Category Archives: Dance

To Speak of Wales in Dance by Eva Marloes

Back from its recent international tour, National Dance Company Wales (NDCW) is now bringing contemporary dance across Wales with this year’s production of Roots. Two of the pieces, Rygbi: Annwyl i mi by Feargus Ó Conchúir and Codi by Anthony Matsena (who grew up in Swansea) explicitly reference Welsh culture and society.

Anthony Matsena

Rygbi portrays the shared effort of rugby players on the pitch, in triumph and defeat, while Codi (meaning uplift) explores how mutual support can lift up communities that have been suffering from economic and social deprivation.

The Roots tour aims to be understandable to audiences across Wales; yet it is not an exercise in pleasing an audience with familiar themes and symbolism. It speaks of Wales in the language of dance from the richness of the diverse backgrounds and experiences of NDCWales choreographers and dancers.

Feargus Ó Conchúir 

NDCWales Artistic Director, Feargus Ó Conchúir, brought up in the Ring Gaeltacht in Ireland, heads dancers and choreographers from Wales, England, mainland Europe and Singapore. In the companies recent international tour, they represented Welsh contemporary dance in Japan during the Rugby World Cup.

During its Welsh tour, Roots gets to the heart of Wales geographically, emotionally, and culturally. With performances in Mold, Cardiff, Blackwood, Ystradgynlais, Narberth, Aberdyfi, Caernafon, and Pwllheli, NDCWales shows a commitment to bring dance to diverse audiences in sometimes very small venues and confronting technical challenges. 

Aisha Naamani

Aisha Naamani, a Welsh and Lebanese dancer with NDCWales, tells me how important Roots is for her, ‘it’s my favourite tour because you go to these small places and even if its not a large audience, it’s hard, but they go away with a brand new experience.’ Ó Conchúir’s piece Rygbi was first performed at the Eisteddfod. This is the first time NDCWales has done so. It has brought dance to a new audience. Aisha told me, ‘I’ve never performed in front of so many different people … We’ve had more of a turnout of men coming to watch the show and people genuinely stopped and watched … We spoke to many people about the piece itself.’

By taking contemporary dance out of the studio and bringing it outdoors and in small venues across Wales, NDCWales is at the forefront of making and sharing Welsh culture and identity. It challenges monolithic views of Wales and articulates a Welsh culture that is at once rural and urban, local and cosmopolitan, and, above all, enriched by diversity. Cultural identity is a conversation, always changing and always carried out by different people. Fearghus Ó Conchúir tells me, ‘national identity is something that is constantly being created and recreated; it’s not something that exists and you reflect or don’t reflect. So for me our role as the National Dance Company is to be part of the conversation that continues to define and redefine what national identity is.’

Like dance, an identity is fruit of collaboration, of individuals giving their own interpretation, and of the public being part of that conversation. So national identity is constructed by people who imagine and reimagine a place and a culture. For Ó Conchúir, ‘Welsh identity is defined by people who are born here and have left, people who are born here and stay, the ones who have just arrived, the ones who are passing through, we all make a place, even people who have never been here and we are thinking about Wales and are helping to imagine Welsh identity.’ 

The work of interpretation of Welsh culture by artists shows that there isn’t a single unchanging identity, to which one needs to be loyal. There is no homogeneous and authentic Welsh culture, but a range of identities within Wales and making Wales. Ó Conchúir tells me, ‘there are all kinds of people living in Pwllheli. … If I had assumed that where I grew up in Ireland, which was an Irish-speaking area, with a very strong traditional culture. If everyone assumed that that was the only thing that applied there, then I wouldn’t have found a route to where I am now.’ 

Ó Conchúir, who studied ancient Irish literature, tells me that, in the ancient Irish myths, people moved continuously between Ireland and Wales. They were ‘popping over, like we go over to Newport, they go over and consult A seer or something or they go and see a warrior and come back, it just, reminds me that mobility and exchange and mixing has always been happening.’ 

It is in the mixing where art happens. Contemporary dance incorporates movements from different sources, be they different dance styles, sport, martial arts, everyday movements, and gives it a shape to explore what it means to be human. Contemporary dance is a plurality of styles, languages of movements, and inspirations held together by a shared structure. The dance emerges from the synergy of disparate elements, from dancers expressing their individuality while also making space for others, and from pushing physical and symbolical boundaries. Contemporary dance holds difference and is made through difference. It is the perfect metaphor and embodiment for those aspiring to a pluralistic country. 

