As the glorious autumn days roll by, it’s time to turn our thoughts to winter time, and of course for us here at FFIN DANCE, the winter dance faktry festival.
This is when we bring all of our community and outreach groups together and share the new term’s work with family and friends.
We also have guests groups that we have worked with over the year and the professional dancers/dance graduates who have attended our winter intensives course during the week of the festival. It really is a joy to share the work of these emerging artists ranging from 4 years olds to professionally trained dancers all in the same show. Held at The Met, our resident theatre in Abertillery, we combine all the groups in a friendly and supportive festival atmosphere with no competitive edge: all of the dancers at the festival get to watch the other dancers which we feel is a vital part of our outreach, we believe that the routes for progression from beginners to full graduate training need to be shown to young people to raise an awareness that dance can be a career, a way of life and not just a hobby. We strive for excellence even at a young age.
We hope that you can join us in what will be a lovely occasion on November 12th 2016 at 7.30pm, here’s the ticket line. If you’re a new-comer to our festivals please stick around to say hello, we’d love to meet you.
2 of our youngest dancers at Desire To Dance Brynmawr
The past month has been truly rewarding with our dance faktry projects running concurrently at Brynmawr and Tredegar. Our Desire To Dance Project successfully ran at Tredegar and London last season; together with generous funding from Tai Calon Community Housing, we ran a similar project in Brynmawr for the children of the community in that area. They worked for 4 intensive full days over 2 weekends with Effie, Catrin, Louis and Cariad and produced a lovely piece of work focussing on touch and skin.
At Tredegar Comprehensive School Catrin, Julian and Louis worked with a group of young Performing Arts students to create a piece of work that was choreographed to music written by GCSE Music students from the school. 2 intense evenings from 3.30pm – 8pm were spent making the work. We facilitated this project with funding from a legacy given to Arts Development at Aneurin Leisure, kindly donated to give young people experience with music and theatre.
The 2 pieces were shown to friends and family at the Annual Dance Showcase organised by Aneurin Leisure Arts Development at The Met Theatre in Abertillery, our home theatre.
Desire To Dance Brynmawr
The experiences gained by the children and young people were many, but I think the most valuable things learnt were working together to produce a high quality product and digging dip and finding inner strength especially when exhausted! Of many evaluations from the project participants who were all wowed by their achievements was a comment to Catrin – “you’ve changed my life” – a lump comes into my throat as I write.
Moving on then, we turn our thoughts to our next outreach project, the Summer Dance School. More about that very soon, please feel free to pass on this flyer to all young people who you think may benefit ..
As we gear up for our première at our home theatre The Metropole in Abertillery, the company pops in some last minute rehearsals for t e n Tour 2016
Sue, Natasha, Effie, Julian and I are excited to be sharing the new repertoire with you all this year, as it marks the company’s 10th year anniversary, hence the name of the show t e n
A special occiasion wouldn’t you agree…?
I would like to take this opportunity to say how lucky I have been to share the stage with the beautiful Effie since joining the company in 2014. This is her last season with us and we wish her all the happiness and success she truly deserves in her next chapter!
We head down to Wales next week to hold workshops in the community with our partner organisations Toppers Dance and Aneurin Leisure Trust, and with our our gorgeous young dancers of the ffin dance faktry and ffin youth, and we do hope you can join us for our opening night on Friday 20th May. Tickets are £8, £6 concessions and can be booked on 01495 355800 or by texting 07854 910926
In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine.
Much love Cat x
It is one thing to work the body, but when your mind is working equally hard, it becomes exhausting. All of the company seems to be feeling the strain, however the moments of joy come from dedicated repetition and embodiment. It’s such a pleasure to dance with such a dedicated group of people and that gives me great inspiration.
With new roles within the company, there is a clarity which has given birth to new life and what feels like the start of a new journey.
With just a month to go before our première at The Met, rehearsals of Duetti and True are really challenging our technical ability; unforgiving movement tearing up our feet as we push on to grasp the many tours en l’air (360 jumps) and the constant play of levels, I can’t help but feel both anticipation and excitement.
We open in a few weeks at our home theatre The Met in Abertillery, South Wales UK – an event which pleases me very much. I’m intensely proud of everything that the company has achieved in the past 10 years in this part of the world. “Abertillery!” people say, ‘the valleys?” more people say with disdain, but I feel passionately that there is a place for high quality professional dance outside of the major cities (albeit these places are needful too). We have developed an audience in the valleys as well as other places, for our work which surpasses audience and participation numbers for many other larger companies and will continue to invite guests and collaborative partners to our studio for as long as we can.
