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

Last leg

Fractal Image Paul Trask

Fractal
Image Paul Trask

And so we are on to the last stretch of our 2014 tour, Still Standing.

It’s been a great tour and we have received some great audience feedback: some venues enjoying some of the pieces more than others and then conversely other places getting more from the diversity of the programme.

With our last 2 performances coming up, we travel to London tomorrow to perform Stand Up Straight by Catrin Lewis at Greenwich Dance.  Next week sees our first (and hopefully not last) visit to The Venue at Milton Keynes, where we perform our triple bill as part of the Milton Keynes Dance Festival Motus.

As a company we are very much looking forward to making new friends at these 2 venues as well as seeing familiar faces too.

In addition to these 2 performances I have also been planning the New Ground summer holiday dance club programme with our youth volunteers.  Joining our teaching team will be Krystal Dawn Campbell who has been working with me this term in the dance faktry gaining valuable hands-on experience with class management and working with children and young people.  These classes will be free for children in Blaenau Gwent: the scheme has been awarded financial assistance by Tai Calon, the Archbishop of Wales Children’s Fund, Sport Relief and very generous donations via our online giving scheme.

So an early night for me and off to London in the morning.  Hoping to see you at Greenwich tomorrow and at MK next Sunday.

sue lewis

 

Letting the dust settle…

 

FFIN DANCE Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Image Paul Trask

So it’s a couple of weeks since our first airing this season at Coleg Y Cymoedd and it’s taken the intervening time for me to actually find a moment to process and reflect on the evening.

What has really hit me is how different Stand Up Straight felt in situ as opposed to rehearsal time in the studio. Of course with every piece there is growth when being transferred from studio to stage…much like when learning to drive, it’s not until you pass and are out there on your own that you fully understand what it takes. You come to anticipate this change – beyond a point there is little more to be done in the studio and the introduction of the fourth wall brings with it an inevitable change.

However, with Stand Up Straight, it was quite a shock to my system how exposed, vulnerable and disorientated I felt in performance.  I suppose this is the very nature of the piece – with several minutes of spinning on the spot included to induce dizziness there’s always going to an edginess to cope with but the amount that this was heightened by having an audience in and the introduction of lighting was considerable. After one of my bouts of spinning, I came to a stop what felt like barely a few inches from someone sat in the front row. This demonstrated to me that the control and adaptability I had built up during studio time had gone out of the window – such a sense of unpredictability is pretty scary to encounter mid-performance!

What scares me even more is knowing that in Abertillery we’ll be spinning on a rake and that there’s a drop at the front of the stage into the auditorium…anybody have some spare crash mats?!!

Effie :-)

Pleased as punch

Earl of WessexThe company opened the Still Standing season on Tuesday at Coleg Y Cymoedd, Nantgarw in Cardiff, and the show met and exceeded all of my expectations with a marvellous performance and excellent audience.

Opening nights are notoriously edgy and can very often veer off into unchartered waters, but this one was a cracker!
The venue is one which we visited last season, and despite not being a traditional theatre setting, really shows contemporary dance very well in terms of shape and pattern.  It’s up close and very personal which works well with our rep this season; particularly well I think with Catrin Lewis’s ‘Stand Up Straight’, a piece which explores the physicality of Vertigo.
We’ve spent a lot of time in the studio this season perfecting timing for ensemble work, and it has paid off – ‘Synapsequence’ was superb.  Created by Gary Lambert in 2012 for the company, there are a number of very tricky double duets which require precision and accuracy as well as superior technique, so the dancers are really on edge.  Pleased to say they rose to the occasion.

My new work, ‘Fractal’, was aired for the first time on opening night, it actually opened the show being the first piece on the bill.  It relies heavily on musicality and the dancer’s technical ability to carry it through or it can look a bit wan.  The lighting that Mark Read and I created is very simple and grows and decays with the musical episodes, giving the audience a sense of regeneration and development interspersed with resting periods.
Pleased to say that the FFIN A Level students noticed this without prompting!

So première over and Megan and Catrin will be continuing their London sessions with Gary who is making a new duet for first viewing in May 2014
Effie and Mike working on some other projects and I am Wales based running the dance faktry and our youth volunteers project New Ground.  Four of our senior youth dancers with the dance faktry will be performing my work for the Earl of Wessex this coming Monday at the dedication service of Diamond Jubilee Square at St Michael’s Church Abertillery, a real honour for us all.
Next up is Easter Intensives and the Easter Dance Faktry Festival in April, then back on the road again.

Never a dull moment, hope you can catch us at a venue near you very soon …

In search of technical sparkle

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour
Image Paul Trask

Well, what a week it has been. I have so far thoroughly enjoyed being back in the studio with the ffin family working on our new triple bill which premières at the Nantgarw Campus, Coleg y Cymoedd on the 11th March.

