Category Archives: Sport

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales, Theatr Clwyd by Gareth Hall

I’ve never seen contemporary dance live onstage. I’ve seen glimpses of it on TV – just enough to be fascinated, baffled, then fascinated again. My relationship with classical music is much the same. A simple melody can weave its way through an orchestra with astounding grace – but when a composer tries to tell a story, to my ears, the music lacks the vocabulary to express it. The artistic intent fades in and out, like a conversation half overheard across a crowded room.

My first experience of live contemporary dance was full of grace, but also not without half-heard sentiments. The first of four short pieces was Nikita Gole’s Écrit – it was my favourite. The story (a passionate affair between artist Frida Kahlo and her partner Diego) seemed disjointed, but the dancing was bursting with energy and full of feeling. With Frida in spotlight and Diego in silhouette behind a curtain, there was a striking visual contrast onstage. Another striking contrast: Frida begins with flowing hands suggesting a young flower in bloom, then, as she sheds petals from a rose covered headband, suddenly I felt wrenched forward in time. This was brilliantly mirrored by Diego, who opens as a painter slashing and swiping on a canvas, then shrinks into a rocking chair as a man whose days have all been spent. The story lingered on from there – Diego taking on a strangely demonic presence that I couldn’t understand – but the vivid imagery and gorgeously evocative choreography held me from start to finish. I’d see more of this.

Ed Myhill’s Why Are People Clapping!? tapped into a more primal, almost tribal energy with his piece, which hit its peak with a mesmerising succession of solo dances. The momentum ebbed with the persistent intrusion of sports related choreography, which, for me, was an unwanted distraction.

Anthony Matsena’s Codi was the piece I was looking forward to the most – bringing contemporary dance down into the dark of the Welsh mines promised to be a thrilling clash of different worlds. I was mightily impressed with the innovative use of lighting, which made a bare stage seem full and ever changing. The choreography, however, did not feel hard or harsh enough to emulate the desperate, dangerous lives of those brave mining men.

Last on the bill was Fearghus Ó Concchúir’s Rygbí: Annwyl/Dear, which likewise advertised an appealing fusion (this time, dance and rugby), but seemed to flit and fly around its subject matter without ever really going for the gut. With so many complex orchestrated movements to draw inspiration from, it felt like a missed opportunity that the geometry of the game was only intermittently recognisable.

What impressed me in every piece was the enthusiasm and athleticism of a remarkably talented dancing ensemble – the choreography did not always connect with me, but the pure intent of every performer was a sight worth seeing. And yes…it makes me want to lean in and hear more of what they’re saying, too. Next time!     

Gareth Hall

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales, by a student of Coleg Cambria

The first piece Ecrit presented by National Dance Company Wales as part of the Roots tour was based on a Mexican relationship. What I took from this was that even though the man was the one who was restricted in prison it seemed to me as though he was getting his freedom through the woman that he loved and he was living his life through her.

The second piece was called Why Are People Clapping and the interpretation I got out of this was that there was always one person who was in control and whenever that person clapped the rest would follow and whenever someone almost didn’t listen then they would then become the one in control.  Overall I feel this was an OK performance and I feel that it could have been more clear as to what it was that was going on.

Codi was the name of the third piece and it was about the welsh miners. The interpretation I took from this was that it was about the struggles the miners would face. I also took the deep groans of the backing music as the horses pulling the carts of coal from deep within the mountains and I also thought it was about the explosion.

The last piece was called Rygbi and the interpretation I got from this was that it was about the love that the Welsh have for Rugby. Personally I liked how they used actual rugby movements and routines to show emotions.

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales, Theatr Clwyd by Francesca John Fabiana Suarz.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Roots, presented at Theatre Clwyd, was an excellent dance performance. With four pieces: Ecrit, Why Are People Clapping?!, Codi, and Rygbi: Annwyl/Dear (in celebration of the Rugby World Cup in Japan). The production kept you on your feet, never once knowing what was to be expected. Even the opening of the show was well presented by choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir who gave off a wonderful vibe that made you squeal in excitement, waiting for the show to begin. Even in the breaks of the scenes, the audience were given time to chat with each other of what they think the show was about, what they liked and any other questions to put towards the cast, crew, and company.

