Category Archives: Dance

An Interview with Wales based Dance Artist Becky Johnson

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

Hi, thank you for meeting with me. Well, I’m currently a freelance dancer/ choreographer/ teacher based in Cardiff. I’m originally from Huddersfield (Yorkshire) and moved to Cardiff to train in Contemporary Dance at USW. I graduated in June 2019 but have stayed in Cardiff since. Since then, I have really found myself invested in the arts scene here in Wales. 

 So, what got you interested in the arts?

I’d like to say I’ve always been creative but that would be a lie. I started dancing quite young at my local dance school and loved the competitions and team dances that we’d do together. It wasn’t until I was much older and was exposed to more of the arts scene, that I started to see the beauty within the arts sector and understand how collaborative it can be.

Can you tell us about your dance process? Where do your ideas come from?

My creation process with making dance varies. I take great influence from the things around me. Being that, things that inspire and intrigue me or something I want to understand further. Either that or I use my personal experiences of my interactions with the world; things that I believe should be highlighted to others or need to be understood more widely.

You were recently involved in curating, House of Rhythm presents… A night of Hip Hop which took place at Kongs Cardiff on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The event is described as “A celebration and discovery of all that is Hip hop and is in partnership with Kellys Records and Grassroots Cardiff” How did you get into Hip Hop and Streetdance. How supported is the scene in Cardiff?

One of the dance schools I was involved with as a teenager, “Fidget Feet”, prioritised teaching the true foundations and principles of HipHop. This touched upon all five pillars of Hip-Hop as well as the various styles of dance within Street Dance culture.

That, alongside growing up with two brothers who thought they were destined to be the next Notorious B.I.G, meant I was immersed within the culture and that it’s been a pivotal part of my upbringing and even in my attitude and approach to movement (and life in general) now.

This series of events is an opportunity to provide a gateway into HipHop culture and not just the music form. I feel this sense of community within HipHop, especially in Cardiff, is lacking and hence why we have decided to partner with Grassroots.

By doing so, we are working with up and coming artists and providing them with opportunities to meet people they wouldn’t otherwise. Also, with the inclusion of workshops within different pillars of HipHop, we are combining the culture as a whole and not just focussing on one part.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales based dancers, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you? Is it possible to sustain a career as a dance artist in Wales and if not what would help?

I’ve been extremely fortunate in the fact that as soon as I graduated, I found work that was within my field of practise. This has kept me financially stable and allowed me time to fulfil my own projects outside of my teaching work. I believe Cardiff and Wales has an extremely supportive network of artists, all willing to share their own knowledge and craft. Throughout my degree, I worked extremely hard to network and to meet the right people with the suiting opportunities to help me develop within my career. If it wasn’t for me outsourcing my own network of people (from all fields of the arts sector), I would’ve struggled to get to the place I am now, never mind the place I want to be by the end of the year.

I do feel there is an absence of ongoing opportunities, especially for recent graduates that are new to the sector. However, if we are willing to make our own work and source our own opportunities, making our own projects, yes, there is work but we must be prepared to pave this path for ourselves. This isn’t disregarding help and assistance from other creatives/ professionals, but the help is more to kickstart our own ideas rather than to flourish with other people’s.

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

Wow, tricky question. I’d probably have to say spacing. Providing space for artists to develop their own practise and ideas, whether that be, musicians, dancers or visual artists. As not only is there a lack of creative and accessible space in Wales, there’s a huge lacking of funded space. If there were more funded residencies around Wales, we would see a lot more new work being developed and a much more diverse community engagement from artists in the area.

 What excites you about the arts in Wales?

I feel like this is such an exciting time for collaboration within Wales. There are more opportunities coming to bridge the divide, whether that between artistic practises or between bodies of dancers. There are some exciting opportunities in the works for disabled dancers which I can’t wait to be involved in as well as new pools of artists moving to Wales from areas such as London bringing new skills and assets.

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

Well there’s nothing like a little bit of shameless self promo but this is honest and genuine. It would be The House of Rhythm event which we had on the 5th March. There were people from lots of different communities and backgrounds all coming together to support the artists performing. We had people involved in the workshops that would never normally be in those sorts of social experiences. I also had talks with participants on how we can make our events more autism friendly and accessible for those suffering with social anxiety etc. It was this coming together of people which was really beautiful to witness as all of the participants were supportive of each other, regardless of background and experience.

