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

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.

Inspired in Germany

Namedy flyer 2This week saw the company return to Germany which is definitely one of the highlights of the tour for myself.
It was so lovely to return to Namedy and perform once again in the Spiegelsaal.
Catrin, Effie and myself set off from London St Pancras (after a false start where Catrin and I bought the wrong tickets) and met the rest of the company in Dover. Setting sail across the channel, sadly without a re enactment of The Little Mermaid but with a cheeky g&t.
Arriving in France we began our journey to Germany. We arrived at midnight feeling very tired and slightly squashed. We were all quick to sample some German beer and headed straight to bed.
Tuesday morning saw us taking company class led by Mike and we were joined by two young dancers Manon and Jessie from Holland who were also performing in the programme in a piece by Ben Craft.
We were straight into rehearsal for Axiom Tangent, Gary Lambert’s group piece for us.
I have spent time with Catrin in the studio teaching her the structure of the piece but this was the first time that we have been able to fully rehearse the complicated lifts that happen throughout. To say the pressure was on is to put it mildly. We had to get used to lifting one another again as we have not worked like this together since we were younger and adjusting how we used our weights provided some challenges for us.
Our performances at Namedy happen in the round. This involves the audience being on all sides so there is never a ‘true front’. This type of performance setting provides many challenges. As you have the audience in 360° there is no hiding, especially when they are in such close proximity to you.
As there is no ‘front’ we spent a long time rehearsing all three pieces of the ‘Inspired’ bill readjusting the facings and the placings of both the material and the dancers. It’s quite an exciting thing to do as you have to rewire the brain’s way of thinking of the piece and it takes a little bit of time for it to settle into something you recognise, a bit like washing your favourite pair of jeans- they take a while to get comfy again.
I especially enjoyed reworking ‘Degrees of Freedom’ in this space. The fluorescent lights which normally light the piece from the back of the stage were this time placed on the floor around me, providing little areas which dictated where the material would be performed. I was free to play with the directions of the material and kept it quite free and unset which is very in keeping with sections of the piece. This has been a big challenge for the brain because my usual markers of where material begins and ends has shifted dramatically, especially when the movement becomes faster. Trying to keep the pace of it and decide which way I want to do the material has kept me on my toes…quite literally.
I’m looking forward to performing over the next two evenings and seeing how the pieces develop.
Thanks for reading

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

A New One On Me

Susan McGuireI visited Chapter in Cardiff on Thursday evening having come down from Liverpool that day to see Ffin Dance perform. This is a marvellous venue. I’d love to have something as buzzing and lively nearby.

I have to express an interest as my niece Effie is in the  company, but I want to say what a fantastic show this was. I am not used to seeing contemporary dance but do regularly go to music and theatre events. I was really surprised and absorbed by the beauty and sheer physical exhuberance and joy in the flexibility of the body which the performances demonstrated. Having read the programme notes beforehand I was trying also to understand the interpretation of the narrative thread and this made it an experience which required incredible focus and attention to the extent that I was always amazed when each piece came to an end.

The solo (Degrees of Freedom) in which the decline of flexibility and ease of movement gradually comes to a dancer’s body was very moving.

All the pieces were stunning. I am so grateful to Ffin Dance for introducing me to a new creative experience.

Susan McGuire

Full Stop

Axiom Tangent Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE                                      Axiom Tangent
Image Paul Trask

Our performance at Chapter in Cardiff last night, saw a full stop on the UK dates of our current triple bill – Inspired.

The audience feedback and comments that we have received have been amazing this year, with many of you saying that it’s the best bill that you have seen us perform to date.
The bill certainly is a mixed one this season, with a balance of work that has been very carefully planned.  We hope that there is something for everyone in it.  We at FFIN DANCE are very proud that we stay true to our artistic ideals without having to jump through the proverbial hoops of tick boxes et al.

The journey of our 3 pieces has been interesting and thoroughly enjoyable; watching work take on its own persona is one of the most exciting aspects of my role as Artistic Director, one that I will always relish. From the opening of our show in March (Laban Theatre) to the closing last night in Cardiff, the pieces have been pruned, cut back, blossomed and flourished.  All the while, being true to the choreographer’s intentions, but also giving and trusting the work to our wonderful team of dancers.

Our team have worked incredibly hard in making Inspired such a success, I’d like to thank them for going well beyond the call of duty, I am truly blessed to have such people to work alongside and big huge thanks to John F Wake for giving so freely of his work to us.
Thanks also to the support that has been given to us by our Board of Directors, our FFIN Friends, fans and followers.

And now a weekend of reflection and sunshine and then on to planning the next season – exciting and challenging, always changing ..

sue lewis

Last UK date of Inspired Tour 2013

Our last UK tour date for our current triple bill of dance ~ Inspired will be Thursday 6th June at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

The show starts at 7.30pm, tickets priced £10, £8.  Please follow this link for booking

poster Inspired

Last UK date for Inspired 2013

FFIN DANCE Degrees of Freedom Image Paul Trask

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.

The FFIN machine at its best

FFIN DANCE Axiom Tangent Image Paul Trask

Axiom Tangent
Image Paul Trask

Monday morning and a bit of a come-down after a marvellous few days in Anglesey, North Wales.  On Thursday morning we travelled from one end of Wales to the extreme end of the other, a beautiful journey through unspoilt countryside with not a motorway in sight.

For those new to the structure of FFIN DANCE we have an underpinning education and outreach unit to the company called the ffin dance faktry.  


Although FFIN DANCE is not a dance in education company, we believe that an infra-structure of dance activity starting from an early age is an essential tool to develop a future audience for dance: young people watching and participating in high quality, professionally led activity.

Whilst we were in Holyhead, we worked with children at the local youth club, the local high school and also the young dancers at the Barton Academy of Dance and Drama.  We have worked alongside Helen Barton and her students for 6 years now and we have built up a great relationship of support and respect for each others’ work.  The students as always were hard-working and talented and a joy to teach.  Big thanks to Helen for yet another great project.

Canolfan Ucheldre, the venue where we perform in Holyhead, is developing a good audience for dance and has recently undertaken a re-furb of their auditorium, with new seating which adds a great new facility to their programme.  Thanks to manager Mike Gould, technical assistant Ben Morgan and the team at the venue for making our stay so memorable.

The audience at Ucheldre always has been one that asks questions of me: during the pre-performance talk and also during the intervals, I get talking about the choreography of the show – it’s a lovely privilege to share my artistic intentions in this way.

Lots of new friends and contacts made too and hoping to extend our folio of work in Holyhead in the future.

So back to this week and organising our Easter Intensive for professional dancers and the Easter Dance Faktry Festival, our twice yearly platform for emerging choreographers.  We hope you can join us.

Please follow us on Twitter #ffindance #inspiredtour2013 and also Facebook  – Ffin Dance

sue lewis