Where there were 4 performances I will say the 1st: Ecrit, and the 3rd:Codi, were my favourite; the 1st act seemed to be based off Frieda and her lover Diego, with strong movements and flexible arm movements, the two dancers had put together such a good job that I would put that as number one. Everything about it, the chemistry between the actors, the music, the lighting, and especially their clever way of having one large sheet center left of the stage, and then there would be a light casting through and the esteem dancer: Moronfoluwa Odimaya, would dance behind and create this magnificent silhouette. What I loved the most about this piece was not that it was swift, intricate, and elegant, but how the dancers were so in sync and even when there was a sheet between them, it would look as if they were standing right next to each other.

Although Ecrit was my favourite, everyone gave it their all. However there were a few routines such as Codi, where the fog machine did give off an eerie looming effect on the stage and with the lights attached to the dancers; sometimes all you could see were the lights and not so much of the dance that I would rather be focusing on. Rygbi, was very well presented, it was wonderful to see a large group work so well in carrying out the performance, I felt at times it become a little repetitive, Where the other dances were shorter, they got their point across, and I feel that is mostly because given a certain amount time for presenting, you have all lots of ideas that you would want to put across which makes it even more interesting and making you wish you see more.

Overall, I have such high respect for this amazing company and its dancers. Being a student from Coleg Cambria, we create few devised pieces, either because we don’t have enough experience with dance in general, or that you have “writer’s block”, and watching this performance really gave a better approach as to high I can interpret some of the moves I had seen that evening into one of my own pieces.

What an inspiring, fun and lively night, I would recommend Roots 100%. I would love to give this production a 4 star rating, and would definitely bring my family and friends to watch this again and again.

Choreographers/Directors: Fearghus O Conchuir, Anothony Matsena, Ed Myhill, Nikita Goalia

Dancers: Ed Myhill, Nikita Goalia, Aisha Naamani, Moronfoluwa Odimaya, Elena Sgarbi, Tim Volleman, Marla King, and Ellie Marsh.

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales, Theatr Clwyd by Katie Price

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I recently had the privilege of going to see ‘Roots’ by National Dance Company Wales, at Theatr Clwyd.  This performance included four different dance pieces which consisted of ‘Ecrit’ ‘Why Are People Clapping ?’ ‘Codi’ and ‘Rugby: Annwyl/Dear’. These dances were performed by a small but strong ensemble cast that made the dances look really interesting. In between the dances, the audience got the opportunity to share their opinions/views on what they watched, which I think made the audience look deeper into the story behind each dance.

The first dance presented to the audience was ‘Ecrit’. This was a duet that was performed with one person behind a screen so this created a shadow-like figure. This was visually interesting for the audience and I made me think about the different things that it could represent. This helped to show the status of the two characters at different points in the dance. There were also sections in the dance that were performed without music. This made me realise that dance is just as effective without music as it is with music.

Another dance we saw was ‘Why Are People Clapping ?’. This one stood out to me the most because I found it fascinating how the dancers were creating the rhythm themselves and they all managed to stay in time. Although the rhythm didn’t change, the speed of the dance did and I found it clever how everything still managed to fit together perfectly.

The third dance ‘Codi’ had more of a theatrical vibe to it. As the dance progressed, the acting element became very clear. This made the audience connect with the characters emotions and got them hooked on the journey that they go through.

The last dance piece that was performed was ‘Rugby: Annwyl/Dear’. This included very strong ensemble work. I loved how energetic this piece was and how well the sport of Rugby was shown through a form of dance eg. lifts, running around, supporting each other. Although the dance was performed really well, I think that at times some of the movement was repetitive which sometimes made the story hard to follow.

Overall, I enjoyed hearing people’s views on each dance as they were sometimes different to what I thought so it made me think about the dance from a different perspective. Also, in the dance ‘Ecrit’, there was a section in the dance where one of the dancers sang a few lines of a song. I think this worked effectively as it made the audience realise that dancers also have other talents and this could be incorporated into a dance to put a twist on it. Finally I enjoyed how the acting through the dance pieces was over exaggerated as this helped the audience to understand what was going on throughout the dances. I think the show could have been better if some of the dancers shared their own views on the dances as it would have been interesting to hear if any of the storylines of the dances changed throughout the rehearsal process.