Thanks for your time

Thank you very much for getting in touch!

Rooting Hip-Hop Theatre in Wales

Hip-Hop was created out of struggle in New York during the 1970s as poverty and discrimination hit the African American and Caribbean communities. It has since grown into arguably the largest arts-movement in the world.

Generally, British society knows hip-hop as a music genre which is often put to one side. However, the reality is the fingerprints of hip-hop are everywhere. From music, to fashion, to dance, to graffiti, film and theatre. Spanning the globe from New York, to LA, Tokyo, Cape Town, Seoul, Moscow and London. Hip-hop is everywhere.

In Wales, Avant Cymru are pioneering the Welsh hip-hop theatre movement following in the footsteps of the likes of Jonzi D and ZooNation. Taking stories from where the company is based in Rhondda and around Wales to platform them locally, nationally and internationally.

I’ve seen Avant Cymru’s work for myself at the Cardiff and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals and company director Jamie Berry’s solo dance in People, Power, Perception is still one of my personal favourite pieces of art I’ve seen on the stage. It proved to me that you could tell a compelling story full of emotion using only dance. Which beforehand, despite having seen a variety of different dance-based theatre, I’d never felt for myself.

It’s hard to ignore the sense of impending doom brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic. Work doesn’t stop for Avant Cymru though. Krump workshops with Duwane Taylor are available on their YouTube channel and next month they will be releasing a video where world renowned popper Shawn Ailey will be teaching the foundations for popping.

They will be running workshops through to July, either online or around Wales when safe, including sessions with beatboxing, rapping, graffiti and DJing teachers to introduce learners to all elements of hip-hop outside of dance.

As a disabled-led company, with a variety of health and mental health conditions, Avant Cymru really is open to any and everyone. With the help of the British Council they are travelling to Canada in October for the No Limit Jam to connect with fellow disabled artists and explore opportunities and encourage those with disabilities, mental or physical, to pick up hip-hop.

The passion to do this comes from personal experience:

“For us Hip-Hop has had a positive influence on our lives.” For Jamie, “suffering with depression, breakin’ was the one thing that gave me drive and ambition… The theatre aspect allows me to express these thoughts. We have noticed other Hip-Hop artists, rappers, graffiti writers and dancers do the same. We want to make sure others have hip-hop as a tool to improve their health and well-being.”

For artistic director Rachel Pedley she found a home in Hip-Hop culture. “As a working-class artist, I struggled to afford the lifestyle of ballet dancers and other theatre makers. In Hip-Hop the training and social side was more affordable and the other artists were easier to relate to. It helped build the confidence I needed to go and create and understand my value didn’t come from the cash in my pocket. Working in the Rhondda Valleys, we want to make sure that our young people have the confidence needed to walk into other aspects of life, we believe confidence comes from celebrating our differences and that hip hop even encourages this.”

As well as offering workshops and encouraging people into forms of hip-hop, Avant Cymru also produce their own work. Working with artists from all pillars of hip-hop, from beatboxers, emcees, graffiti artists, dancers and DJs. As well as with artists from outside hip-hop such as theatre writers or musicians from outside hip-hop.

Hip-Hop is often stereotyped as ‘gangster rap’, but it is so much more than that. Avant Cymru aim to change this view as they “would like to share our knowledge with different audiences to show how varied and creative Hip Hop can be and how positive it can be when you get involved.”

Hip-Hop is arguably the largest artistic movement in the world today. But maybe the most misunderstood also. So, if you’re interested, check out an upcoming show from Avant Cymru or another hip-hop company. Or even give it a go yourself.

Arts Online, A Guest Post by Megan Pritchard, Marketing Campaigns Manager at National Dance Company Wales

We are both saddened to see the vast array of cultural cancellations over the past day and proud to see so many companies putting the health of their staff, participants and audiences first. 


The arts are an important part of many of our lives, and we’re also excited to see so many isolation friendly options arising. We’ve started a list of online dance and yoga classes, digital only festivals and a huge array of dance, opera, theatre, museums and CPD activities you can do from home – including full NDCWales performances.  Please share this resource and let us know of other fab things we can add to it. 

