Crib, here we go

ffindancepresentsapr18FINALSo here we are at last!  I started making my new work in the studio back in the autumn of 2017 and Crib will see its première this coming Friday at The Beaufort Theatre.
The title needs a little explanation I think.
I started choreographing professionally when I was teaching Dance at Ebbw Vale Senior Comprehensive School and spent many, many happy years working with students, creating work for our annual dance shows.  Together with my own passion for Prince music and that of the students, each show became peppered with tracks like Purple Rain, Sometimes It Snows In April, Nothing Compares To You, Little Red Corvette, Raspberry Beret, 1999 and many more.

Over 21 years we got through a fair amount as you can guess.
It’s most fitting that I return to The Beaufort Theatre as this place holds a very special place in my heart.  It was the first place I performed, the first place I presented amateur choreography, the first place I presented professional choreography and now the company I founded FFIN DANCE has its home there since we took on the asset from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council back in April 2017.  So coming home to Ebbw Vale is a full circle, with which I’m very happy; it makes me feel like I’m returning to the beginning once more – hence the title

Crib is a tribute to Prince music and also to my past.

I hope that you can come and join me this Friday together with all of our community groups from the ffin dance faktry, together with guest dancers from Tredegar – Kidz R Us.  Tickets are available from the café at The Beaufort or via text 07854 910926

 

Edinburgh bound

cropped-ifringebanner.pngWith just over a week to go before the company heads north, there’s a lot of lists to write, packing to be done, rehearsals and all sorts of things to think about.

 

We have been busy writing press releases and organising our marketing for one of the most competitive and exciting fringe festivals in the world.
viragozooMy piece Virago will be programmed by Zoo Venues (The Sanctuary Venue 124 ) from August 13th – 19th at 7.45pm.  Tickets here

 

We have previewed the piece in London and at our base back here in Wales in various forms and guises, the latter being an interactive performance where the audience was invited to be the jury and decide upon Minnie McGuire’s fate: the jury declared her “not guilty”.  The audience joined in with a final reel celebrating Minnie’s innocence.

 

 

 

Some of the audience feedback:
” there but for the grace of God go I!”

“I have no doubt that Virago will go down a storm at The Fringe.  The story is compelling and the interpretation is excellent”

“Brilliant interpretation in dance, well-executed, enjoyed every minute of it.  Good luck in Edinburgh!”

Keep posted for more of our travel news, get the iFringe app on your phone and book into our show, and share our posts.  Many thanks for your support!

sue lewis

 

Finishing off

102-a4Just touching base after what was a very busy and enjoyable week here at FFIN DANCE. The main goal of our most recent week in the studio was to finish the creation period of Sue’s new work Virago. Not only was this achieved but we also had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with the brilliant Paul Trask, our photographer as well as some exciting conversations about the next steps for the company.

The creation of Virago has been a very special and personal process that I believe has brought the company firmly together ahead of our next performances. The story of Minnie McGuire along with the social issues it relates to have really pulled on our heart strings as well as conjured up many different images and thoughts that have inspired our creative work in the studio. The movement feels very honest and physically challenging to dance and that combined with the way Sue has stitched the work together makes for something that I’m sure will be very exciting to watch. Beyond the movement is a variety of different music as well as voiceovers and there will be plenty more to please the eye including our striking set and lighting designs. I think I speak for all the dancers when I say we can’t wait to share it with our existing audiences as well as with new ones!

For the first part of the week we were joined by Rochelle who is on work placement from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Rochelle joined us for company class as well as observing our (sometimes chaotic) rehearsal process! With all the current company dancers having spent some of their training at Trinity Laban, it was lovely to welcome Rochelle and we hope she enjoyed her time getting a taste of how a small professional dance company works.

The week was also underpinned by the looming result of our bid to become the new leaseholders of Beaufort Theatre & Ballroom, an exciting prospect that could bring in so many more opportunities for the company and the surrounding community.

Watch this space for more information about all that is FFIN DANCE!

Julian x

Virago’s ready to go

Berry's BarWe have just spent the past week finishing off our new work Virago.  A productive and action-packed week including our new season photo shoot with Paul Trask, a work-placement by a lovely dance student from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, an exciting glimpse at our new logo and marketing strap lines designed by company dancer Julian and of course the underlying tension of just under a week to go before we hear about our bid for Beaufort Theatre.
I’m thrilled with Virago, it’s a tale of social injustice: although inspired by Minnie McGuire the most arrested woman in Victorian Wales, its social issues are as relevant today as back then.

 

Threaded through the work are references to the Irish Holocaust, extreme poverty in Ireland and Wales, alcohol abuse, immigration and prostitution.

We are most fortunate to be working alongside author John F Wake whose book The Cruel Streets Revisited has inspired Virago, and who has written the lyrics for the cover song for our work.

The song is composed and performed by Lorraine King especially for us, we hope you love it as much as we do.

So, on to another week, hoping to hear that we have become the new lease holders of The Beaufort Theatre and Ballroom.  More news soon.

sue lewis

 

 

All things new

Winter dance intensives 2016 Image Paul Trask

Winter dance intensives 2016
Image Paul Trask

At the start of the calendar year, our attention turns to planning ahead and realising plans and projects that were made last year.

2017 is going to be a year of big changes for FFIN DANCE if all of our plans come to fruition, mainly our bid for Beaufort Theatre and Ballroom.  We are hoping to take the venue as a community asset transfer from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council: if we are successful we will be bringing a whole new range of services to the community and offering training and volunteering opportunities for the public in catering, arts business and admin, customer care, and more.  So we will see a bigger and busier dance faktry, supplying much-needed services to our community and creating new jobs too.  If you would like more information on how to join us, please get in touch.