In conclusion, I would rate this five stars as I think that the audience interaction was incredibly unique and each individual dance was performed with a lot of emotions and with strong movements. 

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales, Theatr Clwyd by Chloe Kerr

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The performance Roots is made up of four short dances (Rygbi, Ecrit, Why Are People Clapping?, Codi). All four of these pieces are from Wales. I personally got different ideas about each of the dances as they progressed. I found that I often changed my mind of what I thought the pieces were about.

The first piece we watched was Ecrit. Throughout this dance my ideas developed. I got the impression that it represented some kind of forbidden relationship because of the battle between the man’s shadow and the girl on stage. However, I also got the impression that it represented communication between a soldier and his girlfriend/ wife. As the piece progressed I found myself leaning towards the latter option. I feel that it was beautifully executed and I think having the male as a shadow to show they weren’t together was really effective. I found it really interesting how everyone had different opinions on the piece when we talked after the piece, however I feel that they all seemed to relate to one another.

The next piece was Why Are People Clapping? This piece was my favourite! In this piece I found it really interesting how they incorporated so many different elements into it. They used many familiar things such as clapping, tennis and head shoulders, knees and toes. It was also weird because clapping can be used in polar opposite situations, it can be used as support or in anger as a sort of come on kind of thing, or in a patronising way. I loved how the claps really controlled the whole of the dance and also switched the mood of the piece. I really like how it started and ended with the tennis match, which led me to believe that all these different parts in the middle were what was going on in peoples head as they watched the tennis, although I may have misinterpreted this.

The third dance was Codi. Throughout this dance I got the strong impression that it was based on miners. The use of headlights (which were worn on their necks) really helped to portray this scene for me. This piece was full of emotion and it was something that really represented what miners would go through. I think it was executed amazingly and I love the use of the sticks. Now whilst I did love the use of lights on their necks I found that at some points it also held them back in a way because it meant there were many movements we lost because it was too dark. Although I did love this piece.

Lastly Rygbi, which is pretty much explained in the title of it is based on rugby. I thought this piece was beautifully choreographed, it was amazing to watch popular rugby moves slowed down and turned into a beautiful dance that represents teamwork and helping each other out when they’re down. It had a really soft look to it even though it was mimicking a really hard and rough sport which I thought was really effective. I loved how the dancers all seemed to rely on each other throughout the piece which really added to the togetherness and community feel of rugby. I also read up on it and found out that it was actually made with some input from rugby players and fans, which I think really adds to the authenticity of the piece. The only criticism I have for this piece is I think it went on slightly too long. This piece lasted around twenty five minutes, and I felt that some of the movement were repeated throughout which meant we lost the rawness of the piece. I personally feel that this piece would have been a lot more effective and made more of an impact if it was slightly shorter.

Overall I really enjoyed the show! I loved how it was laid out and how interactive it was. I loved the discussion in between each piece, I feel that this really brought the audience together and it was lovely to hear other people’s interpretations of each piece. Overall I would give the show four stars!

Choreographers – Nikita Goile, Ed Myhill, Anthony Matsena, Feargus O Conchuir

Dancers – Nikita Goile, Ed myhill, Aisha Naamani, Moronfoluwa Odimayo, Elena Sgarbi, Tim Volleman, Marla King, Ellie Marsh

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales, at Theatr Clwyd by Simon Kensdale

This touring programme of new pieces of contemporary dance creates something of a buzz – a buzz provoked by the NDCW’s Artistic Director, Fergus Ó Conchúir coming forward to encourage audience members to talk to someone near them who they don’t know about their reactions to the work.

The approach will work for those who, like me, are a bit mystified by dance and perhaps also for those who have come on their own.  It might not appeal so much to purists because it generates a bit of atmospheric untidiness:  conversations start up and have to be quietened down.  Still, given that the whole programme is not very long, there is time for all of this.

