Category Archives: Dance

Interviews and articles from 2018

Please find below a range of interviews and articles from the Get the Chance team published in 2018.

Welsh and Wales based artists respond to the new Arts Council Wales Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”  

Guy O’Donnell.

A response to Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

Ahead of the 2018 Brecon Baroque Festival, Roger Barrington had the chance to chat to it’s Artistic Director, Rachel Podger about what to expect this year and also about her own flourishing career as one of the world’s leading violinists.

“Gramophone Artist of the Year” Rachel Podger in conversation ahead of Brecon Baroque Festival 2018

In this article we interview a range of arts professionals to share good practice in the areas of Access, Inclusion and Diversity.

Sharing Positive Action to support Access, Inclusion and Diversity

I am going to explore with you the invaluable discoveries and perspective gained from participating in the YANC event held at the Wales Millennium Centre over last weekend.

Beth Clark.

A response to Casgliad 2018 – Nurturing Youth Arts in Wales By Beth Clark

In this article we look forward to a range of cultural highlights in 2018. Thanks to all of the creative artists involved for their own personal response.

Guy O’Donnell

Looking ahead in 2018 Culture, Creativity and Change!

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Rachel Boulton, Artistic Director of Motherlode, they discussed her background, thoughts on the arts in Wales and Motherlodes new production ‘Exodus’ which premiers at the Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare on the 5th of October before touring.

An interview with Rachel Boulton, writer and Director of Exodus.

Philip Ridley’s acclaimed one-act 2000 play, “Vincent River” tells the story of a mother whose son Vincent has been murdered in a homophobic attack. In the aftermath, she learns about her son’s homosexuality. An interview with Director Luke Hereford.

Roger Barrington.

Preview with Interview of “Vincent River” at Jacobs Market, Cardiff 19-21 September 2018

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Sarah Rogers, Artistic Director of Ransack Dance, they discussed her background, thoughts on the arts in Wales and her new production ‘Murmur’, taking place on Fri 14th September 2018 at Memo Arts Centre, Barry.

An interview with Sarah Rogers, Artistic Director of Ransack Dance

An audio/subtitled interview with Carole Blade, Director of Coreo Cymru and Creative Producer for Dance in Wales. Editing by Roger Barrington.

An audio/subtitled interview with Carole Blade, Director of Coreo Cymru and Creative Producer for Dance in Wales. 

Top Tunes with Jonny Cotsen

Top Tunes with Jonny Cotsen

Get the Chance values the role Welsh or Wales based playwrights bring to the cultural life of our nation. Here is the latest interview in this series with actor and playwright Matthew Trevannion.

An interview with Matthew Trevannion

The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with playwright and actor Joe Wiltshire Smith.They discussed his background, creative opportunities for young people in Bridgend, his new play Five Green Bottles and his thoughts on the arts in Wales.

An interview with Joe Wiltshire Smith

The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aisha Kigwalilo. They discussed her background, a new arts project called G.I.R.L. Xhibtion and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.

An interview with Aisha Kigwalilo

The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aleksandra (Nikolajev) Jones. They discussed her background and training, a current project Gravida and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.

An Interview with Aleksandra (Nikolajev) Jones

An interview with BSL interpreter Cathryn Heulwen McShane

An interview with Cathryn Haulwen McShane

The Get the Chance team choose their cultural highlights of 2018

We asked our team to choose their personal three cultural events of 2018 along with a favourite performance and/or organisation. Enjoy reading their individual responses below.

Barbara Elin

2018 has been quite a year; when I submit my thesis on New Year’s, it will be the culmination of four years of intense research, and quite the end of an era (and hopefully the start of a new one). So I’m lucky that, in between the furious bouts of writing and the dreaded editing, I’ve been distracted by some truly brilliant productions, too many to narrow down – from the vicious Motherf**ker with the Hat to the inventively-staged Turn of the Screw and the impressive evocation of character in This is Elvis and At Last: The Etta James Story, 2018’s theatre and dance landscape has provided an embarrassment of riches. So I’m going to cheat a little bit in narrowing down to my ‘top 3’…

3) For ingenuity and fun, Mischief Movie Night/ Murder for Two

No two productions have made me laugh this year more than these two – and though they share a common thread of entertaining ingenuity, they’re vastly different from each other. The former showcased the talent of Mischief Theatre’s on-the-spot improvisational skills, the latter was a tightly-wound machine of script, song and silliness. Both of these productions demonstrated how creative and clever the craftsmanship of theatre is – all while making you laugh too!

2) For pure, joyous entertainment, Young Frankenstein / Rock of Ages.

I love a good musical, and these are two of my favourites in recent memory. The original Young Frankenstein movie is in my top 3 movies ever, so I worried a musical version with a whole new cast could never do justice to the original – well, it did with bells on! Brilliant songs, spectacular setpieces and an original evocation of that original cast made this a must-see. And I have such special memories of seeing Rock of Ages for the first time, so it always has a place in my heart – it’s also one of the only truly great jukebox musicals I’ve seen, and this new cast reinvigorated an already raucous, rip-roaring ride! Can’t wait to see it a fourth time…

1) For powerful and haunting work,

Cascade Dance Theatre’s Frankenstein 

Theatr Clwyd/Sherman Theatre, Lord of the Flies

These two productions utterly blew me away with their beautiful, haunting performances – both reimagined old classics in new, intriguing ways and were utterly gripping from start to finish. There are moments in both shows that I will never forget, and without doubt they are the best productions of 2018 for me.

Personal Highlight: It’s only appropriate, given my research into Frankenstein and the bicentennial of the novel’s publication, that I started and ended 2017 with Frankenstein-related productions – Young Frankenstein on the West End in January and Cascade Dance Theatre’s Frankenstein on the tail end of November. So my personal highlight of this year would be presenting my research in Bologna for the Frankenstein bicentennial conference. I’m so grateful to Prof Anthony Mandal and the CRECS/ RomText team for this wonderful opportunity.

Venue of 2018: The Sherman Theatre’s dedication to inclusivity, accessibility and innovation remains unmatched in my opinion, and their post-show panels are always a joy to be a part of. Many thanks to Tim Howe for involving me.

Company of 2018: Cascade Dance Theatre’s Frankenstein did the impossible – reimagined Mary Shelley’s classic almost wordlessly, in imaginative new ways with stunning moments and dark, modern twists. Bravo!

Gareth Ford-Elliott

For number three I’ll say Cheer by Kitty Hughes at The Other Room. This was fun and alternative and out of the things I reviewed, definitely one of the best.

For number two I’d have to say Humanequin by Kelly Jones at Wales Millennium Centre. This was an important piece of theatre and despite not being the best was definitely the most important piece I saw this year.

For things I’ve reviewed I would definitely have to say Cardiff Boy by Kevin Jones at The Other Room is number one. This was the best all-round show I saw outside of the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Every aspect of it was brilliant and it’s up there with one of my favourite shows I’ve ever seen.

For the cultural events, things I didn’t review, I will say Five Green Bottles by Joe Wiltshire-Smith and Spilt Milk Theatre as part of the Cardiff Fringe Festival. This was an excellent script produced independently. Joe is one of the best upcoming writers in Wales and Spilt Milk are one of the most passionate theatre companies. Together they produced an amazing show which I can’t wait to see again, developed, at the Sherman Theatre in 2019.