‘Playing Ballet and Dancing Contemporary’ – Discovering Contemporary Dance with National Dance Company Wales by Eva Marloes

If you want to get an inkling of what contemporary dance is, you need to watch dancers not dancing. Ahead of a run, Rehearsal Director Pablo Sansalvador-Chambers asks dancers of National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) to ‘space it,’ go through the movements to check where they are meant to be. The movements are only sketched. No need for focus. Tim Volleman, a dancer with NDCWales, scratches his newly grown beard and jokes making funny moves that are extraneous to the piece in front of Elena, another NDCWales dancer. They are not meant to dance, only to go through the moves. There is no acting, no presence, no intensity. Then the run begins. I watch and feel their muscles tensing up and contracting, their body stretching and twisting. That power, swiftness, energy I’ve come to recognise in contemporary pieces is back.

Contemporary dance has a strange quality to it. It doesn’t go for the graceful lightness of ballet, for clearly laid out patterns, for established and precise movements. It has a spontaneous quality, but it is not carefree; it is intense. ‘I think contemporary dance can get very serious,’ Aisha Naamani, one of the NDCWales dancers tells me. It is so serious that dancers need some comic relief at times, after a hard phrase or when they get things wrong. They do so by playing ballet. Ballet, that invisible ‘other,’ that parent who is always in the room and yet belongs to another space. It often creeps in as an aside, something that doesn’t belong and yet is part of one’s core identity. When it gets too tense, dancers ‘play ballerinas’ and release the tension.

All dancers of NDCWales have had some training in ballet; yet as they begin the ballet class led by Pablo, they blush and feel awkward. ‘If you mess your pirouette, everybody sees it,’ says Nikita Goile, dancer and choreographer of the piece Écrit, part of the Roots production now touring Wales. They do indeed. Unlike most piece rehearsals, Pablo begins the ballet class by drawing back the curtains and revealing the mirror. The class begins with gentle movement to slow piano music. It is not classical music but pop music in a piano version. This time, the ‘escape’ from the intense focus required by the ballet class is found in extraneous movements that are not ballet. Some dancers release the tensions by doing some martial arts or street dance, and blushing. As the music gets faster, the movements get faster, as the music gets more recognisable, the dancers sing. Some move to the rhythm of the music as a preparatory preamble to get into the required ballet movement. 

Ballet is ‘healthy, nutritious,’ says Tim, ‘it is structured, it gives you a good base, a rule. To be able to break the rule, you need to know what the rule is.’ Contemporary dance takes the established rule, the customary view, the narrative structure and subverts them. It wants you to see with new eyes. As Aisha explains, an element of contemporary dance is to ‘try to think of ideas differently, or explore different ways around a common thought, whatever that might be. Someone once said to me contemporary dance is this big umbrella, movement that doesn’t necessarily have a story all the time, it’s more about an experience and your interpretation of it.’ 

Contemporary dance can be very conceptual, sometimes too conceptual and abstract. I have heard dancers often complain about it. The NDCWales production Roots seeks to be accessible and engaging.

The piece Rygbi Annwyl / Dear by NDCWales Artistic Director Fearghus Ó Conchúir, expresses the mutual reliance, joy, and disappointment of the national sport; Anthony Matsena’s Codi speaks of the community spirit of the Welsh valleys; Nikita Goile’s Écrit is about the flows of personal relationships; Ed Myhill’s Why Are People Clapping? captures the playfulness of sport and dance.

Common to all the pieces is an energetic quality of movement. Energy is often mentioned. Aisha tells me, ‘You can have the same angle of an arm but how you get the arm to that place is going to have a different energy.’ She pauses and then continues, ‘I think it comes down to quality and what kind of, to put it with an image, if someone moves their hand, they’re pushing water or something heavy that gives a different quality and energy than moving through air. Quality creates different energy in the room.’ 

‘There are problems with contemporary dance,’ Pablo says, ‘the public come out and don’t understand anything or they don’t know why it was like that.’ The danger of abstraction and obscure symbolism lurks behind contemporary dance creations; yet there is something mesmerising about contemporary dance. For Pablo it’s ‘the realness, the physicality without the illusion that it’s pretty or untouchable. Classical ballet has to be flawless and exquisite. Contemporary dance can be all that but it is more organic.’ Contemporary dance seems to draw out life from dancers. The effort, pain, and intense emotion of it are laid bare for all to see. It is raw and unreservedly human. 

(This article is based on
Eva Marloes’ interviews with Aisha Naamani and Pablo
Sansalvador-Chambers as well as the observation of NDCWales rehearsals of Roots)

Roots opens today at Theatr Clwyd in Mold.

