Category Archives: Dance

“Rwy’n cael fy nhynnu at nodweddion emosiynol a chorfforol y profiad dynol.” Cyfweliad â Hanna Lyn Hughes.

Clod i Noel Shelley

Helo Hanna, mae’n braf i gwrdd â chi. Allwch chi roi rhywfaint o wybodaeth i’n darllenwyr am eich cefndir os gwelwch yn dda?

Rwy’n ddawnsiwr llawrydd o Gaerdydd. Fe wnes i hyfforddi fel Aelod Cyswllt o’r Ysgol Ballet Frenhinol a Chwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru cyn mynychu Ysgol Ddawns Gyfoes Llundain yn 18 oed. Rwyf wedi gweithio gyda choreograffwyr gan gynnwys Crystal Pite, Caroline Finn a Dane Hurst ac wedi dawnsio gyda chwmnïau fel y Danish Dance Theatre a Just Us Dance Theatre, ac yn ddiweddar rwyf wedi ymuno â Ballet Cymru fel dawnsiwr cwmni.

Beth sbardunodd eich diddordeb yn y celfyddydau?

Rwyf wedi bod yn greadigol erioed. Gan amlaf yn yr ysgol, roeddwn yn dwdlan dros fy ngwaith cartref mathemateg ac yn creu dawnsiau disgo ar iard yr ysgol. Roeddwn hefyd wrth fy modd yn astudio Tecstilau a Drama Safon Uwch.

Clod i Sian Treberth

Rydych chi’n ddawnsiwr cwmni gyda Ballet Cymru ac ar hyn o bryd rydych chi’n gweithio gyda nhw i edrych ar ffyrdd o gefnogi cyflwyno dawns yn yr Iaith Gymraeg. Beth yw eich gobeithion a’ch uchelgeisiau ar gyfer y fenter newydd hon?


Yn dilyn cyfnod prawf llwyddiannus, rydym yn gyffrous i ail-ddechrau’r dosbarthiadau ballet dwyieithog i oedolion ar ôl y Pasg. Rwyf hefyd wedi bod yn dysgu Cymraeg i rai o aelodau’r cwmni; mae eu hyder wrth siarad yr iaith wedi cynyddu ac mae eu brwdfrydedd wedi bod yn galonogol iawn. Rydym bellach yn edrych ar fwy o ffyrdd o ymgorffori ymarfer dwyieithog ac mae hynny wedi cadarnhau i mi mai addysgu dawns yn ddwyieithog ddylai fod y ‘norm’ yng Nghymru. Os ydych yn ymarferydd dawns yng Nghymru, rwy’n erfyn arnoch i ystyried sut y gallwch ddefnyddio’r Gymraeg yn eich sesiynau. Gyda bron i 30% o’r boblogaeth yn gallu siarad a deall Cymraeg, mae’n werth yr ymdrech.

Pe bai dawnsiwr am aros ac ymarfer yng Nghymru cyn dilyn gyrfa, pa system gymorth fyddech chi’n awgrymu y byddai ei hangen arnynt er mwyn gallu gwneud hyn?


Mae mynychu eich ysgol ddawns leol yn le gwych i ddechrau ac os ydych yn ddigon ffodus i fod wedi’ch lleoli yn Ne Cymru, efallai y gallwch fynychu’r cynlluniau cyswllt sy’n cael eu rhedeg gan CDCCymru a Ballet Cymru. Ond nid yw’n bosibl hyfforddi’n alwedigaethol hyd at lefel broffesiynol yng Nghymru ar hyn o bryd, sy’n drueni mawr!

Llun o gynlluniau cyswllt Ballet Cymru
Clod i Sian Trenberth

O ran dilyn gyrfa mewn dawns, yng Nghymru, rwyf wedi canfod bod deall fy sgiliau a’r hyn y gallaf ei gynnig i sector Dawns Cymru yn bwysig iawn. Er enghraifft, mae cydnabod yr angen am ymarferwyr dawns sy’n siarad Cymraeg a darparu’r gwasanaeth hwnnw wedi fy ngalluogi i ennill profiad o greu coreograffi ac addysgu, ac mae wedi bod yn achubiaeth ariannol hefyd ar adegau. Wedi dweud hyn, rwy’n teimlo fy mod i’n cael fy ngwerthfawrogi a’m hystyried ar safon wahanol fel dawnsiwr oherwydd fy nghenedligrwydd a’r ffaith fy mod i’n siarad Cymraeg. Rwy’n teimlo’r un mor lwcus i gael cyfleoedd gan fy mod yn Gymraes, ond rwy’n poeni weithiau bod fy ngwaith yn cael ei werthfawrogi ar y sail honno’n unig. Rwyf wedi dod i delerau â’r teimladau hyn trwy groesawu’r llwyfannau sy’n cael eu cynnig i mi a’u hystyried fel cyfleoedd i herio rhagdybiaethau, ac i ragori ar ddisgwyliadau mewn rhai achosion. Rwy’n angerddol am fy etifeddiaeth a’m diwylliant ond nid yw’n diffinio fy ngwaith na’m hunaniaeth.Rwy’n angerddol am fy etifeddiaeth a’m diwylliant ond nid yw’n diffinio fy ngwaith na’m hunaniaeth.

Rydych chi’n artist sydd wedi gweithio gyda phobl greadigol o amrywiaeth o ffurfiau celf i greu perfformiadau artistig cyffrous yn y gorffennol. Sut fyddech chi’n disgrifio’ch ymarfer creadigol orau?

Rwy’n defnyddio ioga, hedfan yn isel a gwaith byrfyfyr yn fy ymarfer fy hun ac mae ansawdd fy symud fel arfer yn cael ei alw yn llyfn a chywrain. O ran coreograffi, rwy’n cael fy nhynnu at nodweddion emosiynol a chorfforol y profiad dynol, yn enwedig themâu marwoldeb a chreu. Rwy’n edrych ymlaen at ddatblygu’r syniadau hyn yn y dyfodol.

Clod i Erik Emanuel

A oes unrhyw enghreifftiau o systemau hyfforddi neu rwydweithiau cymorth sy’n bodoli mewn gwledydd eraill y gallai Cymru geisio eu defnyddio?

O ran systemau hyfforddi, dim ond dros y ffin i Loegr y mae’n rhaid i chi edrych i weld rhai enghreifftiau rhyfeddol. Byddai mentrau’r llywodraeth fel y cynllun CAT yn fuddiol iawn i Gymru, i fynd i’r afael â materion fel hygyrchedd a chysondeb mewn hyfforddiant. Mae angen sicrhau bod mwy o lwybrau ar gael i bobl ifanc sydd ag angerdd am symud i ymgymryd â gwaith creadigol ac ehangu eu haddysg dawns. Mae hyn hefyd yn cynnwys cael rhaglen hyfforddiant galwedigaethol i astudio dawns ar lefel broffesiynol.


Mae Get the Chance yn gweithio i gefnogi ystod amrywiol o aelodau’r cyhoedd i gael mynediad at ddarpariaeth ddiwylliannol. Ydych chi’n ymwybodol o unrhyw rwystrau y mae pobl greadigol yng Nghymru yn eu hwynebu? Os ydych chi, beth ellid ei wneud i gael gwared ar y rhwystrau hyn?