Judith Hughes

Exodus by Motherlode

With underlying serious issues about the struggles and problems of working class Valleys people, Rachael Boulton and her team have created a funny, clever, relevant and thought provoking piece of theatre that strikes a chord with its audience; a reaction that can be heard in their laughter and the warmth of their response.  Suspend your disbelief and climb aboard Exodus airways, it’s better than Easyjet!

Passion, NDCWales/Music Theatre Wales

All credit must go to what must have been an incredible amount of hard work from all of the performers, creators and collaborators. I was unexpectedly riveted to the story they told and absorbed in the whole aspect of the show.

Best thing in 2018 overall was listening to Bruce Springstein’s autobiography (actually published in 2017) which I had on Audible and listened to it twice. What an amazing story – and such a fantastic storyteller. All my life I wasn’t a fan until I read this book.

Hannah Lad

My top 3

3.Dick Johns – Lets Talk about Death Baby!-Really enjoyed just watching a truthful story with no pretences!

2.Dirty Protest: Light Speed at Pembroke Dock – A lovely heart warming story that reintroduce play to theatre!

1.Comedy at Howl, International Women’s Day – Just so good to have such a diverse group of women together in one room!

My favourite arts event I have attended this year was Casgliad hosted by Youth Arts Network Cymru! Such a brilliant weekend with so many awesome creatives!

Sian Thomas

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella 
I’ve only seen two ballets ever and this was the best one. I followed the story and I really liked the subtle changes they made to it and the way it was performed. Lovely show.

Open Mic Night (Cardiff Fringe) 

Had to include the Fringe! It was the most fun thing I did this summer! Because god I just really really adore this event and I really hope it’ll be back next year – I always love testing out my writing on an audience there. It’s such a safe space and such a confidence booster! Lovely atmosphere, people, and always a lovely summery evening!

Ravensong by TJ Klune

Still because he recognised me, the group, and my old review. Loved feeling seen by an author I admire. The story was fab, the representation was great, and it was a lovely book to read to take one’d mind off things. Also ended with a great cliffhanger! I get so excited when he tweets about new books of this series come up. So this is definitely my #1!

My cultural event:

The fact that I wrote 100,000 words of the second draft of my novel!! I’m just super, super proud of myself. There’s not much to be told: I work on it when I can, work on it slow and steadily, make sure everything is okay, and it’s building itself up into something (hopefully) spectacular!

Barbara Michaels

My Three Best of 2018

With such a plethora of good theatre now available to us in Wales, it is difficult to select just three among the cornucopia of events that has been on offer – from the grandeur of Welsh National Opera, up there with the best in the world, to more humble productions working to tight budgets. For my money, here goes:

Alice in Wonderland at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

The multi-talented Rachel O’Riordan’s last production for the Sherman before departing for the Lyric Theatre in London.   O’Riordan pulled all the stops out, with the result that this was fun – as a Christmas show should be – but also showed the dark side of Lewis Carroll’s well-known story. Musical numbers were a delight, with several of the characters on stage musicians and rising to the challenge.  Not staged as a musical, but one waiting in the wings perhaps?  A cunningly designed black and white set allowed for the full range of Carroll’s famous characters – White Rabbit, Mad hatter and even the Caterpillar – to be displayed to advantage.

Moving on to Number 2:

Evita.  

This new production of a classic breathed fresh life into thetrue-life story of Eva Peron with a brand-new cast who more than justified their selection.  Following in the footsteps of Elaine Paige who made the role her own was never going to be an easy task and Lucy O’Byrne’s heart-rendingperformance of ‘Don’t Cry for me, Argentina’ at what was Eva’s last appearance before her death brought tears to the eyes.  It was also good to see some of the emerging talent coming out of Wales in the shape of Swansea-born Mike Sterling as Peron.

First on my list is WNO’s La Traviata  A revival, true, but excellently staged and performed and with Verdi’s wonderful score rendered with a master touch with two sopranos experienced in their roles and Roland Woods’ sonorous baritone lending gravitas to the role of Germont pater, how could it fail to please? An opportunity for the remarkable WNO chorus to shine and for the ladies among them to enjoy wearing elegant ballgowns. The excellent director David McVicar wisely chose to keep to the traditional, with a sumptuous period setting whose opulence reeked of decadence.

Personal best:

For me, it has to be musical theatre and The King and I, which I saw in London.  A sheer joy from start to finish, with Kelli O’Hara as Mrs Anna and Ken Watanabe as the King of Siam taking on the iconic roles made famous by Yul Bryner and Deborah Kerr and performing them with enthusiasm and expertise. First class.  Enhanced for me, I have to admit, in that I was accompanied by a posse of grandchildren helping me to celebrate a big birthday!

 

Karis Price

Theatre Clwyd and Sherman Theatre excelled this year with Lord Of the Flies, with its all female savage cast had me jumping out of my skin and seat whilst offering a critical insight to the frailties of humanity.

However it is the rip roaring, toe tapping hand flapping Great Gatsby from Theatr Clwyd/Guild of Misrule that topped the bill for me in 2018. This innotive, interactive piece held in a run down pub in town was totally engrossing, a brilliant use of venue and a talented cast not just of professionals but community too. (More of this in 2019 please Theatr Clwyd!)

On the whole 2018 was pretty dull in the cinema however one film stood out as been worth the trip to the big screen ” Marvels Infinity Wars” I am an Averger fan girl and this film ticked all the right boxes, it was the ending to the origional Averngers story arch, all the Marvel films todate were building up to this battle … it was worth the wait and the bitter end just left me wanting more.  Of course this doesn’t see the end of the Avengers, but it will be the end for some of the best loved characters and the begining for some new… I only hope the sad passing of the wonderful Stan Lee does not mean we loose the style and wit the MU has created.

 

E. M. BLESS’ON III

The Black History Month grand finale at RWCMD was my personal cultural event of 2018 because it attracted a broad spectrum of the community. Attended by many dignitaries including the outgoing First Minister – Carwyn Jones AM, newly-elected First Minister – Mark Drakeford AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport – Vaughan Gething AM, young people and several elders from various communities in South East, West and North Wales, it was a celebration of diversity in Wales.

Gareth Williams

Keeping Faith

From its humble beginnings as Un Bore Mercher on S4C, I could never have imagined that this drama would prove to be so popular with UK audiences. Subsequently broadcast in the English-language on BBC1 Wales, it would become the most downloaded show ever on BBC iPlayer before being shown on primetime BBC1 in the summer. Deservedly sweeping the board at the BAFTA Cymru Awards, I will be outraged if Eve Myles is not at least nominated for a BAFTA in 2019. Her portrayal of Faith Howells, whose world is rocked by the disappearance of her husband, is deeply emotional and utterly captivating. This is surely her defining role.

Wild Silence – The Wandering Hearts

If I had to pick one album to recommend from 2018, it would Wild Silence by The Wandering Hearts. When I first heard it, it was their incredibly refreshing and genre-blending sound that captured my attention. The more I’ve listened to the album, the more the lyrics have come to the fore and I’ve discovered another fascinating layer to their fabulous array of songs. To finish the year seeing them live in Liverpool confirmed my belief that these guys are destined for bigger things.

Home, I’m Darling, Theatr Clwyd

My theatre highlight this year has been this co-production between Theatr Clwyd and the National Theatre. With its life-size house for a set, its bold and brash set design, and its wonderful costumes, the overall look is enough to pull you into its 1950s world. Starring Katherine Parkinson and Richard Harrington as the couple living it up in a lifestyle of nostalgia, its saccharine exterior slowly melts away to reveal a darker and very pertinent narrative that will have you firmly gripped from beginning to end. Another triumph for Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd, Tamara Harvey and her team.