Mold Theatr Clwyd Thursday 7 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK

Friday 8 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK

Cardiff Dance House Tuesday 12 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 13:00 BOOK

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Thursday 14 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Blackwood Miners Institute Tuesday 19 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Ystradgynlais, The Welfare Thursday 21 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Narberth, The Queens Hall Friday 22 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Aberdyfi, Neuadd Dyfi Sunday 24 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Caernarfon, Galeri Tuesday 26 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Pwllheli, Neuadd Dwyfor Wednesday 27 November 2019, 19:30BOOK

Review : Some Like It Hop Hop, Zoonation, Peacock Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

A tale as old as time, Some Like It Hip Hop by Zoonation is a story about mistaken identity, crossed wires, love, loss and family. Taking themes from Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot and Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night, this story is not like any other – of course, it has Zoonation’s comical, emotional and energetic style.

Verging on a cross between Street/Hip Hop dance and physical theatre, this piece sees little vocal additions to the performance except for a narrator. Emotions, actions and events are all played out physically, and this in itself is well formed, slick and smooth. The physicality looks so easy, so gentle but any one who has previously danced knows the extreme energy, the muscle and the technicality that goes into even the smallest of moves.

The character’s all do a great job of bringing the feelings into their general persona – this being reflected in their facial expressions, in every movement and the whole performance is well polished.

While I did enjoy this, and it arose a sense of longing for the days where I danced like this, it wasn’t my favourite of all the Zoonation productions I have seen. There is an essence of a similar theme with their storytelling – mostly always with a narrator, the character’s being quite stereotyped e.g. the nerdy guy who incidentally was the same nerdy guy in their Alice and Wonderland piece and it feels a little predictable when you have seen them a few times previously.

None the less, Zoonation’s pieces are always entertaining, fun, astonishing with skill and a definite good night out. If you like a little boogie after at your seats, or being very involved vocally throughout, then this is for you.

Review Out Of The System:Mixed Bill, Dance Umbrella by Tanica Psalmist

Out Of The System : ‘MIXED BILL’ curated by Dance Umbrella, featured guest programme ‘Freddie Opoku; in partnership with Bernie Grant ArtCentre & Systems LAB. Out from this stemmed acts who brought more than just multi-disciplinary, deeply conscious and lucrative art.

All pieces structurally provided visual content that were richly infused with innovation & culture. This was exceptionally recognised during the first act of the evening, ‘Fragility in Man’ by dancer Theo Inart. His unique segment poured vulnerability on stage. A one man show featuring live looping, un-dressing, mental channelling & emotional battling through movement & sound-making. Each movement foretold his insanity as a man looking sane, meanwhile each sound enchanted torment from the infliction of oppression within society as a man.


Next on ‘Exhibit F’ by Becky Namgaud. Her piece was the most abstract out of the other pieces showcased, to the point where you would’ve needed to pick her brain to find meaning within the intensity of her choreography & low light to dark mood lighting choice. Becky’s performance grasped attention being the only act who was nude, top half of her body. She’d incorporated sounds of running water, stayed levelled on the ground the entire time with an ambience sound I struggled to find the correlation with to match her theme. However, in spite of this I’d describe this piece as deeply metaphorical, original, innovative with complex moves combined with contemporary & Capoeira style of dance. I perceived this piece may have been more personal, explaining why it wasn’t self-explanatory to members of the audience. This gave Becky’s presence power & bravery, as she interestingly also had a lot of repetition on stage. 


Followed on from Becky’s piece was a duet act, ‘Beyond Words’ performed by FFion Camberwell Davis & Tyrone Issac Stewart. Ffion first appeared on stage wearing lingerie, whilst Tyrone appeared in boxers, circulating a lot of their movement at the beginning on balance where they’d climb & step on to one another weary of their surroundings. As their piece built more momentum both acts started exploiting various episodes of their unique individuality through phases of facing judgment, living in a world where your made to feel uncomfortable when in reality feeling comfortable with yourself. To portray their multifaceted mindsets they’d transitioned to a volume of costume changes on set, emphasising through spoken-word that external factors don’t define them but helps in finding their purpose to re-connect deeply to their roots. The incorporation of spoken word for me was distinctive, as it helped exclaim the powerful discovery of two individuals dressing down to reflect the value found in being at one as a collective amongst people with different tribal history.


Lastly, Jonzi D presented his piece ‘Aeroplane Man’, which personally blew me away the most! His piece was a perfect way to end the showcase as he took the audience on a never-ending, mental plane journey bringing nothing but himself. Energetically jogging on one spot as he physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually ran his way to various regions expecting respect & acceptance only to land in his top chosen destinations to visit his ethnic heritage, origin of ancestors, heritage of his indigenous people… yet facing rejection, humiliation from every angle he turned, but not giving up, hopeful of finding unity, validation, identity & belonging who wouldn’t see him as a fabricated, disillusioned wannabe; unable to speak his mothers tongue, recognise his African tribe and fully fit due to be seen as a migrant. A story of a man telling his story through the lens of witnessing himself as a coloured man, born & raised in England, birthed from West Indian parents who came to England during the Windsrush & so fourth. Themes of propaganda, racism, community, adaptation in search of finding home, his catchy lyrics got you hooked on where his next flights were booked.


