The New Normal



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 …

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sue lewis

Onwards and upwards

It’s been almost 3 years since we took over the management of The Beaufort Theatre, and I’m delighted to to tell you that we’re going from strength to strength.

I’d like to introduce you to our latest partner Lybec Arts Performing Academy who has become artist in residence with us. We are delighted to welcome the Academy to The Beaufort. Lybec Arts is a qualifications academy offering weekly skills development in a range of performance pathways, all groups are fully subscribed at the moment with new students able to apply in the summer term.

Image Paul Trask

Image Paul Trask

Our dance faktry classes are an absolute joy!  The recent winter dance faktry festival provided an opportunity for our children and young people to showcase the work that they had created throughout the term. The young dancers also got the opportunity to watch each other which is always a most valued and valuable experience. The High Sheriff of Gwent came along to the event and was thrilled to see such energy and commitment.

It’s been a few years since we toured our professional work as our priority has been establishing a stronghold in our own community, however now we are firmly bedded in,  we will be touring to Holyhead in North Wales next month. Canolfan Ucheldre has always been one of our favourite places to show our work and we get a great welcome on the island.  We will also be working with community groups including the Barton Dance & Drama Academy with whom we have had a strong working relationship for many years now. We will be making a curtain raiser performance for the students to perform with us.  We are hoping to make new friends too with other community groups of all ages.

On a personal level, I’m happy to say that I can now see properly after having cataract surgery.  One of my greatest joys is that I can now see the faces of the children whom I teach and see the expressions on their faces in dance class. I am most grateful to the fantastic team at Emersons Green Treatment Centre in Bristol for this miracle.

Now that I am able to see to complete more extended writing, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me. Thank you for sharing my FFIN experiences with me, see you in Holyhead …

sue lewis

Image Paul Trask Design Julian Lewis

Image Paul Trask
Design Julian Lewis

Day 2 Powering On

wdff flyer

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!

Louis Norman
FFIN DANCE faktry

An Inspector Calls Day 5


Day 5 has been an absolute delight.  We have spent time today in the studio piecing together the duets in Act 2 working on the all-important transitions that add coherence and meaning (sometimes esoteric) to the overall structure of the work.  We have spent time filming Acts 1 and 2 in readiness for when we come back to the continuation of it and the completion of Act 3 and ultimately finish the piece ready for production.
What a luxury it is to have R&D time to explore ideas and let the muse guide you in your thoughts and processes – oh to have this more regularly!

Wishing you all a happy weekend, and see you on Monday for more ramblings on Crib.

sue lewis

An Inspector Calls Day 3

an-inspector-calls
Hello again.  Today was all about focussing on the remaining duets that I have set which explore the various relationships that the main characters of the play undertake with the victim – Eva/Daisy.
Goole of course points out that each one of the characters has in turn (collectively) contributed to Eva’s suicide. I also needed to set Act 1 soliloquies to the divine Elgar Enigma Variation 10, Nimrod.  Take a look at the full score here – 
Nimrod-from-Enigma-Variations-Full-Score.

The dancers and I looked at simplicity in content for each of the duets, which we felt would be a good ground from which to start weaving together the phrasing of Act 2. I think that Priestley’s point is that we don’t address our guilt until it’s pointed out to us that even our very small negative actions when multiplied by everyone else’s small actions can congregate into a catastrophic effect that only has that effect because it’s multiplied.  A bit like the old advert on TV “my one little wrapper won’t do any harm!”

Tomorrow sees the introduction of the sublime The Lark Ascending by Vaughann-Williams

Please join us tomorrow for more Inspector shenanigans…

sue lewis

 

An Inspector Calls Day 2

inpsecotr image 2

Dancers notes

Inspector image 1

Dancers notes

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.

See you tomorrow …

sue lewis

 

An Inspector Calls Day 1

 

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Georgina

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Julian

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Catrin


And so to another new season at FFIN

My new work is based on the underlying themes of JB Priestley’s amazingly progressive but classic play An Inspector Calls.
Catrin, Julian and Georgina began their R&D time in the studio with me today discussing the characters, the historical context, the social background and of course the parity with contemporary society that emanates from the play.  As a result, soliloquies were made with each dancer transposing these ideas into moment terms – what a talented bunch!

I’m hoping that each day I can share with you our studio time and would welcome your interaction with us – please use the speech bubbles on this page to tell us your thoughts.

Still very early days, but Day 1 was exceptional, please stay with us.

sue lewis

 

Mae’n ddrwg

Photo of PRINCEIt’s with huge apologies that I write this blog, after what seems like an eternity.  Since the company has taken on the running and management of The Beaufort Theatre in April 2017, my life has been rather taken over with operational things other than writing blogs.

 

Things are at last settling down and we have had an amazing 9 months learning new skills, meeting new people and of course expanding our business.

Next week sees the start of me making my new work with the company dancers: it’s a tribute to the music of one of my favourite artists, the late, great Prince.  Please keep posted for a further insight

We will be looking for another dancer to join us later this spring, keep your eyes open for the advert – it could be you joining our team!
We will also be updating this website and introducing you to a new page dedicated to The Beaufort Theatre.

Hope you join us on our 2018 journeys, happy New Year to you all

sue lewis

 

Emigrated?

beaufortmavenproblackIn my absence from blogging, you may have thought that I had emigrated or left the planet, and in a way I have.
If you’ve been following the company escapades on Twitter and Facebook, you will know that we have moved in to The Beaufort Theatre in Ebbw Vale and taken over the management of the venue from the Borough Council of Blaenau Gwent. We have been there since the beginning of April and our energies have been spent on getting together a full volunteers programme, a rolling programme of community theatre events and of course establishing a café bar opening throughout the day serving the community with excellent food and drinks at competitive prices. Quite a tall order you may say; and yes it has been.

Well, 6 weeks later and we can boast all the above and more.  We have been joined by 2 Volunteers Coordinators,supported by funding from The Coalfields Regeneration Fund – Jocelyn and Sharon, who are building a great team of volunteers to work with us.

Kahve logoWe also have a new Catering and Bar Manager, Bülent Dilek-Karaosmanoglu who has brought his own excellent brand of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine to our café with the inventive and delicious Kahve Café Bar. Kahve is the proud recipient of the Wales Food Awards Finalist position, opening from 10am-5pm from Monday to Saturday at Kahve @The Beaufort

In addition to this, we have opened our new show Virago at The Met Theatre in Abertillery and  we’re in the process of planning our next shows at Highgate School, London and The Sanctuary with Zoo Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Please follow our progress, and we hope you can join us in seeing this most special show.

We have been working with a group of children and young people in Blaenau Gwent with the support of Aneurin Leisure and the Arts Council of Wales in a dance engagement project. Our company dancers, led by Catrin and Julian, have been engaged in a number of intensive workshops, to create a piece of work which opened our performance as a curtain raiser.  We were thrilled with both the process and the end result, some great creativity and commitment demonstrated at every workshop.  The audience was thrilled too.  Well done to all!

We are just about feeling comfy with our developments and the growth of the company and welcome you to our new home.  Please drop by and have a coffee, a drink, a light bite or a lunch with us, you will be sure of a good welcome and excellent quality refreshment.

See you soon….

sue lewis