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Mae’r ddau ohonom yn drist iawn o weld yr ystod eang o ddigwyddiadau diwylliannol sydd wedi cael eu canslo ers ddoe ac yn falch o weld cymaint o gwmnïau yn rhoi iechyd eu staff, cyfranogwyr a chynulleidfaoedd yn gyntaf.
Mae’r celfyddydau yn rhan bwysig o fywydau sawl un ohonom, ac rydym hefyd yn teimlo’n gyffrous i weld cynifer o opsiynau y gellir eu gwneud wrth hunan-ynysu yn codi.Rydym wedi dechrau rhestr o ddosbarthiadau dawns ac ioga ar-lein, gwyliau digidol yn unig a llu o bethau yn seiliedig ar ddawns, opera, y theatr ac amgueddfeydd, a gweithgareddau y gallwch eu gwneud adref – gan gynnwys perfformiadau CDCCymru llawn.


Rhannwch yr adnodd hwn a rhowch wybod i ni am bethau gwych, eraill y gallwn eu hychwanegu ato.


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DANCE CLASSES 
Gaga is a unique dance training, Gaga Movement Language גאגא שפת תנועה NYC are currently offering 3 classes a day 7 days a week with a suggested donation.  https://www.gofundme.com/f/gaga-nyc-online-classeshttps://www.facebook.com/groups/mootmovementlab/


Moot – The Movement Lab are making their resources as available as possible and have great updates on other training online. 


Juliard School of Performing Arts are running ballet barre classes through instagram https://www.instagram.com/juilliardschool/


You can learn the famous Rosas Danst Rosas from Anne-Teresa De Keersmaecker here online, easily done at home with a kitchen chair  https://www.rosas.be/en/news/814-dance-in-times-of-isolation


The Dance Centre is offering fun online musical theatre inspired classes. https://www.facebook.com/1thedancecentre


Rebecca Lemme / Acts of Matter offers a free online Barre Class you can do without a proper Barre https://vimeo.com/398046579/cdfec48e01?fbclid=IwAR2AlsTXHcg7–4ulAhmvpNotiVJIMz3Z3v_PIYW6pKyT0bZ_JQFfJN0Cow


The Guardian has an article on tips for dancing at home.https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/22/fitness-tips-online-dance-tutorials?fbclid=IwAR2DKtULuSlfcB7TueCKqAbegoM4OYJFrRoCX5mwpwsWO_NILQsn6sHKXxI


YOGA CLASSES

Overwhelmingly our dancers suggest following Yoga With Adriene for youtube yoga https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene


Cat Meffan Yoga – another office fav, with a huge range of free classes on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVrWHW_xYpDnr3p3OR4KYGw


Our dancers also enjoy the Down Dog App which also has a ballet barre class option https://www.downdogapp.com/


Rosanna Emily Carless our Dance Ambassador is streaming free yoga classes daily on her facebook page.


AT HOME ARTS FESTIVALS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19


These festivals aim to gather streamed content and classes in different ways – Social Distancing Streaming Concerts https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com 

The Social Distancing Festival https://creativedistance.org/ 

Creative Distance, The Theatre Cafehttps://www.facebook.com/thetheatrecafe/photos/a.1597256473856456/2552997778282316/?type=3&theater 


LIVE EVENTS STREAMED TO YOUR DEVICES 


NDCWales P.A.R.A.D.E.  including choreography by Caroline Finn, Marcos Morau and Lee Johnson, in collaboration with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rubicon Dance and Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence; filmed by The Space Arts. https://vimeo.com/248459479


Tundra by Marcos Morau https://vimeo.com/254300487


Reflections documentary and dance film from our Dance for Parkinson’s participants. https://vimeo.com/ndcwales/reflections


The Metropolitan OperaAre running nightly live streams, up at 7.30pm(EDT) each left up for 20 hours. http://metopera.org/

Rosie Kay’s 5 Soldiers https://youtu.be/2urN4ESejFo

Or Zosia Jo’s – Fabulous Animal is available to stream for donation here https://www.zosiajo.com/fab-animal-film


Berliner PhilharmonikerUse the code BERLINPHIL by March 31 to get 30-day access to the orchestra’s stunning work https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/home


Marquee TVOffer plays, dance, opera and theatre all to stream on a Netflix like service, offering free 30 day trial at the momentmarquee.tv

Twitter Search #togetherathome to see bands streaming intimate concerts live from their homes.

