And so the pages close

Hello everyone!

IMG_1264Well, it certainly has been an incredible this year which culminated in our recent trip to the wonderful setting of Burg Namedy, Germany, where once again we were greeted with open arms, a warm reception from both the household staff and the audience members for our two performances. Both of which were sell out performances. The space, a beautiful hall of mirrors, presented a unique challenge as a performance setting, as the space provides an ‘in the round’ feeling so a true front didn’t exist. This was quite the challenge as we had to chance various facings so that all of the audience could have a unique view without feeling neglected. It also proved exciting, yet quite tricky at first, for us as dancers as it kept us on our toes and heightend the need to support each other throughout each piece, through the unison sections to acknowledging each other in the space throughout various points within each piece. I felt this most acutely throughout our 3rd piece, Axiom Tangent, as the whole majority of the piece consisted of double duets in unison, and so required a lot of mutual support, spacial acknowledgment and continuous focal intention between each couple.

It was also wonderful to see Ben Craft again, who we hope to work with in the next year or so, who brought along two of his students who performed a beautiful statuesque duet. Taking ideas from his solo performance last year, his students used one of the rooms within the castle that housed old suits of armour and animal skins which gave an ancient, dark and regal atmosphere to their piece. This was combined with a soundscape by Ben using a variety of different sounds hidden from the audience alongside a beautiful accompaniment by bass player Bart Tarenskeen, a close friend of Ben’s.

Of the two pieces i have toured this season within the triple bill, I have felt most affection for Missing Pages, a beautiful and telling piece which takes inspiration from a war time short story which was then accompanied by the luscious sonata by Ravel. It seems only yesterday, when in fact it was almost a year ago, that we began exploring aspects of the story to inform our own story and to search for our own missing pages. My duet partner (in both pieces) Effie has been truly inspirational this season. I feel we have truly connected as a couple and have learnt a lot about ourselves and each other as both artists and people. Over the course of the season, i feel we have grounded each other, learnt to listen to each others movement language and cemented a lasting working relationship.

In addition it has been a privilege this year to once again work alongside Megan and Catrin, who once again joined us in Germany to replace a cast member within Axiom. Catrin herself worked incredible hard under pressure and within a short time frame to learn her parts within the piece alongside Megan as her duet partner. A huge credit to both.

It has also been lovely this year to have worked alongside Adam throughout the majority of the season. He brought a unique and powerful atmosphere to the company, and it was nice to have another male within the company for some banter 😉 I wish him all the best.

As i sit here writing this, with a very large cup of tea, i am now looking forward to the coming 2014 season. I am looking forward to getting back into the studio in the autumn and start getting the creative juices flowing again. Until then………….ttfn

Mike 🙂

Homeward Bound

IMG_2869So the FFIN team have reached the end of the Inspired Tour 2013 and what a journey it has been. I think it’s safe to say that all the members have had an enriching time.
We performed twice in Germany, selling out on both evenings. The evening consisted of our triple bill plus a piece choreographed by Ben Craft and performed by two of his students. Ben took inspiration from his time in Namedy last year to create a piece based around the many artifacts of the castle. As well as choreographing, Ben played a live score along with fellow musician Bart Tarenskeen. What resulted was an interesting collaboration between dancers and musicians.
Both of the evenings went well for the FFIN -ners. The pieces all sit quite comfortably on us now, even with all the new and sometimes confusing facings, that we can really indulge in the material and revisit some of the finer details that may have been lost along the way.
For Missing Pages it was revisiting the original stories that we had way back in September last year that we used to generate material. This was something I had to work quite hard on as I am now without my partner for the majority of the piece. In order for the piece to make sense as a whole I had to create another missing page, so to speak, to allow my story to develop through the piece.
With my solo Degrees of Freedom I was looking to refine the different dynamic contrasts and how I could use the new facings to maximum effect. The whole solo is very sculptural and multi faceted so I wanted to make sure that really worked and pushed the material to its full potential. I feel very privelledged to be dancing this solo as I know that it was very close to Gary’s heart and I hope that I did it justice.
Axiom Tangent has always proved to be a bit of a tricky one to master. With a new cast member it was important that we worked as a team. The majority of the piece is a series of contact duets in unison. Unison being quite hard at the best of times let alone when you’re trying to lift another person! I think this is the piece that grew the most over the time in Germany and it is a credit to Cat that she was able to step in and learn a difficult piece and to then perform with relatively little rehearsal time.
The German audience were very appreciative. They were open and receptive to the work and it was a pleasure to perform to them.
It’s been an amazing experience to share with such talented artists. I’ve learnt a lot over the past four days which I look forward to taking into my working life.
As I write we’re currently driving home. No idea of the location but I can’t wait to get to the ferry for a g&t.