The company dancers will be back in the studio in February after a break, and we’ll be finishing off our new full length work, Virago
To kick off the Virago season, we will be attending the launch of John F Wakes’s book The Cruel Streets Revisited next Tuesday 17th January at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff.  The main character of our work Virago is centred around Minnie McGuire who was the most-arrested person in Victorian Wales; she has her own chapter in John’s book!  John and I will be working in collaboration for this project and the book launch sees the start of that journey for 2017

The company will be touring this work from May 2017 and we very much hope you can join us.
I’d like to wish you all a most happy and healthy year ahead, please keep following our progress and sending in your comments and views.

sue lewis

Outreach at its most rewarding

2 of our youngest dancers at Desire To Dance Brynmawr

2 of our youngest dancers at Desire To Dance Brynmawr

The past month has been truly rewarding with our dance faktry projects running concurrently at Brynmawr and Tredegar. Our Desire To Dance Project successfully ran at Tredegar and London last season; together with generous funding from Tai Calon Community Housing, we ran a similar project in Brynmawr for the children of the community in that area. They worked for 4 intensive full days over 2 weekends with Effie, Catrin, Louis and Cariad and produced a lovely piece of work focussing on touch and skin.

At Tredegar Comprehensive School Catrin, Julian and Louis worked with a group of young Performing Arts students to create a piece of work that was choreographed to music written by GCSE Music students from the school. 2 intense evenings from 3.30pm – 8pm were spent making the work.  We facilitated this project with funding from a legacy given to Arts Development at Aneurin Leisure, kindly donated to give young people experience with music and theatre.

The 2 pieces were shown to friends and family at the Annual Dance Showcase organised by Aneurin Leisure Arts Development at The Met Theatre in Abertillery, our home theatre.

Desire To Dance Brynmawr

Desire To Dance Brynmawr

The experiences gained by the children and young people were many, but I think the most valuable things learnt were working together to produce a high quality product and digging dip and finding inner strength especially when exhausted!  Of many evaluations from the project participants who were all wowed by their achievements was a comment to Catrin – “you’ve changed my life” – a lump comes into my throat as I write.

Moving on then, we turn our thoughts to our next outreach project, the Summer Dance School. More about that very soon, please feel free to pass on this flyer to all young people who you think may benefit ..

summer school 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

sue lewis

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

 

True

Weibertreue

Weibertreue

With just over a week to go, I’d like to share the thinking behind my new work for the company – True
It’s a quartet for the whole  company very loosely based on the German folk tale of Weibertreue. At Weinsberg, in Württemberg, on the summit of a hill, remain the ruins of a castle; which is also known by the name of “Weibertreue,” or “Woman’s Faith.” During the Guelph and Ghibelline wars the castle was besieged in 1140  by the Emperor Conrad III., who, in his exasperation at the protracted resistance made by the garrison, vowed to put all the men to the sword, but promised to spare the lives of the women, with the engagement, moreover, that each should be permitted to carry out along with her, her most choice treasure.  “The good women were beside themselves with sorrow that their husbands and children were to be burned alive. Therefore they took counsel with one another and decided that each woman would take her husband and children onto her back and carry them outside the city.  They did just that; each woman took her husband onto her back and her children under her arms and carried them outside the city.

Now the chronicle tells us that when the conquering lord saw this, tears came to his eyes, and he spared the lives of everyone and set the city free as well” *

It’s lovely tale of virtue and cunning.  I’ll be setting this to some exquisite Medieval dance music, which will structure the dance into episodes.  As those who know my work well, the music is the driving force behind my choreography rather than narrative, and I’m very much looking forward to getting into the studio with our 4 dancers who are all exceptional at picking up on musical form and dynamic.  However structure and form aside, there will also be humour and wit involved, making this piece come alive from the pages of history and folklore.

I hope you join us on our True journey
sue lewis

*Source: Martin Montanus, “Ein statt würt gewunnen, daraus die weyber ihre mann und kinder tragen,” Schwankbücher (1557-1566), edited by Johannes Bolte (Tübingen: Gedruckt für den literarischen Verein in Stuttgart, 1899), 80, pp. 341-42.

 

Quite a week

Première of Power Of 3 Tour 2015

Première of Power Of 3 Tour 2015

After having spent a lot of my recent time and energy on our Easter dance faktry festival, it was time this week to pick up the pieces for our Power Of 3 Tour 2015

We open in a few weeks at our home theatre The Met in Abertillery, South Wales UK – an event which pleases me very much.  I’m intensely proud of everything that the company has achieved in the past 10 years in this part of the world.  “Abertillery!” people say, ‘the valleys?” more people say with disdain, but I feel passionately that there is a place for high quality professional dance outside of the major cities (albeit these places are needful too).  We have developed an audience in the valleys as well as other places, for our work which surpasses audience and participation numbers for many other larger companies and will continue to invite guests and collaborative partners to our studio for as long as we can.

The week has seen the release of our teaser video for Catrin’s new piece d-cay, which has been commissioned for us by RE:Act!  It forms part of a 10 minute animated film that accompanies the choreography that will be seen for the first time on May 8th at The Met.  During our production week we will undertaking a series of workshops with local dance schools, working in the evenings and days to further develop new audiences for our work, aiming to help with understanding the work that the young dancers will be seeing at the theatre later that week.  If you’d like a workshop, do get in touch.

Box office for May 8th 01495 355800, tickets are priced £8 and £6 – the theatre has excellent wheelchair and buggy access and provides free booster seats for children at no extra charge.

It would be great if you could come along to opening night, if not, we perform later in May in Holyhead, North Wales then on to London, Oxford and Germany.  See you there!

sue lewis