 
The Guardian have posted their own list now too  https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/mar/17/hottest-front-room-seats-the-best-theatre-and-dance-to-watch-online?CMP=share_btn_fb

Filmed on StageHosts links to mostly paid streams of large Broadway shows and musicals http://www.filmedonstage.com/

You can watch the west end production of Wind in the Willows here https://www.willowsmusical.com/ 


Netflix and Amazon Prime VideoBoth have a small selection of stage shows to stream


Other Cultural Activity 


Free Museum tours from across the world https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours


Free colouring pages from museums http://www.openculture.com/2019/02/download-free-coloring-books-from-113-museums.html?fbclid=IwAR3wPlZLs00PCl-tilb9jXHKJPUSDa2oui1SHQC-iEsh40w7b_ZN5DIyglU


Free National Park tours https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/google-earth-virtual-tours-of-us-national-parks


David Bowie is At the V&A MuseumAn augmented reality tour of the singer’s costumes, notebooks and life’s work. https://davidbowieisreal.com/


CPD FROM HOME 
ETC have made their online training courses free during this time: training for technicians Courses.etcconnect.com  The following performers offer one to one tuition, find them on facebook. 


Rubyyy Jones – Cabaret MCing Paul L Martin – mentoring for cabaret performers  John Celestus – one to one Flexibiliy and Strength, contortion, compare 
Skillshare International Offers photography, illustration, design with a 2 month free trial available https://www.skillshare.com/


Welsh for work with Learn Welsh Cardiff – Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd A 10 hour course free https://learnwelsh.cymru/work-welsh/work-welsh-courses/work-welsh-taster-courses/


Say Something in Welsh A podcast based language learning system with free and paid options including Welshhttps://www.saysomethingin.com/


Duolingo The number one free language app has a great Welsh course toohttps://www.duolingo.com/

Review: too pretty to punch, edalia day, vault festival by hannah goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Edalia Day has brought a very unique and very interesting production to the forefront at this year’s Vaults.

Beginning slow and slightly awkward, Day seems nervous and uneasy in this plain white room. Soon we are to realise, this is very much a clever theatrical technique to their story and very much the beginning of something special.

Too Pretty To Punch brings Day’s autobiography to the stage. Identifying as trans, Day transforms the stage into their life story, the trials and tribulations and turmoil in accepting who they are and seeking acceptance in society. It then continues into a widen view of the issues trans people face and eventually brings in verbatim videos to others facing the daily obstacles.

It would be easily and still powerful to have used these videos to support Day’s points, but they go the step further – animation is projected onto screens, one an ordinary square screen, another slightly misshapen and another as a moveable canvas. These are used to flick between images and animations as they move across the stage, along with physical theatre by Day, making the action come to real life in our eyes.

Some of the performance feels like we are getting to know a new friend – Day addresses us and talks to us like a new friend being made, but then some poignant moments being transferred into visual elements adds a unique and clever nature to this production and hits the points home.

Supported at times with kitsch music that reminds me of Golem by 1925, this makes the production feel a little special and like nothing on the theatre scene right now.

Too Pretty To Punch is not only a really important production to see but is also one of the most unique and fascinating pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time.

Review Rygbi, Dance City, NDCWales by Valerie Speed.

I had the pleasure of seeing KiN, performed by visiting dance company, National Dance Company Wales at Dance City, Newcastle upon Tyne, a couple of weeks ago. I really do love dance, and yet I don’t get many opportunities to see a performance. What I have seen has usually been reworked productions of well-known pieces. Think Swan Lake.

I was looking forward to seeing the work of a company that describes itself as a company which creates dance With and for all kinds of people in all kinds of places’. A young, vibrant repertory company, whose aim is to innovate, make accessible and include.

The current production on tour is KiN. This brings together three very different dance performances, Rygbi:Yma/Here, 2067:Timeand Time and Time and Lunatic.

Here I offer you a review of Rygbi.

If a dance company is going to aim to be a company of the community then it makes sense it would devise a performance conjuring up Wales’ national sport. Choreographed by Fearghus O Conchuir along with the performers, music composed by Tic Ashfield, the intention of Rygbi, as we are told, is to express and celebrate the sense of ‘pride and passion’, ‘commitment and camaraderie’. This piece came together with the help of rugby players and fans.

