Category Archives: Dance

Ffilmiau Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru wedi’u comisiynu ar gyfer Cymru yn yr Almen 2021.

Prosiect traws-gelfyddyd Plethu/Weave yn cael ei ymestyn i 2021

Mae Plethu/Weave, cywaith traws-gelfyddyd digidol Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru (CDCCymru) a Llenyddiaeth Cymru, wedi cael ei ymestyn i 2021 ac wedi cael ei gomisiynu i fod yn rhan o lansiad blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen 2021 Llywodraeth Cymru.

Yn dilyn llwyddiant cywaith traws-gelfyddyd CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru, bydd Plethu/Weave #2 yn cael ei lansio ym mis Ionawr 2021, gan gynnig rhagor o gyfleoedd i ddawnswyr annibynnol wedi’u lleoli yng Nghymru gael eu paru â rhai o feirdd mwyaf talentog Cymru i greu wyth o ffilmiau digidol, byr, cyfoes a chyffrous ar-lein.


Bydd ffilm gyntaf Plethu/Weave #2Aber Bach, a grëwyd gan Mererid Hopwood a dawnsiwr CDCCymru, Elena Sgarbi, yn cael ei rhyddhau ar 11 Ionawr, fel y cyntaf o dri chomisiwn CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru sydd yn rhan o lansiad blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen Llywodraeth Cymru.


Yn 2020,parodd Plethu/Weave bedwar dawnsiwr o CDCCymru a phedwar artist dawns annibynnol gydag wyth o feirdd gyda’r nod o greu wyth ffilm fer ar gyfer cynulleidfaoedd ar-lein. Creodd y parau hyn weithiau traws-gelfyddyd sydd wedi’u hysbrydoli gan straeon, lleoliad, treftadaeth a chysylltiad yr artistiaid eu hunain â Chymru. 


Caiff Aber Bach ei enw ar ôl bae yng ngorllewin Cymru, lle gellir clywed synau melin wlân a’r môr. Ceir ‘Aber’ a ‘Bach yn y Gymraeg a’r Almaeneg, ond gydag ystyron gwahanol. O’r syniad hwn y daw’r ffilm – a gafodd ei ffilmio ym Melin Wlân Melin Tregwynt yn Sir Benfro, a’i chreu ar y cyd â Rufus Mufasa, Hanan Issa a Tim Volleman – ac mae’nn archwilio sut y gallwn blethu geiriau i greu patrymau newydd o berthyn.

Dywedodd dawnsiwr CDCCymru, Elena Sgarbi, “Mae gweithio ar yr ail gynhyrchiad o’r prosiect ffilm Plethu/Weave gyda Mererid Hopwood a Tim Volleman wedi bod yn gyfle gwych i ennill dealltwriaeth well o Gymru a’i diwylliant. Trwy frwdfrydedd Mererid i rannu ei diwylliant a’r prosiect hwn, ces gyfle i ddod i adnabod cornel brydferth o ogledd Sir Benfro drosof fy hun, a’i thraddodiad gwehyddu gwlân pwysig.”

Mae gan CDCCymru hanes o deithio i’r Almaen ers 2017, gan berfformio i gynulleidfaoedd yn bennaf yng Ngogledd Rhein-Westphalia, Bafaria a Baden-Württemberg.

Dywedodd y Prif Weithredwr, Paul Kaynes, “Rydym yn falch iawn y bydd CDCCymru yn cyflwyno dawns fel rhan o lansiad Cymru yn yr Almaen Llywodraeth Cymru. Rydym wedi bod yn datblygu ein henw da a chynulleidfaoedd yn Ewrop, yn enwedig yn yr Almaen a gwledydd cyfagos dros y tair blynedd diwethaf, gan berfformio i leoliadau dan eu sang gyda chryn gymeradwyaeth. Mae’n deimlad cyffrous iawn i ni ein bod wedi cael ein comisiynu i greu y ffilmiau Plethu/Weave hyn, fel bod rhagor o gynulleidfaoedd gartref a thramor yn gallu gweld dau gwmni celfyddydol cenedlaethol o Gymru yn cydweithio.”

Bydd y ddau gomisiwn Plethu/Weave #2 arall sydd yn rhan o raglen Cymru yn yr Almaen yn cael eu darlledu ym mis Mawrth ac ym mis Hydref, gan arddangos gwaith y bardd Alex Wharton a’r artistiaid dawns Krystal S. Lowe ac Osian Meilir.

Dywedodd Lleucu Siencyn, Prif Weithredwr Llenyddiaeth Cymru, “Mae Llenyddiaeth Cymru yn falch iawn o gael mewn partneriaeth â CDCCymru unwaith yn rhagor ar rownd arall o’r prosiect arloesol hwn, ac i gael dathlu ein diwylliant llenyddol ac artistig gyda’r byd fel rhan o raglen Cymru yn yr Almaen.”

Dywedodd Jane Hutt, y Dirprwy Weinidog a’r Prif Chwip: “Mae blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen yn ymwneud â chryfhau’r cysylltiadau rhwng y ddwy genedl ac adeiladu rhai newydd, ac mae gan y sector celfyddydol ran bwysig i’w chwarae. Mae ein celfyddydau, diwylliant a chreadigrwydd yn rhoi i Gymru ei phersonoliaeth unigryw ac mae’n gryfder mawr yn nhermau hyrwyddo Cymru ar lwyfan y byd.

“Rydym yn falch iawn o fod yn gweithio â CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru ar y prosiect cyffrous hwn ac yn edrych ymlaen at arddangos gwaith rhai o’n beirdd a dawnswyr mwyaf talentog i gynulleidfaoedd yr Almaen yn y flwyddyn i ddod.”

