Being with Gary Lambert

IMG_0667Whilst I have been keeping the dance faktry wheels turning in Wales, our Associate Choreographer, Gary Lambert, has been working with company dancers Megan and Catrin in London.  They’ve been creating a new duet which will première later this month (date to be confirmed next week)

Gary’s been working with the dancers in a very different way, creating work which has a distinct   flavour of his time spent in the States last summer.
“It’s a generic response to being in the universe” Gary told me this morning, in what I can only describe to you as a marvellously inspiring phone call: “it’s not choreographed as such, it’s a real response seen through the eyes and emotions of the 2 dancers”

The result is a work that may suggest unique responses and narratives to the audience.  Gary will now be filming the dancers thoughts and reactions during the process of the work.  It’s been fast and often very intense, emotionally draining sometimes too.  Catrin has found it to be like a retrospective glance at her friendship with Megan, they’ve been dancing together for 10 years now since they were teenagers together in Wales.
“It’s a bit like growing up” she says “the duet is very sensitive, and it’s been a great privilege working with Gary in the studio in such an intense way”

You can take a look at the piece here, shot in rehearsal

Being will be first shown in a private sharing later this month and will come to Wales on Thursday May 15th at our home theatre, The Met in Abertillery.

We would love you to join us …

sue lewis

Tour starts on March 11th 2014

coleg M poster

We open our new show – Still Standing – on March 11th 2014 at Nantgarw Campus, Coleg Y Cymoedd, Cardiff CF15 7QY  The show starts at 7.30pm, the box office number for tickets 01443 663009

We will be performing:
Fractal – Choreography 2013 by Sue Lewis, music by JS Bach.  A series of solos for 4 dancers set to the sublime English Suite Number 3 by JS Bach.  Abstract movement sentences draw details from repeated patterns (fractals) in nature to form a complex partnership with the musical score

Stand Up Straight – Choreography 2013 by Catrin Lewis, An ensemble which explores the idea of Vertigo, using physical and sometimes unconventional movement vocabulary, set to a sound score including the voice over for the Lempert Manouevre and music by Jon Hopkins

Take a look here, where the piece is performed by BA3 students at Trinity Laban

Synapsequence – Choreography 2012  by Gary Lambert, music by Ronen Kozokaro.
Informed by experiences drawn from an extensive performance background Lambert’s focus and interest is working through the body, where the devised movement becomes an expressive and physical landscape. It initiates from an interest in the manipulation and physical articulation of the body, as a reactive response to the images, sound score and environment.  Movement is the starting point of exploration and space is explored as a laboratory to frame movement. Gary’s appetite for movement has resulted in an eclectic style with an emphasis on physical aesthetics.

Through the interaction of the creative process with FFIN dancers, Gary has made a pure, non-narrative work that is highly unique and reflects his love for athletic physicality
Take a look at an extract of the work here

 

Being – a quick catch-up for sharing

IMG_3150So far so good!!
Catrin and I have so far spent two wonderful rehearsals with Gary improvising following some ‘rules’ that Gary has set

He’s filmed quite a bit of the improvisations and from these we will pick out the bits that are ‘good’ to create phrases. Similar to how I structured ‘Megan’s corner’ in Degrees of Freedom, my solo by Gary last season.
It’s a very interesting process to get inside of Gary’s mind. He said that this is often how he makes material and phrases but he now has a process that he can follow to generate the material.

I think he’s looking to set more ‘rules’ for the improvs in order to get different moods/material.

It was quite funny how often Cat and myself were unaware of what the other was doing but would often pick up on the language of material that the other was doing.

The piece is going to be about ‘being’. Gary doesn’t believe in the term movement for movements sake, as dance is an experience both for the audience and the dancer. He describes it a lot more eloquently than that but that is the gist of what I have gathered!

Really looking forward to continuing with the work, keep dropping by, it’s going to be great.

Meg

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

Recapping and revisiting…

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour 2014 Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour 2014
Image Paul Trask

Rehearsals this February have a different feel than usual – rather than using this period to create another piece we are refreshing our memories on Fractal and Stand Up Straight as well as picking up Synapsequence (from Connections 2012) ready to première in March.

It has been really interesting to return to Synapsequence by Gary Lambert as the movement material was generated by ourselves (albeit 2 year younger models!) and so re-inhabiting it feels relatively natural.
Often a comment we get from audience members is that they can’t understand how we retain and remember all of the movement. I was surprised this week by how efficiently we could pick up a whole piece which we had last performed 18th months ago. For me I don’t feel that the memory of Synapsequence was particularly embedded in my brain but as soon as I started revisiting the material it felt as though my muscle memory came into play re-finding these previously visited places.