The piece begins with an explosion of energy. From the very beginning there is a felt tension, an anticipation for the match ahead. As an audience we can’t help but be lifted by the fast-paced athleticism of the dancers moving together, representing the way in which a team does work in unison. Just as with a real rugby match though, the energy levels wax and wane, the action slows down or speeds up. There are times for composure and times for full on attack. The performance captures every nerve tingling moment.  Every high, every disappointment, every resurgence is danced with true conviction.

I enjoy watching rugby, which is probably why I was so interested in seeing this piece. Watching this performance feels like I am experiencing a match in its entirety. A first kick, a scrum, a conversion. The desperation to succeed is etched on each and every face of the dancers. All play their part extremely well, connecting as they do to the audience and taking it on the journey of one game.

The music is never intrusive but serves to enhance the constant roller-coaster.

I can’t fault the performance. I can only sit back in awe at how this is simultaneously experienced as dance, theatre and sport. The choreography, as well devised as it is, works that magic.

I find myself thinking that what I am seeing cannot be defined, it crosses boundaries and has a way of connecting with anyone.

National Dance Company Wales say they want to make ‘dance for all kinds of people’ and with this they delivered.

Connecting With Our Body with Zosia Jo – interview by Eva Marloes

The disconnect with our bodies is making us sick. We communicate through disembodied social media and are strangers to one another. As the Coronavirus spreads across Europe, it might sound strange to advocate for a stronger connection with our body and nature, and yet it is through connection that we get to know what our body can do, its vulnerabilities, and how to make it resilient. The exhibition and performance ‘Fabulous Animal’ by dancer and performance artist Zosia Jo is thus unwittingly topical. It is an invitation to rediscover our body without judgment and to find strength by tapping into our animal side.

I have never had a rosy picture of nature. Nature can be terrifying and ruthless. Nature doesn’t ‘need’ us; rather we need nature. We are of nature. Zosia Jo’s invitation to have a more grounded relationship with our body and those of others emphasises strength born of acceptance rather than control. It is a much needed lesson in these times of uncertainty, anxiety, and disconnect.

Some might find it all too abstract, but there’s nothing abstract about the body. The coronavirus spreading illness and panic brings home how we fool ourselves into believing that we are above nature and detached from it. We want to dominate nature even to the point of extinction. We want control over the body. Men, in particular, want to control women’s bodies. They do so through rape and harassment, through restrictive legislation on reproductive health, and through the labels applied to women for what they wear, how they look, and how they move. Zosia Jo wants to ‘shake off the patriarchy’. Yet, her message is for everyone. Women bear the brunt of this ideology of dominance and control, but men are oppressed by this too. The attempt to eliminate vulnerability, repress emotions, and control the body is what makes us weak.

The work of Zosia Jo invites us to stop, watch, and listen to our body. There is an aliveness in the photos and videos of Zosia Jo seeing and experiencing her body as if she has woken up from a long sleep. She plays with her flesh and muscles, with her hair, teeth, and skin. She touches the body of a tree from inside in a sensuous and playful way. She climbs a tree like a monkey. She does not conquer nature, but connects with it.

As a dancer, Zosia Jo tells me that she was always aware of how important the line of the body and the look of the body were. She tells me,

“I got thrust into this world where it was all about ultimately how I looked, even though it’s more complicated than that. I got swept into trying to be thin, trying to be in a certain way. My journey back to performing and dance became a very personal one, one that was about finding myself, empowering myself to feel good about my own body and to dance again. To perform was a big part of that.”

She studied somatic dance, which stresses listening to one’s body to appreciate how movement emerges. She has run workshops for people to experience their bodies without judgment. She has worked extensively with women in Cairo, who rarely get the opportunity to be in a safe and creative space away from the ever-present male gaze. Women are under constant pressure to look pleasing to men. Zosia Jo sought to ‘shake off’ that judgment. She tells me,

“It’s the curiosity about the body, feeling and touching with no judgement, I might be touching the part of body I least like but I have to discover it as if I had no attachment to what that is.”

Zosia Jo listens to her body and only her body. She seems to forget the audience and the camera or, more poignantly, she doesn’t care. Released from the pressure to conform to expectations, be they expectations of beauty, grace, agility, she can breathe freely. Her technique is like breathing, a continuous expanding and pulsating. It’s paying attention to one’s body and only one’s body.