Frankenstein, Cascade Dance Theatre at Chapter Arts Cardiff

2018 has been quite the Franken-tastic year. With conferences a-go-go and a veritable funfair of Frankenreads events, the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s game-changing masterpiece has been quite fully, and rightfully, celebrated en masse. Having studied the book in-depth for thesis-y reasons over the past four years, I’ve consumed the story in myriad mediums from the filmic, to the televisual, to the orchestral, including a gender-swapped web series and that icky Sean Bean show loosely ‘inspired by’ Victor’s dodgy dealings with the (un)dead.

So I was thrilled at the prospect of Cascade Dance Theatre* translating the tale in their latest much-lauded production. I’d seen the Royal Opera House’s lavish stab at a Franken-centric ballet on TV a couple of years ago – but found their faithfulness to the source material resulted in a less powerful whole that, while visually spectacular, was ultimately undermined by the rushed, soap opera-esque ending. How, then, would Cascade fare with six performers, two musicians, and a single simple set?

Beautifully, as it turns out. Artistic Director Phil Williams (winner of Wales’ Best Male Dance Artist Award at the Wales Theatre Awards 2017) has carefully assembled an excellent adaptation that is small in scale but large in style and ambition, fulfilling the heart of Shelley’s tale in creative new ways. The ensemble is excellent across the board, with Stuart Waters as a suitably haughty, believably tormented Victor, and Jordi Calpe Serrats in an endlessly vibrant and deeply sympathetic turn as the creature. Their connection is compellingly ambiguous: there is no directly analogous relationship to theirs, meaning that Victor is in turns the creature’s God, father, masculine ideal, romantic interest and romantic rival. Their bond could have set a positive precedent for humanity; but their mutual violence to one another and people close to them renders them variously perpetrator and victim to the other until their battle concludes in bloodily Biblical fashion.

Although Frankenstein was written by a woman, and especially one with such a famous feminist mother, there is a curious dearth of female characters in the text that are afforded the same active roles and complexity as their male counterparts, being mostly passive recipients of male violence. It’s a lovely reversal, then, that the women of Cascade’s Frankenstein are the absolute highlight of an already-stellar production. Caldonia Walton shines particularly brightly as Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor’s far-superior fiancée; Walton imbues kindness, strength and a genuine warmth of character to what is often a thankless role, and lights up the stage whenever she graces it. And the tremendous trio of Anna Cabré-Verdiell, Desi Bonato and Luca Dora Bakos steal the show entirely – case in point…

…We open on a truly haunting image: the creature, encased in chrysalis-like bindings, being meticulously inspected by a trio of women whose white strobes cast the only light in a sea of darkness. At first, they seem like explorers; archaeologists hungrily inspecting the excavated remains of an ancient burial site. But as the drama unfolds, the trio’s more otherworldly nature is revealed; they seem at times to be angelic guardians, at others mischevious sprites, even mythological beings like the Graeae, the three sisters of Fate from Greek mythology, and their spiritual descendants in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Bonato, Bakos and Cabré-Verdiell (who doubles as the female creature) not only dance superbly, but inhabit multiple roles with ease and panache, and I felt at times that they acted as Mary Shelley’s muses, helping her to tell her story two hundred years later on that appropriately dreary night of November 2018.

The sumptuous performances are complemented and enhanced by the rest of the production’s creative endeavours, not least Hristo Takov’s atmospheric lighting, and Paul Shriek’s spectacular set and wardrobe design. The set is evocatively uneven, making the most out of jagged inclines and the morgue-like slab on which the creature is brought to life, and on which Victor ends as his creature started; the costumes are artfully-tattered and ethereally expressive with shades of Vivienne Westwood. All of which is tied up in a gorgeously Gothic bow by Jak Poore and Ben Parsons’ eerily emotive score, composed and performed live by the two on stage like Romanticism’s answer to Daft Punk.

There are scenes in this production so haunting and beautiful that I will never forget them, and are well worth the price of admission alone – you won’t believe how they perform the sending of a letter, but it’s an unexpected delight. The programme promised a more creature-centric narrative, and they definitely delivered – one scene follows his flight from a macabrely-masked mob who taunt and beat him. You totally feel the creature’s pain and the endless cycle of fear, frustration and rejection from which there seems to be no way out. And I’m not sure Mary Shelley would have envisioned her creature bumping & grinding at an Eyes Wide Shut-inspired rave, but Cascade makes it work (plus I think the rebellious Mary would have approved): a masked group writhe and worship at the monolithic neon altar of SHELLEY’S BAR, escalating in impressively incendiary fashion. And the dance between the two creatures, one living and one lifeless, was utterly breath-taking: Serrats and Cabré-Verdiell transform what could have been a deeply awkward encounter into the show’s emotional apex.

Not everything lands; having affectingly conveyed the creature’s birth, rejection, and loneliness without the need for words, it was jarring for Victor to suddenly start monologuing the ‘dreary night of November’ speech when we had literally just seen it happen before our eyes. The creative team should have had more faith in its superbly talented cast to convey the story through performance alone. If there had to be words at all, it would have been infinitely more effective if they were more sparingly used – though the creature’s first word being ‘father’ was an effective moment, Victor’s sporadic speechifying was not. And though Elizabeth’s letters were nicely presented, I still find the exposition a little clunky in an otherwise elegant retelling.

It was on a dreary night of November that the creature beheld the accomplishment of his toils; standing before the same slab on which he was birthed, on which now rests the bodies of his victims. He wraps them in the bindings that once imprisoned him, and retreats across the stage into darkness once more, all the while unfurling that umbilical cord-like tether, his last tie to humanity. It’s a fittingly melancholic end to a stunning production that I cannot recommend highly enough. Whether you’re a Frankenstein fanatic like myself, or if you have the most passing familiarity with the text, you’re sure to find Cascade’s adaptation wonderfully rewarding. It’s been touring around Wales since 1st November, but you should definitely catch one of the last two performances of this remarkable show either tonight or tomorrow (30th Nov/ 1st Dec) at Chapter Arts: https://www.chapter.org/frankenstein, http://www.cascadedancetheatre.co.uk/

 

*In co-production with Taliesin Arts Centre; supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government and the National Lottery, with additional support from Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Ty Cerdd and Creu Cymru.

A response to Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

Our mission statement at Get The Chance is “Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.”

We were very pleased to see some of the priority areas in the new Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

In particular we were interested in Commitment 2 below

We will enable a greater number and a wider diversity of people to enjoy, take part and work in the publicly funded arts.

ACW then go onto make a series of intentions (below) for where they want to be in 2023 (5 years)

We will be able to demonstrate clearly that all our funding programmes promote and contribute to equality and diversity

There will be a narrowing of the gap between those in the most and least affluent social sectors as audiences and participants

We will develop the creative work of disabled artists by funding “Unlimited” commissions and developing a scheme similar to “Ramps on the Moon” operated by Arts Council England

We want to introduce a “Changemakers” scheme placing BAME and disabled people in senior executive positions in the arts

We want to see a doubling of the number of disabled people in the arts workforce

We want to see a doubling of the number of Black and Minority ethnic backgrounds in the arts workforce

We want to have introduced an Arts Council Apprenticeships scheme designed to provide opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds

We will have achieved a trebling of the number of BAME and disabled and on APW boards of governance

We have been in discussion with a number of colleagues in the arts sector in Wales to request a personal response to Commitment 2 and are pleased to share their responses below. Please do get in touch if you would like to contribute.

