What a marvellous 2 weeks we have just spent in the studio with choreographer Liam Riddick creating our new work for FFIN DANCE titled The Three Sections
The piece is a 15 minute dance work which is inspired by Steve Reich’s orchestral work (1987) titled The Four Sections. The musical score is an exceptional example of “interlocking of similar instruments to produce a contrapuntal web filled with resulting melodic patterns” Steve Reich
Liam has taken three sections of the music and woven together solos, duets and trios for the three company dancers, that interlock and produce a counterpoint in movement bearing a parity to that of the score. Here’s a short film of Liam speaking with me about the work.
You may ask how we did all this through lock down! Zoom of course. Each day the dancers took class as we would in the studio, but in their own homes. We then began the enormous task of creating an online creative symbience across the miles. It was odd at first. The dancers needing to use screen vision instead of peripheral vision, allowing for a slight time delay in sound, dealing with poor wi fi connections on times but by the end of our studio time together, we actually felt as if we were in the same room as each other. It’s pretty amazing what you can achieve with the passion and hard work that dancers possess. I am incredibly proud of them.
The Three Sections is not a dance piece for film. It’s made online, but not a dance film. We have a very clear idea where we want to take this work and over the next few months we are going to be sharing more and more of this work with you. In the meantime, here’s a little glimpse of a live stream that we made of Liam working with Catrin, Julian and Georgina
As we move further towards life back in the normal lane, I take the time to reflect on how things have been over the past few months during lockdown. We have been most fortunate to get support from The National Lottery Community Fund, Community Foundation in Wales and more recently from GAVO to keep in touch with our community and find new ways of working together.
Children and young people from our dance faktry have written and sent postcards to members of the community who have been self isolating, those who have been in hospital, those who may have needed a bit of “cheering up” and those who are alone.
Our company dancers and teachers have filmed dance classes and exercises to do at home and they have been posted on social media. We are now in our ninth week of online dance classes via Zoom, having taught 30 classes in that time. The classes are free for the community and we have had some wonderful feedback from parents and the young people themselves.
I think that we are one of the first professional dance companies in the UK to announce our virtual summer dance school. This is free to participants of all ages and abilities and will involve the creation of a new dance film to be screened on August 7th.
We have plans to reopen our café with a take away service as our first step to resuming activity in our beloved Beaufort Theatre
We have found new ways of working and will continue to do that, already we have found that many things can be done differently to good effect.
However, nothing can take away the feeling of being together in a studio – creating, learning, dancing together. Nothing can be as good as the thrill of seeing our Main House full of people coming to watch live performances, maybe for the first time. Nothing can beat the feeling of family that we have at FFIN DANCE
We hope that we will all be together again soon, in whatever way the new normal dictates. Stay safe everyone and keep dancing …
It’s been almost 3 years since we took over the management of The Beaufort Theatre, and I’m delighted to to tell you that we’re going from strength to strength.
I’d like to introduce you to our latest partner Lybec Arts Performing Academy who has become artist in residence with us. We are delighted to welcome the Academy to The Beaufort. Lybec Arts is a qualifications academy offering weekly skills development in a range of performance pathways, all groups are fully subscribed at the moment with new students able to apply in the summer term.
Image Paul Trask
Our dance faktry classes are an absolute joy! The recent winter dance faktry festival provided an opportunity for our children and young people to showcase the work that they had created throughout the term. The young dancers also got the opportunity to watch each other which is always a most valued and valuable experience. The High Sheriff of Gwent came along to the event and was thrilled to see such energy and commitment.
It’s been a few years since we toured our professional work as our priority has been establishing a stronghold in our own community, however now we are firmly bedded in, we will be touring to Holyhead in North Wales next month. Canolfan Ucheldre has always been one of our favourite places to show our work and we get a great welcome on the island. We will also be working with community groups including the Barton Dance & Drama Academy with whom we have had a strong working relationship for many years now. We will be making a curtain raiser performance for the students to perform with us. We are hoping to make new friends too with other community groups of all ages.
On a personal level, I’m happy to say that I can now see properly after having cataract surgery. One of my greatest joys is that I can now see the faces of the children whom I teach and see the expressions on their faces in dance class. I am most grateful to the fantastic team at Emersons Green Treatment Centre in Bristol for this miracle.
Now that I am able to see to complete more extended writing, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me. Thank you for sharing my FFIN experiences with me, see you in Holyhead …
Our Summer Dance School this year will take place at our home base, The Beaufort Theatre in Ebbw Vale. It starts on July 29th and will conclude with a showcase evening performance on Friday 2nd August at 7pm
There are 2 age group categories this year – Junior (age 7-13) and Senior (13 – adult) with a fee of £50.
If you would like to be part of this super opportunity, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form. Here’s some snaps by Paul Trask of our groups last summer –
After a few aches and pains it was time to crack on with day two of production week! The collaborative work between FFIN DANCE and The Beaufort Theatre is the foundation for the work we do day to day at the Beaufort and today was no different.
