languages but no-one fully understands each other.

There is also a freedom to stop moving – knowing when an idea has been exhausted and not just continuing to drift for the sake of it. On our second rehearsal day, we taped a performance space on the floor – allowing the possibility to step out of that realm completely. Allowing time to consider and watch from a standpoint completely outside the world that the movement inhabits.

Layering on top of this are lots of images and ideas that Gary feeds in each time we undertake the practice. Here are a few examples:

Having a conversation. The ability to shift the attention between people. Being able to talk to a group but only have eye-contact with one person at a time.

Jumbled thoughts. So much to do – racing through your mind. Inability to hone in on one thing for very long before transferring to the next.

Sediment. Start Simple. Layer by layer – build it up, don’t try to start with a whole strata.

Minority Report. The possibility to deviate from a pre-ordained pathway.

The more images and ideas we have, the greater the temptation to want to try and do everything at once which simply isn’t possible! I wonder what new information will come tonight and how I will cope with processing it…

Effie :-)

Full time for Wales

Fascination Image Paul Trask

Fascination
Image Paul Trask

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.

So as we come closer to our tour, we hope that you’ll join us for one or some of our performances.  Please keep posted for some more blogs from our London based lot during the coming weeks.

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

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

 

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

Busy bees

_PRT7600And so to a tiny lul in the FFIN DANCE calendar.
The Easter dance faktry festival and intensives (April 24th/25th) were amongst our most successful in terms of participation, audience figures and quality since we started these activities back in 2008.  Lots of happy dancers young and older and happy parents and friends, it was a great event.

Then on to London.  On Tuesday I travelled up to Trinity Laban to join Megan and Catrin who have been working with Gary Lambert on a new duet for our Still Standing Tour.  The work ‘Being’ was being shown as a private sharing in a low-key, informal setting which was truly beautiful.  Gary invited the onlookers to enter the space and move around to watch the dancers from all angles and to get up close and personal.  Some great feedback and also an invite to show the work at a gallery in the future.  We will be showing the duet in our home theatre, The Met on May 15th and other venues on the tour.

IMG_3706 IMG_3715 IMG_3700

 

 

 

 

This year saw our first group of students entered for A Level Dance through our ffin dance faktry.  They had their practical moderation on Thursday and all did really well, we are hoping for some excellent results, just the written exam now in June, so fingers crossed for them.

still standing poster

 

A few days catching up in the office now awaits after a day off to recharge my batteries, I very much hope to see you at one of the tour venues.

Please follow our blogs as we journey and do keep in touch

sue lewis