Bydd Aber Bach, y comisiwn Plethu/Weave #2 cyntaf ar gyfer Cymru yn yr Almaen yn cael ei ddarlledu fel rhan o’r lansiad digidol ar sianeli cyfryngau cymdeithasol Llywodraeth Cymru ar 11 Ionawr. Bydd Aber Bachar gael ar wefannau a sianeli cyfryngau cymdeithasol CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru o 12 Ionawr ymlaen.

Am ragor o wybodaeth, ewch i ndcwales.co.uk

National Dance Company Wales & Literature Wales films commissioned for Wales in Germany 2021

Plethu/Weave cross-artform project extended into 2021


National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) and Literature Wales’ digital cross-artform collaboration, Plethu/Weave has been extended into 2021 and has been commissioned to be a part of Welsh Government’s launch of Wales in Germany themed year in 2021.

Following the success of NDCWales’ and Literature Wales’ cross-artform collaboration, Plethu/Weave #2 will be launched in January 2021, bringing more opportunities for independent Wales based dancers to be matched with some of Wales’ most talented poets to create eight more exciting contemporary short digital films online.

The first Plethu/Weave #2 film, Aber Bach, created by Mererid Hopwood and NDCWales dancer, Elena Sgarbi, will be released on 11 January, the first of three NDCWales & Literature Wales commissions, as part of the launch of Welsh Government’s Wales in Germany themed year.


In 2020, Plethu/Weave brought together four dancers from NDCWales and four independent dance artists paired with eight Wales based poets to create eight short films for audiences online. The pairings created cross-artform creations inspired by the artists own stories, location, heritage and connection with Wales.  

Aber Bach takes its title from the name of a cove in West Wales where the sounds of a Woollen Mill and the sea can be heard. ‘Aber’ and ‘Bach’ are words found in both Welsh and German, though with different meanings. From this notion, the film, which was filmed at the Melin Tregwynt Woollen Mill in Pembrokeshire, and created in collaboration with Rufus Mufasa, Hanan Issa and Tim Volleman, explores how we can weave words to create new patterns of belonging.


NDCWales’ dancer, Elena Sgarbi said, “Working on the second edition of the Plethu/Weave film project with Mererid Hopwood and Tim Volleman has been a great opportunity to gain a deeper insight into Wales and Welsh culture. Through Mererid’s enthusiasm to share her culture and this project, I have been able to get to know first-hand a wonderful corner of North Pembrokeshire and its important wool weaving tradition.”

NDCWales has a history of touring to Germany since 2017, performing to capacity audiences mainly in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

NDCWales’ Chief Executive, Paul Kaynes said, “We are delighted that NDCWales will be presenting dance as part of Welsh Government’s Wales in Germany launch. We have been building our reputation and audiences in Europe, especially in Germany and neighbouring countries in the last three years, performing to packed venues and standing ovations. It’s really exciting for us that we’ve been commissioned to make these Plethu/Weave films, so even more audiences at home and internationally can see two Welsh national arts companies collaborate.”

The other two Plethu/Weave 2 commissions for the Wales in Germany programme will be broadcast in March and October and will feature poet Alex Wharton and dance artists Krystal S. Lowe and Osian Meilir.

Lleucu Siencyn, CEO of Literature Wales, said, “It’s wonderful to be able to partner again with NDCWales on another round of this ground-breaking collaboration, and to celebrate our literary and artistic culture with the world as part of the Wales in Germany programme.”

Jane Hutt MS, Welsh Government Deputy Minister and Chief Whip said,

 “The year of Wales in Germany is about strengthening the connections between our two nations and building new ones, and the cultural sector has an important role to play. Our arts, culture and creativity give Wales its unique personality and it is a huge strength in terms of promoting Wales on the world stage.

“We are delighted to be working with NDCWales and Literature Wales on this exciting project and look forward to showcasing the work of some our most talented poets and dancers to German audiences in the year ahead.”

Aber Bach the first Plethu/Weave #2 commission for Wales in Germany will be broadcast as part of the Wales in Germany Digital launch on Welsh Government social media channels on 11 January. Aber Bach will be available on NDCWales and Literature Wales’ website and social media channels from 12 January.

Home | National Dance Company Wales (ndcwales.co.uk)

“Finding Balance, Harmony and Our Voice Within It” An interview with Jodi Ann Nicholson and Connor Allen.

Helen Joy interviews Jodi Ann Nicholson and Connor Allen for Get the Chance, a voluntary organisation run by Guy O’Donnell and a very enthusiastic group of volunteers reviewing the Arts.

Helen

Hi Jodi and Connor great to meet you both.

Jodi

Hi I am Jodi Ann Nicholson, the dancer on Plethu/Weave project together with Connor

Connor

Hi I am Connor, an artist, poet and speaker of the word of ‘Branches of Me’.

Helen

How did you start working on this project?

Jodi

We were paired together through National Dance Company Wales and Literature Wales and we are both part of the Plethu/Weave project

Connor

We were paired and it skyrocketed from there.

Helen

Why do you say skyrocketed Connor?

Connor

I found that the conversations and the experiences we had just met and shot straight up. We carried on going and going until we hit the stars and once we were there in that beauty of space and we were able to create ‘the branches of me’.  It was a nice exploration. I felt we truly met and it skyrocketed in the conversations we had, the warmth that we shared and the talent we brought to the table.

Helen

What was it about each of you that connected?  Because quite often we are put together in projects and it doesn’t always necessarily work, you don’t find that mutual passion.  What was it that you found in each other that enabled you to work together so well? 

Jodi

So both of our practices separately share similar interests when it comes to exploring identity and in particular mixed race identity.  So when we came together, Connor was an easy person to talk to and easy to listen to so we just bounced off each other had a great open, honest space to communicate with each other and we shared a lot of interest in our work. 