Un o’r rhwystrau rydw i wedi bod yn ymwybodol ohono’n y gorffennol fu’r diffyg ystyriaeth i ymarferwyr dawns mewn ardaloedd mwy gwledig yng Nghymru. Gan fod sefydliadau wedi gorfod addasu i ddulliau digidol o gynnal neu ffrydio eu digwyddiadau, mae’r ymarferwyr dawns hyn o’r diwedd wedi gallu mynychu digwyddiadau na fyddent wedi gallu mynd iddynt yn y gorffennol. Rwyf hefyd yn bersonol wedi gwerthfawrogi fy mod yn gallu cyrchu a gwylio perfformiadau wedi’u ffrydio’n fyw ar-lein ac er gwaethaf pwl achlysurol o ‘flinder Zoom’, rwy’n dal i obeithio y bydd sefydliadau’n parhau i gynnig o leiaf rai agweddau ar weithio/perfformio ar-lein.

 Pe byddech chi’n gallu ariannu maes o’r celfyddydau yng Nghymru pa faes fyddai hwnnw a pham?

Mae angen dirfawr am arian mewn llawer o feysydd ond hoffwn weld rhaglen hyfforddi broffesiynol gynhwysol ar gael yng Nghymru yn ogystal â gofod i uno lle gall dawnswyr greu, addysgu a pherfformio gyda’i gilydd (rhywbeth fel Dance City yn Newcastle)

Dance City, Newcastle.

Beth sy’n eich cyffroi am y celfyddydau yng Nghymru?

Mae wedi bod yn gyffrous gweld cymuned ddawns Cymru yn gweithio gyda’i gilydd i sefydlu cymuned fwy cysylltiedig o ddawnswyr trwy ddigwyddiadau rhwydweithio a thrafodaethau ar-lein. Edrychaf ymlaen at weld sut mae’r cysylltedd hwn yn digwydd yn Sector Ddawns flaengar ac amrywiol Cymru.

Beth oedd y peth gwirioneddol wych olaf i chi ei brofi yr hoffech ei rannu gyda’n darllenwyr?

Gwylio Revisor Crystal Pite a “BLKDOG” Far From the Norm fel rhan o Dance Nation. Mae’r ddau yn ddarnau rhyfeddol, ac maent ar gael i’w gwylio am ddim ar Iplayer.

Revisor Crystal Pite


“I find myself drawn to both the emotional and physical characteristics of the human experience” An Interview with Hanna Lyn Hughes.

Credit Noel Shelley

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

I’m a freelance dancer from Cardiff. I trained as an Associate of The Royal Ballet School and National Dance Company Wales before attending London Contemporary Dance School at 18. I’ve worked with choreographers including Crystal Pite, Caroline Finn and Dane Hurst and have danced with companies such as Danish Dance Theatre, Just Us Dance Theatre and have recently joined Ballet Cymru as a company dancer. You can find out more about me at my website

What got you interested in the arts?

I’ve been creative as long as I can remember. At school, I was more often than not doodling over my Maths homework and choreographing disco dancing routines in the school yard. I also loved studying Textiles and Drama at A Level.

Credit Sian Treberth

You are a company Dancer with Ballet Cymru and are currently working with them to look at ways to support dance delivery in the Welsh Language. What are your hopes and ambitions for this new initiative?

Following a successful trial period, we’re excited to bring the bilingual adult ballet classes back after Easter. I’ve also been teaching Welsh amongst the company members; their confidence in speaking the language has grown and their enthusiasm has been really heartwarming. We’re now looking at more ways to incorporate bilingual practice and it’s solidified my belief that teaching dance bilingually should be the norm in Wales. If you are a dance practitioner in Wales, I implore you to consider how you can include the use of the Welsh language in your practice. With almost 30% of the population able to speak and understand Welsh, it seems worth the effort.

If a dancer wanted to stay and train in Wales and then pursue a career, what support system would you suggest they require in order to be able to do this?

Attending your local dance school is a great place to start and if you’re fortunate enough to be based in South Wales, you may be able to attend the Associate schemes run by NDCWales and Ballet Cymru. But it’s not currently possible to train vocationally in Wales to a professional level which is a huge shame!

NDCWales Associates.
Ballet Cymru Associates, copyright Sian Trenberth Photography

In terms of pursuing a career in dance, in Wales, I’ve found understanding my skills and what I can offer the Welsh Dance sector to be really important. For example, recognising the need for Welsh speaking dance practitioners and providing that service has allowed me to gain choreographic and teaching experience and has at times been a financial lifeline. Having said this, I feel that as a dancer, I’m sometimes valued and held up to a different standard because of my nationality and the fact I speak Welsh. I feel equally lucky to be given opportunities because I’m Welsh but sometimes anxious that my work is valued exclusively on that basis. I’ve come to terms with these feelings by embracing the platforms I’m offered as opportunities to challenge assumptions and in some cases, surpass expectations. I’m passionate about my heritage and culture but it doesn’t define my work or my identity.

You’re an artist who has in the past worked with creatives from a range of art forms to create exciting artistic performances. How would you best describe your creative practice?

I draw upon yoga, flying low and improvisation in my own practice and my movement quality is usually described as fluid and intricate. In terms of choreography, I find myself drawn to both the emotional and physical characteristics of the human experience, in particular themes of mortality and creation. I’m looking forward to developing these ideas in future.

Credit Viktor Erik Emanuel


 Are there any examples of training systems or support networks that exist in other nations that Wales could look to utilise?

In terms of training systems, you only have to look across the border to England for some amazing examples. Government initiatives like the CAT scheme would be very beneficial for Wales, to tackle issues like accessibility and consistency in training. There needs to be more pathways made available for young people with passion for movement to engage in creative work and broaden their dance education. This also includes having a vocational training program to study dance at a professional level.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers that creatives in Wales face? If you are, what might be done to remove these barriers?

One of the barriers I’ve been aware of in the past has been the lack of consideration for dance practitioners based in more rural areas of Wales. With organisations having had to adapt to digital means of hosting or streaming their events, these dance practitioners have finally been able to attend events that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to in the past. I’ve also personally really valued being able to access and watch live streamed performances online and despite the occasional bout of ‘Zoom fatigue’, I still hope organisations continue to offer at least some aspects of working/performing online.

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

There are lots of areas in desperate need of funding but I would particularly like to see an inclusive professional training program available in Wales as well as a unifying space in which dancers can create, educate and perform together (something like Dance City in Newcastle)

Dance City, Newcastle.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

It’s been exciting to see the Welsh dance community working together to establish a more connected community of dancers via online networking events and discussions. I look forward to seeing how this connectivity materialises in a progressive, diverse Welsh Dance Sector.

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

Watching Crystal Pite’s Revisor and Far From the Norm’s “BLKDOG” as part of Dance Nation. Both extraordinary pieces, available to watch for free on BBC Iplayer.

