Emigrated?

beaufortmavenproblackIn my absence from blogging, you may have thought that I had emigrated or left the planet, and in a way I have.
If you’ve been following the company escapades on Twitter and Facebook, you will know that we have moved in to The Beaufort Theatre in Ebbw Vale and taken over the management of the venue from the Borough Council of Blaenau Gwent. We have been there since the beginning of April and our energies have been spent on getting together a full volunteers programme, a rolling programme of community theatre events and of course establishing a café bar opening throughout the day serving the community with excellent food and drinks at competitive prices. Quite a tall order you may say; and yes it has been.

Well, 6 weeks later and we can boast all the above and more.  We have been joined by 2 Volunteers Coordinators,supported by funding from The Coalfields Regeneration Fund – Jocelyn and Sharon, who are building a great team of volunteers to work with us.

Kahve logoWe also have a new Catering and Bar Manager, Bülent Dilek-Karaosmanoglu who has brought his own excellent brand of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine to our café with the inventive and delicious Kahve Café Bar. Kahve is the proud recipient of the Wales Food Awards Finalist position, opening from 10am-5pm from Monday to Saturday at Kahve @The Beaufort

In addition to this, we have opened our new show Virago at The Met Theatre in Abertillery and  we’re in the process of planning our next shows at Highgate School, London and The Sanctuary with Zoo Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Please follow our progress, and we hope you can join us in seeing this most special show.

We have been working with a group of children and young people in Blaenau Gwent with the support of Aneurin Leisure and the Arts Council of Wales in a dance engagement project. Our company dancers, led by Catrin and Julian, have been engaged in a number of intensive workshops, to create a piece of work which opened our performance as a curtain raiser.  We were thrilled with both the process and the end result, some great creativity and commitment demonstrated at every workshop.  The audience was thrilled too.  Well done to all!

We are just about feeling comfy with our developments and the growth of the company and welcome you to our new home.  Please drop by and have a coffee, a drink, a light bite or a lunch with us, you will be sure of a good welcome and excellent quality refreshment.

See you soon….

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

Winter dance faktry festival 2016

3-amigosAs the glorious autumn days roll by, it’s time to turn our thoughts to winter time, and of course for us here at FFIN DANCE, the winter dance faktry festival.

This is when we bring all of our community and outreach groups together and share the new term’s work with family and friends.
We also have guests groups that we have worked with over the year and the professional dancers/dance graduates who have attended our winter intensives course during the week of the festival. It really is a joy to share the work of these emerging artists ranging from 4 years olds to professionally trained dancers all in the same show.  Held at The Met, our resident theatre in Abertillery, we combine all the groups in a friendly and supportive festival atmosphere with no competitive edge: all of the dancers at the festival get to watch the other dancers which we feel is a vital part of our outreach, we believe that the routes for progression from beginners to full graduate training need to be shown to young people to raise an awareness that dance can be a career, a way of life and not just a hobby.  We strive for excellence even at a young age.

We hope that you can join us in what will be a lovely occasion on November 12th 2016 at 7.30pm, here’s the ticket line.  If you’re a new-comer to our festivals please stick around to say hello, we’d love to meet you.

sue lewis

Moving On

As the company moves on into its second decade, we have plans to expand in a variety of different ways, one of which includes the expansion of our Board of Trustees.
We are delighted that Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE has joined us as Patron and Andrew Tuggey CBE is our Company Champion.

Here’s a little more about them:

Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE

Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE

Brigadier Aitken is currently Lord Lieutenant of Gwent and has lived in Gwent since childhood.  Following a choral scholarship to Oxford, Brigadier Aitken was commissioned in the Royal Regiment of Wales. He had a distinguished military career lasting 34 years during which time he was awarded a CBE.
He is currently the Director of Music in Hospitals Cymru/Wales, a charity that provides live music events in healthcare settings. He is an Officer of the Order of St John Cymru, and chairman of 3 military charitable trusts. He is also Honorary Colonel of Gwent and Powys Army Cadet Force.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Tuggey CBE

Andrew Tuggey CBE

Andrew Tuggey CBE is Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK’s Chief Executive & Secretary; he also is Secretary of the CPA British Islands & Mediterranean Region. Highly experienced in international outreach, parliamentary strengthening and parliamentary diplomacy, he served in the Army prior to his current appointment, latterly as a Defence diplomat with the FCO. Andrew has a BSc (Eng) and speaks French, German, Malay and Nepalese. He served as High Sheriff of Gwent and is currently a Vice Lord Lieutenant (VLL) in Gwent