Connor

I think for me it was meeting someone who was open and gentle as Jodi.  We were able to have those conversations where we could connect and just talk and talk for hours, understanding each other.  On a base human level it’s beautiful and on these types of project it just helps.

Helen

What was the message you were trying to get across? What is the project about?

Connor

Personally it is about that exploration of a mixed race identity in a society that sees race as black and white.  There is a unique point in a mixed race identity where you visualise a family tree and it has black branches and white branches.  It is both of those cultures and ethnicities that make us what we are.  Growing up, my exploration of identity was unique because I was too white for my black friends but too black for my white friends. So I was thinking, well where do I fit in? I don’t feel like I fit in either part of this thread.  That is what is great about working on this project and chatting with Jodi.  We can then bounce off each other and say that yeah, I felt that and I can relate to that.  So that we then started to formulate an idea.  It was not just me.  Growing up I felt a lot of times that it was just me.  Why am I feeling like this, when no one else is?

Jodi

I would say a lot of the same as Connor has.  Looking about what it is to be mixed race in a world where it is going to be white to be black and finding the balance and harmony and finding our voice within it.  Because we are two people who have been looking at this separately for a while, to come together and realise that we do share a lot of these experiences.  You start to realise that perhaps this isn’t just our individual dilemmas of identity.  Maybe other people of mixed race and backgrounds share the same thing as well. I think it was important to get our voices out and work out what our voice is and hopefully share what other peoples voice is.

Connor

So then we can get universal.  We have our individual experiences we bounce off and we can use that to get to the heart of why we feel like this.  Once we get to the heart of the issue. I hate the word issue, it’s not an issue.

Jodi

Experience maybe

Connor

That’s why she is brilliant see! By having the universality of our experience and that of ethnicity others can relate to it. 

Helen

This issue around visual identity and how we are seen and how we want to be seen is a massive one.  It’s a human condition isn’t it? You are trying to find a way of illustrating and narrating how it feels to be in that grey area in between black and white and how that feels and how you share that and share it in a universal way.  And you have done it playing to your individual strengths.  So Jodi, you’re a dancer, Connor you are an actor, writer, poet.  And you’ve pulled together those different ways of communication to produce a two minute track.  How did it feel to make that film? Do you feel confident you have got those messages across?  And what are those messages that you really want us to get?

Connor

I personally feel confident, not so much a message but that it has definitely opened up a conversation around these issues where people can relate to that or say ‘that line, that really stuck with me’.  So a lot of films being created were about 90 seconds and we went back and forth so many times because we just couldn’t hit that limit.  And actually we don’t want to sacrifice our art and our vision to try and move it down to there.  We truly believe in the potential in this and to get the true message across it needs to be the length it needs to be and we got it to 2 minutes.  We were not going to sacrifice any more.  It was an important point for us to say that this is the story we want to tell.

Helen

I tell you what, I’ve grown to really like a lot of the modern poets in a way that I did not think I would.

William Dean Ford

I was working with a guy called William Dean Ford last week on a mental health project with some poetry and he quite often uses the Haiku format, but kind of repeatedly so it is a kind of Haiku in verses if that makes sense and I’ve been really struck at poetry as a means of getting through to people.  I’ve been really struck by that recently and I think that because now we’re trained like Pavlov’s dogs into snippets of information, you know social media drives snippets of information all the time, everything is short and fast and I’ve been interested in watching the poets respond to that and being so careful and so sensitive about their use of words to make best use of that space. It’s been absolutely brilliant.  Now I think they have a role that wasn’t there for a long time.

Connor

Yeah that means like there is power in words.  Words carry so much power and weight that sometimes people forget that.  In the same way that music can have a profound effect on you as you can relate to that and you hear those lyrics and they resonate with you in a way that other things don’t.  Words are some of the most powerful tools we have

Helen

Yes they are and I’ve been fascinated in recent years with dance for exactly the same reason.  Jodi you used that word ‘Economy’ and inspiring people to think about things in different ways and its part of what you are trying to do. Okay, if you can’t get it that way, try it this way it’s using all the things at our fingertips to say you need to think about this.  You know you can’t ignore this, it’s really important

Jodi

When it comes to dance you have to communicate.  Half or a good measure of our communication comes from our bodies as well as language and words so I think dance works well as it communicates in a different way and level than language or words.

Helen

Tell us about this video, ‘Identity – Black Lives Matter’ and your role in communicating what it feels like to you as a mixed race individuals.

Connor

For me personally, I did an interesting thing.  I just watched it, turned the audio off so just watched Jodi’s dance and it is a different experience.  For me this is linked, we know why we made it and our exploration.  But for me it’s about what it means for whoever needs it.  Its subjective, some people are going to watch that and it will deeply resonate with them, at a level that other pieces might not and other people are going to be educated, and say, ‘wow, I’ve never even thought about that, it’s really interesting.’ And there might be people out there watching and thinking ‘that’s a load of crap.’ And just skip past it.  And that’s fine. It’s what it is to them. We will always have our back and forth, our moment of exploring and what it means for us as two mixed race artists.  We are quite open and honest about that.  It is about that exploration of identity and what that means – Where do we fit it in to this movement of Black Lives Matter in this pivotal moment in society and in history. Right now we are in a unique tipping point that Black Lives Matter and black lives are being shone in a different light. People are hearing our stories and listening to our voices. On the one hand there are a lot of people who are scared by that but at the same time there are a lot of people embracing and supporting that. It’s a unique balance for me.  What I would like is for people to watch the film and to spark up conversations about what an intertwined identity means on both levels. 

