Quite a week

Première of Power Of 3 Tour 2015

Première of Power Of 3 Tour 2015

After having spent a lot of my recent time and energy on our Easter dance faktry festival, it was time this week to pick up the pieces for our Power Of 3 Tour 2015

We open in a few weeks at our home theatre The Met in Abertillery, South Wales UK – an event which pleases me very much.  I’m intensely proud of everything that the company has achieved in the past 10 years in this part of the world.  “Abertillery!” people say, ‘the valleys?” more people say with disdain, but I feel passionately that there is a place for high quality professional dance outside of the major cities (albeit these places are needful too).  We have developed an audience in the valleys as well as other places, for our work which surpasses audience and participation numbers for many other larger companies and will continue to invite guests and collaborative partners to our studio for as long as we can.

The week has seen the release of our teaser video for Catrin’s new piece d-cay, which has been commissioned for us by RE:Act!  It forms part of a 10 minute animated film that accompanies the choreography that will be seen for the first time on May 8th at The Met.  During our production week we will undertaking a series of workshops with local dance schools, working in the evenings and days to further develop new audiences for our work, aiming to help with understanding the work that the young dancers will be seeing at the theatre later that week.  If you’d like a workshop, do get in touch.

Box office for May 8th 01495 355800, tickets are priced £8 and £6 – the theatre has excellent wheelchair and buggy access and provides free booster seats for children at no extra charge.

It would be great if you could come along to opening night, if not, we perform later in May in Holyhead, North Wales then on to London, Oxford and Germany.  See you there!

sue lewis

Language, images and reflections….

B0001467Firstly, apologies – I meant to write this blog after our first couple of sessions with Gary a week or so ago, but always got caught up in something else. Now, I’m finally realising my good intentions before returning to the studio with Gary this evening – hopefully it will give me some time and space to recap and reflect the thought process we have begun using.

I think one of the things that has most struck me about working with Gary this season is how he is using language and evoking imagery through what he is saying to compel us to explore movement rather than physicalising much himself. Essentially, he is trying not to show us too much so we don’t get bogged down in searching for an aesthetic or codified movement language which appeals to him.

Instead we are currently playing with a lot of constituent parts, thoughts and images to get a grasp on what will work going forwards. So what are some of these things?

First off, we have the solo material which we learnt from video during our time in Abertillery – a linear form which takes us from A to B. This acts as an existing world and reference point that we can improvise from and return to. The phrase gives us a commonality of language – otherwise it is like having 3 dancers in the space speaking French, German and Italian – all valid languages but no-one fully understands each other.

There is also a freedom to stop moving – knowing when an idea has been exhausted and not just continuing to drift for the sake of it. On our second rehearsal day, we taped a performance space on the floor – allowing the possibility to step out of that realm completely. Allowing time to consider and watch from a standpoint completely outside the world that the movement inhabits.

Layering on top of this are lots of images and ideas that Gary feeds in each time we undertake the practice. Here are a few examples:

Having a conversation. The ability to shift the attention between people. Being able to talk to a group but only have eye-contact with one person at a time.

Jumbled thoughts. So much to do – racing through your mind. Inability to hone in on one thing for very long before transferring to the next.

Sediment. Start Simple. Layer by layer – build it up, don’t try to start with a whole strata.

Minority Report. The possibility to deviate from a pre-ordained pathway.

The more images and ideas we have, the greater the temptation to want to try and do everything at once which simply isn’t possible! I wonder what new information will come tonight and how I will cope with processing it…

Effie 🙂

Week 5 done

three bathers picassoThanks to all of you who have given us feedback on rehearsals this last week via tweets, likes and comments, it’s been good to know that you’re all with us once again for the new season.

This week we have been re-visitng and rehearsing my new work for 2015, Fascination: we have also been looking at tasks for Gary in anticipation of his new work for us which begins studio time later this month.  It’s wonderful that the body remembers what sometimes the head forgets.  During the time that we have been out of the studio, Fascination has germinated and grown resulting in a more settled and mature piece of work with which I’m thrilled.  There’s still a lot to do in terms of production details, but I’m sure that those of you who enjoy watching my work will very much enjoy this work too.  It has all the usual intricacies of form and texture together with an affinity to the score.  For those who are new to my work I am a stickler for detail and structure and a grounded relationship with the musical accompaniment.

The dancers are really getting into the Picasso fascination for threes which forms the basis of the dance idea and we have become more closely connected with Three Bathers and Three Dancers this week; it’s become quite eery as we now connect with the actual 3 figures in the paintings as well as the painting itself.

Next week we continue with Fascination and Gary’s tasks, but we’ll be spending more time on D-cay, Catrin’s new work based on the Omaha Beach tragedies in WW2.