ACW are currently asking for responses to their Corporate Plan and future Lottery funding priorities from members of the public,  you can make an online response at this link .

Or attended one of the physical meetings. The public meetings associated with the consultation will take place at Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham (30 November), Volcano, Swansea (10 December), Riverfront Newport (7 January 2019), Aberystwyth Arts Centre (11 January 2019) and Pontio, Bangor (21 January 2019).

Further details are available on the Arts Council of Wales website. The consultation closes on 15 February 2019.

Carole Blade, Creative Producer

Coreo Cymru

During 2019, Bombastic and Coreo Cymru will be hosting Family Dance Festival, a 70-minute entertaining and interactive dance programme for families, presented free of charge in theatre foyers and outdoors during the Easter holidays. Piloted in 2017 and further developed in 2018, Family Dance Festival features three Wales-based professional dance companies and local youth groups at each venue plus taster workshops for all, framed within a bilingual (Welsh/English) context and supported with accessible shows and feedback systems.

Our 2018 programme delivered an accompanying training and seminar event to promote Audio Description, resulting in the first Welsh language audio described live performances. In 2019, we will also offer BSL interpreted shows and focus on developing an audience and appetite for these services by actively forging relationships with members of the blind and D/deaf communities. We will do this through visits to local support centres, clubs and groups, offering programme insight and critically supporting a dialogue, asking questions to inform our deliver methods and to reveal a wider view of general provision, requirements and needs. Working in collaboration with Creu Cymru’s Hynt and the local venue, we will gather data to support general approaches to accessible practice in Wales starting with visits to local clubs and later request feedback relating to their FDF experience.

We will again work with Audio Describer Ioan Gwyn, who benefited from FDF2018 bespoke training programme and toured with the company offering both Welsh and English language descriptions. We will also work with experienced BSL interpreter Sami Thorpe of Elbow Room, to support the text based work and our reach. Their understanding of the target audience and experience within the performing arts, coupled with our plans to consult with individual service users through visits to their respective clubs and groups, prior to the tour, will enable the means and structure for a quality service. Ioan and Sami will work with the Front Of House staff at each venue to ensure quality customer care of our accessible audiences, positioning themselves at the box office to welcome and familiarise. Where possible we will integrate Ioan and Sami into the actual performance to positively reinforce inclusiveness and will create specific feedback forms to inform delivery and methods.

Gareth Coles / Voluntary Arts Wales Director / Cyfarwyddwr Celfyddydau Gwirfoddol Cymru

The second commitment in the Arts Council of Wales’ new Corporate Plan recognizes that the challenge is to increase and diversify participation in the publicly-funded arts. But levels of participation in different forms of creative activity may actually be very high, as people practice their creativity in libraries, church halls, pub function rooms and on kitchen tables and bedroom desks. Voluntary Arts Wales estimates that there are around 4,000 community and amateur creative groups in Wales. But these voluntary and everyday creative activities may not benefit from public subsidy, and therefore may not regularly appear on the radar of public funders.

There is a rich and diverse ecology of the arts in Wales: an ecology that we believe includes amateur, everyday creativity as well as the professional arts, and in which all elements are interdependent and mutually supportive. An attempt to engage more people in the publicly-funded arts might start with an appreciation of the creativity that people choose to practice themselves. Rather than see a deficit of engagement in the arts, we might recognise the cultural assets and activities that already exist within communities across Wales, and build stronger links with the publicly funded arts.

 Diversifying governance

In 2016, Voluntary Arts conducted a project called Open Conversations to improve our understanding of creative cultural activity in Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities across the UK. We convened an Advisory Panel of experts in BAME creative activity, who made introductions, accompanied staff on visits, and met regularly throughout the project to discuss findings. Voluntary Arts staff and Expert Panel members conducted long, unstructured and informal conversations with practitioners across the UK. At the end of the project, we invited the Panel members to become Trustees of Voluntary Arts, and now 5 of our 11 Board members are from BAME backgrounds. As a result of this work, we became the first arts organisation to win a Charity Governance Award for Board Inclusion and Diversity.

We have also sought in recent years to celebrate the excellent work that exists in the voluntary arts sector to champion diversity, through our annual Epic Awards. Get the Chance was a recipient of the Celebrating Diversity award in 2017.

Increasing participation

Our Drawn Together project, a partnership with Coast Lines, has engaged over 2,500 people of all ages in producing over 5,000 observational drawings – creating a collective visual representation of Wales in 2018 (now on display in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff). The feedback shows that 96% of participants felt happier and more positive as a result, but the majority weren’t creatively active, or involved in any arts or community groups. We believe this worked because we took the project to places where people convene: in existing community groups, libraries, cafes, care homes, workplaces and schools. We worked with Big Issue vendors in Cardiff, residents living with dementia in a care home in Pembrokeshire, RNLI volunteers in Aberystwyth and farmers in rural Denbighshire. A majority of project participants now want to continue their creative practice.

Branwen Davies

Writer/Theatre Maker

I welcome this commitment. We all should. We all benefit from a wider diversity of people enjoying and taking part in the arts.It needs to be ever evolving and new energy and life bought in. We all have skills, experience and stories to share. Quite often I find we are ignorant or unaware of challenges facing others and it needs to be addressed and challenged and become second nature not a box ticking exercise.

In uncertain times socially and politically, especially where people feel threatened and surrounded by divisions and threats, the arts can play a pivotal role in confronting fears and open channels of communication. We are social animals. We need to seek each other out. We need to go knocking on doors and meet face to face and not rely so much on social media to connect.

I constantly bang on about the transformative power of the arts! It’s life-enhancing – music, theatre, images, installations, dance etc in all it’s glorious forms. They enable us to communicate, engage and express ourselves and that positive experience can spill out in to all areas of life. It gives us an emotional literacy and helps us try and make sense of the world and our surroundings. It infuriates me that music and drama and literature are constantly threatened within the education system and that there are less opportunities from an early age to engage and benefit. Mental health issues, anxiety and lack of confidence is on the rise in schools and I am in no doubt there is a direct link. The arts are essential to our wellbeing and the earlier we are exposed the better. It is also vital to ensure that there are opportunities for all ages and that it isn’t all focused on youth but continuous in to old age.

It has to start with a conversation – what are the complex needs of different cultures, genders and abilities in Wales? For a small nation our diversity and needs are huge! There is no one size fits all. What are the present weaknesses and gaps and challenges and how do we approach change and a new model of addressing and implementing things for the benefit of all? It’s essential to give a voice to those who aren’t usually given a platform and we must empower those who don’t think their story is of value. We also need to showcase and showoff what we can offer so that people are aware of the possibilities and the work that is and can be created.

The image of the arts needs to be changed so that people feel that they can take ownership and that it belongs to them. It’s up for the current gate keepers not to just welcome and implement an open door policy and a willingness to listen but to actually do the ground work and seek people out face to face. This connection and nurturing needs to be sustained. We have the talent, skills and expertise in Wales but we need, especially in times of funding cuts to pool resources and collaborate and communicate much better than we already do and to be in regular contact and communicate and share knowledge with each other.