I read a really interesting quote by Donald Glover and Michaela Corel in GQ magazine.  Donald talks there of how a lot of white people are scared to have those conversations as they might see themselves reflected back on themselves and that is a scary thing, to know that you might have said the wrong thing to someone or that you might carry those prejudices and you might not like them.  I think because we live in a society of counter culture and outrage, people are quick to say ‘No you’re wrong and I’m right’.  It is just about opening up that conversation because I truly believe that if you walk in the shoes of another person you have a greater capacity for empathy and that all it is about.  Knowing that we have our experiences but there are going to be other experiences.  As I was saying to Jodi, I can never relate to what it means to be a woman because I am not a women. I don’t have menstrual cycles I don’t carry children, and there are all these other things I can’t relate to I can’t resonate but what I can do because I’ve been raised by a Queen is knowing in some way what it means to go through those issues, those adversities is be an ally and support women and females.  That is all we are asking.  Even if you don’t fully agree with us, even if it doesn’t resonate, you can still be an ally, you can still listen and have that greater capacity for empathy.  A lot of people nowadays say they don’t see colour, but you have to see colour to see our experience and then empathise with what we are going through.  You might not be able to relate to but you can empathise what we are going through.  Long story short, I just want the film to open up the door to empathy for other mixed race or black people who are feeling the way we are feeling. 

Helen   

I was just going to say to Jodi that you are communicating in a very different way from Connor, who is using the spoken word to get his narrative across and he is doing it in a very universal, embracing way.  You are using the medium of dance and film.  How do you feel when you put your work out there and people can interpret it in all sorts of different ways and not just the way you necessarily want.

Jodi

I am completely fine with that ultimately. I know that there is a space for interpretation when you put anything out there no matter what form it takes whether it’s through poetry, right through art or whether it’s through dance. When I put work out there, there has been a long process before it that I have worked out whether it’s by myself or with somebody I have been collaborating with, working out what it is I want to say, what it is I think and how I think it is best to communicate and to show this through my body, through film, through whatever medium I’m using.  I am very open and I put it out there for there to be conversation about how people experience what I am talking about or what I am trying to get across.  Sometimes its picked up and people think that is exactly how I feel, It’s exactly what I think and this is my experience and it’s a completely shared thing.  Other people go ‘Oh, I don’t quite understand what you are talking about or what you are trying to show.’ And I go ‘well okay, why?  Or what is it that you did get?’  And I think that is just as interesting and just as important to me as an artist. Because either something new will come out of it that I will then learn from or I’ll go, ‘Okay, I need to work on that as an artist.’ Depending on how important it is to me that a particular message is got across. I put work out there for the conversation about in this case, Identity.  And how we experience each other and have space to have openness to experiencing other people and their lives. 

Connor

Going off the back of that, I learned recently, a year back, there was this Russian practitioner called Kushelov and he came up with this thing called ‘The Kushelov Effect.’  He made three short films, and he got a Russian actress and he wanted to try and grab the visuals of what it meant and show what hunger, grief and laughter felt like. He wanted to film the three emotions in their entirety.  He filmed this actress looking into an empty bowl, a coffin and something else and filmed the shot.  He released this film of these three stages band it just went crazy, and people went ‘OMG, the actress has really got the true meaning of grief in her eyes and the innocence in her laughter, you can just tell it’ 

It came out years later that he used the exact same shot on all three films. So what that meant was, its just audience subjectivity.  It is subjective to the audience.  They put the take on that.  Going off what you said then it is quite similar.  We know why we made this, and why we make our work but as soon as it goes out there, it is up to the audiences’ perceptions to be ‘Ah, you meant that, didn’t you.’ Or, ‘I didn’t quite get that,’ it’s not really resonated.  It’s just subjectivity, and what it means to the audience. 

Helen

And I think there is something there about taking the fear out of the conversations.  We are all struggling with using the right words, the right time, the right people and the right place.  It takes away the honesty and the openness sometimes.  So it is really important to have those conversations.  That’s how people change, how they are educated.  In my view it needs to be done in the most non-confrontational way as possible so that you are embracing all those different views.

Connor

You need those.  You need different views but you need also that openness to say ‘okay cool so that what you have just said is not how we’re perceived but I can educate you on the right terminology or the right way to think about it.‘  So education for me is key. I could be screaming down a void, the black hole that is Twitter and saying ‘this is how I should be feeling now’ And that’s fine.  J Cole is a rapper, he released a song recently where he spoke quite openly about that won’t culture and how he is not that. I think everyone has their ways of trying to tackle musicians who deal with that.  Some people are very vocal and will do all their research and they will go out there and ban drugs.  Other people like me, I’m very reserved and I would rather speak to individuals and plant these little seeds and hopefully then they will grow into fruition years later.  I work in these communities in that way.

For me personally it is about education and we just need to be more open and willing to be like ‘You can’t say that because that offends me, or I don’t like that’.  For example using the N word.  Some members of the community will use the N word other people won’t. 

Kendrick Lamarr

Kendrick Lamarr had an issue where he was in Australia on a world tour and he brought a white female fan up on stage and she started rapping along to one of his songs and then obviously the N word was in the song and so she said the N word and he stopped the show.  And he said ‘whoa, no, you don’t get to say that.’ But in that instance for example, it’s in your music and she was a fan and she’s just singing along.  So instead of automatically saying ‘You don’t get to say that cos you are white.’ Let’s have this conversation.  Why can’t she say that because she is rapping along to a song and she is a fan? They are awkward conversations and you are trying to justify as to why a section of society gets to say well ‘you get to say that, why can’t I say that word?‘ Firstly there are two iterations of that word, one with an ‘a’ and one with an ‘er’ so it depends on what connotation you are using. By having more openness, gentleness and willingness to engage in conversation.  It doesn’t have to be confrontational.  You can have a nice debate and you are not always going to see eye to eye and that’s fine.  You don’t have to agree with everything we are saying if you can say that you can see where you are coming from, I just don’t agree.  That’s also fine, it’s the small victories.