Crystal Pite’s Revisor

“Working outdoors is a great option for providing safer access to arts and this can then be a draw for people to return to the theatre.” An Interview with Kate Lawrence and Joanna Wright

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

Kate: I was born in London and spent my early years in Tanzania and Mexico before returning to the UK aged 11 to go to a quaker boarding school in North Yorkshire.  After school I trained as a dancer at Thamesdown Contemporary Dance Studios in Swindon and then did a BA in Dance Theatre at Laban, in London.  Then I started a feminist dance company called Nomads which ran from 1989 – 1995, doing performance and education work.  When the company ended I spent a few years doing all sorts of things, car maintenance courses, creative writing courses, stunt training, delivery driving, caretaking.  Then I got a job as a dance lecturer at University of Surrey where I spent 10 years. In 2010 I moved to North Wales to be in the mountains and feed my passion for rock climbing.  I got a part-time job at Bangor University as a lecturer in performance.  During the 10 years I have spent here, I began my own vertical dance company, Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence (VDKL). 

Joanna: I’m an artist from North Wales, I grew up on the coast near Conwy. I left Wales when I was a teenager to study art. I ended up living in the USA, working in a really eclectic range of jobs that included furniture maker, running a market stall, selling pizzas, working in a shoe repair shop, photographer for the US government and then working in the art department of film and theatre productions. In 2001, shortly after September 11th, I got a job as a videographer on a sailing boat doing a global circumnavigation, as part of an pioneering interactive, online education project. That was a turning point that eventually bought me back to Wales and took me into working in documentary, in many different forms.

What got you interested in the arts?

Kate: I come from a family of professional musicians on my father’s side (although my father was an amateur) and my mother is a visual artist and potter so I grew up in an arty environment.  I did a lot of dancing alone in my bedroom as a child – the pandemic has reminded me of this as I have returned to my bedroom as a dance studio.  I think what I love about the arts is that it is really a way of thinking, a way of being in the world that is centred on experience, expression and communication.

Joanna: I grew up with a parent who had a severe mental illness. In the 80’s in North Wales mental health services were poor to non-existent, both for those with mental illness, and their families. In the arts I found a way to express ideas and connect with others that I hadn’t been able to previously. I specifically credit the generosity of the wonderful artist and teacher Dave Pearson who I met as a young art student, he saw some of the weight I was carrying at that time and encouraged me to tell stories with my work and experiences, and also to find playful ways to get it out into the world.

Kate I believe you are working on a new project called ‘Portrait and Landscape’ its described as  “a series of online bi-monthly events for the international vertical dance community and beyond. It was conceived by Wanda Moretti in collaboration with Kate Lawrence and Lindsey Butcher. The series runs bi-monthly until the end of October 2021 “.

For those who may be new to the term what is ‘Vertical Dance’ and how did you come to be involved ?

Kate: Vertical dance is a newish term that refers to dancing in suspension – the dancer is suspended using climbing or access equipment, such as harnesses, ropes and abseil devices.  Often this is against a vertical wall (hence the term vertical) which becomes the ‘dance floor’.  So it often takes place in public space, on the sides of buildings. 

I got involved with vertical dance when I started climbing in the late 1990s – as part of training to be a stunt woman (that never happened!).   I found the movement of climbing very similar to dance and when I began teaching at the University of Surrey I asked if I could run a module called vertical dance.  That began in 2001 and was the beginning of my development of the practice.  I began teaching dancers to climb in the climbing wall and getting them to develop choreography from that and then gradually I introduced suspended dancing.  In 2005 I embarked on PhD study into vertical dance and that led me to meet other vertical dance artists from around the world.  The first two I met were Wanda Moretti from Venice and UK- based Lindsey Butcher, and we are still working together.  I finally finished my PhD in 2017 – it took me a long time because I was working and creating at the same time!

Kate, what is your ambition for Portrait and Landscape?

 During the pandemic it has been impossible to do vertical dance practice for me and I spent 2020 doing other things – gardening mostly and some writing – this has been quite a healthy break from a very busy time.  This series of events was the brainchild of my colleague Wanda Moretti and she invited Lindsey and I to collaborate with her on running it. 

Wanda Moretti

The ambition is to bring international vertical dance artists – and anyone else who might be interested – together at a time when we are all isolated and distanced.  The current time is an opportunity to connect across borders and learn about how different artists practice the form and also to keep our artistic minds working!  My company, VDKL, has received some funding from Wales Arts International to support this project which means we have offered 3 bursaries to Welsh artists.  It also enables us to explore making the series more accessible.

You are both working on a project researching into Dance for people who are blind, this sounds fascinating please tell me more!

Kate:  Yes, Jo and I are working on a project called Yn y Golau/In-visible Light, which began in 2016 as a collaboration between myself and photonics scientist Ray Davies – a Synthesis project funded by Pontio

Pontio (Bangor) - 2021 All You Need to Know Before You Go (with Photos) -  Bangor, Wales | Tripadvisor
Pontio

Photonics is the science of light – I didn’t know that until I met Ray.  The project developed and in 2019 we did a research and development project funded by ACW with a couple of test performances.  Our purpose was to make a show that tried to build accessibility for blind and partially sighted people into the creation process, rather than audio describing a finished product.  It was a huge challenge and we were assisted by a visually impaired actor and aerialist, Amelia Cavallo. 

Amelia Cavallo

We constantly asked ourselves: what would this experience be like if we couldn’t see?  And this led to some new ways of working for me as a choreographer.  Sometimes I would close my eyes and listen to the dance…  It also reminded me that dance is a kinetic art form not a visual one.  Sometimes I think we focus more on shapes we see than movements we feel.  We invited blind audiences to the test performances and then interviewed them afterwards to get feedback on how successful our approach was.  We then received further funding from ACW to develop a touring show, but the pandemic has made us change our plans. We are now working on a film and we also have some seed funding from Clwstwr to do further research into access for blind and visually impaired people to performance.

Joanna: Kate first asked me to work on Yn Y Golau as a documentary filmmaker. In my work in documentary I’m especially interested in how new technologies can be used in storytelling. In Yn Y Golau I felt there was potential to explore how to share the work in an interactive, non linear way, which might better enable us to think about how to move beyond the screen, and think more deeply about how the embodied experience, that was central to Kate’s live work, can be expressed or shared digitally. There are also a lot of documentary elements in the project, and we are exploring how the project audience can choose which aspects they want to engage with.

Prior to this project did you have any knowledge of areas such as audio description for theatre/dance?

Kate: Yes, I first started thinking about audio description back around 2008 when I was asked to do a workshop at an audio description seminar at University of Surrey.  The topic then lay dormant for me for several years, and then in 2016 I was asked by Mari Emlyn to make a piece of work for the foyer of Galeri.  It was the year of the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth and so we made a new story built from the drawings of primary school children of their favourite Roald Dahl characters.  The piece was called Omnibus and was performed in the foyer of Galeri with the dancers flying in the space overhead. 

We created a bilingual (Welsh and English) recorded audio description alongside the soundscore so that everyone in the audience could hear it.  From our current research I know that this is sometimes referred to as ‘open audio description’.  The traditional method is that an audio describer is in a booth describing events as they unfold, straight into the ears of the visually impaired person, who wears headphones.  Headphones can however be distancing, muffling and isolating so I felt it was important to search for ways in which to make the work with accessibility built in.

Joanna: Absolutely none, and that is really motivating me. When I started looking and learning about it, I am not proud to say, I realised how I had never really considered this aspect in any meaningful way. I know I was also, unfortunately, in a majority.

If a dancer wanted to stay and train in Wales and then pursue a career, what support system would you suggest they require in order to be able to do this?