As for the main event itself – the performances and the choreography –  I should repeat that I am relatively ignorant as far as dance goes.  I am not dance phobic but if I go to see a show it is usually a play or a concert, possibly an opera, very occasionally a ballet – almost never contemporary dance.  Unfortunately for development officers, we are all creatures of habit.  This is a shame because, ‘knowing what we like’, we don’t venture far from our comfort zones to take in new experiences. I had a complimentary ticket from Theatr Clwyd and a free evening and I’m glad I was able to see Roots.

The programme contains four pieces.  Ecrit is choreographed by Nikita Goile and features two dancers.  Both Why Are People Clapping? by Ed Myhill and Codi by Anthony Matsena featured four or five, and Rygbi by Fergus O’Conchuir himself featured seven – or was it eight?  The imprecision in my counting is not just middle-aged muddle: it’s a reflection of the impact of all the dynamic and fluid body movements out in front.  You lose track of numbers because of the intensity of what is going on.

Ecrit is about a man and a woman and the balance of power in heterosexual relationships. Rygbi is about rugby, prompting thoughts of what it would be like if economics and logistics permitted a full team of at least thirteen dancers.

However, I’m not sure that what the pieces are said to be about, or what the choreographers and the dancers themselves intend to do, matters much.  The performances take you some distance beyond the start point.  The titles and notes really only serve as spring boards, or launching points for your reactions.  (You don’t think about rugby, for example, in the same way as you might watching a performance of Hull Truck’s Up and Under).  The show’s overall title, Roots, is not hugely satisfactory because it reminds you of the eminently forgettable best-seller/blockbuster movie/TV series phenomenon.  But it’s there to let you know that what you going to see is largely about Wales, having been made in Wales by people who work there, or who are Welsh themselves.

Knowing that the start point for Ecrit was a letter to Diego Riviera by Frida Kahlo made me search for references to them and their painting, to murals and to Mexico – but only briefly.   Dance tends to liberate you from your thinking through the movements – in this case by the movement of the woman’s hands, which dance together, forming shapes expressive of both passion and suffering.  The piece depends on a dramatic use of a screen and shadow play to convey the essential distance and separation in a relationship.  The male dancer is concealed from view – as he is from his lover – and appears at first only in silhouette, the back lighting permitting him to grow massively in stature, like a nightmare monster and then shrink.

Why Are People Clapping? asks a question for which of course there is no real, single answer, other than ‘just for fun’ – although the loud, sustained and rhythmically very accurate clapping throughout must be hard work for the performers. It provides a percussive sound wall which the dancers move against, either together or in solo movements.  It’s very reminiscent of flamenco, except that here there is no singing and no shouting and, as with much of the programme, the musical accompaniment is not very noticeable.

Codi is apparently about ‘the strength of the Welsh communities who come together to tackle isolation and depression during troubled times’ but if you hadn’t read the programme notes you could be excused from thinking it was about coal mining.  This is because the main impact of the piece is achieved through the ingenious use of single bright lights worn around the neck by the dancers, instead of on helmets.  They shine out through a smoky atmosphere at you and their beams strike out in all directions.  The dancers are also dressed in overalls which don’t restrict them but which do suggest they are miners.

Rygbi was very well done – NDCW performed it for the World Cup in Japan – but I found it the least interesting of the four pieces.  This could be because it came on last and by that time, despite the conversations and the detailed introduction, I had had enough contemporary dance for one evening.  I wanted there to be more humour in it – rugby being fairly ridiculous  – and even some ugliness – rugby is also often quite unpleasant. (It’s not a beautiful game!)  I was unsure about what the dancers were wearing – brightly coloured ensembles, tops and shorts and long socks which were definitely not team strips.  What happened drew a lot on typical rugby moves but I was unsure, I suppose, of what the piece was saying and it wasn’t a comfortable uncertainty.

That said, this was a good evening’s entertainment, giving me plenty to think about and lots to remember.  It may also encourage me to see contemporary dance more often.  I think, in the end, it’s a pity that, for a number of reasons, dance occupies a separate niche in theatre and that it has to be enjoyed in isolation.  Dance was originally central to drama and even today it can be effectively introduced in plays.  A weakness of much modern drama is its lack of physicality, with actors relying on their delivery of text and not understanding the importance of suggestive body language and sinuous physical expression.  What shows like Roots demonstrate is how evocative and expressive pure movement can be on its own, when it is performed by talented and disciplined dancers in companies like NDCW.  Long may they continue to tour.