All artists decided to focus on an abstract way of grouping their political, emotional views on factors that surround the society in spite of issues that not every single person in the audience would have had reciprocated. All pieces were well rehearsed, embodying characterisation and well thought through in terms of mis-en-scene as the choice of lighting, dress outfits, music and other implications of sound- was what truly signified the importance elements & finding meaning in their content to take something away with you even if it wasn’t a chunk load.  As a collective artists FFion Camberwell Davis, Tyrone Issac Stewart, Becky – Namgauds, Miguel-Altunaga & Florian- Peus demonstrated effective, triumphed work they should each be proud of.  

Credits

THĒO INART / FFION CAMPBELL-DAVIES & tyroneisaacstuart / BECKY NAMGAUDS / JONZI D

(FRAGILITY IN MAN) PART 1
Choreography Theo TJ Lowe
Art Direction Theo TJ Lowe
Sound Collaborators Louis Van Johnson, Sabio Janiak
Voice Work Theo TJ Lowe
Performer Theo TJ Lowe

EXHIBIT F
Choreographed and performed by Becky Namguads
Additional Direction Marso Riviere
Music Yael Claire Shahmoon
Producer Amy Sheppard

Curated by DU Guest Programmer Freddie Opoku-Addaie
A Dance Umbrella production
Presented in partnership with Bernie Grants Arts Centre

An Interview with Sam Pullan Nominee for Young Person of the Year, National Rural Touring Awards 2019.

Hi Sam great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I am a 15-year-old who is very interested in the technical side of theatre. I do a lot in the hall which is closest to me which is Neuadd Dyfi in Aberdyfi . I help out with all types of events that happen in the hall from small touring shows, dance and talent shows to our local pantomime.


So what got you interested in the arts?

It all started when I moved down here at the age of 7, my mum became involved with Aberdyfi Players the 1st year we moved down here.

Aberdyfi Players directors Su Tacey and Des George outside the Neuadd Dyfi earlier this year with the two awards for Best Pantomime overall in their District in Wales and Best Stage Management and Special Effects. Amateur Theatre National and Operatic Dramatic Association (NODA) for their 2018 production of Aladdin.

I was pretty much dragged along to watch the performance of their yearly pantomime. From the moment I walked into the hall I wanted to know how to work the lighting. Most children at that age wouldn’t have continued to think about it but after talking to mum she introduced me to Des George who runs the hall and he fuelled my interest even more. I didn’t join Aberdyfi Players straight away but it wasn’t long as I was inching to get involved with the tech side with Des’s knowledge, help and experience it has got me to where I am today.

Congratulations on your nomination for Young Person of the Year in the National Rural Touring Awards 2019.The awards recognise the valuable work of productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff in the rural touring sector. What is your role at Neuadd Dyfi?

Good question, I don’t feel I really have one specific role at the Neuadd, I try my best to help with as many things as I can. Obviously my main interest is lighting and sound which I help all the touring companies or events which come into the hall with.



Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to accessing high quality productions for audiences at Neuadd Dyfi?

I would have to say it would be the size of our auditorium, we have had half of the hall levelled out, but we would like it to all be retractable seating. If we did have retractable seating installed it would open up so many more opportunities.


If you were able to fund an area of the arts what would this be and why?

I have to say it is difficult to choose one area to fund, it would have to be backstage in general. From props to tech


What excites you about the arts ?

The fact that everyone comes together to form one big team and works together to create one big show. Everyone has their own part from technical to costume to performing.

What was the last really great live performance you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

It would have to be ‘I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost’ by Little Earthquake. By far one of the most mind twisting shows I have ever watched, if you get the chance ( no pun intended) to go and watch it please do. The meaning behind it is amazing but that’s all I can say about it.

The next productions to play at Neuadd Dyffi are,

Mrs Peachum’s Guide to Love & Marriage by Mid Wales Opera

Roots by National Dance Company Wales.

National Dance Company Wales are also running a free Day of Dance at Neuadd Dyfi on Saturday the 23rd of November. Booking details are below.

Dance Infused with Energy – Behind the scenes with Anthony Matsena by Eva Marloes

Contemporary dance is storytelling without narrative. It evokes emotions and thoughts through movement and rhythm. It is the body that speaks, over music, over story, over costumes. Something is said through movement. I watch dancer and choreographer Anthony Matsena trying ideas with Will Bridgland and Artemis Stamouli for his piece Codi, which is part of Roots, the autumn dance tour of National Dance Company Wales. He is going through only some small sections of the piece; yet, I get a sense of his energy-infused dancing style.

Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Swansea, Matsena has trained in street dance and contemporary dance first in his hometown Swansea and then London. He is now back in Wales to collaborate with the showcasing of Welsh dance talent with the National Dance Company Wales.  

Before the start, Matsena asks Will Bridgland and Artemis Stamouli how their body is, that precious instrument of expression, at once strong and fragile. During a movement, Matsena says: ‘your body is much heavier in this … don’t rush, take your time.’ It’s an exercise in stretching the body but always going with the body, not against it. This seem counter to some experimental contemporary dance that seeks to test the limits of the body in an attempt to break boundaries. Matsena’s dancing style has none of that. 

Matsena’s dance style is infused with energy. It is noticeable ever after watching him only briefly. The movement is fluid, broken up, tense, slow, and fast. He kicks with legs and pushes with his hands. In a duet with Stamouli, he picks her up, holds her, and turns her gently. It is a delicate and intense dance where every movement seems effortless and yet mindful. They are present in every move. 

Matsena began as a teenager with Hip Hop, Krumping, Street Dancing, and African Dancing. I ask him to what kind of movements he is drawn. He tells me he is drawn to ‘highly energetic movement, variations in velocity, speed, I’m drawn to phrases and movement that have high energy.’ 

I ask him from where he draws his movements. He tells me they come from ‘the curiosity of the different things the body can do,’ as well as a very eclectic training. He is fascinated by how other people move. In the first week with the dancers from National Dance Company Wales, Matsena worked on exploring their different ways of moving and approaching movement. He wanted ‘something that best shows their skills, their unique experience.’ ‘The hard thing is framing it,’ Matsena tells me, ‘it’s not about teaching them to dance but to find a frame that holds those skills.’

Dancers inform the piece and are engaged because the piece is partly theirs. Matsena did not want to impose how his body moves on them; rather he wanted to find a place where different styles can coexist and are distinguishable. Contemporary dancing rests on collaboration; yet it is also a deeply personal practice that strives for personal expression, for authenticity.  

‘If you’re being true to yourself, you will be authentic,’ Matsena tells me. ‘You need to use the tools that are true to you in order to transmit that idea. Then it will feel authentic. … Sometimes I don’t recognise what I’ve done but that’s because it’s new. If I set myself the task to find a new pathway, it won’t feel natural, it won’t feel authentic. … Krumping, Hip Hop, Street Dance, I know the foundations of these techniques, but if I try something new, it’s gonna feel not authentic until it’s authentic. When it sits in your body you feel it’s authentic.

Dancing in a way that pleases people, that will be liked, is not authentic. ‘Part of being a dancer is being conscious and aware, of what you are doing,’ Matsena says. Authentic dancing lies in using the dancer’s ‘unique way of viewing things to elevate them to extraordinary things, simple things.’ Simple things, like a tree, are transformed in a dance piece through the perspective of the artist and thus shift people’s perspective. A new dimension is added to everyday objects or actions.  

I ask Matsena what the unique feature of dance is within the arts. He tells me that in theatre words can be limiting because they define, dance is ambiguous and each person can come away with a different insight. Yet, dance, for Matsena, should be accessible. People should be able to relate to the meaning behind a dance piece. Dance bridges, when words fail us, it’s got this magical thing that gives this physical empathetic transmission between the audience and the performer, the things that we recognise but cannot articulate.  

Matsena is drawn to stories and pieces that can convey what it means to be human, particular and univesal. For Codi, Matsena sought to combine elements of African dance, street dance, and the sense of community of the Welsh valleys. Codi is about finding solidarity in community.  

The best thing to do this was to do something that is closely related to Welsh communities. ‘I was looking at the Mining industry. … Once collapsed, you want to find your way out to the surface. … I wanted to make people aware of the support system around them, opening people’s eyes to everything that is around them. It is not about everything is all right. When you recover you still have the stain on the shirt from before. … If we’re trying to crawl up, how do we do that? We shape it in a way that people can find each other.’

At home, in Wales, Matsena feels free and able to create art. ‘There’s this crazy energy and freedom I get when I’m home. I make better work when I’m here. There’s a lid that is lifted when I’m home.’ With Codi, he taps in the sense of community and place that is at once particular to Wales but also universal.  

Codi forms part of the National Dance Company Wales autumn Roots tour, further information can be found below.

Mold Theatr Clwyd Thursday 7 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK

Friday 8 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK

Cardiff Dance HouseTuesday 12 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 13:00 BOOK

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Thursday 14 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Blackwood Miners Institute Tuesday 19 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Ystradgynlais The WelfareThursday 21 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Narberth The Queens Hall Friday 22 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Aberdyfi Neuadd Dyfi Sunday 24 November 2019, 19:30 01654767251

Caernarfon Galeri Tuesday 26 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Pwllheli Neuadd Dwyfor Wednesday 27 November 2019, 19:30BOOK

Get your Chance to Dance with National Dance Company Wales at Welsh Theatres this autumn!