Kate: I can only speak for North Wales, where it is virtually impossible at present for a dancer to train in the conventional, vocational sense – I think there is more capacity in South Wales, but even there options are limited.  To make a career entirely in Wales I think it is necessary to take every opportunity available and to be very self-motivated and resourceful.  VDKL employs mainly North Wales based dancers, who I have trained in vertical dance techniques.  This is because I want to build a community here, however small it is!  The dancers I work with have trained in dance outside Wales and returned.  I also want to provide employment opportunities for local artists and persuade them to stick around!  My company used to run affordable twice weekly training sessions of 3 hours each but we lost our space in 2017, and now with the pandemic training has become impossible.  But we are hopeful for the future – the beauty of vertical dance is that we can go outside!  In an ideal world a dancer building a career in Wales needs regular affordable access to dance training sessions and also affordable access to space to dance.  A vocational/degree programme would also be very helpful.

 Are there any examples of training systems or support networks that exist in other nations that Wales could look to utilise?

Kate: France has a great system of support for artists that pays them whilst they are ‘resting’ between jobs.  This gives them time and financial support to continue their training and professional development.  Many European countries have arts centres that offer space and residencies for artists.  Access to affordable space to practice is essential and it would be great if each region of Wales had dedicated spaces or ‘homes’ for dance.   I have been doing daily practice sessions during lockdown with Wainsgate Dances in Hebden Bridge, England and this is an excellent example of an artist-led initiative that has built a community of dancers who are now contributing to the provision of residencies for other artists at the centre.

Joanna: I’ve been very inspired by people who have built their own networks where none exist. I’m part of the Arts Territory Exchange project, it facilitates collaborations in remote locations that are cut off from the networks which usually sustain a creative practice. I think as an artist  it’s very important  to be part of a community of support, to develop and challenge your work and ideas, and to share skills with others. There are some great DIY examples out there, the  Artist Residency in Motherhood set up by Lenka Clayton is another inspirational network

What does Wales do well in dance or cultural training and delivery?

Kate: In my experience support for the arts in Wales is a friendlier affair than my previous experience in London and the South of England.  I have found local venue managers and programmers to be great collaborators and the Arts Council of Wales officers are approachable.  I think cultural training and delivery in Wales is ‘on a shoestring’; the positive side of this is that it is extremely adaptable and mobile – it has to be due to the geographically dispersed activities.  But it needs centres too, and not just in Cardiff. The bizarre thing is that it is quicker to get to London than Cardiff for North Wales dance artists looking for training. 

Joanna: In my experience Wales supports it’s creatives well and gets a lot out of small budgets. However there are real impacts currently in relation to access to arts education, and the financial barriers for those who want to study. I feel strongly that this will further negatively impact diversity in the cultural sector. About the centres that Kate mentions, I’d say something about the impact of Covid this last year, there has been more cross Wales collaborative working, in my experience, which is great, but the Cardiff region still has a hegemony in terms of cultural projects, and I’d like to see that be distributed more widely across Wales.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers that creatives in Wales face? If you are what might be done to remove these barriers?

Kate: Well we are working on access for blind and partially sighted audiences.  Our research so far is showing that provision for these audiences, particularly for dance, is very limited.  A perceived barrier is that it costs of a lot of money to provide access and independent artists/small companies with very limited resources can’t afford to spend extra money; this is also true for the larger companies.  I would like to  challenge artists to see how they might begin to build accessibility into their work so that it can be appreciated by all.  A big barrier for many in rural areas is getting to and from performances, so any schemes that provide transport can be really helpful. 

Joanna: To build on my comments above, barriers to access can be many, including financial, but there’s also a lot of potential positive learning from the online way of working that’s been adopted because of Covid. Personally, as a carer and parent of a school age child I’ve been able to take part a lot more, due to events being online. It would be a shame for this to be abandoned when things open up physically, because in my opinion it’s cracked open cultural provision MUCH more widely.  I’d like to see ways of live-online access being continued for people who can more easily engage in this way, and supporting people where access to stable internet is an issue.

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues and theatres. If theatres want to attract audiences what do you think they should do?

Kate: I think first and foremost, theatres need to ensure that they are safe spaces and then market that fact very clearly.  Perhaps look at small, socially distanced audiences, and commissioning work for this kind of audience.  Working outdoors is a great option for providing safer access to arts and this can then be a draw for people to return to the theatre. 

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

Kate:  Dance of course!  I think dance is always the Cinderella of the arts and tends to receive less subsidy.  We all have bodies – we all move – and our physical and mental well being can be enhanced through dancing.   I would love to see the creation of small dance centres around the country so that local artists and the community in general have somewhere to meet and dance.  They don’t have to be for dance exclusively, but should provide the space necessary for dance – and rigging points for vertical dance of course.  

Joanna: Really good interdisciplinary arts education. The studio based art college system that supported so much groundbreaking creative work across the UK has been decimated. Artists are great problem solvers, and skills in the arts are widely transferable.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

Kate: I love the maverick nature of the arts in Wales.  People are making work in the most surprising places and this gives rise to exciting new techniques and approaches.

Joanna: It’s collaborative & supportive, there’s some great, innovative work happening in cross disciplinary settings. The arts in Wales is embedded into our culture in quite a unique way, the Urdd does amazing work with children and young people. There were 12000 creative works across music, dance, spoken word and visual arts made by children who entered the online Eisteddfod T this year for example- That’s amazing!

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

Kate: In our last Portrait and Landscape event San Francisco based choreographer Jo Kreiter shared with us her project called ‘The Decarceration Trilogy’ a long term project looking at the US prison system and its effects on citizens.  It was a really moving and inspiring offering to our community and a great example of the power of dance and the arts in general as a tool for examining issues of social justice.  Here is a clip of Jo talking about her work in general

and here is a link to a film of The Wait Room that she showed during our event: 

Joanna: I am currently a research fellow at the Open Documentary Lab, MIT where I recently saw a presentation of Hatsumi VR It is an amazing  project in development that uses virtual reality to allow participants to visually express experiences of pain, emotion and sensory experience in audio visual body maps.

“If You Can Move, You Can Dance” An Interview with Yvette Halfhide and Helen Woods.

Images Helen Wood, Yvette Halfhide, credit Dave Wilson and Dance for Parkinsons Class.

In this interview the Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell chats to Wales based Dancer Yvette Halfhide and Musician Helen Woods. They jointly deliver the English National Ballet/National Dance Company Wales, Dance for Parkinson’s programme. ENB’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme has been running since 2008. NDCWales is an affiliated hub of ENB’s programme.

Hi Yvette and Helen, great to meet you both can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Yvette: Hi everyone, My name is Yvette Halfhide and I live with my family near Bridgend in South Wales. I graduated (many years ago now!) from Central School of Ballet and have been a dancer, choreographer, teacher, rehearsal director, creative movement session leader, as well as other jobs connected to dance and the arts. I am currently associate dance artist for the Dance for Parkinson’s Programme initially set up by English National Ballet and run, in partnership with National Dance Company Wales in Cardiff.

Black Maria, 2007, Green Box Productions, Sadlers Wells.Above: Aunt Maria (Ruth Posner) takes tea with the Mrs Urs (Yvette Halfhide, Justine Berry, Debbie Camp) served by Betty (Katherine Kingston).