My background is in playwrighting and one positive experiences I have had was ‘The Fresh Ink’ initiative with the Sherman Theatre where over a period of 10 weeks I visited St Teilo School in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff. I worked with a group of students who had never visited the theatre and who had little confidence or interest in writing. Allowing them to step away from thinking and writing academically, encouraging them to find their own voice and to take ownership of their language and rhythms of speech the students grew in confidence and produced extremely moving and passionate short plays that were then performed by professional actors at their school in front of their peers. Their reaction and their pride in their words and stories was empowering. For the first time some of them felt they had created something of worth and value and were proud to share it. The Sherman are currently running a playwrighting scheme for similar students to whom opportunities have been limited. The weekly sessions are free of charge and transport is provided. The students work will be performed at the Sherman in the spring.

 

 

Adeola Dewis

Artist, researcher, academic and TV presenter

I have just read the corporate plan. I feel little excitement although I think the targets are attractive. My main contribution to this goes back to the idea of getting out of offices and on to the streets, into community spaces without an agenda and seeing what one can learn.

This feels like wanting to do research and already knowing the answer. I think its problematic in its genesis.

Of course the key is the youth, the next generation but I also believe that bodies like the ACW already have a public image and in order to broaden its public perception (increase participation and attendance in publicly funded arts), honest work will need to be done from the inside, beyond inviting token BAME individuals to be on their board. This crucially involves getting to know who you are working with and for and perhaps getting your ‘targets’ from the people and what matters to them rather than the governments with their outward facing strategies.

I am struggling to articulate a coherent response to that as I believe the response would need to be rooted in research. What I mean is, we are talking about arts participation, but that is just ‘our’ arts. There are groups and communities making ‘arts’ and doing their thing that get washed over for various reasons. What is at the core of the desire to increase participation? What are ‘more diverse’ communities and groups already doing and how do we foster conversations that facilitate an equal space for voice and visibility and limits the threat of appropriation.

 

Bethan Marlow

Writer 

First of all, the fact that these goals and priorities have been set is fantastic because it means we’re really acknowledging that this is a problem. There are many, many people still feeling excluded from the arts (not just as audience members but as people wanting to work in it too) so having a goal to change that can’t be anything but a good thing.

How will it actually be achieved?…….. action. Action by all. Everyone, every single one of us currently working in the arts needs to assess our ways of working, our processes and avenues of finding collaborators and we need to really question how inclusive we’re been the past. And if we haven’t been inclusive, or inclusive enough, we MUST, must make change. From hiring to casting to finding audiences we must continuously ask ourselves whether we’re doing enough to make sure that ALL people feel invited. I sometimes feel like I’m the P.C police these last few years (I’m sure my co-workers feel it to!) because I have made a conscious decision to ask the difficult questions and speak up for those not in the room. And it’s not always comfortable. It makes people uncomfortable but the only reason we all feel uncomfortable is because we know there’s a problem. “Have we gone to all lengths possible to find BAME actors that can audition for this part?”, “Our focus should be on finding female musicians”, “have we considered Welsh learners for this part?” I don’t ask these questions to make people feel guilty, I’m doing it so that we can create active change so that we’re not guilty of being exclusive. We need to keep reminding each other of being inclusive until it becomes second nature.


Abdul Shayek

Director of Fio

I guess my major reflection on this has to be that whilst we have a statement being made by ACW which I believe is the right one. What seems to be missing is the response from arts leaders who have the resources to really make a difference. I guess unless a firmer and clearer picture is presented in terms of the sharing of power and resource, the inevitability is that this will remain words on a page. We, have to question how a sector which is led by same people will suddenly decide this needs to be prioritised just because ACW has said so, we need to go further and find other more innovative solutions where power is shared more equally?

Review of “Swan Lake” at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon by Roger Barrington

 

 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Ladies, have you ever encountered a situation when engaged in a spot of on-line dating that, with great anticipation, you arrange to meet for the first time, your Mr. Rights, a suave, slim, handsome, rich, witty, successful, etc. guy…and someone like me turns up?

Well, if you have, you may well feel mightily let down, a feeling that I had when viewing the Russian National Ballet production of “Swan Lake”.  “Russian National Ballet” – grandiose title, so they must be good. National – state endorsement in a country that prides itself with its plethora of ballet companies and academies, that, no other country can rival for it’s quality in depth – well you can imagine my sense of anticipation.

Oh dear! Wrong!  Not the Russian National Ballet performing – just producing.

Wrong! Not a state endorsed ballet company but a family run business.

Wrong. Not a Russian Company at all, but one from Belarus.  That used to be the annoying country to the south of Russia, that you needed a visa to visit or travel through, as I found out to my cost hen planning a rail journey from London to Moscow. Nowadays you can have 30 days to sample the delights of this country, not exactly on the tourist map.

The Russian National Ballet’s mission, is to keep the tradition of classical Russian ballet alive, “by bringing various ballet theatres from Russia and Belarus who embrace the traditional nature of this refined genre.

I know this, because it says so in the programme. This also informed me that I was watching the “State Academic Theatre of Belarus”, a fact that I didn’t realise until I returned home after the performance. For many in the audience, who didn’t buy a programme, they most probably still believe that they had seen the “Russian National Ballet” in action.

I googled the “State Academic Theatre of Belarus” but couldn’t find any reference to an institution by that name. There is one with a similar title in capital Minsk, so I guess this must be the home of the corps  de ballet on display.

Having kind of sorted all that out, I turn to the ballet itself. There are many versions of “Swan Lake” that have evolved from its first performance by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4th March 1877. This version is the shortest swanning in at the two-hour mark, which includes a 20 minute interval.

After a rather flat (literally) start the company gradually got into gear. I wondered whether their rather inauspicious start was down to the gruelling schedule that the company have endured since commencing their UK tour on 3rd October. By the time they reach Brecon, five weeks later, they had already performed at 31 venues in all countries of Great Britain. A punishing schedule by any standards, but for one as physically demanding on the body as ballet, it is almost suicidal. They must really love their Art because, unless you are a principal dancer or a soloist, you don’t enter this profession to become rich.

Another consideration, is that the dancers have to get used to the dynamics of the stage they are performing at, because they would have had little, if any chance to rehearse.

I won’t bore you with the familiar story of white and black swans, wizards and handsome prince Siegfried., whose a little too fond of hunting for my liking.l

A you would expect, choreography follows the traditional work of Imperial Russian Ballet (later became the Kirov) Master Marius Petipa and his collaborator Lev Ivanov. Tchaikovsky’s beautiful and well known score was piped in. Unfortunately, I found the recording to be a little uninteresting – solid but not the most romantic of interpretations that I have heard.

Odette was played by Elena Germanovich in this performance. A leading soloist of the Company, she performed with the elegance of beauty required of her. Her pa de deuxs with Prince Siegfried, (Alexander Misiyuk) were competently performed and balanced.

Misiyuk’s solos possessed both power and exquisitely accurate timing to the music.

The standout performer for me was  Yoshiki Kosaka’s exceptionally springy performance as the jester. He displayed a lot of humour and charm in his performance and effortlessly became the audience’s favourite.

Decent support is provided by the corps de ballet, and a very charming rendition of the “Dace of the Little Swans” by Sofia Krivushkina, Mayko Ono, Alexandra Derevianchuk and Ksenia Meleshko proved a highlight in Act 2.

It’s a solid production if not a brilliant one, and has a couple of outstanding performance. The audience left happy with what they had seen if not appreciating who they were actually watching.

 

Roger Barrington

Continue reading Review of “Swan Lake” at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon by Roger Barrington

Review of “Roots” by National Dance Company Wales at Dance House, Cardiff by Roger Barrington

 

 

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

I must begin by making a confession. Being a critic, you should be able to define what is good or bad abut a production from an informed position.