As a community-led building we are forever hosting young people and with Santa heading our way later this December it was time for Sam, The Beaufort Theatre’s Catering Operative and myself to get crafty! A morning making Reindeer Dust is hard to beat!
Then it was all systems go! The company dancers arrive and after the coffees and mini morning meetings, I was once again thrown into Georgina’s Class. The second day of a class always seems to feel just right!, the exercises have settled and it’s time to sweat! A class full of tilts, swings and floor work is a winner in my book! At the end of last class Georgina had presented us with a mighty phrase that would take a week to tackle! Second time round was just as fun and to keep us pushing it was time for the second side. Whilst the dancers spent some time rehearsing their newest work ‘An Inspector Calls’ choreographed by Sue Lewis, I got back to work.
FFIN DANCE has pioneered the way for high quality dance education in the south Wales area for many years and it’s important for us to ensure that the festival presents not only opportunity to perform but to learn. The invited guests bring a brand new type of training and performance so I think its really important that the young dancers get to watch each others’ work. Finalising the running order and programme was my main focus for the day and before I knew if it was time to get moving again. Tonight marks the start our of Headliner project. Headliner is a collaborative project, very much in the spirit of the faktry festival bringing professional and youth dancers together to create a brand new work for this years performance. Led by the FFIN DANCE professional dancers, we started out with a technique class lead by Julian. It was great to start the project pushing ourselves technically. The project pulls dancers from nearly all of the faktry classes all bringing a different approach to their work. After learning a phrase for the work, it was clear that this project provides challenges for all types of dancers. We finished the evening with a great creative task pulling reference from Julian’s phrase, we were asked to create a solo influenced by the movement but also by the overarching theme of the work; exploring speed. Day two was fab!
Its PRODUCTION WEEK!
After a long term of creativity and technical training, production week has finally arrived. This is always one of my favourites times of year, bringing the faktry and the company together for a real celebration of the work that has been undertaken in this last season.
Winter Dance Faktry Festival 2018 has been curated by the ffin team as a display of the highlights of this term’s exciting work and a presentation of the whole community. ffin dance presents also showcases the work of local dance and performance schools in a joyous celebration in our home theatre, The Beaufort.
Monday didn’t know what hit it! It was great to be back in the studio this morning with the company for professional class. The company’s newest professional dancer, Georgina always brings new energy and her class is no different. What a wicked way to start our day.
Leaving the company to it, it was time to get back to work. The Faktry never stops. The Beaufort Theatre is a great space to work and the café is one of my favourite parts of the building. I spent a good portion of the day finalising my lighting plans for the work that I am sharing in this years festival. Leading the teaching and choreography at the Abertillery Faktry classes this term has been a real treat for me, getting to work with some fantastic young people always gives me a Monday evening buzz!! Takes me back to the old Move days!
Nothing finishes a good afternoon’s work than a flat white! The coffee here is incredible! After creating some really interesting lighting designs it was time to teach. Tonight was the last rehearsal session for my groups and they really rose to the occasion and if these classes are anything to go by this week will be another great festival week.
Day 5 has been an absolute delight. We have spent time today in the studio piecing together the duets in Act 2 working on the all-important transitions that add coherence and meaning (sometimes esoteric) to the overall structure of the work. We have spent time filming Acts 1 and 2 in readiness for when we come back to the continuation of it and the completion of Act 3 and ultimately finish the piece ready for production.
What a luxury it is to have R&D time to explore ideas and let the muse guide you in your thoughts and processes – oh to have this more regularly!
Wishing you all a happy weekend, and see you on Monday for more ramblings on Crib.
Good evening everyone.
Day 4 in the studio making my new work for the company, based on the themes in Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls.
The emphasis today was finding the musicality in the sublime The Lark Ascendingcomposed by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Each duet in Act 2 has varying textures and intentions that we explored through music today. We have taken on the sequencing of the chronological order of events as described by Inspector Goole in the play – the resulting duets are stunning. The dancers have made them their own and are really something most special.
Tomorrow sees the last day for R&D An Inspector Calls, more about that next week.
I hope to shoot some film tomorrow to share with you some little snippets. See you then!
Hello again. Today was all about focussing on the remaining duets that I have set which explore the various relationships that the main characters of the play undertake with the victim – Eva/Daisy.
Goole of course points out that each one of the characters has in turn (collectively) contributed to Eva’s suicide. I also needed to set Act 1 soliloquies to the divine Elgar Enigma Variation 10, Nimrod. Take a look at the full score here – Nimrod-from-Enigma-Variations-Full-Score.
The dancers and I looked at simplicity in content for each of the duets, which we felt would be a good ground from which to start weaving together the phrasing of Act 2. I think that Priestley’s point is that we don’t address our guilt until it’s pointed out to us that even our very small negative actions when multiplied by everyone else’s small actions can congregate into a catastrophic effect that only has that effect because it’s multiplied. A bit like the old advert on TV “my one little wrapper won’t do any harm!”
Tomorrow sees the introduction of the sublime The Lark Ascending by Vaughann-Williams
Please join us tomorrow for more Inspector shenanigans…