Jodi

I’m with Connor, I think education is massive, important.  There just needs to be space for people to speak their mind and learn from each other.  I know from myself in general in life I can be really scared about talking sometimes because I am trying to make sure that once the words have left my mouth I am not going to regret it or change my mind afterwards.  I think that if you don’t understand something or you don’t know then people need to give you the space to ask. Maybe you are going to get it wrong or you may offend somebody or you are not going to offend anyone, but there be space for it to be said because once we start talking about it we can start understanding it and each other and where we are coming from.  We shouldn’t be scared about getting it wrong.  You can get it wrong once, maybe not twice or three times.  Which is why I think my work and this piece is about wanting to open up the conversation, this is what we have been talking about for the last month and what we have been thinking about ourselves for years.  This is our point of showing you guys, now what do you think.  Let’s have space to do that.  Because when it comes to race it is important to have the conversations and feel confident to do so.

Helen

And it is up to all of us to create the environment to have that conversation.  To make that safe space so that however those conversations are being had in whatever medium they are embraced and valued. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed listening to you.  You are the most remarkable people and I don’t doubt you are going to have remarkable futures.  I would recommend to anybody that they follow Jodi and Connor and in particular pick up on this latest video piece because it is absolutely beautiful.  Can you tell us where we can find that video what it is called and how we could contact you if we wanted to have that conversation?

Connor

The pieces are called ‘The Branches of Me.’  It can be found on Literature Wales and National Dance Company Wales Twitter. It’s also NDCWales website and on You Tube.

Jodi

It’s on Instagram. All social media platforms used by literature Wales and National Dance Company Wales.

Connor

If you want to contact me, I am on Twitter, @connor_allen92 or my website, connorallen.co.uk there is a contact form on there.

Jodi

To contact me, probably my Instagram is best, jodiannnicholson_dance_artist or I have a website with a contact page, that is jodiannnicholson@weebly. com

Helen

Thank you so much both of you, this is so important.  Anybody who is feeling that they are not part of something…. It’s dreadful really.  We all need to feel part of something. We are herd animals and to feel excluded from a conversation in any sense is not a nice feeling, thanks for your time.

Interview transcribed by Richard Evans, Get the Chance.

Review Rambert, Draw From Within by Eva Marloes

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
Image courtesy of Wim Vandekeybus.

The Coronavirus pandemic has pushed artists to make online videos. This has too often resulted on mediocre videos of a dance or theatre piece, forgetting that film has different rules. With Draw From Within, Rambert were careful to avoid this mistake by commissioning choreographer and filmmaker Wim Vandekeybus. The camera movements are integral part of the show. Yet, Draw From Within fails to draw the audience in because, ironically, not enough attention has been given to the needs of film-making. Rambert’s dancing is impeccable; the visual impact is non-existent.

The intro is perhaps the most cinematic part of the show. We see two dancers talking on top of a roof and then follow the flame of a match down the stairs. The show takes nearly thirty minutes to take off and it quickly lands nowhere. According to Vandekeybus, Draw From Within is about “threat but also about liberation, about death but also about birth.” He says he wanted to “go under the skin and draw upon our innate human qualities: the human heart beat that unites us, the arc of a human life, the blood which courses through our veins.” With no story, no dramatic visuals, and dreadful music, I doubt many viewers kept away from the allure of their phones.

I have no idea why Rambert chose to make the video of a real-time live-stream show instead of making a dance film, which would have given them more flexibility. It suggests a simplistic understanding of what is a really ‘live show’ (in person). A live show has intimacy and an energy flow between performers and audience. It is irreplaceable. Live TV conveys reality as it’s happening not intimacy. Film is a very different medium from the stage. It is a two-dimensional visual product that requires many elements to work together to draw the audience in. If you have no story, it’d better look good. Draw From Within looks boring.

The obsession with narrative found in film-making is due to the necessity of keeping people with you for hours. It is lazy and performance artists should not follow the rule-book of commercial film-making, yet they should study the rule-book anyway instead of dismissing films as not art. Covid-19 is disrupting the arts but it is also an opportunity to go beyond the fixed boundaries of theatre, dance, film, performance art, circus. The arts are in great need of innovation. This can only come when artists watch, listen, and reflect on other types of performance. Now is the time.

National Dance Company Wales & English National Ballet brings their Dance for Parkinson’s sessions online.

National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) and English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme has been transported from the Dance House (Cardiff Bay) and Blackwood Miners Institute (Caerphilly) to a new Zoom online class to help support those most vulnerable and still shielding.

NDCWales has been running the high quality dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s, their family, friends and carers since 2015 at the Dance House and 2017 at Blackwood Miners Institute, both part of a UK wide programme with English National Ballet.

Dance for Parkinson’s has been proven to support people with Parkinson’s to develop confidence and strength, whilst temporarily relieving some participants of symptoms in everyday life. Classes are expressive, creative and promote feelings of freedom from the physical and social constraints of having Parkinson’s.

Since the start of lockdown NDCWales and English National Ballet have been piloting a version online to support existing attenders to take part from the comfort of their own home, many of whom are vulnerable and have been shielding since March.  It’s also allowed existing attenders to the classes to stay connected to people through lockdown sociably.

Dance for Parkinson’s Participant said, “The lockdown has been very hard, as I was no longer able to see people and my family.  I felt isolated and my speech was suffering.  I found the Zoom sessions helped me reconnect and it was lovely to see the teachers and all the participants of our group. The sessions were very uplifting for me and I always looked forward to them.”

 
As well as setting up the sessions online, NDCWales has partnered with Digital Communities Wales who work with digitally excluded people. Helping them deliver digital inclusion activities so they can do it well and make a bigger impact. They helped NDCWales to provide free training and support for those who have never used Zoom before.

