And so the pages close

Hello everyone!

IMG_1264Well, it certainly has been an incredible this year which culminated in our recent trip to the wonderful setting of Burg Namedy, Germany, where once again we were greeted with open arms, a warm reception from both the household staff and the audience members for our two performances. Both of which were sell out performances. The space, a beautiful hall of mirrors, presented a unique challenge as a performance setting, as the space provides an ‘in the round’ feeling so a true front didn’t exist. This was quite the challenge as we had to chance various facings so that all of the audience could have a unique view without feeling neglected. It also proved exciting, yet quite tricky at first, for us as dancers as it kept us on our toes and heightend the need to support each other throughout each piece, through the unison sections to acknowledging each other in the space throughout various points within each piece. I felt this most acutely throughout our 3rd piece, Axiom Tangent, as the whole majority of the piece consisted of double duets in unison, and so required a lot of mutual support, spacial acknowledgment and continuous focal intention between each couple.

It was also wonderful to see Ben Craft again, who we hope to work with in the next year or so, who brought along two of his students who performed a beautiful statuesque duet. Taking ideas from his solo performance last year, his students used one of the rooms within the castle that housed old suits of armour and animal skins which gave an ancient, dark and regal atmosphere to their piece. This was combined with a soundscape by Ben using a variety of different sounds hidden from the audience alongside a beautiful accompaniment by bass player Bart Tarenskeen, a close friend of Ben’s.

Of the two pieces i have toured this season within the triple bill, I have felt most affection for Missing Pages, a beautiful and telling piece which takes inspiration from a war time short story which was then accompanied by the luscious sonata by Ravel. It seems only yesterday, when in fact it was almost a year ago, that we began exploring aspects of the story to inform our own story and to search for our own missing pages. My duet partner (in both pieces) Effie has been truly inspirational this season. I feel we have truly connected as a couple and have learnt a lot about ourselves and each other as both artists and people. Over the course of the season, i feel we have grounded each other, learnt to listen to each others movement language and cemented a lasting working relationship.

In addition it has been a privilege this year to once again work alongside Megan and Catrin, who once again joined us in Germany to replace a cast member within Axiom. Catrin herself worked incredible hard under pressure and within a short time frame to learn her parts within the piece alongside Megan as her duet partner. A huge credit to both.

It has also been lovely this year to have worked alongside Adam throughout the majority of the season. He brought a unique and powerful atmosphere to the company, and it was nice to have another male within the company for some banter ;) I wish him all the best.

As i sit here writing this, with a very large cup of tea, i am now looking forward to the coming 2014 season. I am looking forward to getting back into the studio in the autumn and start getting the creative juices flowing again. Until then………….ttfn

Mike :)

Homeward Bound

IMG_2869So the FFIN team have reached the end of the Inspired Tour 2013 and what a journey it has been. I think it’s safe to say that all the members have had an enriching time.
We performed twice in Germany, selling out on both evenings. The evening consisted of our triple bill plus a piece choreographed by Ben Craft and performed by two of his students. Ben took inspiration from his time in Namedy last year to create a piece based around the many artifacts of the castle. As well as choreographing, Ben played a live score along with fellow musician Bart Tarenskeen. What resulted was an interesting collaboration between dancers and musicians.
Both of the evenings went well for the FFIN -ners. The pieces all sit quite comfortably on us now, even with all the new and sometimes confusing facings, that we can really indulge in the material and revisit some of the finer details that may have been lost along the way.
For Missing Pages it was revisiting the original stories that we had way back in September last year that we used to generate material. This was something I had to work quite hard on as I am now without my partner for the majority of the piece. In order for the piece to make sense as a whole I had to create another missing page, so to speak, to allow my story to develop through the piece.
With my solo Degrees of Freedom I was looking to refine the different dynamic contrasts and how I could use the new facings to maximum effect. The whole solo is very sculptural and multi faceted so I wanted to make sure that really worked and pushed the material to its full potential. I feel very privelledged to be dancing this solo as I know that it was very close to Gary’s heart and I hope that I did it justice.
Axiom Tangent has always proved to be a bit of a tricky one to master. With a new cast member it was important that we worked as a team. The majority of the piece is a series of contact duets in unison. Unison being quite hard at the best of times let alone when you’re trying to lift another person! I think this is the piece that grew the most over the time in Germany and it is a credit to Cat that she was able to step in and learn a difficult piece and to then perform with relatively little rehearsal time.
The German audience were very appreciative. They were open and receptive to the work and it was a pleasure to perform to them.
It’s been an amazing experience to share with such talented artists. I’ve learnt a lot over the past four days which I look forward to taking into my working life.
As I write we’re currently driving home. No idea of the location but I can’t wait to get to the ferry for a g&t.
Meg

Last UK date of Inspired Tour 2013

Our last UK tour date for our current triple bill of dance ~ Inspired will be Thursday 6th June at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

The show starts at 7.30pm, tickets priced £10, £8.  Please follow this link for booking

poster Inspired

Show on the road…

FFIN DANCE Missing Pages Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Missing Pages
Image Paul Trask

Phew, what a rollercoaster of a week getting our first performances of the Inspired tour under our belts. Last week saw us swap roles with Gary on the travelling front as we ventured from our base in Abertillery down to Laban Theatre, London for opening night.