Over the course of the last week, we have spent time recapping ‘Synapsequence’ a piece we toured during the 2012 season which was choreographed by our associate choreographer, Gary Lambert. Not to repeat what both Effie and Megan have already mentioned in their blogs, as I concur with everything they have said, but I must say that it has been most enjoyable to return to this piece, and for me I was actually quite surprised at how much.
Looking back to when we first created Synapsequence, I was never truly happy with my level of technical skill or performance quality. I felt that I was always fighting to achieve the quality of movement that Gary wanted and yet quite often falling short of it whilst also dealing with high levels of stress and performance anxiety.
Two years later, a lot has happened and I finally feel as if something has started to click. For the first time I feel I can now truly try to ‘dance’ the piece to its fullest potential. To recap (sorry, I know I said I wouldn’t but I could not help myself) slightly on what Meg mentioned about being true to the movement, I have found that we all have spent valuable time really focusing on the clarity of all the phrases and to refine where they came from and how they were executed. In order for us to continue pushing the level of performance quality and being honest and true to the materials origins, I think we need to stay continuously focused on what is happening throughout the whole piece, even when off stage. This also plays a part in the other two pieces.

Looking to Catrin’s piece, ‘Stand up Straight’, again its been about being honest with the material, or more accurately the motion in space as opposed to choreographed phrases in space and time. I have found this piece quite a mental challenge in its portrayal of the condition vertigo as I have never really felt fond of the spinning that we do as it makes me slightly faint and I have found the solo material quite difficult to recreate yet still be honest to their original origins of off balance. Certainly with mine, which had quite the clumsy quality with quite hard drops to the floor and rather droopy head actions, it took me quite some time to find the desired outcome. However, as we rehearse and refine the piece, I am finding it to be quite an interesting one to be within and it truly keeps you on your toes. I am looking forward to seeing what an audience makes of it.

Finally, we returned to Sue’s piece, ‘Fractal’, a series of solos and two ensemble sections to the wonderfully complex score by J.S.Bach. After our creation period back in October, I was concerned that I would not be able to do my solo justice in both musical and physical terms, and after reviewing video footage of our final rehearsal, I was beginning to dislike what I had created. Now, a few months later, I am finding a true love and affinity with my solo material and have found new nuances within my score that I had not noticed before which is allowing me to fully embody its style and to live and breathe the musical phrasing as an extension of my physical self. For my solo, which is split into two pieces of music, I have been focusing on using a sinuous quality of my whole spine so that I can really embrace the melodic qualities of the score whilst maintaining control of my arms which can often become too florid and slightly wafty in motion. In addition, I have been playing close attention to the articulation and intricacy of my footwork which reflects the quick, clean and precise phrasing of my music. I still have some way to go yet, but I am determined to strive for perfection. ‘Fractal’ is certainly the most technically challenging in its virtuosity and musical embodiment and I am embracing it as best I can.

Today in the studio was a good day, yesterday I was very tired and struggled to maintain my concentration levels. I certainly think the peppermint tea today helped :)

Tomorrow we begin to bring the three pieces together as a unit. Let the hard work continue and grow grow grow :)

Thanks guys
Mike :)

Rambling

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour
Image Paul Trask

Well what a week it has been! It’s been so lovely to be back in the studio with the Ffin family.

As Effie has mentioned in her blog, we have been rehearsing for our ‘Still Standing’ tour. It looks set to be a cracker!
We began the week refreshing ‘Synapsequence’ choreographed by our associate choreographer Gary Lambert. I have thoroughly enjoyed slipping back into the piece. It feels like a comfortable pair of shoes you haven’t worn for a long time.
Relearning it has bought back all the memories and fun I had whilst creating it way back in 2012. I’ve found it fascinating the way that my body can remember not only the movement content and structure but also the way my ears are automatically listening for musical cues and my eyes for visual ones.
‘Synapsequence’ is one of my favourite pieces to perform. There is nothing to hide behind and you have to constantly push yourself to keep the piece fresh and to stay true to the material.
This phrase is something that I’ve been pondering about…’staying true to the material’ what does that even mean?  I have been rehearsing and running this piece all week and the material is inherent in my body. However, am I staying true to it? Most of the time when I run the piece I no longer need to think about what comes next or how I should dance this bit or that bit but I wonder if by doing so I loose a sense of where the material has come from thus loosing the identity that made that piece of material what it is? Slightly hard to explain but I’ve been having this internal chatter with myself throughout the weekend.
We moved onto Cat’s piece ‘Stand up Straight’ next. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this one. I love the physicality and dynamic of it but can’t say I’m a massive fan of making myself dizzy and then having to fall over safely, without loosing that edge you have if you did fall, and lifting and being lifted when you’re not quite on balance. It’s hard work and often leaves me in a bit of a weird head space.
It was lovely to begin work on Sue’s piece for the company ‘Fractal’. We made this back in October and as is often the case with Sue’s work we worked closely with the musical score. This was similar to ‘Synapsequence’ in the sense that the material came back to us pretty quickly except one frustrating part of my solo (which resulted in a little mini diva strop and several attempts to slow motion myself on our video reference). Apart from that, things have been plain sailing.
It’s interesting to see how my ear has found new things to listen for in my solo music. I have made some dynamic changes to parts of my solos as they weren’t quite sitting right for me. As well as these changes I’ve also changed some of my accent points, rhythmic patterns and the way that I approach some of the material. You may not be able to notice the difference physically but it helps me to be able to perform it better.
It looks set to be a great show and the company and myself would love for you to come and share our work at Nantgarw Campus, Coleg Y Cymoedd on 11th March…
Thanks for reading
Meg

