As we move further towards life back in the normal lane, I take the time to reflect on how things have been over the past few months during lockdown. We have been most fortunate to get support from The National Lottery Community Fund, Community Foundation in Wales and more recently from GAVO to keep in touch with our community and find new ways of working together.
Children and young people from our dance faktry have written and sent postcards to members of the community who have been self isolating, those who have been in hospital, those who may have needed a bit of “cheering up” and those who are alone.
Our company dancers and teachers have filmed dance classes and exercises to do at home and they have been posted on social media. We are now in our ninth week of online dance classes via Zoom, having taught 30 classes in that time. The classes are free for the community and we have had some wonderful feedback from parents and the young people themselves.
I think that we are one of the first professional dance companies in the UK to announce our virtual summer dance school. This is free to participants of all ages and abilities and will involve the creation of a new dance film to be screened on August 7th.
We have plans to reopen our café with a take away service as our first step to resuming activity in our beloved Beaufort Theatre
We have found new ways of working and will continue to do that, already we have found that many things can be done differently to good effect.
However, nothing can take away the feeling of being together in a studio – creating, learning, dancing together. Nothing can be as good as the thrill of seeing our Main House full of people coming to watch live performances, maybe for the first time. Nothing can beat the feeling of family that we have at FFIN DANCE
We hope that we will all be together again soon, in whatever way the new normal dictates. Stay safe everyone and keep dancing …
After a few aches and pains it was time to crack on with day two of production week! The collaborative work between FFIN DANCE and The Beaufort Theatre is the foundation for the work we do day to day at the Beaufort and today was no different.
As a community-led building we are forever hosting young people and with Santa heading our way later this December it was time for Sam, The Beaufort Theatre’s Catering Operative and myself to get crafty! A morning making Reindeer Dust is hard to beat!
Then it was all systems go! The company dancers arrive and after the coffees and mini morning meetings, I was once again thrown into Georgina’s Class. The second day of a class always seems to feel just right!, the exercises have settled and it’s time to sweat! A class full of tilts, swings and floor work is a winner in my book! At the end of last class Georgina had presented us with a mighty phrase that would take a week to tackle! Second time round was just as fun and to keep us pushing it was time for the second side. Whilst the dancers spent some time rehearsing their newest work ‘An Inspector Calls’ choreographed by Sue Lewis, I got back to work.
FFIN DANCE has pioneered the way for high quality dance education in the south Wales area for many years and it’s important for us to ensure that the festival presents not only opportunity to perform but to learn. The invited guests bring a brand new type of training and performance so I think its really important that the young dancers get to watch each others’ work. Finalising the running order and programme was my main focus for the day and before I knew if it was time to get moving again. Tonight marks the start our of Headliner project. Headliner is a collaborative project, very much in the spirit of the faktry festival bringing professional and youth dancers together to create a brand new work for this years performance. Led by the FFIN DANCE professional dancers, we started out with a technique class lead by Julian. It was great to start the project pushing ourselves technically. The project pulls dancers from nearly all of the faktry classes all bringing a different approach to their work. After learning a phrase for the work, it was clear that this project provides challenges for all types of dancers. We finished the evening with a great creative task pulling reference from Julian’s phrase, we were asked to create a solo influenced by the movement but also by the overarching theme of the work; exploring speed. Day two was fab!
Day 2 in the studio didn’t disappoint, more super work explored. The images above are from Julian’s notebook, jottings of the things that have come to mind with the task in hand.
Today the dancers recapped on the tasks from yesterday, working on soliloquies.
We later started on the new tasks for Act 2 which involved looking at the relationships that Eva/Daisy had with each of the guilty parties. As we are three dancers (1 male, 2 female) we thought to move away from gender-stereotypicality in some of the duets – we got through 3 out of the 7 possibilities.
Take a little peep here of our dancers working through the task. Don’t forget that you can interact with us by using the speech bubbles on this page.
It seems fitting somehow to say “cheerio” to our senior dancer Effie, after such a successful run of events to celebrate our 10th anniversary season. Our season will continue into the spring of 2017 with new dancer Sarah joining Catrin, Natasha and Julian, whilst Effie is moving on to pastures new.
Effie has been with the company for 5 years, having met us at our Winter Intensives. We were so impressed with her that we offered her a place to learn some of Gary Lambert’s work for the company, to replace Lucille Tappa in Synapsequence.
Effie has created and danced many lovely roles for the company over the years, but I think it was Missing Pages, that really brought out her lyricism and technique more than any other.
Effie has been a wonderful workshop leader and teacher too, with her quirky ways of motivating children and young people; especially noteworthy is her “bananas of the world unite” and her numerical jogging pattern warm ups. We will miss her zany music in professional class, Dr Who will never be the same again!