I found this none more so than with a duet section which I had originally created with Lucille and due to a cast change in the season hadn’t performed since March 2012. As such, I asked Meg to re-teach me my part but soon found that I could remember details and sequentially what happened next with little input needed – fitting back into the movement just made sense in my body, allowing it to happen instead of over-thinking it.

In one section of Synapsequence, we switch from one person to the next for short duets which are specific to each partnership and occur concurrently. When we had re-established the details and connections in each partnership to the extent that we felt comfortable with it, Sue asked us to run through this section with our eyes closed. While this request was greeted with an air of preposterousness initially, we were actually able to manage it for the most part and it gave us a really good sense of knowing our spatial relationship without over-relying on visual feedback. Don’t worry though, we’ll definitely go back to having our eyes open for performances!

So now it’s time for a weekend off (and a bit of time for planning morning class) before returning to Abertillery for week two of rehearsals. Here’s hoping there’ll be no more weather related stand stills on the Heads of the Valleys next week!

Effie 🙂

Back in the studio

Winter Dance Faktry Festival Image Paul Trask

Winter Dance Faktry Festival
Image Paul Trask

We have had an amazingly busy time with our education and outreach unit over the winter months, reaching new children and young people and also new audiences, sometimes seeing contemporary dance for the first time – what a great thing of which to be part!
I’ve been really concentrating on getting some further funding to be able to sustain what appears to be a huge demand for our community work with the dance faktry with not enough financial resources to supply the activities.  Well that’s nothing new!  So keep on keeping on and we will be rewarded soon I know.  We have some wonderful new projects in the pipeline involving our young volunteers programme New Ground and also one of our A Level students would like to put together a programme of workshops for people in the community of Blaenau Gwent who have difficulty expressing their emotions, maybe through grief, anger or financial loss.

Fractal Image Paul Trask

Fractal
Image Paul Trask

Next week the company will return to the studio for rehearsals, to which I am looking forward immensely.  We will be opening our Still Standing Tour next month at Coleg Morgannwg in Cardiff performing Synapsequence by Gary Lambert, Stand Up Straight by company dancer Catrin Lewis and Fractal by myself.

After a quick charge of batteries, we are set for a wonderfully busy spring and summer and will be bringing you news, updates and blogs.  Please keep visiting us and join us at a venue near you.

All good wishes
sue lewis

 

Opening Night

FFIN DANCE Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Image Paul Trask

Our new show Still Standing will open on at Coleg Morgannwg, Nantgarw Cardiff on March 11th 2014 at 7.30pm.  We will be performing:

Fractal by Sue Lewis
Stand Up Straight by Catrin Lewis
Synapsequence by Gary Lambert

Tickets £6 and £4 concessions for students
Box Office  01443 663202

Full stop

 

Missing Pages Image Paul Trask

Missing Pages
Image Paul Trask


Our Inspired Tour has come to an end, with a marvellous 5 days in the German Rhineland, our home from home.  Originally planned as one performance, this sold out with 2 weeks to go; another performance was consequently added which also sold out!  Standing ovations and 4 encores at each performance, our German audience absolutely loved Inspired.

The season has been exceptional with the dancers and technical crew really fitting into the 3 pieces of work, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff, guest artists, our FFIN Friends and sponsors, our Board and of course you our audience and friends for making it such a success.
As many of you know, we are not funded by the Arts Council (neither England or Wales) and we manage our company as a social enterprise and business. This has in turn I believe, made us stronger and ultimately more skilled – learning new business skills, marketing, promotion and budget management, skills not always natural to an artist.  We have made some marvellous friendships and lasting links with like-minded people which may not have occurred had we been part of the mainstream.  So a little word of encouragement to those struggling with funding – keep at it and have faith.

This is my last day in the office before taking a short break to the lovely hills above Malaga in Spain.  As well as hopes of sitting reading numerous books, cooking delicious fresh food, sampling local sherries and wines, I will be working on my new piece for next season.  It’s an episodic series of solos set to some of the divine Bach Partitas, using the concept of repeated patterns in nature and science: it’s called FRACTAL.  It will make up the 3rd piece of our new triple bill with a piece by new company dancer Catrin Lewis, entitled Stand Up Straight which examines the medical condition Vertigo together with a brand new piece made for us by our Associate Choreographer Gary Lambert.

The new show carries the strap line – Still Standing – look out for our tweets and further blogs.

Until then adiós amigos, hasta pronto

sue lewis

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