“I wanted to make something that was ugly … let go of this instinct of making something beautiful and just be utterly unrefined. The goal was to be so ugly that is beautiful.”

Yet, she is a performer relying on external validation and enjoying the relationship with the audience. I ask her what she does to communicate how she feels to the public. She tells me,

“Somatic dance can be a bit trippy … I might feel great but I look disempowered, how do I match my own experience with what I’m trying to say to the audience and not look like shrinking and hiding in public space? That is the question.”

It is the connection with animals that makes that communication possible, she asked herself,

“Which animal enabled me to be in the world in such a way that it’s clear I’m taking space or that I’m being empowered? At the same time a feeling good, that is not fake, that is not impersonating a kind of traditionally male sense of what power is or what power looks like, but that I am feeling good.”

Zosia Jo performs the instinctive and earthy character of an animal but juxtaposes with the ‘fabulous’ of queer culture.

“Fabulous … I think of queer culture, dressing up, taking ownership of one’s sexuality. … I like the contrasts between queer culture, glamour, sequins, sparkles, sexuality and shiny expressionism, and animal, which is something earthy and grounded. I loved the seemingly paradox.”

This is what makes it a fun performance. Performance can in itself be liberating. I ask her where she finds the internal validation for this work. She tells me,

“When you listen to physical reality, you can ground yourself and feel grateful just for being present and alive. When you feel what the body can do and get excited about what it can do instead of what it can’t do or instead of what is wrong with it that’s very validating without having to be impressive in any way… It’s not ‘heroic’ movement … moving to the beat, it’s something so human. Everyone can do it.”

Everyone can do it. Everyone can rediscover their body, “wobble all the fat” and have fun with it without fear of judgment, without the need to control it. The empowerment is not in dominating and controlling; the empowerment is in the connection.

Watch the videos of Zosia Jo here.

An Interview with James Wilton

Wales braced for further tempests as James Wilton Dance whips up The Storm across the country. High energy dance at Ystradgynlais, Holyhead and Pwllheli in return visit for critically acclaimed company.


James Wilton Dance, one of Europe’s most in demand dance companies, brought their last show, Leviathan to Wales as one of the first Dance Across Wales productions. This season, they are back country with The Storm, a whirlwind of lightning fast, athleticism, where acrobatics, break-dancing, martial arts and contact work fuse to form dance that promises to blow audiences away. Seven dancers, a soundtrack of thundering electro-rock specially composed by Amarok and thousands of pieces of paper combine to create a work that astounds with its athleticism and touches audiences emotionally in a way that words simply can’t.

The Storm visits Wales this March, with performances at The Welfare, Ystradgynlais (25th March), Canolfan Ucheldre, Holyhead (27th March) and Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllheli (28th March).


The performances form part of the programme for Dance Across Wales, a Creu Cymru project aiming to give venues in non-urban areas of Wales more confidence in bringing dance to their audiences.


Creu Cymru is working with the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) in an Arts Council of Wales funded project to enable five theatres in Wales who currently programme little or no dance, to engage with and develop local audiences for dance. The idea of the project is to encourage people to ‘Give dance a chance’ at their local theatre.


Each of the five venues have chosen work from the NRTF’s Dance Menu. The Dance Menu (curated by NRTF, China Plate and The Place) contains existing dance pieces from established artists and companies which have been re-choreographed for small-scale presentation.


The project is funded by Arts Council of Wales and has been running from October 2018. The participating theatres, (Ucheldre Centre Holyhead, Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllheli, Parc and Dare Theatre Treorchy, The Welfare Ystradgynlais and Ammanford Miners), are all located in rural areas or small towns, have been able to select two to three dance pieces to present at a subsidised rate. As part of the project the theatres also receive marketing and outreach support to share ideas and strategies, marketing approaches and evaluation.


Creu Cymru’s mission is to develop a vibrant and progressive sector of theatres and arts centres for the people and communities of Wales.

Choreographer James Wilton discusses his work in the interview below

What is The Storm about?