NDCWales’ Learning and Participation, Guy O’Donnell said, “The feedback we’ve had from our loyal Dance for Parkinson’s participants is that they wanted to still feel connected and still continue to feel the benefit of the programme on their health. They were keen and wanted to be adventurous and learn about technology, and fortunately with the continued support from Digital Communities Wales we have been able to do this.” 

Following the pilot over lockdown, Dance for Parkinson’s will now be available online for new members to join in from Thursday 17September, 1.15pm-2.45pm. The programme runs across 12 weeks and participants can join in at any time. The first class on the 17 September is free and the first class is free for new attenders, classes are £3.50 per week thereafter. Each term the programme focuses on one English National Ballet or National Dance Company Wales production and explores the themes and ideas around the movements of that dance piece. This term, Dance for Parkinson’s will be focused on NDCWales’ production of Ed Myhill’s Clapping?! which was adapted for online during lockdown.

As well as encouraging new members to take part in Dance for Parkinson’s, NDCWales and English National Ballet are continuing to look for volunteers to help support participants in the programme. If you would like further information and to sign up to the programme as participant or a volunteer please contact – Guy O’Donnell, Learning and Participation Producer, NDCWales email guy@ndcwales.co.uk or ring 07305 534 981.

Dance for Parkinson’s is supported by Caerphilly Council, Hodge Foundation, The Moondance Foundation and The Goldsmiths Charity Company.

Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru ac English National Ballet yn symud eu sesiynau Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s ar-lein

Mae rhaglen Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru ac English National Ballet wedi cael ei symud o’r Tŷ Dawns (Bae Caerdydd) a Sefydliad Glowyr Coed-duon (Caerffili) i ddosbarth ar-lein Zoom newydd i helpu i gefnogi’r rheiny sydd fwyaf bregus ac yn parhau i warchod eu hunain.

Mae CDCCymru wedi bod yn cynnal y dosbarthiadau dawns o safon uchel i bobl sy’n byw â Parkinson’s a’u teuluoedd, ffrindiau a gofalwyr ers 2015 yn y Tŷ Dawns a 2017 yn Sefydliad Glowyr Coed-duon, pob un yn rhan o raglen ledled y DU ag English National Ballet.

Profwyd bod Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s yn cefnogi pobl â Parkinson’s i fagu hyder a chryfder, gan leddfu dros dro symptomau ym mywyd bob dydd rhai o’r cyfranogwyr. Mae’r dosbarthiadau’n fynegiadol, yn greadigol ac yn hyrwyddo teimladau o ryddid rhag cyfyngiadau corfforol a chymdeithasol Parkinson’s.

Ers dechrau’r cyfnod clo mae CDCCymru ac English National Ballet wedi bod yn treialu rhaglen ar-lein i gefnogi mynychwyr presennol i gymryd rhan o gysur eu cartrefi eu hunain, y mae llawer ohonynt yn fregus ac wedi bod gwarchod ers mis Mawrth.  Mae wedi caniatáu i fynychwyr presennol gadw mewn cysylltiad â phobl drwy’r cyfnod clo yn gymdeithasol.

Dywedodd Cyfranogwr Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s, “Mae’r cyfnod clo wedi bod yn anodd iawn, nid oeddwn yn gallu gweld pobl na fy nheulu rhagor.  Roeddwn yn teimlo’n unig ac roedd fy lleferydd yn gwaethygu.  Helpodd y sesiynau Zoom i mi ailgysylltu ac roedd yn wych gweld yr athrawon a holl gyfranogwyr ein grŵp. Roedd y sesiynau yn codi calon ac roeddwn bob amser yn edrych ymlaen atynt.”

 
Yn ogystal â sefydlu’r sesiynau ar-lein, mae CDCCymru wedi uno â Chymunedau Digidol Cymru sy’n gweithio gyda phobl wedi’u cau allan yn ddigidol. Gan eu helpu i ddarparu gweithgareddau cynhwysiant digidol fel eu bod yn gallu ei wneud yn dda a chael mwy o effaith. Gwnaethant helpu CDCCymru i ddarparu hyfforddiant a chymorth am ddim i’r rheiny nad oedd erioed wedi defnyddio Zoom o’r blaen.

Dywedodd Cynhyrchydd Dysgu a Chyfranogi CDCCymru, Guy O’Donnell, “Yr adborth a gawsom gan ein cyfranogwyr Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s ffyddlon, oedd eu bod eisiau teimlo mewn cysylltiad o hyd a pharhau i deimlo buddion y rhaglen ar eu hiechyd. Roeddent yn awyddus ac eisiau bod yn fentrus a dysgu am dechnoleg, ac yn ffodus gyda chefnogaeth barhaus gan Gymunedau Digidol Cymru rydym wedi gallu gwneud hyn.” 

Yn dilyn y cynllun peilot dros y cyfnod clo, bydd Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s bellach ar gael ar-lein i aelodau newydd ymuno â’r rhaglen o ddydd Iau 17 Medi, 1.15pm-2.45pm. Cynhelir y rhaglen dros 12 wythnos a gall cyfranogwyr ymuno unrhyw bryd. Mae’r dosbarth cyntaf ar 17 Medi am ddim ac mae’r dosbarth cyntaf am ddim i fynychwyr newydd, ar ôl hynny codir tâl o £3.50 yr wythnos am ddosbarthiadau. Bob tymor mae’r rhaglen yn canolbwyntio ar un cynhyrchiad gan English National Ballet neu Gwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru ac yn archwilio’r themâu a syniadau y tu ôl i symudiadau’r darn dawns hwnnw. Y tymor hwn, bydd Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s yn canolbwyntio ar gynhyrchiad CDCCymru o Clapping?! Ed Myhill a gafodd ei addasu i’w arddangos ar-lein yn ystod y cyfnod clo.