Review Roots, National Dance Company Wales by Eva Marloes

Roots is an engaging, diverse, and emotional production that marries Welshness with contemporary dance and gives life to art that is accessible without compromise on quality. Roots is the biannual production by the National Dance Company that brings dance to audiences around the world and around Wales. It makes its way into venues with little technical equipment and space, in towns and villages around Wales, to bring dance to new audiences. Roots succeeds equally in introducing new audiences to dance and in delighting dance enthusiasts. 

This year’s production features four very different pieces from four choreographers at different stages in their career and artistic maturity. Écrit, choreographed and performed by Nikita Goile is an emotional dance recounting a conflictual love relationship executed beautifully. Goile, a budding choreographer, combines an elaborate work of hands, inspired by Indian Bharata Natyam dance, with her lover’s silouette behind a curtain, and a more traditional duet form. It is effective in conveying the power imbalance between the two lovers, the hurt, and the closeness. The only weakness of the piece comes from its inspiration: the letters of Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera. Although they both had other lovers, Kahlo suffered from Rivera’s numerous affairs. In Écrit, Goile’s graceful and gentle movements do not capture the intensity of Kahlo. Having suffered from polio, Kahlo had very weak legs, underwent many surgeries, and had miscarriages. Kahlo’s suffering body was the source of her art and Kahlo used her body to reinterpret her MexicanidadÉcrit is at its strongest when Kahlo is forgotten and Goile is herself. Goile conveys a nuanced fragility, which contrasts with the powerful gestures and movements of Moronfoluwa Odimayo as her dominating lover. It is effective and moving. 

The second piece, Why Are People Clapping? is also by a new choreographer, Ed Myhill. It is an entertaining and funny piece that conveys the joy of dancing to the rhythm of elaborate clapping. In contrasts with the intimate piece Écrit, Myhill’s Why Are People Clapping? plays to the audience and for the audience. It begins with a tennis match with no actual balls or rackets, conveyed by only a single clap and well-timed movement. It is all so well tuned that you can almost see the ball hit the racket. The piece includes dancers in a semicircle taking turns to do and enjoy a solo to Steve Reich’s clapping music, followed by claps that bring order and dictate action, a catwalk, and a run through as many facial expressions as possible. I would have liked the tennis players in 1970s headbands and wristbands for a replay of Borg v. McEnroe, but Clapping oozes fun anyway.  

The third piece, Codi (rise up) is by emerging choreographer Anthony Matsena, who is finding his voice in a socially and politically aware dance infused with energy. Codi takes the audience underground, into the mines of the Welsh Valleys. There is a sense of suffocation, isolation, struggle, and helplessness. The small headtorches the dancers wear around their necks are used effectively to convey the darkness of suffering, of perishing, of being forgotten. Then, they rise up. They beat wooden rods to the ground and the energy rushes through the body. There is power in being together. Together, we can rise up. When I interviewed Matsena, he told me that once you recover, you still have the past hurt with you, like a ‘stain on the shirt.’ With soot on their clothes and faces, the dancers face the audience calling for attention. The past is not forgotten; it is there to give strength and purpose. 

Roots concludes with the longer piece Rygbi. Annwyl i mi, by Fearghus Ó Conchúir, the Artistic Director of NDC Wales. Rygbi captures the passion and synergy of players and fans of the game, which ripple across the whole of society in Wales. It is the national game that takes over cities altering time, colouring the pavements with people in red shirts, and getting us stuck in traffic. Rygbi does not borrow movements from the game, it extracts the essence of rugby and gives it a new form. The piece alternates duets, ensembles, and solos to guide us through effort, injuries, fatigue, hopes, victories, and defeats. The dancers-players touch one another and in that touch is being part of a whole, something bigger than oneself, that is made of each one’s individuality. Dancers, like players, rely on one another, know what the other can do, is likely to do, the other’s weaknesses and strengths. Like players, they create together. Rygbi is elegant and strong. It is a painting and it is theatre. Ó Conchúir takes us onto the pitch with colour, movement, and music. He makes us breathe the tension of the competition, feel the strain of the muscles, and sense the elation of victory. Rygbi uses the language of dance expertly to tap into our emotions, thoughts, and ideals, and creates a moment of shared passion and commitment. 