The image by Paul Trask that is featured above, carries a story, I’m sure that Effie won’t mind me sharing it. The company was in Llanhilleth Wales, shooting some images for our tour Inspired: Paul wanted to shoot somewhere local and out of the studio. This obviously caused a bit of a stir in the village and gathered quite a lot of spectators who were generally supportive and also inquisitive. After a little while, word got around and we were hailed with some children shouting “come over here boys, there’s a stripper down by the railway station” The photo above and some others too, were the culprits of this mistaken identity. We laughed about that one for quite a time, as you can imagine.
So finally it’s time to say a very fond farewell. We wish Effie well in her future pursuits and will miss her tremendously as a wonderful dancer and warm, faithful friend. Please keep in touch.
FFIN DANCE is ten years old this year and we celebrate with our new triple bill t e n
In just a week, our company dancers are all back in the studio, and we can now share the content of our new triple bill line up. We started work on my new piece True back in the Autumn of 2015, and we’ll be just finishing off this delightful quartet for the full company next week.
The second piece is a New Work, that’s a collaboration between myself and 2 of our company dancers Catrin and Julian. Performed as a duet, it will be very much a reflection of the 2 dancers and their personalities. Watch this space over the coming weeks for more blogs and tweets.
And to complete the bill will be Duetti, which I made for the company back in 2008. Accompanied by the haunting songs of Björk, Duetti is as the name implies, a series of duets. Sometimes working with the songs and other times existing as 2 separate elements, the dancers execute lyrical duets.
The organic nature of the songs from Medúlla refer to the purest essence of something and explore the ritual power of the voice in a way that’s primal and elaborate. Several of the songs are sung in Icelandic, which work particularly well with movement. The rolling r’s, guttural stops and elongated vowels reflect the alternately chopped and soaring arrangements behind them.
Unfettered sensuality winds through the songs, with Björk’s voice being miked very closely giving the sense of listening to her from inside her larynx. I was originally inspired by the landscape of Northern Tuscany, when I created the duets: often jagged but occasionally silky and always stunning, the duets unfold in a seamless and intricate order, each one developing from its predecessor.
Described by an audience member at Chisenhale in 2008 – “DV8 meets Matz Ek”
As always we will be posting blogs and tweeting our studio experiences, hope that you’ll join us in our conversations.
Happy New Year everyone, welcome back to our site.
We have recently put up lovely images of all of our outreach groups from the recent winter dance faktry festival, held at The Met in Abertillery in December 2013. Please have a browse, and keep visiting the gallery as it’s updated regularly. Please follow this link
So we are now nearing the end of our first week of studio time with Gary Lambert recreating his work Axiom Tangent ready for the Inspired triple bill. Each morning has also seen us take class with Ben Craft, who has travelled all the way from Arnhem to work with us.
This is certainly a treat, not only in terms of the wealth of dancing knowledge that Ben is sharing but also as it gives us a little bit of respite from planning/ leading classes for each other in addition to our jam-packed day of rehearsal!
One of the approaches that Ben uses has been to teach a simple phrase which can be repeated alternating between sides (right and left); once we know the movement he gives us several different directional facings in which to dance the material. This means that we have to really keep our minds in gear and be thinking ahead as to where we are facing next, it is easy to get confused in the middle of a phrase. I think this learning device has been a really useful challenge – it has helped me to build in coping mechanisms whereby even if I do make a mistake, as long as I stay calm, I can quickly adapt and correct myself using visual clues from the space around me and the other dancers. This is also handy for the rehearsal process with Gary as there are lots of repeated variations of phrases to learn often with a sneaky change of facing to catch us out!
In terms of the studio time we have with Gary, it is a very different process compared with last year working on Synapsequence – this time around we are recreating a pre-existing choreography of Gary’s and so must use video footage to learn the material we will be dancing. This in itself demands a very different skill set from us – rather than generating material on our own bodies, we are having to pick up as much detail as we can from the videos (slow-motion playback is particularly handy!) before transferring this into physical information.
Within the piece, there is a lot of duet work and for the most part we are working within the same partnerships that we established in Missing Pages during our last rehearsal period. In Missing Pages rehearsals, Mike and I had to learn several of Adam and Meg’s duets and vice versa so we have already had some experience of learning and adapting material to work in our partnerships. What I have found really interesting in our current studio practice, reconstructing duets from video, is how much more quickly Mike and I have been able to make connections more organic between us allowing the duet material to find a flow. Part of the reason for this is that we are all in the same boat – it is not a case of Meg and Adam already having created their duet and being familiar with it before we try to pick it up. When this was the case, there was always a sense of looking over to Meg and Adam for clarifications – it felt like we were paying more attention to them than each other and as a consequence would miss the real sense of combined momentum by not focussing on one another. Certainly reconstructing from video has been a lot of work for our minds and bodies but I feel that there has been a really positive impact on how Mike and I are relating to each other as dancers.