Helen: Hey all, My name is Helen Woods and I moved to Cardiff in 1997 – so I’ve been in Wales for nearly half my life…..nearly. I studied at Dartington College of Arts graduating with a degree in Music and Visual Performance. I work as a freelance composer and musician and have been lucky enough to have worked on a huge variety of projects including Street theatre with a Brazilian dancer, the Tiddly Proms (a show for under 5s that I write the music for and perform as Cherry Pie)

Community musicals, 2 operas for children and in 2013 I received a Creative Wales award to work on my own music writing a flute and piano sonata and a suite of pieces about some of my ancestors. I am currently associate musician for the Dance for Parkinson’s Programme and have the constant pleasure of working with Yvette.

Helen Woods, Richard Berry, Berts Magical Musical Allotment, Tiddly Proms

What got you interested in the arts?

Yvette: Both my parents were keen on the arts in their own way. My mother loves all types of dance, musical theatre and theatre, and my father really enjoyed his opera and classical music, so I was lucky to be introduced at a young age to those forms.

Helen: Like Yvette, my parents gave me every encouragement to explore music and dance as a child. When I was four, my older sister was learning the recorder at school and I wanted to learn so my dad bought us a book and a recorder so that we would learn together. He used to leave for work quite early in the morning so we’d always start before the others were up, I loved that time with my Dad. My mum had always wanted to learn the piano but money had not allowed so she was incredibly supportive.

You have been delivering English National Ballets/National Dance Company Wales, Dance For Parkinson’s class since 2015. Dancing has been shown to support people with Parkinson’s to develop confidence and strength, whilst temporarily relieving some participants of these symptoms in everyday life. You have a dance and musical background; how do you use your artistic skills and background when delivering class?

Yvette: I think that as someone who delivers such an expressive art form, it is important for the participants to see that expression when you deliver, so you could say that you are performing as you teach. If you can convey how much you enjoy dancing (and a particularly wonderful experience when with live music, which is at the heart of the programme) then hopefully that enthusiasm is transferred onto those people in your class.

If someone living with Parkinson’s was interested in attending but didn’t think of him or herself as a dancer or singer would they be able to join?

Yvette: Absolutely. Speaking from a dancer’s perspective I truly believe that if you can move, you can dance. A simple gesture can become an exquisite piece of dance if done with intention.

Helen: From a music perspective – we sing because we love to sing, not to be a choir – we sing for ourselves.

Due to Covid-19 you had to cancel physical class delivery and move onto dancing on the Zoom platform. How did you approach this and how have your members found this change?

It is a very different way of delivering a dance class. The challenges of using new technology can be a barrier to some people wanting to move online, but we have found that those that have, have embraced it enthusiastically. NDCWales also work with Digital Communities Wales to support our members to get online and active.

We have found that when working through exercises, adding verbal instructions or imagery in the form of lyrics onto the music helps participants remember the movements. I would say that most participants would prefer to be in the studio dancing together but a major advantage of moving online is that we are able to reach individuals literally anyywhere in the world. Since starting Zoom sessions, as well as our regular participants from Wales, we have had people from England also join us.

This coming March you are piloting two new Zoom classes in North Wales with Coleg Cambria in Wrexham and Pontio in Bangor. What might these new classes consist of?

The sessions in North Wales will still follow the regular Dance for Parkinson’s format that works through specific exercises focusing on the different symptoms of Parkinson’s. Each term, we focus on a piece of work that is in either English National Ballet or National Dance Company Wales’ current repertoire and for this part of the term we will be exploring – a fun, Cuban-inspired homage to the black and white silent movie era.

English National Ballet in Jolly Folly, a film by Amy Becker-Burnett, choreographed by Arielle Smith © English National Ballet

What do you personally see as being the key to the delivery of a project such as this?

I think offering a fun, high-quality dance session that motivates those attending to continue to be as mobile as possible whilst developing an appreciation for the arts is key to the delivery of the project.

How would you like the project to develop?

According to the Parkinson’s UK website there are around 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK and that correlates to about 7,600 of those individuals living in Wales. We are only reaching a very small number. It would be fantastic if we were able to set up more hubs across all of Wales so that people living Parkinson’s have access to a Dance for Parkinson’s Class near to where they live. Admittedly, not every person living with Parkinson’s may want to attend a dance class, but it would be lovely to be able to offer every person living with the condition that option.

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

There are so many abandoned buildings around the UK that have the potential to be turned into these wonderful creative and artistic centres. Whether that be a site-specific installation, a live performance or a place for artists from all genres to come together to exchange ideas. There is such a wealth of history and beauty in many of these places – it would be wonderful to bring to them a new lease of life.

What excites you about the arts at the moment?

It has been a really challenging period for the arts at the moment, but I would say what inspires me perhaps more than excites me is the resilience of artists. Somehow, in spite of the theatres closing, performances postponed indefinitely, projects on hold, artists from all genres are still finding ways to be creative, to use this time to reflect on their work and find ways to express themselves.

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

As part of our training delivering the Dance for Parkinson’s sessions, English National Ballet invited all of the associate dance artists and musicians to come together (online) to explore the repertoire, chat with some of the creative team, exchange ideas and have time to reflect on our practice. It was just before Christmas and after nine months of lockdown I felt tired and drained but after the training, I was re-invigorated and had a renewed sense of purpose. Just coming together with other artists, I was reminded of that support; and it reiterated to me how important it is to be able to have the opportunity to connect and engage with like-minded people.

Thanks for your time

Artistiaid Dawns, Beirdd ac arloeswyr Hip Hop yn rhannu eu teimladau ynghylch cynaliadwyedd a mamolaeth

Bydd tair ffilm yn cael eu rhyddhau ym mis Mawrth fel rhan o Plethu/Weave #2, cydweithrediad traws gelfyddyd ddigidol Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru (CDCCyrmru) a Llenyddiaeth Cymru, a fydd yn cynnwys yr ail o dri chomisiwn arbennig fel rhan o flwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen.

Gan asio rhai o leisiau mwyaf cyffrous Cymru, mae’r artistiaid dawns Krystal Lowe, Camille Giraudeau ac Elan Elidyr wedi cael eu paru gydag awduron, beirdd ac arloeswyr Hip-Hop – Alex Wharton, Rufus Mufasa ac Ed Holden i greu tair ffilm fer ddigidol ar gyfer cynulleidfaoedd ar-lein.

Yn 2021 bydd Plethu/Weave #2, cydweithrediad traws gelfyddyd CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru, yn dwyn ynghyd wyth o ddawnswyr annibynnol eraill o Gymru a’u paru gyda rhai o feirdd mwyaf talentog Cymru. Mae rhai o’r creadigaethau dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf wedi’u hysbrydoli gan straeon, lleoliad, treftadaeth a chysylltiad yr artistiaid eu hunain â Chymru.

Rhyddhawyd y ffilm gyntaf o gyfres Plethu/Weave #2, Aber Bach, a grëwyd gan Y Prifardd Mererid Hopwood a dawnsiwr CDCCymru, Elena Sgarbi, ym mis Ionawr fel rhan o lansiad blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen Llywodraeth Cymru.

Bydd ail gomisiwn Cymru yn yr Almaen Plethu/Weave #2 yn gywaith rhwng yr awdur, bardd a’r bardd plant o Dorfaen, Alex Wharton, a’r dawnsiwr, coreograffydd a’r awdur Krystal Lowe. Mae Pethau Gwell i Ddod yn canolbwyntio ar gynaladwyedd, yr amgylchedd a byd natur, sydd yn rhai o brif themâu blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen.