We had the luxury of 2 days to prepare, with a studio assigned to us at first while technical preparations got underway in the Bonnie Bird Theatre. The stage space at Laban is amazing to dance in – there is so much room which means movement material can really be stretched to its full potential in order to eat up the space.

For Missing Pages here, we used a gauze for the first section so there was a dream-like, distant impression for the audience and equally for us there was this sensation of separation from the audience – certainly tying in with some of our ideas from the creation period of sitting in a train carriage with the world passing by outside the window and being lost in your own world. Sometimes when you first create and perform a piece it can feel like a memory test going through the motions to get from start to finish, however, Missing Pages has developed far beyond this stage already for me and I was able to garner a real sense of enjoyment and find a new sense of sincerity in bringing it up to performance level.

In terms of Axiom Tangent, the lighting is really integral to marry up with the movement material in order to create a cohesive whole and this certainly took some getting used to at Laban. Also when you are in the space trying to work the lights, there is a very different sensation as a performer to what comes across to the audience – it has been really useful to see video clips as to the effect being created from the front. (If you haven’t already checked them out, there are few snippets of Axiom online so go, go, go!) What is really striking though is that despite working mainly with Mike in both pieces there is an incredible difference and so going into Axiom our partnership feels very fresh even after performing Missing Pages together.

Tuesday saw our first Welsh performance date at Coleg Morgannwg and with one day to get in and perform it is so important for us to arrive with our Ffin heads firmly in place! Mark Read, our production manager, had a lot of work to do in converting the space ready for us to perform and we needed to recalibrate in order to figure out adaptations in spacing – so it was all systems go from the offset. Certainly this was a much more intimate space to perform in and the proximity of the audience was obvious. One of the most interesting challenges was having to negotiate the fluorescent lighting strips which hung down in the space for Axiom, spatial awareness was definitely a must to weave in and out of them even at my measly height! Adding a bit of drama to the evening, the fire alarms were set off by the haze (thankfully during the interval) so the building had to be evacuated while a fire engine and crew arrived.

Next off we’re venturing up to Holyhead today, leading workshops to create a curtain-raiser for our performance at Ucheldre. Oh and I’m definitely going to remember to pack my hairspray this time!!

Effie :-)

Inspired leaving the nest

Missing Pages Image Paul Trask

Missing Pages
Image Paul Trask

And so here we are, it’s the opening of our tour Inspired 2013,  we open at Laban Theatre London this evening. How exciting.

Yesterday we spent the day in Studio 7 at Trinity Laban rehearsing all 3 pieces – Missing Pages, Degrees of Freedom and Axiom Tangent, putting the FFIN machine into action.  Whilst the dancers were in the studio, there was a whole lot of technical stuff going on in the theatre. The Laban Theatre technical crew under the direction of Fay Patterson, were rigging and focussing lights together with Mark Read our production manager, and setting the stage ready for today’s technical and dress rehearsals.

Photographer Paul Trask has spent the last 2 days observing the pieces and getting a good grip on some tasty shots that he will be taking for promotional material for the company.  He is an amazing artist, he will watch and wait and always seems to capture the essence of our work in his images.  We’re all looking forward to seeing the results, which of course we will share with you.

During the day, I met up with Ronen Kozokaro (composer of Synapsequence) and Oli Newman (composer of Axiom Tangent) which was great.  Made some new friends which is always good and met up with some familiar ones too – how come work is such good fun?

And so today has come – opening night later tonight – and time for Gary and I to hand over our work to the dancers and the production team.  Do we trust them?  Of course we do, our creations are now flying the nest and we are very much looking forward to sharing them with you all.

Many thanks to you for following us through our blogs, tweets and FB posts, stay with us now throughout our tour and let us know what you think of the show

sue lewis

Jumbling and Juggling….

FFIN DANCE Photo Simon Scott 2012

FFIN DANCE
Photo Simon Scott 2012

Wow, so we’re already nearing the end of this rehearsal period ready to get the Inspired tour on the road – the time has flown by. What has really struck me during this rehearsal period is how much we have had to keep juggling all of our balls in the air – it’s been a consummate effort for both minds and bodies switching between class, Missing Pages, Axiom Tangent and back again – hence the lack of blogging activity! Meg has to cope with rehearsing Degrees of Freedom on top of all of this and I really respect the sterling job she is doing (although how she is managing is beyond me – I get home of an evening and am completely physically and mentally spent as it is!).

What is incredibly evident though, in terms of being most economical and productive with time, is how much we all have to pull together as team. As Gary pointed out today, we all need to work to our own strengths and attribute different roles between ourselves – it is this sense of sharing out the workload which allows us to function.

Having learnt the mechanics of the duets for Axiom Tangent last week, we have begun setting spatial relationships and timing this week. Picking up the counts was seeming like a big ask at first but it highlighted the importance for us to trust Gary with the counting and get on with the dancing ourselves, allowing the nature of repetition to help the counts to settle and pick out important ‘marker points’ to count from.

