Letting the dust settle…

 

FFIN DANCE Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Image Paul Trask

So it’s a couple of weeks since our first airing this season at Coleg Y Cymoedd and it’s taken the intervening time for me to actually find a moment to process and reflect on the evening.

What has really hit me is how different Stand Up Straight felt in situ as opposed to rehearsal time in the studio. Of course with every piece there is growth when being transferred from studio to stage…much like when learning to drive, it’s not until you pass and are out there on your own that you fully understand what it takes. You come to anticipate this change – beyond a point there is little more to be done in the studio and the introduction of the fourth wall brings with it an inevitable change.

However, with Stand Up Straight, it was quite a shock to my system how exposed, vulnerable and disorientated I felt in performance.  I suppose this is the very nature of the piece – with several minutes of spinning on the spot included to induce dizziness there’s always going to an edginess to cope with but the amount that this was heightened by having an audience in and the introduction of lighting was considerable. After one of my bouts of spinning, I came to a stop what felt like barely a few inches from someone sat in the front row. This demonstrated to me that the control and adaptability I had built up during studio time had gone out of the window – such a sense of unpredictability is pretty scary to encounter mid-performance!

What scares me even more is knowing that in Abertillery we’ll be spinning on a rake and that there’s a drop at the front of the stage into the auditorium…anybody have some spare crash mats?!!

Effie 🙂

Pleased as punch

Earl of WessexThe company opened the Still Standing season on Tuesday at Coleg Y Cymoedd, Nantgarw in Cardiff, and the show met and exceeded all of my expectations with a marvellous performance and excellent audience.

Opening nights are notoriously edgy and can very often veer off into unchartered waters, but this one was a cracker!
The venue is one which we visited last season, and despite not being a traditional theatre setting, really shows contemporary dance very well in terms of shape and pattern.  It’s up close and very personal which works well with our rep this season; particularly well I think with Catrin Lewis’s ‘Stand Up Straight’, a piece which explores the physicality of Vertigo.
We’ve spent a lot of time in the studio this season perfecting timing for ensemble work, and it has paid off – ‘Synapsequence’ was superb.  Created by Gary Lambert in 2012 for the company, there are a number of very tricky double duets which require precision and accuracy as well as superior technique, so the dancers are really on edge.  Pleased to say they rose to the occasion.

My new work, ‘Fractal’, was aired for the first time on opening night, it actually opened the show being the first piece on the bill.  It relies heavily on musicality and the dancer’s technical ability to carry it through or it can look a bit wan.  The lighting that Mark Read and I created is very simple and grows and decays with the musical episodes, giving the audience a sense of regeneration and development interspersed with resting periods.
Pleased to say that the FFIN A Level students noticed this without prompting!

So première over and Megan and Catrin will be continuing their London sessions with Gary who is making a new duet for first viewing in May 2014
Effie and Mike working on some other projects and I am Wales based running the dance faktry and our youth volunteers project New Ground.  Four of our senior youth dancers with the dance faktry will be performing my work for the Earl of Wessex this coming Monday at the dedication service of Diamond Jubilee Square at St Michael’s Church Abertillery, a real honour for us all.
Next up is Easter Intensives and the Easter Dance Faktry Festival in April, then back on the road again.

Never a dull moment, hope you can catch us at a venue near you very soon …

And here we go again

With less than a week to go before we open our new touring programme, it’s all systems go here at the FFIN machine as you can well imagine.

So why you may well ask is the strap line for the show, Still Standing? As always with me, a number of reasons.  Firstly and perhaps more importantly, it’s a play on the title of Stand Up Straight, the new work made by our company dancer Catrin Lewis: I like to thread the essence of the whole bill into the title of the show.  And then rather more on a cryptic level, the company beset by the ever-gloomy nature of the dire financial situation in which we (as do many others) find ourselves, are actually still standing!  We have an amazing network of support from our Board and volunteers, the public and of course our marvellous team of dancers and technical people who do well over and above their expected commitment.
Just a slight aside, we are currently trying to fund raise to provide free holiday dance classes for children and young people in the Blaenau Gwent area, please give generously if you can. You can follow this link by clicking on the words Holiday Dance Club –

We open our show at the brand new college campus for Coleg Y Cymoedd in Nantgarw next Tuesday March 11th at 7.30pm, it would be great to see you there.
Tickets £7 and £5 are available by calling 01443 663009

More blogs to follow, please join us as we continue our tour..

sue lewis

In search of technical sparkle

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour
Image Paul Trask

Well, what a week it has been. I have so far thoroughly enjoyed being back in the studio with the ffin family working on our new triple bill which premières at the Nantgarw Campus, Coleg y Cymoedd on the 11th March.