Meddai’r dawnsiwr Krystal Lowe, “Mae’r geiriau hyn wedi’u creu’n hyfryd gan fardd sydd â chariad at y gofod y mae’n byw ynddo, gyda natur yn rhan ganolog o hynny. Mae Alex yn plethu geiriau fel ‘troelli’ a ‘dawns’ yn hyfryd er mwyn adleisio’r symudiad sydd i’w weld trwy gydol y ffilm ac mae ei lais diniwed yn gosod sgôr eiddgar a chyffrous imi ddawnsio ynghyd â hi.

“Rwy’n caru llenyddiaeth ac rwyf wrth fy modd â dawns – mae plethu’r ddau hyn gyda’i gilydd yn llawenydd ac yn fraint na fydd gen i byth y geiriau i’w cyfleu.”

Mae Krystal hefyd yn gweithio gyda’r dylunydd gwisgoedd cynaliadwy, Emma-Jane Weeks a fydd yn defnyddio llifyn ffabrig naturiol a dillad wedi eu huwchgylchu i greu gwisg gyda dyluniadau a deunyddiau gweadog iawn i ddynwared natur o amgylch y ffilm.

“Mae cynaliadwyedd mewn gwisgoedd yn eithaf prin felly braf fydd creu darn sydd yn dangos ei fod yn bosib gwneud dewisiadau synhwyrol wrth wneud gwisgoedd, yn ogystal â gweddu themâu’r darn dan sylw,”

Bydd Pethau Gwell i Ddod yn cael ei lansio fel rhan o flwyddyn thema Cymru yn yr Almaen Llywodraeth Cymru ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi, ddydd Llun 1 Mawrth 2021. Bydd modd gwylio’r ffilm ar eu sianeli cyfryngau cymdeithasol, cyn y bydd y ffilm ar gael ar sianeli a gwefannau cyfryngau cymdeithasol CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru o 2 Mawrth 2021 ymlaen. Bydd y gerdd ar gael mewn tair iaith. Cyfieithwyd cerdd Alex i’r Gymraeg a’r Almaeneg gan Ifor ap Glyn ac Eluned Gramich.

Y ffilm nesaf fydd cywaith rhwng dawnsiwr CDCCymru Camille Giraudeau, a’r actifydd llenyddol, yr addysgwr Hip-Hop a’r rapiwr Rufus Mufasa. Themâu’r cywaith hwn yw mamolaeth a rôl a chryfder menywod yn y gymdeithas. Caiff y ffilm ei rhyddhau ar ddydd Iau 15 Mawrth.

Meddai Lleucu Siencyn, Prif Weithredwr Llenyddiaeth Cymru, “Mae’r pedair ffilm gyntaf o gyfres Plethu/Weave #2 yn cynnwys rhai o leisiau mwyaf cyffrous Cymru. Mae’r ffilmiau byrion hyn yn parhau i gynnig cip olwg unigryw ar Gymru i gynulleidfaoedd digidol, ac mae Llenyddiaeth Cymru yn falch o barhau gyda’r bartneriaeth gyffrous hon gyda’r Cwmni Dawns. Mae Plethu/Weave yn brosiect arloesol sydd yn darparu cyfleoedd datblygu awduron yn ogystal â dathlu diwylliant llenyddol Cymru.”

Bydd y drydedd yn cael ei rhyddhau ar ddydd Iau 29 Mawrth ac fe’i crëwyd gan yr artist dawns o Aberystwyth, Elan Elidyr, a’r arloeswr Hip-Hop, Ed Holden.

Meddai Lee Johnston, Cyfarwyddwr Cysylltiol CDCCymru, “Mae’r ffilmiau Plethu/Weave hyn yn archwilio pynciau hanfodol megis ein perthynas â’n hamgylchedd naturiol, a phrofiad mamolaeth. Maent yn agor straeon cymhellol a chraff ac yn deyrnged i bŵer barddoniaeth a dawns.”

Bydd cyfres Plethu/Weave #2 yn parhau yn ystod mis Ebrill a mis Mai, gyda rhagor o fanylion am y ffilmiau hynny i’w ganfod ar wefannau CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru.

Dance artists, poets and Hip Hop pioneers share their voices on sustainability and motherhood


Three films will be released in March as part of National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) and Literature Wales’ digital cross-artform collaboration, Plethu/Weave #2, which will include the second of three Wales in Germany commissions.


Fusing together some of Wales’ most exciting voices, dance artists Krystal Lowe, Camille Giraudeau and Elan Elidyr have been paired with authors, poets and Hip-Hop pioneers – Alex Wharton, Rufus Mufasa and Ed Holden to create three digital short films for online audiences.

In 2021 NDCWales and Literature Wales’ cross-artform collaboration, Plethu/Weave #2 will bring together a further eight independent Wales based dancers matched with some of Wales’ most talented poets. Some of the creations over the last year have been inspired by the artists own stories, location, heritage and connection with Wales. 

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

The second Plethu/Weave #2 Wales In Germany Commission will be by Torfaen-based writer, poet and children’s author Alex Wharton, and Bermuda-born, Wales-based dancer, choreographer, and writer Krystal Lowe. Good Things to Come focuses on sustainability, environment and nature, which are amongst the core themes of the Wales in Germany year.  

Dance artist Krystal Lowe said, “These words are beautifully created in the midst of nature by a poet and lover of the spaces he inhabits. Alex beautifully weaves words like ‘spin’ and ‘dance’ to echo the movement that will be seen throughout the film and his innocent cinnamon voice makes for an eager and exciting score for me to dance along with.

I love literature and I love dance – to weave these two together is a joy and privilege I will never have the words to convey.”

Krystal is also working with sustainable costume designer, Emma-Jane Weeks who will use natural fabric dye and upcycling clothing to create a costume with very textured designs and materials to mimic the nature around the film.

Sustainability in costume is quite far and few so it would be so great to make a piece that demonstrates how possible it is to make good choices when costuming as well as fitting with the theme of the piece,”  said Emma Jane Weeks.

Good Things To Come will be launched as part of the Welsh Government’s Wales In Germany themed year on Monday 1 March 2021, St David’s Day on their social media channels, and will be available on NDCWales and Literature Wales’ social media channels and websites from 2 March 2021. The poem is available in English, Welsh and German, by Ifor ap Glyn and Eluned Gramich.

The next film in March will be by NDCWales dancer Camille Giraudeau and literary activist, Hip-Hop educator, lyricist and rapper Rufus Mufasa and is themed around motherhood, the role and strength of women in society, and will be released on Thursday 15March.

The third film released for Plethu/Weave #2 film will be out on Thursday 29 March and has been created by Aberystwyth born freelance dance artist Elan Elidyr and Welsh Hip-Hop pioneer and poet, Ed Holden.

NDCWales’ Associate Director, Lee Johnston said, “These Plethu/ Weave films examine vital subjects such as our relationship with our natural environment, and the experience of motherhood. They open up compelling and insightful stories and are a tribute to the power of poetry and dance.”

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, said, “The first four Plethu/Weave #2 collaborations features some of Wales most exciting voices. These short films continue to provide a unique snapshot of Wales for digital audiences, and Literature Wales is pleased to be continuing this partnership with our colleagues at NDCWales. Plethu/Weave is an excellent project providing writer development opportunities and celebrates Wales’ literary culture.”