Back in the studio

Winter Dance Faktry Festival Image Paul Trask

Winter Dance Faktry Festival
Image Paul Trask

We have had an amazingly busy time with our education and outreach unit over the winter months, reaching new children and young people and also new audiences, sometimes seeing contemporary dance for the first time – what a great thing of which to be part!
I’ve been really concentrating on getting some further funding to be able to sustain what appears to be a huge demand for our community work with the dance faktry with not enough financial resources to supply the activities.  Well that’s nothing new!  So keep on keeping on and we will be rewarded soon I know.  We have some wonderful new projects in the pipeline involving our young volunteers programme New Ground and also one of our A Level students would like to put together a programme of workshops for people in the community of Blaenau Gwent who have difficulty expressing their emotions, maybe through grief, anger or financial loss.

Fractal Image Paul Trask

Fractal
Image Paul Trask

Next week the company will return to the studio for rehearsals, to which I am looking forward immensely.  We will be opening our Still Standing Tour next month at Coleg Morgannwg in Cardiff performing Synapsequence by Gary Lambert, Stand Up Straight by company dancer Catrin Lewis and Fractal by myself.

After a quick charge of batteries, we are set for a wonderfully busy spring and summer and will be bringing you news, updates and blogs.  Please keep visiting us and join us at a venue near you.

All good wishes
sue lewis

 

Opening Night

FFIN DANCE Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Image Paul Trask

Our new show Still Standing will open on at Coleg Morgannwg, Nantgarw Cardiff on March 11th 2014 at 7.30pm.  We will be performing:

Fractal by Sue Lewis
Stand Up Straight by Catrin Lewis
Synapsequence by Gary Lambert

Tickets £6 and £4 concessions for students
Box Office  01443 663202

Stand Up Straight 3

Stand Up Straight Image Paul Trask

Stand Up Straight
Image Paul Trask

Evening all.

Just a quick blog for you after the glorious win today!! Excellent things occuring for the Welsh rugby team and with the winter closing in fast we at FFIN DANCE are hoping to follow with similar footsteps.
After our three weeks of intense rehearsing in the studio, I am pleased to see the re-construction of my work Stand Up Straight take shape accordingly. The company has embraced qualities and a presence in the space, which allows them to shift in and out of solo and duet work with ease and buoyancy. I am confident that the sections will nurture and ripen during time until we’re back in the studio again.
The biggest challenge we now face is adapting the piece to compliment each theatre on tour. Section two covers a lot of space and the detail in solo work must be seen in order for the audience to suffer with the same sense of disorientation as the dancers. This will be my first time as a professional dancer where I will be performing and choreographing/directing work, therefore preparation and awareness of time will be my main concentration leading up to all performances.
Follow us for more information regarding upcoming on Facebook and Twitter

Stay safe and enjoy the celebrations this evening.
Cat x

Fractal – The Finished Item

Fractal Image Paul Trask

Fractal
Image Paul Trask

The past 3 weeks have been really astounding, the dancers have worked tirelessly from the wonderful Bach Suite in G Minor score and together we have created Fractal.

The dance unfolds in a series of episodes – solos that sometimes morph into duets and a quartet.  The overriding subject and title of the piece, Fractal, comes from the theory of fractals found in nature, science, mathematics etc where a small part of the whole represents the whole itself in a series of repeated patterns.  The score by Bach offers an ideal framework for this type of treatment with obligingly repeated motifs and figures in the music.  The suite written originally for dancing, is both simple and witty, abounding in contrapuntal motifs and rhythmic patterns, all of which have been embraced into the choreography.  It is this crafting of work to music that is my absolute penchant, having a profound love of form and structure.

The result is a 20 minute piece which is charming and athletic, a style for which our reviewers have commented upon favourably in recent years.  Fractal will sit well alongside Catrin Lewis’s work Stand Up Straight, and with Gary Lambert’s new work which we start in the new year; a great triple bill.  Look out for #stillstandingtour on Twitter and I hope you’ll join us at a venue near you in 2014

Here’s a quick shot at the final Gigue in Fractal, being rehearsed at our home studio in Abertillery last week