National Dance Company Wales are running Days of Dance at a range of venues in Wales this autumn. The day will consist of a range of workshops for a variety of ages. The workshops will be linked to the NDCWales Roots autumn tour which visit the same venues later this year.

Roots features four short pieces of dance from Wales, each different from the one before it.

Roots is a guided tour through contemporary dance. NDCWales take some of our favourite pieces and pair them with a discussion to help you get to the heart of the stories, and learn behind-the-scenes secrets.

Rygbi: Annwyl / Dear by our Artistic Director Fearghus Ó Conchúir celebrates rugby in Wales and highlights the hopes, glory and passion of rallying together on and off the pitch.
Rygbi was created with input from rugby fans and players across Wales so that the dance really echoes the sport.

Écrit by Nikita Goile was inspired by a letter from iconic artist Frida Kahlo to her partner Diego.
The clever duet is performed by a female dancer and a giant silhouette of her lover. It’s a beautiful power struggle that reflects the ups and downs of passionate relationships.

Why Are People Clapping!? by Ed Myhill is set to composer Steve Reich’s Clapping Music and uses rhythm as a driving force. The dancers use lively movement and clapping to create a soundtrack for the fun and dynamic dance.

Codi by Anthony Matsena who grew up in Swansea and is about Welsh people who come together to tackle isolation and depression during troubled times. It’s an energetic and uplifting dance about the strength of communities.

You can book Roots tickets here

There is more information on the Day Of Dance workshops and how to book below.

Blackwood Miners Institute

Get your chance to dance with National Dance Company Wales at Blackwood, Miners Institute this autumn!

NDCWales is organising a FREE Afternoon of Dance at Blackwood, Miners Institute on Saturday the 9th November 2019. Take part in a FREE dance workshop. Participants will get the opportunity to learn dance elements of the forthcoming Roots tour, coming to Blackwood, Miners Institute on the 19th November. A range of other FREE activity will also be taking place throughout the day. Perfect for complete beginners as well as those with dance experience.

The below workshops are FREE if you book tickets for Roots at Blackwood, Miners Institute on Tuesday 19 November 2019 7:30pm To book a Roots ticket and FREE workshop place please book in person, or contact the Box Office on 01495 227206.

Please note workshop places are strictly limited.

Workshop Times

14.30 – 16.00 Dance for people with Parkinson’s, their friends and families


16.15 – 17.15 7-11 Years


17.30 – 18.30 Age 55+

The Queens Hall, Narberth.

If you book a ticket for ROOTS, by NDCWales at The Queens Hall Narberth on the 22 November you are eligible to a FREE place on a Day of Dance Workshop being run by National Dance Company Wales on 9 Nov 7:30 pm at The Queens Hall, Narberth. Tickets need to be purchased via the Box Office – please call 01834 869323.

Workshop Times

10.-11.30 am 6-12 years

11.45-1.00 pm 13-18 years

1.30-3pm 16-25 years

The Welfare, Ystradgynlais

The Day of Dance takes place on Saturday the 16th November, this is your chance to explore the pieces and learn some of the moments explored on stage. Freedom Leisure will also be in attendance running some free sports activities throughout the day. Contact 01639 843 163 to book.

Workshop Times

10-11.30 6-11 Years

11.40-1.00 12-16 Years

1.10-2.30 Professional/Pre Professional

2.40-3pm 25+

Neuadd Dyfi, Aberdyfi

The Day of Dance at Neuadd Dyfi,Aberdyfi will take place on Saturday the 23rd November from 3-5pm. The Day will be supported by Sarah Verity School of Dance. Tickets are £3.00 and this gives you £3.00 off the price of a ticket to Roots by NDCWales at Neuadd Dyfi on Sunday 24th November at 7.30 pm. the To book a place email sarahverity93@hotmail.co.uk.

Galeri, Caernarfon

The NDCWales Day of Dance at Galeri Caernarfon takes place on Sun 17 Nov. Tickets are £3.00 and this gives you £3.00 off the price of a ticket to Roots by NDCWales at Galeri, Caernafon on Tuesday the 26th November at 7.30 pm. To book workshop tickets contact Galeri Box Office on 01286 685 222 Or at the links below.