This is my inaugural dance review and I am not writing from an informed background. I used to watch occasional contemporary dance theatre in London, and in Montreal, but it must be nearly twenty years since I last saw something in this genre, and this is the first time in Wales.

Not wishing to make a song and dance about this, I tentatively submit the view that maybe in this particular art form, this isn’t too big a problem. This point, I shall return to when I review the third and final piece in this production.

The programme consists of three short pieces and collectively provide a European flavour.

The first dance, Omerta is choreographed by Italian Matteo Marfoglia.

 

Matteo acts a Rehearsal Director for “Roots” and is very passionate about the subject matter of “Omerta”. When he talks about it, he does so in an engaging manner. I happen to know this, because, by chance, ( well I think it was by chance), Matteo happened to be seated next to me, so I was in the ideal position to bombard him with questions. Despite my naivety, he answered these questions with great patience and humour and the insight he provided gave me a clearer idea of how this piece was devised.

“Omerta” concerns the role that women in Italian society, located in areas still largely under the influence of the Mafioso, combat the oppressive nature of their existence. Dressed entirely in black, and beginning with veiled faces, the four female dancers are strewn across the space, each with pails carrying water.

 

 

The background music starts with a metronomic beat and also ends in the same way. I interpreted this to mean to mark the endless passage of time that the conditions the Mafia has imposed on Italian society, and women in particular, within that void,  and assisted by the nature of its masculine domination. The spotlights highlighting individual dancers fleetingly, and the four dancers collectively, heighten the tension and focus your attention as the dancers repeat their actions of carrying and cleansing themselves with the water they are carrying.

I put it to Matteo that could the black veiled attire and the pseudo-religious music that followed, be interpreted that the four women were widows, victims of Mafioso vendettas and that the music represented the  powerful influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Italian society. Matteo answered in the negative, that the dress and music represent the region of Southern Italy that the piece represented.  Maybe I was thinking too much about Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy at this time.

With the removal of the veils the dancers sweep into a more expressive form that signify their impassioned attempt to break the shackles of this oppressive society of murder, extortion and fear.

I asked Matteo if he would like to present this piece in Italy and how it would be received there in contrast to Wales. His eyes immediately lit up and he answered that he would love to, but the nature of the piece would make it explosive to perform in certain parts of Southern Italy where the Mafia hold is still strong. He was inspired to create the piece after the murder of four judges in Sicily in the early 1990’s and the resultant protests by a group of women to these assassinations. Their courage in a very dangerous environment moved Matteo to create “Omerto”. I likened this to the Peace Movement instigated in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and he agreed.

Matteo Marfoglia is the recipient of a Creative Wales award from The Arts Council of Wales. He has also been awarded a research grant  which he is currently undertaking. He trained in Amsterdam and formerly was a dancer for the NDC Wales before branching out recently on his own and  becoming a freelance choreographer. He is recognised as a future leader in British dance and on the evidence on show in “Omerta”, it is easy to understand why.

The second piece “Bernadette” is a solo work choreographed by Caroline Finn and performed by Camille Giraudeau.

 

Caroline Finn

 

Caroline is NDC Wales’s Resident Choreographer and she also acted as Lighting and Costume Designer for this piece.

The highly effective background music is provided by French band Nouvelle Vague, “In a manner of speaking”. The lyrics of which have a real connection to this piece.

in a manner of speaking
Semantics won’t do
In this life that we live
We only make do
And the way that we feel
Might have to be sacrificed

The dreamlike quality of the sound also enhance the dance.

The piece which I found to be amusing at times begins and ends with a taped male cooking guru giving cooking tips that are received by the dancer in, almost a robotic, catatonic state.

As she starts applying these technqiues in her cooking preparation, she suddenly and totally unexpectedly throws herself across the kitchen table, projecting an egg that explodes in front of  front seat audience members forcing them to involuntarily  take evasive action.

 

 

This is repeated, not only with eggs but with flour, so by the time the performance has finished the space had resembled being hit by a bomb.

When dancer Camille breaks free from her catatonic existence she snatches off her wig and dances with great abandonment before resuming her original “Stepford Wife” existence as the guru’s voice re-emerges over the background soundtrack.

I felt that this piece, in a way, is a companion to “Omerta”. I recently read that a mother’s life bringing up up a young family is the equivalent of working  2.5 jobs. The feminist slant to this work, shows the unnoticed work that many women have to endure in the household and their ambition to break free.

Caroline Finn has a growing reputation for her work and a previous NDC Wales composition, “Folk” and this one have received rave reviews.

The final piece, “Atalay” is choreographed by Spanish artiste Mario Bermudez Gil.

 

 

Mario is Artistic Director of Marcat Dance Company. “Marcat Dance connects to the human spirit and finds inspiration from world cultures, rituals, and landscapes” according to its website and all come to notice in this production.

Atalay is Spanish for Watchtower and reflects a personal experience that Mario and his wife have when walking to a viewpoint near their Southern Spanish home. At this place is a watchtower and Mario feels a close sense of existence to the elements at this place and the natural landscapes of the mountains and the undulating land. He thinks about the four walls of the watchtower that reach out to the four points of the extended compass and imagines the fusion of the different cultures, exemplified through their dance and music. He takes you on a journey using a wide range of culturally orientated music and invites you to connect emotionally through the movement of dance. It is a personal odyssey of spiritual emotions and Mario encourages the four dancers, two of each sex, to input their own feelings revealed through the unique form of dance.

I struggled to find meaning in this composition and voiced my confusion about what the individual segments of the piece, were telling you. I put this question to NDC Wales Artistic Director, Fearghus Ó Conchúir who was with the four dancers post performance. The question met with an initial hesitation from Fearghus and when I glanced at the performers they collectively seem to have that “don’t ask me, I’m only the dancer” look on their faces. However, a consensus was arrived at that basically reached the place that I found to be what Mario’s intentions were.

So maybe I was searching for a meaning that doesn’t exist. That it is the journey and the emotions that you feel through the expression of dance, that is the thing. If there is one lesson that I learnt in this experience is that there doesn’t have to be a precise definition to contemporary dance, then it has been worthwhile.

The piece itself did convey feelings of strong emotion and beauty, love and humour, and the strong costume design and lighting made it a fitting conclusion to a wonderfully diverse programme.

The dancing is excellent throughout. I feel that not only are the dancers putting body and soul into their dancing, they appear to be thoroughly enjoying it along the way.

One unusual feature that I particularly welcomed is how Artistic Director Fearghus Ó Conchúir  introduced each piece and immediately afterwards invited you to speak to your neighbour in the audience about it and to examine each others feelings that came out of it. In addition, at the end of the programme, the audience has the opportunity to put questions to the dancers.  Together, this is a great innovation and helped a contemporary dance ignoramus such as myself to engage more meaningfully in the experience they are experiencing.

I came out of the dance space questioning myself on why .  I had missed out on a generation of experiencing an artistic genre that is a medium for mixing dance expressionism and technique, music, costume and lighting in a collaborative way that is utterly cool.

Roger Barrington

 

Continue reading Review of “Roots” by National Dance Company Wales at Dance House, Cardiff by Roger Barrington

Review of “Wicked” at the WMC by Roger Barrington

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

 

I sometimes think that I am living my life in reverse. When I was young, I was a bookish lad – reading Tolstoy whilst still in primary school for instance. I was as far removed as being Wicked as you can imagine. I have been compensating for this ever since!

“The Untold story of the Witches of Oz” is how this musical is promoted. In case you ever wondered about this, then this story will reveal all.