Plethu/Weave #2 series will continue into April and May, with further details on those films released later in April on the NDCWales and Literature Wales websites.






The Power of Dance is Magical! Simone Sistarelli and Popping For Parkinson’s

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

Thanks for having me! I am Simone Sistarelli, and I am the founder of Popping For Parkinson’s ®, a project that transforms Parkinson’s patients into Popping dance students. I am passionate about inspiring people. I am a dance artist, a social entrepreneur, a musician and public speaker. I am in the Universal Hip Hop Museum Hall of Fame for my contribution to Hip Hop Culture.

I have a BA in Contemporary Dance from Trinity Laban and an MSc in Dance Psychology from the University of Hertfordshire.

What got you interested in the arts?

I fell in love at first sight with dancing at age 10, and I have not stopped being in the arts world since! The arts are an incredible vessel of expression, and they feel liberating to me. 

You have been running Popping For Parkinson’s since 2015. On your website you describe your approach as

“Using Popping dance techniques as an innovative therapeutic tool for improving the physical condition of people affected by Parkinson’s disease. Participants see improvement in their natural movement capacities, but also gain confidence, feel less socially isolated and have fun.”

It sounds like a fascinating approach. Where did the project originate?

 I had the original idea in 2012 while training at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. It originated as a result of various inputs, from my granddad having Parkinson’s to the similarities between the Parkinson’s tremors and Popping dance. I thought: people with Parkinson’s shake without the beat;I train my whole life as a Popping dancer to shake to the beat. In my head, people with Parkinson’s could turn their symptom into a superpower! After years of research on Parkinson’s, dance, music therapy, dance therapy and more, I developed a methodology, started a collaboration with SLYPN (South London Younger Parkinson’s Network), I offered the first dance class as a trial run, people loved it, and we haven’t stopped since!

How does someone get involved, do they need to have any prior dance experience?

Absolutely no prior experience is needed! People can simply sign up for the online classes through our website and join us!

How would you like the project to develop?

There are around 10 million people with Parkinson’s worldwide. The ultimate aim of the project is to reach all of them and empower them all to become dancers! In practical terms, I am working on future developments by exploring different ways to reach people, from writing a book to creating dance tutorials (both on streaming platforms and DVDs), creating bespoke music for dance classes and more.

You might not normally think of Hip-Hop culture and Parkinson’s as strong partners. What has the reaction been to the project in the Hip Hop community?

My work has been recognised by the Universal Hip Hop Museum, the ultimate dream for anyone in the Hip Hop community. I hope I can inspire people in the Hip Hop world as much as Hip Hop inspired me in the first place.

There is a lack of Diversity in mainstream cultural provision. Do you think your project has connected with people who might not normally think of themselves as Dancers?

Yes! Dance is so much more than solely performing, and appreciating that is key to inviting more people to improve their life through social artistic movement.

Music is a key element of Hip Hop. How do you select the tracks to use in your class and if you had to choose one, what’s your favourite?

As a musician myself, I carefully choose the songs for my classes. I know the impact that a good tune can have! I am a record collector and I have a vast collection of songs to start from, then depending on the theme/mood of the class I will pick the most appropriate songs. Songs can go from classic Popping tunes (Cameo, Zapp) to Popping beats (Slick Dogg, Beatslaya), from recent Electro-Funk releases (Mofak, Makvel) to my own music productions. 

Asking for a favourite song/album to a collector is like asking for the favourite child to a parent, it’s impossible to answer! One of the songs that I keep going back to though is Brass Construction’s “Get up to Get Down”.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers that people living with Parkinson’s face to access dance and your organisations work? If you have identified any, have you been able to reduce these barriers in any way?

People with Parkinson’s face several challenges on a daily basis. Some of these limitations are specific to accessing dance classes. We did encounter some of them and we tried to reduce the impact that they had. One example was offering both seated and standing classes, so that people with limited mobility can access Popping dance (which tends to be a standing dance style).

Another limitation was costs, so from the very start of the project we offered the classes free of charge for participants (thanks to the support of funders such as the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the National Lottery Community Fund). 

Now that classes are online only for obvious reasons, barriers are different. For example, commuting to class can be challenging for people with Parkinson’s, yet this particular limitation is not present online. At the same time, online classes present other barriers, such as technological knowledge, Zoom fatigue, access to broadband (especially for older people). We want to expand and offer several ways of participation, from interactive classes via Zoom to pre-recorded classes on YouTube, from dance tutorials to DVDs (coming soon) in order to minimise the impact that barriers create to people with Parkinson’s. It is a constant work-in-progress. 

The video below is a taster video of a Popping For Parkinson’s Class

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues and theatres. If theatres want to attract people living with Parkinson’s what do you think they should do?

Venues should understand the needs of people with Parkinson’s in order to accommodate them, making sure that venues are accessible and that staff are trained accordingly. 

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

All of them! But if I had to choose, I would dedicate way more funding to the phenomenal individuals that dedicate their lives to supporting people through artistic expression. The value that individuals bring to the arts is immense, and without them organisations could not thrive. 

What excites you about the arts at the moment?

Two main aspects really inspire and excite me at this stage. One is dance science, getting a deeper understanding of the relationship between arts and health, as I believe there is unlimited potential there.

The other one is the creation of new cross-disciplinary experiences that engage a diverse audience through the combination of several media (for example, from the genre-defying dance film TOM by Wilkie Branson to choreographing for drones).

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

Seeing my students come to class with severe difficulties and then leaving energised, smiling and confident is an experience I still cannot get used to after many years! The power of dance truly is remarkable, so much so that sometimes it feels magical!

Thanks for your time Simone

Thank you

You can checkout the PoppingFor Parkinsons Spotify playlis here

If you are interested in finsing our more abour Simone and his work you can do so at the links below.

Website: www.poppingforparkinsons.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/poppingforparkinsons

Facebook: www.facebook.com/poppingforparkinsons

Simone’s personal website: www.simonesistarelli.com

NATIONAL DANCE COMPANY WALES & ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET EXPANDS ITS DANCE FOR PARKINSON’S’ PROGRAMME ONLINE AND TO TWO MORE CLASSES IN NORTH WALES.

National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) and English National Ballet will be providing more opportunities for people with Parkinson’s to take part in its high-quality dance programme online and eventually at two new venues in North Wales.

NDCWales’ Dance for Parkinson’s class for people living with Parkinson’s, their family, friends and carers has been running since 2015 as an affiliated hub of English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme.

The first class was launched at the Dance House (Wales Millennium Centre) Cardiff 2015, and the second from Blackwood Miners Institute in Caerphilly County Borough in 2018.

During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, many of its participants had to shield. NDCWales continued to provide support and engagement with online sessions to connect with its loyal participants.

In 2021, NDCWales and ENB will continue to offer live online versions of its classes and will also be creating two pilot hubs in North Wales, Pontio (Bangor) and Coleg Cambria (Wrexham).

NDCWales are also working in partnership with Digital Communities Wales during the pandemic to give all participants the confidence and skills to use their laptops and tablets to access classes online.