The Storm is essentially about how we process emotions and happiness. It occurred to me that there are many parallels between weather and psychology. For example the word tempestuous can mean either an overwhelming emotion, or a storm. Before a hurricane there is what is referred to as a depression. When people are sad others say “it will all blow over”. How you can’t see wind but can see how it changes objects and how you can’t see emotions but can see how they change people. I also likened the world to a storm. We are surrounded by this turbulent, challenging world, where danger, injustice and suffering are all around us. In this world how can we manage to remain happy? How can we not get swept up in the world around us and how can we be the quiet, calm eye of the storm.

When did you first have the idea?

I am a generally very happy person, and I’ve always wondered why. In 2016, shortly after creating LEVIATHAN, I had a term of relative unhappiness, where I was swept up into some of the problematic things around me. At this point it occurred to me how important, and how beautiful happiness is, and how the world would be a much better place if people understood emotions and complex psychology more deeply.

What will be different physically?

We’re going bigger, faster and more fierce than ever with The Storm, but we’re going to be contrasting that with more subtlety, texture and softness than ever as well. As well as the earthy physicality we usually bring to the table, there will also be a greater sense of line and shape. Of course, we’re not going to be going too classical, however we are adding some elements from those techniques in order to push our physicality somewhere new.

What does Dr. David Belin, lecturer in Behavioural Neuroscience at Cambridge University, add to the piece?

I wanted to make sure that the work had a foundation in genuine science. I think so often people think they understand psychology, however we really don’t. Dr. Belin is a world expert in his field, with over 50 peer reviewed publications, and has taught me a great deal about the human mind. The most interesting thing being about dysregulation, and how people attribute the wrong feelings to the wrong emotion.

What excites you about the music of Amarok the composer?

In 2017 Amarok, aka Michal Wojtwas, released an album called Hunt, which received many nominations for prog-rock album of the year. It was through a “top 30 of the year” list that I discovered his work and I’ve been hooked ever since. I used three tracks off of his album for my creation “Hold On” for Theater Münster, and once I saw how well the music gelled with my choreography, I knew that I had to get him to write something especially for The Storm. There is just so much power and depth in the music that Michal writes, and it is emotive in some indescribable, other-worldly way.

Finally-What can audiences expect?

In short-to be blown away by the physicality, the storytelling and the raw emotion of the dance, set, music and light. We want audiences to feel the piece, as well as see it.

Fabulous Animal Live Performance – A Review by Eva Marloes

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Fabulous Animal is a composite artistic project, which includes photos and videos of professional dancer Zosia Jo and of workshops’ participants and Zosia Jo’s live performance at Cardiff Made. It is an exploration of the body in its fleshy and animalesque dimension. The performance begins with Zosia Jo feeling her body, her teeth, her arms, licking her arm, comparing the hair in her armpits with the hair on her head. She stretches her muscles and shakes her body. She dresses and undresses.

The performance starts with playfulness and warmth. Zosia Jo is friendly and puts us at ease. Zosia Jo has a beautiful physicality and control over her body. Every move looks natural, with no tension, and easy. As her body moves slowly and softly, it becomes seductive. It is seductive in the literal sense of the word, in bringing us closer. She embodies an eroticism without a mask.

In the very small space of Cardiff Made, Zosia Jo projects a sense of wider nature. She moves like the waves of the sea, like the movement of our lungs as we breath. What is striking of the performance is her ability to give a sense of being in nature and part of nature. Zosia Jo is successful in stripping us of our everyday masks and let us see that underneath our clothes we are animals. In nature, the spectators would have been able to sense more their own body and their relationship with rocks, sands, trees, or water.

The texts beside the photos give a thoroughly research context linking this exploration of the body and nature to feminism. However, it is too abstract for the performance, while it is probably more powerful in the contexts of the workshops Zosia Jo did in Egypt. The exploration of the body outside of societal constructs of beauty, strength, and skill can resonate with men as well as women. In a disembodied society, we can all benefit from experiencing our bodies differently. At the performance, we remain spectators; yet as we watch Zosia Jo, we can imagine her as an animal. Like a butterfly she spreads her wings and she is nature. She is a fabulous animal.

You can watch the video online at the following address: https://www.zosiajo.com/

Review: Message In A Bottle, Peacock Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I am going to be honest with you dear readers, I was rather dubious about Message In A Bottle.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Sting or The Police, but the fact this was another dance production by the wonderful Katie Prince of Zoonation fame (of which I am a fan) I was really intrigued with how the two could combine.