Last UK date of Inspired Tour 2013

Our last UK tour date for our current triple bill of dance ~ Inspired will be Thursday 6th June at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

The show starts at 7.30pm, tickets priced £10, £8.  Please follow this link for booking

poster Inspired

Show on the road…

FFIN DANCE Missing Pages Image Paul Trask

Missing Pages
Image Paul Trask

Phew, what a rollercoaster of a week getting our first performances of the Inspired tour under our belts. Last week saw us swap roles with Gary on the travelling front as we ventured from our base in Abertillery down to Laban Theatre, London for opening night.

We had the luxury of 2 days to prepare, with a studio assigned to us at first while technical preparations got underway in the Bonnie Bird Theatre. The stage space at Laban is amazing to dance in – there is so much room which means movement material can really be stretched to its full potential in order to eat up the space.

For Missing Pages here, we used a gauze for the first section so there was a dream-like, distant impression for the audience and equally for us there was this sensation of separation from the audience – certainly tying in with some of our ideas from the creation period of sitting in a train carriage with the world passing by outside the window and being lost in your own world. Sometimes when you first create and perform a piece it can feel like a memory test going through the motions to get from start to finish, however, Missing Pages has developed far beyond this stage already for me and I was able to garner a real sense of enjoyment and find a new sense of sincerity in bringing it up to performance level.

In terms of Axiom Tangent, the lighting is really integral to marry up with the movement material in order to create a cohesive whole and this certainly took some getting used to at Laban. Also when you are in the space trying to work the lights, there is a very different sensation as a performer to what comes across to the audience – it has been really useful to see video clips as to the effect being created from the front. (If you haven’t already checked them out, there are few snippets of Axiom online so go, go, go!) What is really striking though is that despite working mainly with Mike in both pieces there is an incredible difference and so going into Axiom our partnership feels very fresh even after performing Missing Pages together.

Tuesday saw our first Welsh performance date at Coleg Morgannwg and with one day to get in and perform it is so important for us to arrive with our Ffin heads firmly in place! Mark Read, our production manager, had a lot of work to do in converting the space ready for us to perform and we needed to recalibrate in order to figure out adaptations in spacing – so it was all systems go from the offset. Certainly this was a much more intimate space to perform in and the proximity of the audience was obvious. One of the most interesting challenges was having to negotiate the fluorescent lighting strips which hung down in the space for Axiom, spatial awareness was definitely a must to weave in and out of them even at my measly height! Adding a bit of drama to the evening, the fire alarms were set off by the haze (thankfully during the interval) so the building had to be evacuated while a fire engine and crew arrived.

Next off we’re venturing up to Holyhead today, leading workshops to create a curtain-raiser for our performance at Ucheldre. Oh and I’m definitely going to remember to pack my hairspray this time!!

Effie 🙂

Jumbling and Juggling….

FFIN DANCE Photo Simon Scott 2012

Photo Simon Scott 2012

Wow, so we’re already nearing the end of this rehearsal period ready to get the Inspired tour on the road – the time has flown by. What has really struck me during this rehearsal period is how much we have had to keep juggling all of our balls in the air – it’s been a consummate effort for both minds and bodies switching between class, Missing Pages, Axiom Tangent and back again – hence the lack of blogging activity! Meg has to cope with rehearsing Degrees of Freedom on top of all of this and I really respect the sterling job she is doing (although how she is managing is beyond me – I get home of an evening and am completely physically and mentally spent as it is!).

What is incredibly evident though, in terms of being most economical and productive with time, is how much we all have to pull together as team. As Gary pointed out today, we all need to work to our own strengths and attribute different roles between ourselves – it is this sense of sharing out the workload which allows us to function.

Having learnt the mechanics of the duets for Axiom Tangent last week, we have begun setting spatial relationships and timing this week. Picking up the counts was seeming like a big ask at first but it highlighted the importance for us to trust Gary with the counting and get on with the dancing ourselves, allowing the nature of repetition to help the counts to settle and pick out important ‘marker points’ to count from.

Outside of the studio, I have been sharing lifts with Adam this week and for me this has been a really conducive part of the process. During our journey, we have just enough time to get in the mind-set to tackle the day ahead or reflect on how it has gone, bringing a sense closure to the day. It is so useful to share this discussion with someone who is going through the same process and gives us a moment to allay some of each other’s concerns. Big thanks to Adam on this front.

