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.
Meg

Jumbling and Juggling….

FFIN DANCE Photo Simon Scott 2012

FFIN DANCE
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 🙂

What a week :)

FFIN DANCE Image by Simon Scott 2012

FFIN DANCE
Image by Simon Scott 2012

Hi everyone,

Its been a while and this week so far has certainly been a busy one and as soon as I get home my brain just goes ahhhhhh. But here we go……

It has been so nice to be back in the studio after the Christmas period and to start working on our new pieces with our associate choreographer Gary Lambert. The first is a group ensemble and the second is a solo for company dancer Megan. I’m looking forward to seeing her work with the material, and the small snippets I have seen her rehearsing look very interesting.

Over the last few days we have been learning a vast amount of duet material and some ensemble phrases which have been quite taxing on the brain but incredibly exciting. The duets are full of athletic lifts (which are making several muscles ache lol) and moments of small interactions. Its also been interesting revisiting Gary’s notion of ‘paralysis of analysis’, his dynamic approach to movement, his eye for detail and his utter passion for his art.

With regard to the new duets we have been learning, Gary has been instilling into us to have the calmness and smooth quality that marking material can bring yet still executing clarity,form and articulation when moving at a fast pace. A contradiction but a fascinating one. The group phrasing is meaty, fast and dynamic, and is going to be fun having to develop it 🙂

In addition, this week we have had the pleasure (more than I can truly express) this week of having our company class being led by the lovely Ben Craft, a close friend and fellow Royal Ballet school mate of Gary.   To be taught and to learn from all of Ben’s many years of experience in many different dance and somatic forms has been beyond a privilege. Its going to be very sad when he returns to Arnhem, Netherlands.

Our first week is almost over and we still have a lot to do but let’s meet the challenge head on 🙂

Off to write up some notes from the past few days before next week as my computer has not been my closest friend of late.

Till next time

Mike

 

 

Back in the studio…

_FFD7065-EditSo we are now nearing the end of our first week of studio time with Gary Lambert recreating his work Axiom Tangent ready for the Inspired triple bill. Each morning has also seen us take class with Ben Craft, who has travelled all the way from Arnhem to work with us.

This is certainly a treat, not only in terms of the wealth of dancing knowledge that Ben is sharing but also as it gives us a little bit of respite from planning/ leading classes for each other in addition to our jam-packed day of rehearsal!

One of the approaches that Ben uses has been to teach a simple phrase which can be repeated alternating between sides (right and left); once we know the movement he gives us several different directional facings in which to dance the material. This means that we have to really keep our minds in gear and be thinking ahead as to where we are facing next, it is easy to get confused in the middle of a phrase. I think this learning device has been a really useful challenge – it has helped me to build in coping mechanisms whereby even if I do make a mistake, as long as I stay calm, I can quickly adapt and correct myself using visual clues from the space around me and the other dancers. This is also handy for the rehearsal process with Gary as there are lots of repeated variations of phrases to learn often with a sneaky change of facing to catch us out!

In terms of the studio time we have with Gary, it is a very different process compared with last year working on Synapsequence – this time around we are recreating a pre-existing choreography of Gary’s and so must use video footage to learn the material we will be dancing. This in itself demands a very different skill set from us  – rather than generating material on our own bodies, we are having to pick up as much detail as we can from the videos (slow-motion playback is particularly handy!) before transferring this into physical information.

Within the piece, there is a lot of duet work and for the most part we are working within the same partnerships that we established in Missing Pages during our last rehearsal period. In Missing Pages rehearsals, Mike and I had to learn several of Adam and Meg’s duets and vice versa so we have already had some experience of learning and adapting material to work in our partnerships. What I have found really interesting in our current studio practice, reconstructing duets from video, is how much more quickly Mike and I have been able to make connections more organic between us allowing the duet material to find a flow. Part of the reason for this is that we are all in the same boat – it is not a case of Meg and Adam already having created their duet and being familiar with it before we try to pick it up. When this was the case, there was always a sense of looking over to Meg and Adam for clarifications – it felt like we were paying more attention to them than each other and as a consequence would miss the real sense of combined momentum by not focussing on one another. Certainly reconstructing from video has been a lot of work for our minds and bodies but I feel that there has been a really positive impact on how Mike and I are relating to each other as dancers.

Now, onto our final day of the week…

Effie 🙂

Masters At Work

Laura Mumby Photography

Laura Mumby Photography

I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend the whole day in the studio today without having to rush off to a meeting, or similar.

The day started with Ben teaching class: it’s been really interesting to watch the development in the dancers’ technique this week.  Such a great treat for them to not only be taught by such an expert in various techniques, but also a teacher who plays for his class.  In this way the musical phrasing for the exercises is played by the person who has set the exercise patterning, this is rare!!  I hope the dancers know how lucky they are (in fact I know they do appreciate it)

 

Our guests for company class, Dan and Jess, are developing too in their confidence around the sequences and looking much more assured.

As I write, Gary is teaching a wondrous meaty phrase full of shifts and changes of facings and energy.  Dancers looking great.  Gary makes it all look so easy, so effortless and this is very inspiring for the dancers, having such a great performer who has personal informed knowledge of his material is a great learning tool.

Ben is creating music on his laptop and already coming up with ideas for our time together in September (fingers crossed that we get the funding).

So indeed masters at work, and we can’t wait to share it all with you, hope you can get along to one of our performances

sue lewis

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

FFIN DANCE
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 megffin@gmail.com

sue lewis