A really poignant story, Message In A Bottle focuses on a family torn apart from war and disaster, facing a life of a refugee and starting life again. A story that has often hit our newspaper headlines and breaking news articles on TV.

Zoonation has been known for its comedy – taking existing stories and giving them a comical yet urban feel to them. This production from Prince is something so different and dare I say it, my favourite to date from this choreographer and director.

Somehow the music from Sting fits every scene so well, without much change to the music, the world this family exist in feels almost alien and somehow the electronics of his songs, and the earthly beats of others just fit so well to the story and the characters.

The dancing, of course, is flawless and awe inspiring as Prince’s work always is. It is great to see her branch out even more with choreography – previous work lending to the fact it is urban, a hip hop version of a story; this production has these moments, but there are also beautiful contemporary moments, really showing the skills and versatility of each dancer.

And a review cannot be written without mentioning the set – a combination of multimedia usage with projections, a cubed stage where the background is ever changing, costumes that just fit effortlessly with the colour schemes and the lighting effects that are those I haven’t seen before in a show but also manage to include us the audience – an absolute triumph.

Message In A Bottle is an absolute masterpiece. It is everything from a dance show and more, and somehow, if you weren’t a fan of Sting or The Police before, you will now have them on repeat.

Complete perfection.

Review Kin, National Dance Company Wales by Dora Frankel

Kin, a triple bill of two new works and one revival performed by National Dance Company Wales at Dance City, Newcastle is deceptively simple and unspectacular but leaves a warm and deeply satisfying feeling. Performed by a fine tuned and yet relaxed ensemble this is beautiful dance with an underlying humanity.

National Dance Company Wales, based in the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff is a contemporary dance company in existence since 1983, first as Diversions and, since 2009 as the National Dance Company of Wales. Kin is the latest touring triple bill with works by the current Artistic Director Fearghus O’ Conchuir, Dussledorf based English choreographer Alexandra Waierstall and the late Nigel Charnock, co funder of internationally acclaimed DV8.

Rygbi, (Rugby in Welsh) the opening work is by Fearghus O Conchuir and is inspired by the, as the title suggests, game of rugby and is a fun, beautifully researched and choreographed piece. That choreographic detail even includes the slightly tight concentrated expressions of the players/dancers, who occasionally break out in victorious smiles. Physically both fluid and dynamic, with rhythmic, fast paced changes of direction and slow motion moments it’s an easily understood piece full of quirks and camaraderie.

Next up 2067 Time and Time and Time is a much more meditative piece with structured improvisational movement, which though sensitively performed felt diffuse and sometimes obscure. Clearly created with great care and skill I was left wondering what the choreographer really intended even down to the compositional devices and use of props .

Lunatic by the late, great Nigel Charnock known for his intense theatricality both as performer and choreographer and important among LGBTQ artists, who tested new ways of expressing their sexuality and their social situation was created in 2009. It is expertly restaged by Jo Fong and feels uncanny in its’ relevance to today, from the period style of the 1950s sequences through drag to joyously mad ballet movement. A mix of dance and gesture filled with despair, madness and joy using voice, props and costume changes to create a fantastic piece of choreography which is highly relevant to today. It is also a test for the six dancers who perform it with panache and humour.

“It is a kind of madness. All my work – to the public – doesn’t look chaotic, but mad. A little bit lunatic. People say, ‘I didn’t know what was going to happen next, what you were going to do next’.”  Nigel Charnock interviewed by Emily Lambert, Wales Online 2009

The evening has a clear overarching theme of the group, how important we all are and how connected we are; there’s a sense of humanity and kindness.  Superbly curated by Fearghus O’Conchuir it is contemporary dance that seeks to reach out without losing any integrity and it does.

Rygbi


Choreographer Fearghus O’Conchuir
Composer Tic Ashfield
Costume Design Carl Davies
Lighting Design Sinead Wallace


2067: Time and Time and Time


Choreographer Alexandra Waierstall
Composer Hauschka
Costume Concept and Set Design Alexandra Waierstall
Lighting Design Caty Olive
Costume Design Brighde Penn


Lunatic


Choreographer Nigel Charnock
Costume Design Shanti Freed
Costume Make Brighde Penn
Lighting Design Jackie Shemesh
Costume Design Consultant Joseff Fletcher
Restaging & Rehearsal Director Jo Fong. With thanks to the Nigel Charnock Estate