Yn ogystal ag annog aelodau newydd i ymuno â Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s, mae CDCCymru ac English National Ballet yn parhau i chwilio am wirfoddolwyr i helpu i gefnogi cyfranogwyr y rhaglen. Os hoffech ragor o wybodaeth a chofrestru i’r rhaglen fel cyfranogwr neu wirfoddolwr, cysylltwch â – Guy O’Donnell, Cynhyrchydd Dysgu a Chyfranogi, CDCCymru e-bostiwch guy@ndcwales.co.uk neu ffoniwch 07305 534 981.

Cefnogir Dawnsio ar gyfer Parkinson’s gan Gyngor Caerffili, Hodge Foundation, The Moondance Foundation a The Goldsmiths Charity Company.

Embracing the Foreignness of Contemporary Dance in Care Homes. An Interview with Choreographer Matteo Marfoglia by eva marloes

As the lockdown confined us into our homes, choreographers and performance artists began exploring how to do dance digitally. Choreographer Matteo Marfoglia decided instead to bring socially-distanced dance to people who were especially vulnerable: people in care homes and in hospitals.

The project, funded by the Arts Council Stabilisation Fund, is an adaptation of Matteo’s 2016 show Crossword, which was a co-production between National Dance Company Wales and Festival of Voice, uses dialogues as music. During lockdown Matteo kept trying to think of what he could still do without necessarily using video, as soon as it would be legal to do so. He says,

“A lot of arts was going towards the digitalised form. I couldn’t find myself in that world yet. I asked myself ‘What can I still do that makes me feel I can contribute something and which doesn’t necessarily need to go digital’?”

“I woke up at three in the morning and said ‘we can do that!’. There is no contact between dancers in Crossword. I began to think of what places might be in most need of art. I initially thought of hospitals and health settings.”

Crossword became an opportunity to bring dance to people who might be at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives, but also people who might have never seen contemporary dance. That included one of the residents in a care home, who was a 94-year-old ballerina in the Royal Ballet.

“She was a dancer in the Royal Ballet and her daughter was also a dancer in the Royal Ballet. She said, ‘I have never seen contemporary dance. I’m so glad I got to see contemporary dance.’.”

Matteo tells me that the music gathered people like an invisible smoke insinuating itself inside the hospital. He says,

“In hospitals, chefs from the kitchen and nurses were clasping a cup of tea on their break came to watch the show. They were watching it through the windows so there was no interaction. For residents in care homes, the show was also an opportunity to be outside and talk to someone they didn’t know, and watch something new to them. Some people had never seen contemporary dance.”

Matteo wondered how best to enter that world with dance and movement. He felt it was a little ‘naughty’ intrusion because people would normally expect the beautiful music and graceful movement of ballet. They got something very different: an emotional journey that goes beyond a story and uses words as music.

In Crossword, the music is made of dialogues in the Italian language. The show was first designed around the theme of voice, to be part of the Festival of Voice. Matteo wanted to explore how to turn dialogues into music.

“At that point I was interested in dialogues and how voices in dialogues can be music, not just as a song or needing an instrument. I worked a lot with Italian dialogues, taking fragments from different conversations. From that we created a soundtrack.”

“The dancers were all British so they didn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t tell them.

We really used it as music. We devised the show for them to respond physically and emotionally.”

The first reaction in most audiences was the search for meaning and some found it frustrating. He tells me,

“We always look for meaning in language for us to connect to it. How can we find a way to emotionally connect through a language that we don’t understand, through something that is not the meaning, so is it the tone? The speed in which people talk, which triggers an emotion?

“For me it was trying to connect both the performers and the audience to an emotional state which goes beyond the literal understanding of words, but more about how the words are being said.

“One of the residents said ‘once the journey started I forgot that that was language.’ Once they let go of meaning, it started to be sound. It became an emotional journey.”

Contemporary dance is still largely ‘different’ for most of us. It has no straight narrative, or no narrative at all. For many, it is like a foreign language. Crossword has been an opportunity to embrace that ‘foreignness’, a ‘foreignness’ that has multiple dimensions. Crossword made use of the ‘foreignness’ of Italian language to create music and movement; it drew on the ‘foreignness’ of contemporary dance and music made of dialogues to bring the audience through an emotional journey; and it took contemporary dance to a foreign land, that of hospitals and care homes, who have been at the centre of the pandemic and where, perhaps more than anywhere else, body and mind need healing.

An Interview with Poet Marvin Thompson

Get the Chance member Helen Joy, interviews Poet Marvin Thompson. In this interview Marvin discusses his background. How issues such as Black Lives Matter have impacted on his current practice and Plethu a collaboration with Literature Wales/National Dance Company Wales and Dancer Ed Myhill.

Plethu / Weave: Triptych Part 1 by/gan Marvin Thompson and Ed Myhill

Please note: This video contains deliberate use of a highly offensive racial slur and images that some viewers might find distressing. These elements are relevant to the context of the artistic work which explores Wales’ relationship with the transatlantic slave trade.

An Interview with dance artist Gemma Connell on the project footSTEPS by Eva Marloes

Gemma Connell is a dance artist based in Wales, whose latest work, footSTEPS, is a series of dance films in starkly different locations. Born in south Manchester and with Welsh ancestry, Gemma started dancing in her local youth club. She explains,

‘I come from a working class family and a very big family, certainly couldn’t afford dance lessons. So it was the youth club, it was things that were free that were there for me.’

She later went to Warwick University to study English literature, but found herself spending most of her time dancing and setting up shows. It was then when she decided that she wanted to devote her life to the arts. I ask her what dance is for her and she tells me,

‘Dance for me has always been therapeutic. It’s my way of processing the world, It’s my way of working through things that I find difficult. It’s a way of expressing myself when I can’t find the words.’