We have been visited by 3 guests this week in our company class – Krystal Campbell one of our teaching staff for the dance faktry, Julian Lewis a company friend and Matt our technical assistant who also “dances a bit” It was lovely to see you all, please call in again!

More blogs coming up over the next week, please drop by.

sue lewis

2 down, one to go

IMG_3713And so ends our second creative period for this season. For the past 2 weeks we have spent time in the studio with company dancer, Catrin Lewis, who has been making a new piece for the company which is inspired by scenarios surrounding the Omaha Beach Landing in World War 2.
D-cay is a moving exploration of events which takes the dancers into a physicality which is grounded in extensive research from witness accounts and historical documentation.

The third piece of work which makes up our new triple bill for The Power Of 3 Tour 2015 involves a new piece by our Associate Choreographer Gary Lambert.  Gary and I are excitedly planning this venture and we’ll fill you in very soon.

Next, we turn our energies to our Winter Intensive for professional dancers which is December 11th-13th, where we invite trained dancers to come and spend 3 days in our studio in Wales, UK where they will undertake intensive technical instruction and learn current repertory.  If you’d like more information on this, please follow this link.

Please keep posted as to our news and developments, and don’t forget you can write in the comments bubble on this page – we’d love to hear from you

sue lewis

 

Going for a run…

Picasso 3 women under a treeSo today saw us slot together the jigsaw pieces and go for a first run of Fascination, Sue’s latest work for the company. It’s certainly an exciting stage to reach (with the exhilaration augmented by the fire alarm going off mid-way through!) – you get your first taste of what the piece will be like to perform and start to make sense of it in its entirety.

The different sections of the piece have not been created in a chronological order of how the final piece runs, as is often the case in the creative process. At the start of the day, we knew that we had one final piece of the puzzle to crack before we could string all of the sections together.

What is particularly interesting about this newest addition is that it is going to be a structured improvisation on each occasion that the piece is performed. So essentially, the movement itself hasn’t already been pre-determined; within given parameters we will make different choices in the spur of the moment each time we dance the piece. I think that this is going to be a really interesting challenge for us to maintain a sense of freshness in our decision making whilst simultaneously improvising movement and avoiding looking like rabbits caught in the headlights!

All in all, a good day’s work – from hereon in we will start to clarify our own internal narrative and physical pathway through the piece. If the first run is anything to go by we’re onto a cracker, with a fair amount of vogue sweatiness thrown in for good measure!

Effie 🙂

Week 4

_PRT7130We have just finished our third week of New Ground summer holiday dance clubs, which have been full of fun and great dancing. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer as it has given me new skills and knowledge which will be great value to me in the future.

Just in this short time it is great to see all the children improving so much, developing their confidence and dance technique; it is extremely rewarding and satisfying to see all the hard work of volunteers, teachers and children pay off. It is also lovely to hear some of the children ask about other classes. Hopefully we will see some new starters in all our weekly classes in September.
Today, we are doing a full day session 10-3pm, this is one of three we are doing in the upcoming week. I’m really looking forward to this as I think the children will really enjoy a full day of dancing. It will also be lovely for the children’s parents to see the work they have done in a small viewing at the end of the day, it gives the children something to work towards which is great!!

Gemma Aubrey
New Ground

 

Summer fun

_PRT6991We are now into the third week of our summer holiday dance clubs, and having some great response from the community. The children and young people with whom we are working have been absolutely fantastic.

The holiday clubs provide free dance classes for children in Blaenau Gwent in Wales, aged from 3 – 11 years old (we have a few unofficial teenagers too!) and we are running them at community spaces within easy walking distance of their homes.  As part of our ongoing commitment to providing high quality dance provision to the community, company dancer Catrin Lewis and ffin dance faktry teacher Krystal Campbell are both working with our youth volunteers to create a package of opportunity.

New Ground, our volunteers project, goes from strength to strength with past members progressing on to professional dance training, primary school teacher training and community welfare.  We have enthused children to enquire about regular dance activities that we run in term time and also sign-posted some young people to youth dance activities within the County, with whom we have very strong links as a partner organisation.

Sadly, next week will be our last week of holiday clubs and we will be sharing our work with parents and friends as follows:

Monday 11th August 2014 2.45pm at The Met, Mitre Street in Abertillery
Thursday 14th August 2014 2.45pm at St Mary’s Church Hall, Somerset Road, Brynmawr

It would be great if you could join us …

sue lewis

The finale

Burg Namedy

Burg Namedy

Well what a tour it has been. Last week saw the company travelling to Milton Keynes to perform, for the final time this season, in the Motus Dance Festival.

It was such such a lovely day and a great way to say goodbye to the current ‘Still Standing’ tour. The sun was shining and we had an incredible space to perform in. Ffin Dance was a group of happy chappies.