Outside of the studio, I have been sharing lifts with Adam this week and for me this has been a really conducive part of the process. During our journey, we have just enough time to get in the mind-set to tackle the day ahead or reflect on how it has gone, bringing a sense closure to the day. It is so useful to share this discussion with someone who is going through the same process and gives us a moment to allay some of each other’s concerns. Big thanks to Adam on this front.

I am very humbled to be working with Sue, Gary, Mike, Meg and Adam – here’s to teamwork and pushing on through with rehearsals – very excited with how everything is coming together.

Effie :-)

.. and 5 days

photo shoot  Missing Pages

photo shoot
Missing Pages

I’m sure that many of you reading this blog will have experienced the turmoil of your life before opening night on your tour.  Emotions can go from extreme exhilaration to the depths of despair in a matter of minutes, seconds even.

I have had a lot of requests from our supporters for an insight into the time before a big event in our calendar, hence the blogs which will be bombarding your screens over the next few weeks.  This week sees the posters and marketing literature being printed, I can’t wait for you all to see them, Paul Trask’s images look very beautiful and we feel that they really capture the show.

 

Press release for opening night at Laban Theatre on March 5th written and waiting to go out, and several applications for funding future projects waiting to be finished off.

My piece Missing Pages, will need re-visiting.  A complex piece in terms of structure (as always!) will need to be fresh in my mind before rehearsals next week.  We heard this week that the author of Missing Pages, John F Wake, will be coming to the show on opening night!
Follow our tweets #inspiredtour2013

Looking forward very much to sharing our journey with you all, thanks for your support as always

sue lewis

7 days and counting

FFIN DANCE
Laura Mumby Photography

Just one week to go and terribly excited!
Getting back into the studio after a little time away is such a pleasure, having spent the last  2 months planning our spring tour and facilitating the Winter Dance Faktry Festival, it’s great to get back in the studio with the dancers, joined by our Associate Choreographer Gary Lambert and guest teacher Ben Craft*

Having created my new work for the company Missing Pages, before Christmas, we now turn our attentions to Gary’s 2 pieces which form the triple bill for Inspired – Degrees of Freedom and Axiom Tangent.

We’ll be blogging constantly during our weeks in the studio, with inside information about the pieces and also the process.
We have guests in company class with us too, and an under graduate dance student Dan with us on work placement.  Full house.

Hope you can join us and follow our progress

*Ben Craft is a freelance dance artist based now in The Netherlands, trained at The Royal Ballet School.  Ben created and performed solo dance roles with Rambert Dance, Béjart Ballet, Michael Clark and Small Axe and has taught and choreographed widely in the UK and Europe.

For more details on how to apply for our Easter Intensive 2013 and company class please e mail Megan at megffin@gmail.com

sue lewis

Box Office Links INSPIRED Spring Tour 2103


Missing Pages
Photo Paul Trask

Please find below our spring/summer touring dates for INSPIRED

Tuesday March 5th 2013  7.30pm – Laban Theatre Creekside, London

Tuesday March 12th  7.30pm - Coleg Morgannwg Nantgarw, Cardiff Wales Box Office: 01443 663013

Saturday March 16th 2013  7.30pm - Canolfan Uchledre, Holyhead, Wales

Thursday May 16th 2013  7.30pm – The Met Abertillery, Wales

Thursday June 6th 2013  7.30pm – Chapter Arts, Cardiff

August 12th – 16th 2013 - Burg Namedy Germany

 

 

 

Time To Reflect

 

Usually in August, I can get a little time to reflect and think in terms of both where the company has been in the past year and where it is going to in the future year.  However August 2012 saw the company really take off in new directions following invitations to perform at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and Tanz@Namedy in Germany.  As a result we were straight back into the studio to make my new work Missing Pages in September, and we haven’t stopped since!

I now have a little bit of breathing space to reflect before January.

I love the period of Advent before Christmas, but am ever mindful of the fact that Christmas time for some people is very painful having lost loved ones: I think particularly of the family of Keith Dykes, our Chairman of the Board, who passed away very suddenly this week.

The warmth of people at this time of year is a real incentive to assess the work that FFIN DANCE undertakes in the community and new projects are planned and waiting to go, funding permitting.  Next week we celebrate at the awards evening for SCARF Dance and Abertillery Youth Dance Company where our community dancers will be presented with certificates for endeavour, attendance and commitment.  I look forward to watching the youth dancers and children perform for their families and friends in an informal sharing, ending in a cuppa and cakes.  The community can be very proud of them.

A few weeks back, I looked back at a 5 year business plan that I wrote in 2007 and was amazed at what the company has achieved in that time.  Although I had the utmost faith that we would do what we set out to do, I never thought that we would surpass that by so much.

So a full circle has evolved: five years has passed since the Arts Council turned our grant application down and we have done it on our own! But never a person to burn my bridges, I am off for a meeting at the Arts Council of Wales tomorrow to see how things have changed in the funding strategy and to boast about the company tucked away in a small Welsh valleys town, who now have a world-wide following, over 517,666 hits on our website in 12 months and an audience that many larger companies would be very happy to have.  Wish me luck …

sue lewis