Used to moving freely, the lockdown in the spring brought a new challenge. She didn’t have enough space at home to dance, she tells me,

‘You try and dance and you’re gonna hit the coffee table. I felt trapped and I think footSTEPS was a way of trying to get that freedom back. Dance and dancing outside was a way of dealing with that.’

Once allowed to go over 5 miles from the house, Gemma and her partner Ian Abbott, who is the Director of Photography , decided to explore different locations and experiment making short dance films. footSTEPS thus became her escape.

‘I felt very free the first couple of times we tried to create these dance films. I suddenly found myself really excited about dancing again.’

Image: Ian Abbott

The first season of footSTEPS is set in south Wales. The locations include Chepstow Castle, Wentwood Forest, a bus graveyard, an underpass in Newport, and a beach in the Vale of Glamorgan. In her dances, Gemma interacts with the features of each place and reacts to their different feel. Bringing contemporary dance into a castle felt like a meeting of two eras, while the bus graveyard had an apocalyptic feel to it. She says,

‘There’s something for me with being at a castle of one time meeting another. We film in this medieval space but I’m very much in modern clothes and doing this kind of dance that they definitely wouldn’t have done back then.’

‘The bus graveyard for me was quite eerie. It looked a little bit like the apocalypse. As if humanity had disappeared and everything had been left. It made me a little bit nervous that site. I think it comes across in the movement as well. There’s something about me trying to create a boundary, a barrier around me. I seem to be making circles around myself.’

In each film, Gemma improvises bringing together different dance styles to respond to her immediate environment; yet there is a consistency in her moves. I ask her what Covid made her realise about dance. She tells me,

‘The tactile nature of the way I work. I do a lot of contact work. Covid means you aren’t allowed to touch anybody or anything, that you’re not allowed to get close to people. As a dancer, I’m used to being in contact with people all of the time. I found that very, very difficult.’

I remark that in our everyday life we, non-dancers, tend to suppress movement. We are not at ease with our body. I ask her how dancers gain that confidence to express themselves through movement. She tells me,

‘The late Ken Robinson used to talk about this and I think he’s brilliant. He said that people are educated out of their body and into their heads. I really do believe that. I work a lot with young people. As young people, they get less and less comfortable with their body or with moving in a certain ways. I do think that that is related to an education system which is focusing on academic achievements. There are so many kinds of intelligence. I think dance is one of those kinds of intelligence. Embodied knowledge certainly is.’

For non-dancers, dance is something one might do in a club or a dance class. We do not dance on the street, in a park, or forest. Gemma takes her dance into the wild, into historic settings, and urban sites. She frees it not just from the confinement of lockdown, but from the restrictions our society imposes on dance. Movement is how Gemma, as a dancer, deals with life and expresses her emotions. We might do well to follow the example of footSTEPS and dance wherever and whenever we feel like it.

The films can be found here.

An interview with dancer Faye Tan on digital film project, Plethu/Weave. Interview by Eva Marloes

The lockdown with its different rhythms, the enclosed physical spaces, and enforced digital presence has been an opportunity and a challenge for artistic creation. National Dance Company Wales and Literature Wales have come together to produce Plethu/Weave, a series of four solo performances where dancers interpret a poem.  

Dancer and choreographer Faye Tan has created a subtle piece of just over one minute to the poem Ust by National Poet for Wales Ifor ap Glyn. The poem Ust (Shh) is highly physical in sound and imagery. It speaks of words as a body that moves and is translated beautifully by Faye in her delicate and yet intense movements. 

Faye was born in Singapore and has trained in ballet and contemporary dance at the Singapore Ballet Academy and School of The Arts before graduating from the Rambert School in London. She then joined Verve, the postgraduate company of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. She was always interested in learning new dance styles and has often taken extra classes to try new things. She tells me she likes “being a chameleon.” She likes the variety and exploration that contemporary dance allows. She says, 

“I always try to remember that there’s this whole spectrum of movement and amount of energy, and a whole spectrum of options to use when you dance because it’s contemporary dance. There is no expectation from the genre to do something in a certain way.” 

At dance school she developed her physicality and learned the vocabulary of dance. As a professional dancer, she is learning to express herself in dance in a more subtle way. She says, 

“In training there was a lot of discovering of the limits of my physicality, how high I can go, how much I can push myself. It was when I joined a company in Singapore, after the training, that it was more about what the work needs rather than physical training. I felt allowed to quieten down physically and discover nuances.” 

Faye Tan/Ifor ap Glyn

I ask her about working with poet Ifor ap Glyn. She tells me that they were matched by NDCWales and Literature Wales. “It was like a blind date”, she says with a giggle. She describes the poem saying that it felt like “I could zoom to a moment in time.”

I ask her what was her process, she tells me,

“I spent a couple of days at home in my living room thinking of movements and the words and how they would come together. I decided because I was confined as well and I couldn’t go out very much, I thought I’m going to do it on my balcony with quiet a plain background so that the body is the focus.”   

The evocative moves that lend a body to the words capture the delicate motion of the poem and its intensity. It seems effortless, yet Faye tells me that in the beginning she had a creative block. She tells me,

“I did not expect the creative block. The concept was very exciting. But I had to be performer, choreographer, and director. I enjoy working with other bodies.

I am not surprised me at her initial creative block. Lockdown confined the movements of all of us and separated us from other people. In Faye’s dance, I glimpse at the experience of confinement. Her moves happen in a small space and are trapped in close-ups. In Ust, Faye’s movements draw out Ifor ap Glyn’s words in beautiful harmony, or better, cynghanedd. 

You can find out more about the project here