We are seeking offers from the community for other Trustees, please contact us by e mail info@ffindance.co.uk
More of our new ventures to follow.

sue lewis

 

A fond farewell

Missing Pages Photo Paul Trask

Missing Pages
Photo Paul Trask

It seems fitting somehow to say “cheerio” to our senior dancer Effie, after such a successful run of events to celebrate our 10th anniversary season. Our season will continue into the spring of 2017 with new dancer Sarah joining Catrin, Natasha and Julian, whilst Effie is moving on to pastures new.
Effie has been with the company for 5 years, having met us at our Winter Intensives.  We were so impressed with her that we offered her a place to learn some of Gary Lambert’s work for the company, to replace Lucille Tappa in Synapsequence.

Effie has created and danced many lovely roles for the company over the years, but I think it was Missing Pages, that really brought out her lyricism and technique more than any other.

Effie has been a wonderful workshop leader and teacher too, with her quirky ways of motivating children and young people; especially noteworthy is her “bananas of the world unite” and her numerical jogging pattern warm ups. We will miss her zany music in professional class, Dr Who will never be the same again!

The image by Paul Trask that is featured above, carries a story, I’m sure that Effie won’t mind me sharing it.  The company was in Llanhilleth Wales, shooting some images for our tour Inspired: Paul wanted to shoot somewhere local and out of the studio.  This obviously caused a bit of a stir in the village and gathered quite a lot of spectators who were generally supportive and also inquisitive. After a little while, word got around and we were hailed with some children shouting “come over here boys, there’s a stripper down by the railway station” The photo above and some others too, were the culprits of this mistaken identity. We laughed about that one for quite a time, as you can imagine.

So finally it’s time to say a very fond farewell.  We wish Effie well in her future pursuits and will miss her tremendously as a wonderful dancer and warm, faithful friend.  Please keep in touch.

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

A perfect match

Sarah pic 4Hello everyone, I’d like introduce myself so here’s my first blog for the company.

From watching Ffin Dance’s work, I was really drawn to their beautiful, technically driven movement vocabulary and for me, dancing is as much about art and creativity as it is about athleticism and physicality. I am really excited about the prospects of working with Ffin and I am looking forward to working with the team to expand my knowledge and skills as a professional dancer.  Alongside working as a professional dancer, I also own my own Beauty business in the heart of Cardiff called Precision Beauty.

 

I love being my own boss, its challenging yet very rewarding and allows me the flexibility to have two very different careers alongside one another. I couldn’t ask for more! Please feel free to have a look at my working biography by following this link.

Looking forward to meeting you all.
Sarah

The beginning of the end…

FFIN DANCE Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Image Paul Trask

…and the end of the beginning! Friday saw us open our new triple bill at our home theatre in Abertillery. This season is aptly named t e n as it marks the company’s tenth anniversary year; it also marks my fifth and final season with Ffin.

As you would expect, over the past five seasons some things have stayed the same (my pink jumper makes an appearance every show day!) while many things have changed or developed over time (not least the length of my hair or the Heads of the Valleys road!).

Friday was an interesting one – it was the opening night of our tour and yet my last performance at the Met, an evening of beginnings and endings all in one! It was the first time we were letting the new bill fly and transition from being in the studio to stage – where a piece really starts to find its own existence.  It’s akin to that sense you don’t really start learning how to drive until you’ve passed your test and are in a car by yourself on the roads.

I think because of the newness of the work, I didn’t have time to dwell on it being a last of something as well, which is probably for the better! The last time that we performed Missing Pages in 2013 (a piece which all season had felt very special) I put too much pressure on myself to really make the most of it and actually came away not having enjoyed myself as I would have liked in its final outing.

Recently, I listened to a radio programme called ‘A Dancer Dies Twice’ and it got me thinking about whether I would I prefer to know and plan when my last ever performance comes, or to realise after the event that my last performance had already been. I’m still not sure, but for now I shall continue with t e n until July and fingers crossed both Ffin and I will continue to enjoy plenty of performances after we part ways.

Effie :-)