I am very humbled to be working with Sue, Gary, Mike, Meg and Adam – here’s to teamwork and pushing on through with rehearsals – very excited with how everything is coming together.

Effie 🙂

Axiom Tangent Taking Shape

Missing Pages Photo Paul Trask

Missing Pages
Photo Paul Trask

The arrival of our associate choreographer Gary Lambert met with a great air of excitement and anticipation.

We began work on Gary’s new work Axiom Tangent this week and it’s fantastic!  For the past 2 days the dancers have been working on some double duets, which will form a large part of the total material for the complete work.  The work is exceptionally physical and the dancers are digging deep working long hours with tough lifts and partner work.

Today we start on a larger group phrase, I’m sure that the dancers will enjoy the meaty phrase that Gary has prepared for them.

I have the privilege and pleasure of hosting Gary and our guest technique teacher Ben Craft at my cottage.  The tales that Ben and Gary share with me about their days together as children at The Royal Ballet School and later as colleagues together in Rambert Dance and Small Axe are worthy of published biographies – it’s like a living history of dance, with some hilarious stories thrown in.

We have guests with us in company class this week, which is always a pleasure – we hope that they are enjoying being taught by master teacher Ben.

Snowing at the moment in the Welsh valleys, completing a marvelous time that we are all experiencing.

Dancers blogs to follow, please join us

sue lewis





7 days and counting

Laura Mumby Photography

Just one week to go and terribly excited!
Getting back into the studio after a little time away is such a pleasure, having spent the last  2 months planning our spring tour and facilitating the Winter Dance Faktry Festival, it’s great to get back in the studio with the dancers, joined by our Associate Choreographer Gary Lambert and guest teacher Ben Craft*

Having created my new work for the company Missing Pages, before Christmas, we now turn our attentions to Gary’s 2 pieces which form the triple bill for Inspired – Degrees of Freedom and Axiom Tangent.

We’ll be blogging constantly during our weeks in the studio, with inside information about the pieces and also the process.
We have guests in company class with us too, and an under graduate dance student Dan with us on work placement.  Full house.

Hope you can join us and follow our progress

*Ben Craft is a freelance dance artist based now in The Netherlands, trained at The Royal Ballet School.  Ben created and performed solo dance roles with Rambert Dance, Béjart Ballet, Michael Clark and Small Axe and has taught and choreographed widely in the UK and Europe.

For more details on how to apply for our Easter Intensive 2013 and company class please e mail Megan at

sue lewis

Number Stations

The idea behind the music for Gary Lambert’s Axiom Tangent sprang from some audio clips I found of Number Stations.

Number Stations are a fascinating leftover from the Cold War. Most countries had a secret radio transmitter that broadcast series of numbers, often using a computerised voice, to spies in the field.

No one has ever successfully decoded a transmission, and no government has admitted to using this technology. I was particularly struck by one station, thought to be from East Germany that still broadcasts daily. It appears to be fully automated, as it plays the same recording over and over again, and the tape has been gradually degrading and stretching over the last 30 years.

I was fascinated by the image of this now forgotten machine, in a cupboard in some government building in the now unified Germany, quietly doing its duty for a country that no longer exists.

The idea of the sound gradually stretching was the basis for one of the other sections. Using software I stretched out pre-existing music without dropping the pitch. This stretched out music becomes unrecognizable and turns into weirdly beautiful ambient sound. I took some of the worst pop tunes I could find, and stretched them out to about an hour long.

I’m really looking forward to seeing where FFIN DANCE and Gary take Axiom Tangent

Oli Newman


All Change

Yesterday saw a change of direction for the dancers as they travelled from Wales to London to work with Gary Lambert spending a day rehearsing Synapsequence.  Next week we will be performing Synapsequence and Five Dances at the DanceLive 2012 Contemporary Dance Festival in Aberdeen.

The company has been in the studio for the past month making Missing Pages with me, so it was a complete head and body change for them to do Synapsequence.  As always, working with Gary was a pleasure and a joy.  Gary works with us again in February 2013 creating a solo for company dancer Megan entitled Degrees of Freedom together with a new ensemble for our 4 dancers, Axiom Tangent.

We are really looking forward to performing in Aberdeen next Tuesday, a first for all of us.  The Festival opening this week with Andy Howitt’s piece Deliberance, which received rave reviews.  We are hoping to make new contacts and friends and start building a Scottish following for FFIN DANCE

And so on to today – planning Half Term Holiday Dance Club, the Winter Dance Faktry Festival, Winter Intensives and tour booking.

Hope to see you next week Tuesday 23rd October at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, it’s going to be a great night.  Tickets £7.50

sue lewis