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

Island Fling

three bathers picasso

Three Bathers, Picasso

Last week was spent mostly on Holyhead in Anglesey, North Wales UK.  The company has been visiting the Island for 8 years now and each year it’s better and better.

We organised a number of *workshops and residencies working with Barton School Of Dance & Drama, Holyhead High School, Anglesey Writers Club and a Movement Group aimed at ages 50+ moving for well-being.  Liaising with Helen Barton, Mike Gould, Robert Greig and Rhiannon Môn Jones we made 2 curtain raiser performances which were both linked to our show The Power Of 3

I feel that this is a very important part of our audience development where people can experience the show through their own bodies and minds and have an ownership to the work when they come to watch the show.  Here’s one of the pieces of written work using the power of 3 as a starting point:

Island memorials
…so many loved you,

They made you three memorials
Simple words on stone, wood, slate
Low by the seawrack shores of Enlli, Sant Tysilio, Porth y Wrach

And later, too, a gate
Opening to wind-combed meadows
At Cors Goch

We’d thought, once, you would rest
High on three-peaked Tryfan,
Long loved above all your beloved mountains,
with other friends now scattered to Eryri’s winds
But we remembered an old conversation, took you back
To the bay where all began,
And your ashes flew free
From Porth Trecastell’s cliffs,
Starling clouds, whirling west
On the salt-bright air

Rhiannon Môn Jones, May 2015 for William Eifion Jones, 17.02.1925 – 29.03.2004

We met some delightful new friends with whom we would love to work again on future projects.
The workshops that we did, involved some exceptional younger and more mature dancers, I’m very grateful for the wonderful support and co-operation that we met on the island.

I’ll be blogging some more of the poems and also our work with the Barton dancers and the Glee Club at the High School – do hope you’ll join me

sue lewis

 

Our performance and residency programme was only possible with the fantastic support of Holyhead Boatyard Ltd and an Arts & Business Cymru CultureStep grant

A&BCymru50mm

 

HB LOGO

 

The FFIN machine at its best

FFIN DANCE Axiom Tangent Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Axiom Tangent
Image Paul Trask

Monday morning and a bit of a come-down after a marvellous few days in Anglesey, North Wales.  On Thursday morning we travelled from one end of Wales to the extreme end of the other, a beautiful journey through unspoilt countryside with not a motorway in sight.

For those new to the structure of FFIN DANCE we have an underpinning education and outreach unit to the company called the ffin dance faktry.  

 

Although FFIN DANCE is not a dance in education company, we believe that an infra-structure of dance activity starting from an early age is an essential tool to develop a future audience for dance: young people watching and participating in high quality, professionally led activity.

Whilst we were in Holyhead, we worked with children at the local youth club, the local high school and also the young dancers at the Barton Academy of Dance and Drama.  We have worked alongside Helen Barton and her students for 6 years now and we have built up a great relationship of support and respect for each others’ work.  The students as always were hard-working and talented and a joy to teach.  Big thanks to Helen for yet another great project.

Canolfan Ucheldre, the venue where we perform in Holyhead, is developing a good audience for dance and has recently undertaken a re-furb of their auditorium, with new seating which adds a great new facility to their programme.  Thanks to manager Mike Gould, technical assistant Ben Morgan and the team at the venue for making our stay so memorable.

The audience at Ucheldre always has been one that asks questions of me: during the pre-performance talk and also during the intervals, I get talking about the choreography of the show – it’s a lovely privilege to share my artistic intentions in this way.

Lots of new friends and contacts made too and hoping to extend our folio of work in Holyhead in the future.

So back to this week and organising our Easter Intensive for professional dancers and the Easter Dance Faktry Festival, our twice yearly platform for emerging choreographers.  We hope you can join us.

Please follow us on Twitter #ffindance #inspiredtour2013 and also Facebook  – Ffin Dance

sue lewis

And Moving On

FFIN DANCE Laban

FFIN DANCE
Laban

And so after an incredible opening to our tour at Laban Theatre, London this week, we turn our thoughts to performances next week at Coleg Morgannwg in Nantgarw and Canolfan Ucheldre in Holyhead.  The 2 extreme ends of Wales – one in Cardiff and the other on the lovely island of Anglesey.

Coleg Morgannwg is a new venture for us.  The college has recently opened a brand new building on its campus which houses among other things, a new theatre.

We are proud to say that we are the first professional dance company to be programmed there!  We are hoping to build up an audience for watching dance at this venue.

Canolfan Ucheldre is a venue that we have visited for the past 6 years.  We have performed at this beautiful former convent on the island each year in March around Easter time.  Mike Gould, the manager at the centre, looks after us very well and the audience keeps coming back for more of our work year after year.  While we are on the island, we work with the students of the Barton Academy of Dance and Drama, for whom we make a piece of choreography that is performed as a curtain raiser for our performance.  We also work with the performing arts students at Holyhead High School.  This year we will be expanding the educational work that we do by working with children at the Jesse Hughes Youth Club.

I’ve been trying to catch up in the office since returning from London and wading my way through the ever increasing list of things to do.  Finally getting there I think.

Yesterday evening I met with Jaime Devine one of the Directors of Tudor Brewery in Abertillery, Wales.  Tudor Brewery is a family-run artisan business that follows the pattern of a cottage industry.  Watch this space for future links between FFIN DANCE and this amazing company.

And so, for the next few days, I am busy organising the coming week, hope you can join us in South or North Wales for the next part of the Inspired Tour 2013

sue lewis

Touring!

Wow, March has certainly been a busy month in the world of Ffin Dance – from our premiere performance at Laban right through to Holyhead this past week. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of lots of hard work to pull everything together as well as a good measure of exceptionally fun times bringing us all closer as a company!

One of the challenges of touring is getting used to each new space and having to alter elements of the choreography in accordance with this – as well as keeping things fresh for us as dancers, it also means that each audience is getting a somewhat unique performance of the pieces. Whilst I feel the physical implications of each space in Synapsequence, it’s been lovely to be able to watch Five Dances taking shape in the different spaces where of course there has been the added element of live accompaniment from Platform 4 who occupy alongside the dancers.

At both Laban and the Richard Burton Theatre, the musicians have shared the same stage space as the dancers which has really allowed for human interactions to develop between everybody involved and strengthened the connection between music and choreography. In Merthyr, at Theatr Soar, there was unfortunately not any live music but with the backdrop of a beautiful pipe organ which was so conducive to the musical starting points of the choreography the dancers did not seem at all alone in the space (although they may have felt lonely!) This weekend in Ucheldre, the musicians performed live once again and were situated on a raised stage behind the dancers – the long space gave for an entirely new perspective on the piece.

Another element to the tour has been our outreach workshops alongside performances and it has been really interesting how teaching phrases from Synapsequence has reinforced the material for us as group…not to mention brought up a few anomalies as to individual takes on the material such that we have been able to re-clarify and refine some of our unison sections!

Am already looking forward to returning to Abertillery next month to see what The Met has in store for us with its raked stage!

Effie :-)
Image Lucille Teppa