True

Weibertreue

Weibertreue

With just over a week to go, I’d like to share the thinking behind my new work for the company – True
It’s a quartet for the whole  company very loosely based on the German folk tale of Weibertreue. At Weinsberg, in Württemberg, on the summit of a hill, remain the ruins of a castle; which is also known by the name of “Weibertreue,” or “Woman’s Faith.” During the Guelph and Ghibelline wars the castle was besieged in 1140  by the Emperor Conrad III., who, in his exasperation at the protracted resistance made by the garrison, vowed to put all the men to the sword, but promised to spare the lives of the women, with the engagement, moreover, that each should be permitted to carry out along with her, her most choice treasure.  “The good women were beside themselves with sorrow that their husbands and children were to be burned alive. Therefore they took counsel with one another and decided that each woman would take her husband and children onto her back and carry them outside the city.  They did just that; each woman took her husband onto her back and her children under her arms and carried them outside the city.

Now the chronicle tells us that when the conquering lord saw this, tears came to his eyes, and he spared the lives of everyone and set the city free as well” *

It’s lovely tale of virtue and cunning.  I’ll be setting this to some exquisite Medieval dance music, which will structure the dance into episodes.  As those who know my work well, the music is the driving force behind my choreography rather than narrative, and I’m very much looking forward to getting into the studio with our 4 dancers who are all exceptional at picking up on musical form and dynamic.  However structure and form aside, there will also be humour and wit involved, making this piece come alive from the pages of history and folklore.

I hope you join us on our True journey
sue lewis

*Source: Martin Montanus, “Ein statt würt gewunnen, daraus die weyber ihre mann und kinder tragen,” Schwankbücher (1557-1566), edited by Johannes Bolte (Tübingen: Gedruckt für den literarischen Verein in Stuttgart, 1899), 80, pp. 341-42.

 

Sunshine at Namedy

Namedy 2015 posterWe’re currently being treated to some gorgeous sunny weather which complements our surroundings here at Namedy perfectly. So much so, that both nights of our stay so far we have been able to remain outside late into the evening – enjoying the good company, conversations, card games and some incredible live music being played by fellow artists.

Of course, we are also spending time in the ‘studio’ ahead of our performances this weekend. It has been good to touch base with Gary once more, especially in terms of the parameters of presenting Retracing Emergence. Here, we are without the fourth wall of a traditional theatre setting which we have been used to encountering earlier in our tour. We have been rehearsing with defined ‘islands’ in the space, within which we can relocate, fragment and leave the trace of our physical movement language. It certainly feels different already, and I’m sure the sense of the piece will change again when we are joined in the space by an audience who have freedom to move amongst us.

There is definitely something to be said also for combining work and play, in keeping both ourselves and our work fresh for performance. Yesterday, Cat, Tash and I wandered down to the Rhine for a little bit of toe-dipping and swimming to cool off after our dancing exploits. I retreated to the shade fairly quickly in order to keep my pasty white skin happy (and Sue for that matter – I’m sure having dodgy sunburn marks for the weekend would not go down well!). As I sat back and watched, I was very struck by the relationship of this scenario to our explorations of Picasso’s 3 bathers for Fascination. Notably, I also saw a connection which I hadn’t previously thought of – when I saw Cat negotiating the rocks, with their surfaces of all different angles and steadiness, up and down from the water. It related very much to a little copycat interplay that myself and Cat share during Fascination – where we lose and catch our balance within our footfall with studious attention to observing one another’s feet. I look forward to remembering this image during our performances this weekend.

For now, it’s time to have a moment a peace in the sunshine (or more sensibly, shade!)

Effie 🙂

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

The same but different

IMG_1251So once again we found ourselves arriving at Namedy in the pitch blackness after a long trek on the Ffin Dance minibus, thankfully with a few less accidental detours! Being greeted by Gary and on stepping into the castle, it was nice to feel less at odds with our setting, having a sense of knowing where we’re going and easing back into our Namedy lifestyle has been a swift process. Overall, there is a distinct feeling of sameness with a healthy new edge of difference (not least exhibited in a new fringe being sported by myself!).

With performances speedily upon us this year (on Wednesday and Thursday evenings) we have been cracking on straight away today, starting off with company class lead by Mike.  We were also joined by Ben’s dancers Jessie and Manon which was lovely in having a bigger community feel – it’s always great for a new vibe and a different energy to be introduced when working alongside some new faces.

Our Ffin team for the week is reminiscent of last year’s Namedy quartet, consisting of Megan, Mike, Catrin and myself. While this in itself dwells on the idea of sameness, it does in fact constitute a different cast from the preceding leg of our Inspired tour – Catrin takes on the role of partnering Megan in Axiom Tangent while Missing Pages takes on a trio form.

Whilst last year I was highly affected by the cast change part way through our season – with a new partner and undertaking a new role – this year I am probably the least directly impacted so it is interesting to come at the change with a very different perspective. My partnership with Mike feels grounded with solid roots and having consistency has allowed us to develop a much better sense and awareness of one another. Our challenge now is to keep this high sensitivity to each other but also being able to devote enough attention to the other couple in the space so that we can dance as a unit of four rather than two couples.

I’m certainly looking forward to performing again at Namedy but already there is a tinge of bittersweet in the knowledge that we will be saying goodbye to both Axiom Tangent and Missing Pages – I’m not sure I’m quite ready to let go of the Inspired repertoire just yet! Catch it while you can…

 

Effie 🙂

 

Road Trip

IMG_1194A quick blog as I’m drinking some rather nice Italian coffee, to welcome you to the German leg of our Inspired 2013 Tour

Today we start our road journey to Namedy in the lovely Rhine valley in Northern Germany: a rather early start from Abertillery in South Wales UK, travelling down to Dover to catch the afternoon ferry to Calais.  Mike, Matt and myself will be travelling from Wales and we pick up Megan, Effie and Catrin in Dover who will be travelling down from London.

We drive through Belgium to Germany and all being well arrive at our stunning home for the week at Schloss Burg Namedy by late evening.

We’ll be blogging our week, so please join us and share our experience

sue lewis

Last UK date for Inspired 2013

FFIN DANCE Degrees of Freedom Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Degrees of Freedom
Image Paul Trask

Wagons rolling on to our last UK date for our current tour Inspired.

On Thursday June 6th we will be performing at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, our only performance in the Welsh capital, so we hope you can join us.
The tour has exceeded our expectations in every way, with increased audience numbers in each venue and also great audience feedback – very often leading to impromptu post performance chats in the bar afterwards!  At The Met in Abertillery, Effie and I had the pleasure of such chat with our sponsors from Tudor Brewery, and also past school students of mine from Ebbw Vale, a great ending to an excellent show.

We have heard of the sad passing of Adam’s grandmother recently and out thoughts and prayers go to him and his family at this time.

After our Chapter gig, we will be planning our visit to Germany; for the second year in succession Princess Heide von Hohenzollern has invited us to perform at Burg Namedy in the beautiful Rhineland.  More about that next month.

We hope you can get along to our last UK performance of Inspired, and join us for a chat on June 6th, please let us know what you think of the show.