Workshop Times

10-11.30 Age 6-11 Book

11.40-1.00pm Age 12-16 Book

1.10-2.30 pm Professional/Pre-Professional level Book

2.40 3.30 Age 18+ Book

Dance and Audiences at Neuadd Dyfi with Sarah Verity

Hi Sarah great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I have been dancing since the age of 3 and have trained in many dance styles such as ballet, modern, jazz, street dance, freestyle and Cheerleading. I completed the IDTA Dance Teaching Diploma in Freestyle and Modern Jazz with Distinction and I am qualified Cheerleading and Fitness Instructor. I have been privileged to work alongside many industry professionals such as Wayne Sleep and Darcey Bussell.

Since graduating from the University of Manchester, I performed and taught overseas before moving to Leeds to own a dance franchise which involved teaching dance in schools and the wider community.

I was a member of the National Youth Theatre and have gained much Musical Theatre experience over the years. Since recently moving to Aberystwyth I have already acquired many dancing opportunities and teach at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Dreams Dance School and set up my own Dance School ‘The Sarah Verity School of Dance’ as well as teaching freelance in local schools and the wider community.

So what got you interested in the arts?

I have danced since the age of three and despite my peers stopping dancing in their early teens, I have always had the desire to continue. During my academia studies at school and University, dancing and the performing arts has always been an escape for me and a form of self-expression.

You run your own dance school called, The Sarah Verity School of Dance. Your dance provision is obviously very important as its the only dance school in the area and teaches a range of dance styles to all ages, including adults. What do you hope to achieve with your dance school?

The positive effects of dancing whether it is as a hobby or as a career are significant and I have been fortunate enough to live in different places across the UK where dancing has always been an option. Therefore I wanted the people of West Wales who live in the more remote areas to have the same opportunities, without having to travel a great distance. I have been fortunate with my dance career and have seen the positive impact dancing has on children and adults. My aim is to continue to have a positive impact on people’s lives through dance.

You are collaborating with National Dance Company Wales to support a Day of Dance at Neuadd Dyfi,Aberdyfi on Saturday the 23rd November from 3-5pm. Do you think its important for organisations like NDCWales to work with community dance organisations such as your own?

I think it is amazing that we can offer the opportunity for people in this area to be able to work and be trained by National Dance Company Wales and have the experience of watching them perform, without having to travel to the city. I hope it will be a valuable experience for the National Dance Company Wales artists too, to work with dancers with mixed abilities and dance experience.

NDCWales then play at Neuadd Dyfi, Aberdyfi on Sunday the 24rd November as part of their autumn Roots tour. This is the first time the National Dance Company has performed at the venue, what piece of work are you most looking forward to seeing from the Roots programme and why?

I’m looking forward to seeing Why Are People Clapping!? by Ed Myhill as it has similarities with the musical ‘Stomp’ which I have been a fan of from seeing it at a young age. I love the simplicity of making a rhythm out of a simple sound and then gradually layering different sounds and movement onto the beat to produce an amazing result.

Neuadd Dyfi,Aberdyfi is an Arts Council Wales Night Out touring venue and is clearly an important asset to the local community. We interviewed Des George who runs the venue, in 2017,  how is the venue important to you personally?

Theatre Rum Ba Ba performing “L’Hotel” at Neuadd Dyfi, Aberdyfi, under the Arts Council of Wales ‘Night Out’ scheme Sunday 14 August 2016 ©keith morris

The venue has ‘West End’ standard facilities such as amazing lighting and sound equipment and sprung floor rehearsal space, which we are so fortunate to have in a small village in West Wales. We were able to rehearse and perform our dance school shows at the venue, which is so important for the pupils and their parents to have this opportunity as it is the largest venue in the area.

Theatre Rum Ba Ba performing “L’Hotel” at Neuadd Dyfi, Aberdyfi, under the Arts Council of Wales ‘Night Out’ scheme Sunday 14 August 2016 ©keith morris

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to accessing high quality Dance provision?

In deprived areas, it is difficult for parent/guardians to have extra income to pay for their children’s dance tuition. Therefore cost of dance tuition is reduced which means that the income is also reduced for the dance teacher. Even reduced fees may still be a considerable expense for some of the parents paying it.  

If you were able to fund an area of the arts what would this be and why?

Enabling funding for underprivileged children to be able to partake in dance lessons.  

What excites you about the arts ? 

In a world of ever changing political situations, climates and technological advances, the arts still remain a form of liberation from the pressures of modern society, yet it also has the opportunity to enable expression around such issues and has the potential to influence the future.

What was the last really great live performance you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

Despite living far from the city, we are very fortunate to have a local cinema that portrays the ‘live theatre screenings’. Therefore last year Matthew Bourne’ s adaptation of ‘Cinderella’ did a live performance from Sadler Wells that was screened to our local cinema in Tywyn. It was an hour to watch. We are lucky enough to have his latest version of ‘Swan Lake’ coming to our cinema as live screening at the end of November, which I am very much looking forward to.

