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

Summer sizzles

IMG_1941Some of you may remember our online Sponsume appeal for our summer holiday dance clubs for children in Blaenau Gwent; well happy to say that we reached our target of £400, due to your really generous donations.  Together with financial assistance from Tai Calon Community Housing and the Archbishop of Wales Children’s Fund we will be running our free holiday clubs for children.

Our New Ground team will be running a series of holiday dance clubs around the county starting in July and continuing through the school summer holidays.  The volunteers will be led by company dancer Catrin and our professional practitioner Krystal.  They have already received some training leading groups and in customer care and are very keen to get going.  Please see our what’s on page for details (you will need to turn the page for August)

Motus Dance Festival

Motus Dance Festival

Before we start, we have just one more performance of our Still Standing Tour 2014 at Motus Dance Festival at Milton Keynes this weekend.  We will be performing our triple bill at the Festival at The Venue MK.  Theo Clinkard also performing, so we’re in good company!

It would be great to see you there, here’s the booking details

 

In all, a great way to end our 2014 season, a quick break for me late August and then back to it all in September – hope you’ll join me (not for the break in Spain that is!)

sue lewis

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

 

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

 

Tour starts on March 11th 2014

coleg M poster

We open our new show - Still Standing – on March 11th 2014 at Nantgarw Campus, Coleg Y Cymoedd, Cardiff CF15 7QY  The show starts at 7.30pm, the box office number for tickets 01443 663009

We will be performing:
Fractal – Choreography 2013 by Sue Lewis, music by JS Bach.  A series of solos for 4 dancers set to the sublime English Suite Number 3 by JS Bach.  Abstract movement sentences draw details from repeated patterns (fractals) in nature to form a complex partnership with the musical score

Stand Up Straight – Choreography 2013 by Catrin Lewis, An ensemble which explores the idea of Vertigo, using physical and sometimes unconventional movement vocabulary, set to a sound score including the voice over for the Lempert Manouevre and music by Jon Hopkins

Take a look here, where the piece is performed by BA3 students at Trinity Laban

Synapsequence – Choreography 2012  by Gary Lambert, music by Ronen Kozokaro.
Informed by experiences drawn from an extensive performance background Lambert’s focus and interest is working through the body, where the devised movement becomes an expressive and physical landscape. It initiates from an interest in the manipulation and physical articulation of the body, as a reactive response to the images, sound score and environment.  Movement is the starting point of exploration and space is explored as a laboratory to frame movement. Gary’s appetite for movement has resulted in an eclectic style with an emphasis on physical aesthetics.

Through the interaction of the creative process with FFIN dancers, Gary has made a pure, non-narrative work that is highly unique and reflects his love for athletic physicality
Take a look at an extract of the work here

 

Being – a quick catch-up for sharing

IMG_3150So far so good!!
Catrin and I have so far spent two wonderful rehearsals with Gary improvising following some ‘rules’ that Gary has set

He’s filmed quite a bit of the improvisations and from these we will pick out the bits that are ‘good’ to create phrases. Similar to how I structured ‘Megan’s corner’ in Degrees of Freedom, my solo by Gary last season.
It’s a very interesting process to get inside of Gary’s mind. He said that this is often how he makes material and phrases but he now has a process that he can follow to generate the material.

I think he’s looking to set more ‘rules’ for the improvs in order to get different moods/material.

It was quite funny how often Cat and myself were unaware of what the other was doing but would often pick up on the language of material that the other was doing.

The piece is going to be about ‘being’. Gary doesn’t believe in the term movement for movements sake, as dance is an experience both for the audience and the dancer. He describes it a lot more eloquently than that but that is the gist of what I have gathered!

Really looking forward to continuing with the work, keep dropping by, it’s going to be great.

Meg

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

Recapping and revisiting…

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour 2014 Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour 2014
Image Paul Trask

Rehearsals this February have a different feel than usual – rather than using this period to create another piece we are refreshing our memories on Fractal and Stand Up Straight as well as picking up Synapsequence (from Connections 2012) ready to première in March.

It has been really interesting to return to Synapsequence by Gary Lambert as the movement material was generated by ourselves (albeit 2 year younger models!) and so re-inhabiting it feels relatively natural.
Often a comment we get from audience members is that they can’t understand how we retain and remember all of the movement. I was surprised this week by how efficiently we could pick up a whole piece which we had last performed 18th months ago. For me I don’t feel that the memory of Synapsequence was particularly embedded in my brain but as soon as I started revisiting the material it felt as though my muscle memory came into play re-finding these previously visited places.

I found this none more so than with a duet section which I had originally created with Lucille and due to a cast change in the season hadn’t performed since March 2012. As such, I asked Meg to re-teach me my part but soon found that I could remember details and sequentially what happened next with little input needed – fitting back into the movement just made sense in my body, allowing it to happen instead of over-thinking it.

In one section of Synapsequence, we switch from one person to the next for short duets which are specific to each partnership and occur concurrently. When we had re-established the details and connections in each partnership to the extent that we felt comfortable with it, Sue asked us to run through this section with our eyes closed. While this request was greeted with an air of preposterousness initially, we were actually able to manage it for the most part and it gave us a really good sense of knowing our spatial relationship without over-relying on visual feedback. Don’t worry though, we’ll definitely go back to having our eyes open for performances!

So now it’s time for a weekend off (and a bit of time for planning morning class) before returning to Abertillery for week two of rehearsals. Here’s hoping there’ll be no more weather related stand stills on the Heads of the Valleys next week!

Effie :-)

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