I never cared much about “The Wizard of Oz” . I couldn’t see myself trundling along the Yellow Brick Road, with Dorothy, Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man. One thing that as always puzzled me about this story. Obviously there is rain in the land of Oz (Somewhere over the Rainbow”), so wouldn’t the Tin Man resemble a character on TV from my teenage days from “The Magic Roundabout”?

So “Wicked” returns to Muchkinland and follows the adventures of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.

When Elphaba leaves home to attend Shiz University, a kind of Munchkinland Hogwarts, she is very green. Not only in the meaning of life, but, literally, green. Her green skin means that she is ostracied by society and she fails to make friends. That is until she meets Galinda, who later becomes Glinda, and after an unpromising beginning, a close friendship develops between them. A friendship that is tried and tested along the way. Eventually they make their way to The Emerald City where  Elphaba meets and confronts the Wizard of Oz. The nefarious wizard is behind a pogromist type plot against the animals of the land. In defending them, Elphaba suffers a fall from grace and is hunted herself.

The story does have serious themes. The devotion to fitting in and being attractive, that is hugely important to American young girls in particular and is personified within the  character of Glinda. “Beauty is only skin deep” as exemplified between Elphaba and her love interest Fiyero. The pogrom against the animals, in this case shown by the expulsion of Dr. Dillamond, a goat Professor at Shiz University, reminds us of 20th-century historic events in Armenia, Nazi German, Russia and China.

The show premiered on Broadway on 30 October 2003 after a trial run in San Francisco and is still showing at the Gershwin Theatre. It’s success reversed the trend of recent musical smash hits that originated in Britain, and has provided the impetus for an American resurgence in the genre that it started.

Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz who announced himself to the world of musicals with his 1971 smash hit, “Godspell”.  I can remember that a criticism of this show at that time, was that it was derivative of  Lloyd Webber/Rice “Jesus Christ Superstar” that preceded it by a year. Similar criticism has been aimed at “Wicked” for cashing in on the Harry Potter phenomenon. The music is nothing special , largely generic 21st century fare. The lyrics work better though.

In the performance that I viewed, Elphaba was played by Amy Ross and Glinda by Charli Baptie. Ross belts here songs over with such an intensity, it can verge on the strident.   Baptie possesses a more cultivated voice and shows an admirable talent for comic timing. For me, although Ross puts in a strong performance, it is Baptie, understudy to the stricken Helen Woolf who takes the performance honours in this production. Good support is provided by Aaron Sidwell, (Fiyero), Kim Ismay, (Madame Morrible), Steven Pinder, (the Wizard of Oz) and Emily Shaw as Nessarose, Elphaba’s invalid sister, who in Winnie Holzman’s book that the musical is based upon, becomes the Wicked Witch of the East.

Where the shows does really hit the heights is in Eugene Lee’s spectacular set design and Kenneth Posner’s lighting. Between them they conjure up a magical environment full on. The scene where Elphaba levitates and is caught in mid-air by the searchlights , that ends Act 1 is one of the most striking images that I have encountered in nigh on fifty years of theatre-going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne Cilento’s musical staging and James Lynn Abbott’s dance arrangements are also excellent and provide many memorable scenes, especially of the flying monkeys.

Susan Hilferty’s resplendent costumes also enhance the visual quality of this show.

Live music is also provided under the direction of David Rose and the orchestra acquit themselves well.

“Wicked” is a confident, (verging on brashness), visually impressive musical, that for most of you will weave sufficient magic from its wand, and put you under a spell that immediately renders a state of anesthesia whereby you forget its equally impressive admission price.

 

Continue reading Review of “Wicked” at the WMC by Roger Barrington

Womb Paves Way, The Place, Ffion-Campbell-Davies by Tanica Psalmist

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

During the beginning sequence of this dance piece we saw a tranquil essence of her head carrying a basket. Ffion resembles traditional class, depicting strong and dignified ethnic women. Ffion walks eloquently at ease whilst balancing flawlessly from afar in the dark, gradually getting closer to the moonlit spotlight, elegantly lifting the basket from her head into her arms to hold, scattering what looked like red petals on to the ground to surround her; simultaneously singing aloud ‘wade in the water’.

She was dressed in a white colonial dress, which had a petticoat style, made out of light fabrics consisting of cotton and silk. Ffion dressed in this way conveyed a representation of her ancient character, an ancestor, whose generation would later become an inhabitant of a colony.

She sang in mid-range Soprano, however suddenly her tone of voice swiftly transitioned into trembling unsettling sound effects with heavy gushing, gasp noises. This calm character had now presented emotions of pain, worry, hurt, neglect and sorrow. Her stability, balance and movement were now operating in opposition to her original energy. Her speed, direction of her body exhibited a perceived sense of disturbia in her characterisation leading her body to begin to twist and turn, push and pull, dive and duck, bend and crease as well as crawl and sweep up everything that had fallen out of her basket and lost with no hope of accumulating anything back. She slowly gave up and climbed into her basket whilst looking around her with a sense of burden and struck of darkness and curse upon her.

FFion Campbell-Davies in Womb Paves Way, (c) Carole Edrich 2018

Elimination of the torture identified in this woman spiritually came to an end once Ffion stepped out of the basket positioning her body directly to face the eyes of the audience, where we see she had more to say then give. Her soft radiant voice emotionally connecting, stemmed from her strong introductory to her family’s history, background and effects of colonialism. Ffion presented a strong autobiography of her conscious state of mind on her ancestry, with what it conveyed to her being a female on the rope to self-discovery, identity and self-expression. She then took us through an emotional journey, radiating a translucent spiritual longing for connectivity through the expression of dance, her choice of movement is daring, thrilling and resonating as the flexibility of her limbs leads her to strip down to comfortability, taking off her heap-wrap, undoing her braids so that she could caress her hair, she then subtly took of the top layer of her dress to be more free and sensual with her creativity, freedom and openness to the acknowledgment of her body.

Ffion’s sensory of movement is breathtakingly subjective and rational, deeper into her connectivity to her ancestry and acceptance of her women-identity and culture; she submits uplifting, rooted, tribal movements symbolising an unchained, happy and charismatic attitude to her individuality and regenerated mind-set. Ffion’s increased energy and fluidity from her feet travelled through to her arms projecting aspiration, hope, structure, purpose and gratitude.

A heartfelt, passionate, sincere, genuine, deep and fulfilling story told through dance, compelling music and storytelling. Conveying a fusion of emotion and reaching a place of acceptance in your skin and being; as well as having obedience to the fruits of your sprit in order to receive enlightenment, self-love, value and happiness of your nature.

Tanica Psalmist

 

Review of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the WMC by Roger Barrington

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

On an overcast autumnal evening, I dragged myself down to Cardiff Bay to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

Now my dear readers, when I write dragged I don’t mean it in the Biblical Sense. No, I didn’t don my favourite purple tutu and hot-footed it down to the recently rescued Cwmbach railway station after the weekend deluge, and travelled down the Cynon Valley on the brand new Transport for Wales network. No… not after last time and my close encounter near Penrhiwceiber. And now that my Arrival Trains ban had been lifted…well, you know. Anyway, this is dragging on a bit

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – doesn’t that roll of the toungue and sound as appetising as a Parisian baguette..Ballet and France are synonymous.  Vaslav Nijinsky and his lover  Sergei Diaghilev after creating their name in their Russian Motherland relocated to Paris where they were fixtures in salons of the avant garde and created their questionably best balletic work. In more recent times another Russian immigrant  Rudolf Nureyev found inspiration in a Parisian environment and the elegance of  French prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem have helped to elevate French ballet to the pinnacle of ballet aestheticism.