Many thanks for your time

An interview with Artist Jeannie Clarke

Hi Jeannie, so what got you interested in the arts?

I have been drawing and painting ever since I was a child – and I went to a Grammar school where the only subject I excelled in was Art – so it was inevitable that I would go on to try to make a career in the Arts somehow!!

You are fairly new to drawing and painting contemporary dance, can you tell us more about your work in this area?

For a time my professional work was centred around racehorses – As a child I was obsessed with drawing and painting them and especially the way they moved. I have always been interested in the human figure too – not particularly portraiture but the figure itself, especially in movement.

Only a year ago I was invited to a National Dance Company Wales, Open Rehearsal in London where the company were rehearsing for a show that night – that was my introduction into seeing dancers at work and I have been trying to capture my response ever since!

How has your relationship with National Dance Company Wales developed?

Well, I think I am hooked! Since that first encounter with the dancers I have worked almost exclusively on studying the way they “work”, whether they are resting or rehearsing and have been fortunate to be able to come to Cardiff and spend some days with them in the studio sketching and photographing and in particular I am building up a body of work depicting their production of “Rygbi” which I hope to exhibit next year, fingers crossed…The dancers themselves are hugely enthusiastic and supportive of what I do and are genuinely intrigued to see what I produce. As for me, I am completely in awe of what they do – obviously!!

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for artists?

Hm… for artists? I haven’t personally hit any barriers in that sphere. I was a teacher in mainstream education many years ago before I left to pursue a career in commercial art. but I am sure that my own involvement with the art world has placed me in a bubble which has shielded me from exposure to barriers and I am sure they DO exist.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts what would this be and why?

For some years after I left mainstream art teaching, I worked with children and young adults who had special needs and varying disabilities (as they were then called)… Our art and creativity sessions were a joy! Hugely beneficial but hugely underfunded and undervalued and certainly would get money!!

What excites you about the arts ?

Wow, where to start!……how much space have I got?….Lets put creativity, in whatever form, back into peoples lives! … Its transformative and life enriching…..

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

You mean apart from watching the dancers from National Dance Company Wales almost flying across the stage so beautifully and bringing me to tears……it don’t get much better than that!    

National Dance Company Wales are touring Roots to venues across Wales this autumn.

Mold Theatr Clwyd Thursday 7 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK

Friday 8 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK

Cardiff Dance HouseTuesday 12 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 13:00 BOOK

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Thursday 14 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Blackwood Miners Institute Tuesday 19 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Ystradgynlais The WelfareThursday 21 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Narberth The Queens Hall Friday 22 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Aberdyfi Neuadd Dyfi Sunday 24 November 2019, 19:30 01654767251

Caernarfon Galeri Tuesday 26 November 2019, 19:30 BOOK

Pwllheli Neuadd Dwyfor Wednesday 27 November 2019, 19:30BOOK

It Will Come Later – a review by Eva Marloes

The latest production of the International Contemporary Dance Collective (iCoDaCo), It Will Come Later, explores the interconnected and interdependent nature of human beings with a little help from science. We are individuals, part of a collective, and nature, in a constant effort to transform. In this piece, the body is not only a means to communicate different ideas of transformation, but a tangible instance of it.

The dancers collect their sweat in little glass jars, which will then be connected to a small lightbulb. Electricity can be derived from sweat, as scientists have foundhttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170822092209.htm. Our body transforms under strain and produces sweat and sweat can be transformed into light.  It Will Come Later is infused with raw energy from bodies being pushed and pushing each other.  

A group of dancers form an ensemble by pushing one another in concentrated effort and maintaining connection. They move slowly at the edge of the stage. As they reach me, one pushes my knee and connects me to him and the group. I am suddenly part of that shared energy. There are remarkable duets where dancers display a beautiful interdependence, balance, and reciprocity. In one, a dancer is in a static position, like a statue, and is handled with care by another, then they begin to exchange roles faster and faster. As they take up pace, the careful lifting and handling gives way to stretching, slapping, and tossing the statue’s body to one side. In another duet, the couple begin by fighting each other, but it soon becomes clear that they are challenging each other so that they can sweat more. Perspiration brings inspiration and fights desperation, we are reminded. The body transformation, as a metaphor, is open to the interpretation of the audience.  

The dancers, alone and together, create a mesmerising performance alternating beautiful plasticity, frenzy, gentleness, and primordial intensity. No special effects, no fancy costumes, no elaborate scenario, no dominant music. It is the piece’s simplicity what makes it most compelling and successful in conveying transformation.  

iCoDaCo hosted a workshop on the theme of transformation, Eva Marloes writes about it here.

Performances of It Will Come Later at Chapter Arts Centre run until 26 September 2019. Tickets available now