Roots is currently on tour. More information can be found here.

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. 

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

Review Ready Player One by Jonathan Evans

 

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

 

“Hey, that’s *blank from so-and-so. I love that movie/game” “Ah! They quoted/referenced that movie/TV show I love!” This is the reaction that Ready Player One seeks to get out of you with every moment it has onscreen. It pulls from so many pieces of instantly recognizable pop culture that there will be something that everyone will be able to recognize, whether it be a character walking by, a vehicle, or a line of dialog. Yet it has almost nothing to say or do anything inspiring with said big toys at its disposal. The experience is only surface deep.

We see a future where the rich have gotten richer and the poor are indeed poorer. Trailer park neighborhoods are in abundance but so much so that they are stacked up high on top of each other. It is a gray, muddy place to live and is not the hardest thing understand that people would want an escape. So they go to The Oasis, pretty much the internet that you can virtually enter. Our guiding character for the story is a young man named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), that just wants to get to The Oasis as fast as he can each day and search for the great McGuffin that exists there.

The Oasis was created by a man named James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and the great programmer was also a big aficionado on pop culture and hid three keys in this world that will allow the owner of all three to take a final test and become the owner of The Oasis.

An undeniably strong element to the movie is its worldbuilding. Worldbuilding is the construction of a fictional world and how it operates. In bad worldbuilding, it doesn’t make any sense and you are just left with questions, good world building you understand how it operates and has a solid grasp on how you would live in it. Because The Oasis has become so integral to life everyone logs in and when they win games they earn coins in the game that earns them money in real life. They can buy equipment that allows them better reflexes in-game and feels the touch of the world itself, also ordering stuff.

What bothers me greatly about the way the world is conveyed is that there doesn’t seem to be anything nourishing to the art. I believe that real art, be it cinema, literature or music exists to enrich those who consume it in some way. The world portrayed before us it seems like it’s just about seeing all high-status pop-culture movies out there and memorizing every facet of it, nothing about what it means or how it has shaped them as people. This is a world where the people can make anything, yet they all they do is recreate someone else’s creations.

A fundamental flaw as the movie was playing out is that Halliday is revered amongst the people in The Oasis, they have learned everything they can about him, his favorite movie, favorite pizza topping, quotes he lived by. He made a list of every movie he ever saw and when. I don’t think they realise how sad this man is. He lived his whole life alone, apart from one friend who he eventually kicked out. This is a man to learn from by avoiding all his mistakes.

As a movie what this offers is the chance to have nearly everything that is classic popcorn, crowd-pleasing entertainment. There is a race scene, martial arts fight, shootouts, dancing, sneaking around etc. Of course Speilberg is one of, if not the, greatest living visualiser working today and he clearly and effectively brings them to life. It’s just that it lacks a should because I feel how empty it is, I wasn’t invested in the characters goals because I just wanted them to log out, get outside and read a real book, see the sights and interact with actual people.

If this was an episode of Black Mirror or handled by Satoshi Kon then it would probably be taken to a much darker and interesting place. Truly examining why humanity rejects the real and takes comfort in the artificial. But this isn’t either of those and is only here to push your joy button.

Going into the big battle near the end I did start to feel a connection for the characters and understood that there were real stakes. Remove all the characters from movies, TV shows and video games and what you have is a well-composed battle where you understand the geography and key players bring contribute different things to it.

In the end, the message for this movie is that you should maybe spend a little less time dwelling on pop culture and spend some time in the real world and form actual relationships with people. Duh! I don’t need a movie to tell me that and it should be so intrinsically built into us that we shouldn’t need to spend over one hundred and fifty million dollars to make a movie to project that message.

In the end, I want so much more. I’m not against or even above being charmed by references, far from it. But I want them to take the essence of those precious moments I love and channel them into something that can stand on its own. This shows a world where originality seems to have fizzled out and all we can do is regurgitate the same.

For a movie with a similar premise but with much more depth and heart, I point you towards Mamoru Hosada’s Summer Wars. This, there is a good chance you’ll be tickled by all the appearances but everything else is so shallow.