We are pleased to invite you to our new work by Tess Letham at our home theatre The Beaufort Theatre & Café Bar on April 15th 2023
Traces:we are all just passing by
The work explores concepts of how the memories of those no longer present in our physical lives linger on: how these people have influenced and shaped us. Whether their presence was fleeting or enduring, their traces have become an integral part of our personal histories, like tiles in a mosaic, forming a unique and intricate pattern that makes us who we are. And how we embody these patterns in our present, showing up for those around us in the here and now.
Tess, an Edinburgh based Dance Artist describes her work:
“My creations focus on human experience – constructing both obscure and deeply authentic environments, inviting the audience fully into an intriguing theatrical world. I have spent extensive time studying the methods of Flying Low and Passing Through, created by David Zambrano, a main focus of my teaching practice. I am an ambassador for sharing this work across the UK and further afield. This has also become a vital part of my individual movement practice and philosophical understanding of what dance represents in the wider context of community and culture. Within my whole practice I seek an open and encouraging environment, nurturing the possibility to share, discuss, feedback and discover ideas with others”
Tess trained first at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, then went on to Northern Contemporary Dance securing a prized Post Graduate apprenticeship with Motion House. Her creations focus on human experiences – constructing both obscure and deeply authentic environments, inviting the audience fully into an intriguing theatrical world. Having spent extensive time studying the methods of Flying Low and Passing Through created by David Zambrano, Tess is an ambassador for sharing this work across the UK and further afield.
We start our creative period on Monday January 30th with Tess and our company dancers Catrin, Georgina and Louis Louis has joined us for his first season as a professional dancer with FFIN DANCE having previously danced with us as a child and then a youth in our community classes and more latterly as a valued member of our teaching team.
The process for the new creation will unite a specific movement practice together with narratives developed through improvisational exercises that explore physical storytelling. The narratives within the work will be created from solo, partner and group exercises and tools which focus on the physicality of clarity and memory, character and states, transformation and instant adaption, presence, breaking habitual performance tendencies, and encouragement to explore alternative/atypical dynamics and interactions. The work will explore characterisation, blending physical theatre, dance and storytelling to create a landscape of imagination and surprise.
The company dancers will be working alongside Tess to create the new piece which will be premièred on April 15th 2023 (please see here for tickets) We then tour the work which will be accompanied by a full community workshop package for schools and groups. Please contact Catrin firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
Like many of us who work in the arts sector, we feel that for the past few years, we have been reinventing the wheel. Finally, we are getting back to doing what we love – creating, producing, performing. FFIN DANCE has fortunately worked through the past few years, teaching and creating dance online at all levels: community classes, outreach projects and have also produced 4 new professional works which begin touring in July 2022. We start at one of our best loved performance spaces – Canolfan Ucheldre.
HIRAETH is a programme which has a special meaning for us all, a longing to return to much loved place. It consists of a series of 3 independent duets created by our company dancers Georgina, Julian and Catrin coupled with fourfold, a new piece choreographed for us by Welsh choreographer Liam Riddick This piece started life as a research & development project during the dark depths of lockdown: we undertook this on Zoom, each of us in our own homes. We were fortunate to be awarded support from the Arts Council of Wales to create our best work to share and engage with communities.
Funded by the Gwent PCC, we have been undertaking Dance & Enhance, a very large project with the community in Blaenau Gwent. Our outreach teachers have been working outdoors with groups of children and young people to intervene at an early stage preventing anti-social behaviour patterns.
Our dance faktry is now fully operational back in our ballroom studio at The Beaufort Theatre & Café Bar. At Easter 2022 we were delighted to be back on stage with all of our community classes, partner groups from the community and we also premièred fourfold with the professional company in front of one of the biggest audiences we have had for many years!
On a personal level, I lost my mother. An enigma, totally unique and beautiful in every which way, passed away sweetly at our family home in Tredegar aged 97. She was inspiring to her last breath.
So new chapters, new pastures and new experiences for us all. That’s where I’m at …
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 email@example.com 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!