The week has seen the release of our teaser video for Catrin’s new piece d-cay, which has been commissioned for us by RE:Act! It forms part of a 10 minute animated film that accompanies the choreography that will be seen for the first time on May 8th at The Met. During our production week we will undertaking a series of workshops with local dance schools, working in the evenings and days to further develop new audiences for our work, aiming to help with understanding the work that the young dancers will be seeing at the theatre later that week. If you’d like a workshop, do get in touch.
Box office for May 8th 01495 355800, tickets are priced £8 and £6 – the theatre has excellent wheelchair and buggy access and provides free booster seats for children at no extra charge.
It would be great if you could come along to opening night, if not, we perform later in May in Holyhead, North Wales then on to London, Oxford and Germany. See you there!
And so to a tiny lul in the FFIN DANCE calendar.
The Easter dance faktry festival and intensives (April 24th/25th) were amongst our most successful in terms of participation, audience figures and quality since we started these activities back in 2008. Lots of happy dancers young and older and happy parents and friends, it was a great event.
Then on to London. On Tuesday I travelled up to Trinity Laban to join Megan and Catrin who have been working with Gary Lambert on a new duet for our Still Standing Tour. The work ‘Being’ was being shown as a private sharing in a low-key, informal setting which was truly beautiful. Gary invited the onlookers to enter the space and move around to watch the dancers from all angles and to get up close and personal. Some great feedback and also an invite to show the work at a gallery in the future. We will be showing the duet in our home theatre, The Met on May 15th and other venues on the tour.
This year saw our first group of students entered for A Level Dance through our ffin dance faktry. They had their practical moderation on Thursday and all did really well, we are hoping for some excellent results, just the written exam now in June, so fingers crossed for them.
A few days catching up in the office now awaits after a day off to recharge my batteries, I very much hope to see you at one of the tour venues.
Please follow our blogs as we journey and do keep in touch
Whilst 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.
So it’s a couple of weeks since our first airing this season at Coleg Y Cymoedd and it’s taken the intervening time for me to actually find a moment to process and reflect on the evening.
What has really hit me is how different Stand Up Straight felt in situ as opposed to rehearsal time in the studio. Of course with every piece there is growth when being transferred from studio to stage…much like when learning to drive, it’s not until you pass and are out there on your own that you fully understand what it takes. You come to anticipate this change – beyond a point there is little more to be done in the studio and the introduction of the fourth wall brings with it an inevitable change.
However, with Stand Up Straight, it was quite a shock to my system how exposed, vulnerable and disorientated I felt in performance. I suppose this is the very nature of the piece – with several minutes of spinning on the spot included to induce dizziness there’s always going to an edginess to cope with but the amount that this was heightened by having an audience in and the introduction of lighting was considerable. After one of my bouts of spinning, I came to a stop what felt like barely a few inches from someone sat in the front row. This demonstrated to me that the control and adaptability I had built up during studio time had gone out of the window – such a sense of unpredictability is pretty scary to encounter mid-performance!
What scares me even more is knowing that in Abertillery we’ll be spinning on a rake and that there’s a drop at the front of the stage into the auditorium…anybody have some spare crash mats?!!
It’s been about 7 years since I last taught A Level Dance, and how I’ve missed it!
I introduced the course into Ebbw Vale Senior Comprehensive School back in the 80’s where I was Head of the Dance Dept. It was a successful course back then and has continued to grow and develop, becoming the fastest growing A Level in the UK in recent years. It covers all aspects of dance from choreography, healthy eating for dancers, anatomy, dance performance, and lots more.
Sadly when I left the school, Dance was no longer included in the curriculum at any level.
For the past 2 years, I have been researching the demand for the course and attempting to persuade the post 16 education providers in Blaenau Gwent to partner FFIN DANCE to facilitate the course for young people in the Borough. This has proved to be an exceptionally negative past time. However, all things come to those who wait!
We have joined with Abertillery Comprehensive School who is our registered centre, and have made this course possible to young and adult learners on their own doorstep. We are delivering the course from our home studio in The Met, Abertillery and our first session took place last evening.
The moral of the story? Be brave – leap in faith and make your own destiny ..