Over the course of the last week, we have spent time recapping ‘Synapsequence’ a piece we toured during the 2012 season which was choreographed by our associate choreographer, Gary Lambert. Not to repeat what both Effie and Megan have already mentioned in their blogs, as I concur with everything they have said, but I must say that it has been most enjoyable to return to this piece, and for me I was actually quite surprised at how much.
Looking back to when we first created Synapsequence, I was never truly happy with my level of technical skill or performance quality. I felt that I was always fighting to achieve the quality of movement that Gary wanted and yet quite often falling short of it whilst also dealing with high levels of stress and performance anxiety.
Two years later, a lot has happened and I finally feel as if something has started to click. For the first time I feel I can now truly try to ‘dance’ the piece to its fullest potential. To recap (sorry, I know I said I wouldn’t but I could not help myself) slightly on what Meg mentioned about being true to the movement, I have found that we all have spent valuable time really focusing on the clarity of all the phrases and to refine where they came from and how they were executed. In order for us to continue pushing the level of performance quality and being honest and true to the materials origins, I think we need to stay continuously focused on what is happening throughout the whole piece, even when off stage. This also plays a part in the other two pieces.

Looking to Catrin’s piece, ‘Stand up Straight’, again its been about being honest with the material, or more accurately the motion in space as opposed to choreographed phrases in space and time. I have found this piece quite a mental challenge in its portrayal of the condition vertigo as I have never really felt fond of the spinning that we do as it makes me slightly faint and I have found the solo material quite difficult to recreate yet still be honest to their original origins of off balance. Certainly with mine, which had quite the clumsy quality with quite hard drops to the floor and rather droopy head actions, it took me quite some time to find the desired outcome. However, as we rehearse and refine the piece, I am finding it to be quite an interesting one to be within and it truly keeps you on your toes. I am looking forward to seeing what an audience makes of it.

Finally, we returned to Sue’s piece, ‘Fractal’, a series of solos and two ensemble sections to the wonderfully complex score by J.S.Bach. After our creation period back in October, I was concerned that I would not be able to do my solo justice in both musical and physical terms, and after reviewing video footage of our final rehearsal, I was beginning to dislike what I had created. Now, a few months later, I am finding a true love and affinity with my solo material and have found new nuances within my score that I had not noticed before which is allowing me to fully embody its style and to live and breathe the musical phrasing as an extension of my physical self. For my solo, which is split into two pieces of music, I have been focusing on using a sinuous quality of my whole spine so that I can really embrace the melodic qualities of the score whilst maintaining control of my arms which can often become too florid and slightly wafty in motion. In addition, I have been playing close attention to the articulation and intricacy of my footwork which reflects the quick, clean and precise phrasing of my music. I still have some way to go yet, but I am determined to strive for perfection. ‘Fractal’ is certainly the most technically challenging in its virtuosity and musical embodiment and I am embracing it as best I can.

Today in the studio was a good day, yesterday I was very tired and struggled to maintain my concentration levels. I certainly think the peppermint tea today helped 🙂

Tomorrow we begin to bring the three pieces together as a unit. Let the hard work continue and grow grow grow 🙂

Thanks guys
Mike 🙂

Rambling

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour
Image Paul Trask

Well what a week it has been! It’s been so lovely to be back in the studio with the Ffin family.

As Effie has mentioned in her blog, we have been rehearsing for our ‘Still Standing’ tour. It looks set to be a cracker!
We began the week refreshing ‘Synapsequence’ choreographed by our associate choreographer Gary Lambert. I have thoroughly enjoyed slipping back into the piece. It feels like a comfortable pair of shoes you haven’t worn for a long time.
Relearning it has bought back all the memories and fun I had whilst creating it way back in 2012. I’ve found it fascinating the way that my body can remember not only the movement content and structure but also the way my ears are automatically listening for musical cues and my eyes for visual ones.
‘Synapsequence’ is one of my favourite pieces to perform. There is nothing to hide behind and you have to constantly push yourself to keep the piece fresh and to stay true to the material.
This phrase is something that I’ve been pondering about…’staying true to the material’ what does that even mean?  I have been rehearsing and running this piece all week and the material is inherent in my body. However, am I staying true to it? Most of the time when I run the piece I no longer need to think about what comes next or how I should dance this bit or that bit but I wonder if by doing so I loose a sense of where the material has come from thus loosing the identity that made that piece of material what it is? Slightly hard to explain but I’ve been having this internal chatter with myself throughout the weekend.
We moved onto Cat’s piece ‘Stand up Straight’ next. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this one. I love the physicality and dynamic of it but can’t say I’m a massive fan of making myself dizzy and then having to fall over safely, without loosing that edge you have if you did fall, and lifting and being lifted when you’re not quite on balance. It’s hard work and often leaves me in a bit of a weird head space.
It was lovely to begin work on Sue’s piece for the company ‘Fractal’. We made this back in October and as is often the case with Sue’s work we worked closely with the musical score. This was similar to ‘Synapsequence’ in the sense that the material came back to us pretty quickly except one frustrating part of my solo (which resulted in a little mini diva strop and several attempts to slow motion myself on our video reference). Apart from that, things have been plain sailing.
It’s interesting to see how my ear has found new things to listen for in my solo music. I have made some dynamic changes to parts of my solos as they weren’t quite sitting right for me. As well as these changes I’ve also changed some of my accent points, rhythmic patterns and the way that I approach some of the material. You may not be able to notice the difference physically but it helps me to be able to perform it better.
It looks set to be a great show and the company and myself would love for you to come and share our work at Nantgarw Campus, Coleg Y Cymoedd on 11th March…
Thanks for reading
Meg