We performed three of the four pieces of rep (Fractal, Sentient Trace and Stand up Straight) which all seemed to go down very well with the audience.

I always feel quite sad to say goodbye to pieces, especially when you have just reached that stage where you know the pieces so well that you don’t have to worry about what comes next, or looking for those little intricate moments, or trying to remember corrections you have been given or one of the other thousands of things that performers have to think about for new pieces. My main aim for our last performance was to enjoy it. Luckily I did.

Fractal is always a bit of nightmare to get yourself ready for. The material for the whole piece requires a lot of stamina, both mental and physical. There’s a lot of standing on one leg, hitting double pirouettes, intricate foot work, unison to get, musical phrasing etc. These combined are all things that I worry about and usually things that I’m trying to get everytime. Sometimes I’d be concentrating so hard on trying to find these that I’d come off stage and would only see the things that I didn’t do right rather than look at what I did get right. It was so nice to come off stage on Sunday after Fractal and think ‘ooo I enjoyed that!’.

Sentient Trace has been a special piece for me to perform this tour. Working with both Gary Lambert and Catrin Lewis was such a privilege. I have known Catrin for many years and being able to work and perform with such a close friend gave the piece a totally different quality. We know each other so well that the piece could grow and change throughout the tour. It was a very different type of piece to what I have performed in previous seasons with Gary but it was definitely an experience that I won’t forget.

Last on the bill was Stand up Straight. I felt that the company really went for it.  We had the space to really indulge in the ‘motion not movement’ brief that we have been working to. I know I woke up with some bruises from this on the following Monday!

It was also a bittersweet end to the tour as it marked my last performance with the company. I joined the company in 2010 as an apprentice when I was a fresh faced graduate and I now leave my position as dancer and assistant to the director with all the knowledge and experience I have gained but hopefully still looking fresh faced.

It has been an incredible journey for me with the company and one which I will struggle to put into words. I have learnt so much from Sue, the dancers and all the other guest artists who I have had the privilege to work with and I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of the Ffin Dance family, past and present, who has been a part of my journey. Words can not describe.

Thank you also to everyone that has supported the company by attending workshops, classes, shows, drink receptions at Hobbits. Your feedback has been invaluable and I will take it all away with me.

I can honestly say that working with the company has never been a chore and I’ve always felt so lucky that I’ve looked forward to going into rehearse and perform during every creation period – except using the bus to get to the valleys!

I have many happy memories to take away with me and I will always look back at my time at Ffin with fondess and a sense of great achievement.

I wish the company the best of luck for their future and I look forward to watching them from the other side of the stage on their next tour.

Diolch yn fawr and toi toi toi.
Meg x

 

Tara Ffin Tara

Staff changes

This season we say goodbye to 2 of our dancers who have been with us for 4 years.  Mike will be moving on to concentrate on his role as a choreographer and personal trainer, we wish him well in his new ventures and very much hope that we see him on a regular basis. Assistant to the company director, Megan Griffiths, will also be leaving us after 4 years. Megan will be moving on to diversify her performing skills and will also be sorely missed by the company.  She will be fondly remembered by us all.

Natasha Wade Image Paul Trask

Natasha Wade
Image Paul Trask

We welcome Natasha Wade to the company as from September: she has been a friend of the company for the past year, attending our Professional Performance Development course and also spending time taking class with us.  Her biog will appear soon on our company page. She is a beautiful dancer and will bring a new sparkle to our team.

Last leg

Fractal Image Paul Trask

Fractal
Image Paul Trask

And so we are on to the last stretch of our 2014 tour, Still Standing.

It’s been a great tour and we have received some great audience feedback: some venues enjoying some of the pieces more than others and then conversely other places getting more from the diversity of the programme.

With our last 2 performances coming up, we travel to London tomorrow to perform Stand Up Straight by Catrin Lewis at Greenwich Dance.  Next week sees our first (and hopefully not last) visit to The Venue at Milton Keynes, where we perform our triple bill as part of the Milton Keynes Dance Festival Motus.

As a company we are very much looking forward to making new friends at these 2 venues as well as seeing familiar faces too.

In addition to these 2 performances I have also been planning the New Ground summer holiday dance club programme with our youth volunteers.  Joining our teaching team will be Krystal Dawn Campbell who has been working with me this term in the dance faktry gaining valuable hands-on experience with class management and working with children and young people.  These classes will be free for children in Blaenau Gwent: the scheme has been awarded financial assistance by Tai Calon, the Archbishop of Wales Children’s Fund, Sport Relief and very generous donations via our online giving scheme.

So an early night for me and off to London in the morning.  Hoping to see you at Greenwich tomorrow and at MK next Sunday.

sue lewis