And of course, we have Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo., to take it that step further.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!  Start again.

Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, have nothing to do with France, other than it French title. Some may argue, they have nothing to do with ballet.

The troupe was founded in New York City in  1974, but origins go back a couple of year earlier. Originally playing at off-Broadway venues they received  such favourable reviews that their reputation spread and the venues they played at broke out of NYC to firstly a wider American audience and then worldwide. Ten years ago, they performed at the Royal Variety Performance in front of Prince Charles.

Classical Ballet is easy to make fun of. Who hasn’t performed gormless renditions of such standards as “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” getting on your pointes and then immediately falling off them? I am pretty sure that I have alluded to my own performances of the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Elephant”. – with my own choreography I hasten to add.

The difference here, and it is a substantial one, is that the dancers of Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo are damn good. If you cast an eye over their pedigrees, there are dancers on display that are associated in the past with ballet heavyweights such as Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet School,The Dance Theatre of Harlem,San Francisco Ballet School, English National Ballet, Beijing Dance Academy and the Central School of Ballet, (London). Although, as you might expect, the “ballerinas” are largely American, the all-male troupe also has representation from China, Japan, Cuba, Colombia, Spain and Italy.

The Cardiff programme, which seems typical of the majority of other venues it is playing at on their British tour is in five segments.

After a humerous off stage introduction announcing cast changes to the advertised programme, the curtain drops on dancers in their virgin white dresses assuming a pose of unexpectedly artistic beauty. The segment is taken from Les Sylphidess with music by Chopin. Eugenia Repelskii solos in The Valse, followed by Nina Immobilashvili in Chopin’s sublime Prelude, Opus 28,No. 7.  You’ll know it when you hear it. Nicholas Khachafallenjar and Alla Snizova amaze you with respectively, their power and grace, before the return of Nina Immobilashvili dazzles you with another Valse before the curtain falls and the first interval.

There’s not so much shenanigans on show for the next two parts, Harlequinade Pas de Deux and Trovatiara Pas de Cinq allowing such illuminaries as Sergey Legupski, Helen Highwaters, Guzella Verbitskaya and Guzella Verbitskaya showing their considerable talents to maximum effect and Eugenia Repelskii making a welcome return.

For me the highlight is Olga Supphozova’s rendition of “The Dying Swan”. 

 

 

 

The segment begins with a searchlight trying to locate the stricken bird in a scene reminiscent of the clowns in Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai. When she is eventually tracked down the audience is treated to a performance of such artistic beauty, where Ms Supphozova acts out the death throes and involuntary spasms of an intensity that Anna Pavlova could only have dreamed about, all accompanied with  extreme exaggerated  moulting feathers – it is something to behold. Diaghilev would have blown a gasket!

After the second interval, the performance concludes with the famous collaborative team of Ludwig Minkus’ s music and Marius Petipa’s Paquita which was relatively faithfully performed. I’m grateful that The Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere also conceived by this pair has been left alone.

Throughout the performances, the audience is kept on their toes picking out the buffoonery on show. The petty vendettas, the mistimed errors, the sideways glances, the knowingly awful choreographic interpretation, the narcissistic performers, there is so much going on you can’t expect to notice it all.

By the time the troupe engage in their crowd pleasing ensemble dance to the appropriate  music of, “New York, New York”whilst wearing the most kitsch of hair gear a la mode of the Statue of Liberty, many of the audience  were on their feet.

The costumes would adorn the most prestigious ballet companies and if that’s not enough for you, then you also have the exquisite piped music.

However, at the end of the day, it is a one-trick pony. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, know their audience though, and any chance of boredom creeping in through repetition, is negated by the interludes of dancing excellence,

By deftly pastiching  the most classical of sensory art forms, Les Ballets have created their own.

Cash in your chips, (Monte Carlo – yeah?) and get down to Cardiff Bay for the second and final performance in Cardiff on Wednesday evening, but check availability as the auditorium was near capacity this evening.

Continue reading Review of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the WMC by Roger Barrington

News : Frankenstein, Cascade Dance Theatre, Welsh Language and English Language Audio Information

 

Celebrating 200 years since the publication of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece; Cascade breathes new life into a story that has become so much more to us than its 19th Century origins. Visceral and engaging, Cascade’s production brings to the stage all the potency, drama and tragic inevitability that has made the original novel beloved of generation after generation.

We all know Frankenstein; the tale of the monster made of and by man. A cautionary tale, a creation story, an outsider story…a love story. This November, a new Frankenstein is born as a company of six performers and two musicians bring to life Artistic Director Phil Williams’ compelling new adaptation of the ultimate gothic fantasy.

Live music will continue to play a pivotal role in the Company’s work with original composition and performance by Jak Poore (Theatr na nÓg, David Walliams’“Gangster Granny” & “Awful Auntie”) and Ben Parsons (Cherry Ghost, Arctic Monkeys, BBC and Sky TV). Set and costume will come from Paul Shriek (Ballet Boyz, WNO, NDCWales). Cascade Dance Theatre brings its latest creation FRANKENSTEIN, to the touring circuit in Autumn 2018.

This exciting new production delves into the dark world created 200 years ago by Mary Shelley. Artistic Director Phil Williams returns after his successful tour in Autumn 2016, heading a team of international collaborators in a bicentennial celebration of Shelley’s gothic masterpiece.

Every performance of Frankenstein will feature open captioning for D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audience members.

FRANKENSTEIN TOUR DATES 2018

1st Nov Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea.

6th Nov Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth

9th Nov Ffwrnes, Llanelli

10th Nov Torch Theatre, Milford Haven

13th Nov Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon

17th Nov Blackwood Miners Institute, Blackwood

20th Nov Borough Theatre, Abergavenny

23rd Nov Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli

24th Nov Galeri, Caernarfon

29th 30th Nov and 1st Dec Chapter, Cardiff

 

Theatr Dawns Cascade mewn cyd-gynhyrchiad â Chanolfan y Celfyddydau Taliesin
yn cyflwyno
Frankenstein

“It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils…”

I ddathlu dauganmlwyddiant cyhoeddi campwaith Mary Shelley, mae Cascade yn cyfleu agweddau newydd ar hanes sy’n golygu mwy o lawer inni heddiw na chwedl wreiddiol y 19eg ganrig.

Mae cynhyrchiad angerddol nwydus Cascade yn ail-greu’n rymus ddramatig ar lwyfan ddatblygiad anochel anffawd sydd wedi sicrhau lle i’r nofel wreiddiol yn ein calonnau, genhedlaeth ar ôl cenhedlaeth.

Rydym i gyd yn gyfarwydd â stori Frankenstein, anghenfil a grëwyd o ddyn, o waith dyn. Chwedl rybuddiol, hanes creadigaeth, stori am ddieithryn… stori serch.

Ym mis Tachwedd fe gaiff Frankenstein newydd ei eni wrth i gwmni o bum perfformiwr a dau gerddor anadlu bywyd i mewn i addasiad cymhellgar y Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Phil Williams o’r ffantasi gothig benigamp hon.

Cefnogir gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru, Llywodraeth Cymru a’r Loteri Genedlaethol, gyda chefnogaeth ychwanegol gan Ganolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth, Tŷ Cerdd a Creu Cymru.

Y Daith: www.cascadedancetheatre.co.uk