In Wales, there are estimated to be around 6,000 people living with Parkinson’s – with the majority aged over 50.  Dancing has been shown to support people with Parkinson’s to develop confidence and strength, whilst temporarily relieving some participants of these symptoms in everyday life. The Dance for Parkinson’s Classes are expressive, creative and promote feelings of freedom from the physical and social constraints of having Parkinson’s.

Dance for Parkinson’s classes 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.

The classes this Spring will be focusing on two dance films from English National Ballet’s recent digital season, ‘Senseless Kindness’ by Yuri Possokhov first, then followed by Arielle Smith’s ‘Jolly Folly’.

Last term, the theme was inspired by NDCWales’ production of Ed Myhill’s Clapping?! which uses rhythm as a driving force and was reimagined online during lockdown. A short film, Ed & Flow, has been produced of the class and is available to view below.

NDCWales and their partners are putting plans in place to continue to start the interactive Zoom online sessions again, but when it’s safe to do so, offer the classes in person at all four hubs.

One existing 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.”

Regular Dance for Parkinson’s attendees, Angela Harrison said, “It makes me feel I can cope better; I can walk better… it’s the best medicine. I come in feeling like a little old lady”, but I leave here feeling quite tall.”

Guy O’Donnell, NDCWales’ Participation Producer said, “We are really pleased to be able to work in partnership with Pontio and Coleg Cambria and provide this support in North Wales. We have seen the benefits of this programme and the impact it has had on our regular attendees here in South Wales.

“While we are unable to be in person together at the moment the ability to connect online has enabled existing attenders to take part from the comfort of their own home and stay connected to people sociably. The feedback we’ve had so far 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.”

As well as encouraging new participants to take part in Dance for Parkinson’s, NDCWales is 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 – guy@ndcwales.co.uk or 07305 534 981.

Dance for Parkinson’s is supported by the Moondance Foundation, the Hodge Foundation, The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust, and Western Power Distribution.

For further information please visit ndcwales.co.uk

“Get the Chance has not only given me a voice – it has given me the space, the opportunity and the confidence to use it.”

In the article below members of the Get the Chance team share why the work of Get the Chance is important to them and their lives.

You can make a donation to support the work of Get the Chance here

Guy O’Donnell, Volunteer Director

Hi my name is Guy O’Donnell and I am the director of Get the Chance. In this short article our team share with you how vital Get the Chance is to them and their lives. If you can support our work, please donate at the link above.

Get the Chance is a social enterprise based in South Wales. We are Wales based with an international outlook. We work to create opportunities for a diverse range of people, to experience and respond to sport, art, culture and live events. We use our online magazine website as a platform to showcase our members activities. We provide a fantastic opportunity to develop cultural critical voices and ensure that people from certain groups of society, people that are often forgotten or unheard, are given a platform to share, review and discuss their lives and critique work in a public platform.

Not only have we supported conversations about the arts and culture in Wales, but we’ve also broken-down barriers and asked questions about who actually gets to critique art. It is this democratisation of criticism that is crucial to a healthy and thriving artistic community that listens to everyone. Thank you.

Gemma Treharne-Foose, Volunteer Director and Critic.

Hi, my name is Gemma Treharne-Foose. I’m a board member and volunteer with Get the Chance. We’re a community of volunteers, activists and enthusiasts dedicated to expanding the reach of arts, culture and sports in Wales. At Get the Chance, we exist to create a space and a platform for people to participate, engage in and respond to theatre, arts and culture. In particular, we help people who are perhaps traditionally hard to reach and support them to access and experience these spaces.

Part of the work we do with our community is to encourage and support them to build up their skills, responding to, vlogging about, and writing about their experiences accessing arts, theatre and culture, and also helping them access particular schemes and initiatives with partner organisations.

At the moment the arts and live event industries in Wales are hurting and they’re struggling right now as they try to access support and gain audiences in these uncertain times. I believe this is an arts emergency and I want part of my work with Get the Chance to support the industry to get back on its feet again and to get audiences enjoying live events and theatre again.

If you also want to support and highlight Welsh theatre, arts and culture then I’d encourage you to get involved. Let’s shine a light on the amazing work happening right now in Wales. The show must go on!

Barbara Michaels, Volunteer Critic.

As one of the most senior reviewers who has known Guy O’Donnell for many years, I can’t stress enough how important it is that Get the Chance continues to support the youngsters who want to become involved in the arts, many of them with the aim of a career in the media.

During the time over the years I’ve been reviewing, I’ve been really impressed by the young people who are coming up into the ranks, who have become very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about their involvement with theatre. Unless we get some financial support, it’s going to be so difficult to continue with an organisation like Get the Chance which does so much good, giving opportunities to young people who wouldn’t have them.

With the cost of seeing the performances of opera and ballet and theatre rising, and inevitably it is going to rise more, it is absolutely vital that we have some support both financially and in all aspects of an organisation like Get the Chance. Thank you.

Kevin B Johnson, Volunteer Critic

Hi my name is Kevin, I work in an office, I like long walks on sunny beaches and I’m Sagittarius. Apart from that, I’m a member of Get the Chance because I like seeing new shows, new films and sharing them with other people, bringing my discoveries to others and getting a chance to view them. I like to highlight what I love about the shows that I’ve seen.

Becky Johnson, Volunteer Critic

Hi my name is Becky Johnson and I’m a member of Get the Chance. I’m actually a freelance dance artist based in Cardiff and I’m a member of Get the Chance alongside that. So with my practice I tend to create work, I tend to perform and I tend to teach, and a big part of me being an artist is making sure that I can see as much work as possible and then also understand the wider perspectives, on not only dance but also the arts in general and the things that are going on in our current climate and our local area.

So with having Get the Chance alongside of it, it allows me to access these different things and to get opportunities to see these, which I wouldn’t necessarily financially be able to do otherwise. Also, it allows me to have that time dedicated to just look at these things analytically and also just to really try and understand what is going on in what I’m watching and what I’m seeing, rather than just watching it and acknowledging what’s happening. Writing with Get the Chance gives me an opportunity to use my voice to promote the things that I really care about and things I’m passionate about, the things I think need to be highlighted, whether that’s something that’s problematic that I see in a show or something that I think’s wonderful that needs to be shown more of and we need to see more of.

Another opportunity that I’ve had recently which has been amazing is the opportunity to interview people that I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to speak to and to be able to give them a voice to speak about their platform and what they’re doing. This is really important to me as a lot of these issues are very important and very close to home and I think it’s something that without this platform I wouldn’t be able to do.

I’ve always loved writing, it’s something that I did always want to pursue but by being a member of Get the Chance I’ve been able to continue my writing in a way that’s still linked with my practice. It means that I can find the balance of both of these feeding each other. I’m really grateful for having this opportunity.

Leslie R Herman, Volunteer Critic

Get the Chance has been one of the ways I’ve been able to maintain a connection to the arts and culture in Wales. I’m writing this message from New York City. It is mid-August 2020. I’ve been unable to get back to Wales due to the Covid pandemic and the global lockdown. Not only am I really missing Wales, I’m missing connection, to people, to places and to the arts and culture that I’ve grown to love and live for – arts and culture that have helped me thrive throughout my life.

At the moment it really feels like we’re all of us spinning in our own orbits and cyberspace is our most vital tool but if that’s all we’ve got, I’m afraid it’s way too nebulous for me. I need to feel more grounded.

Get the Chance really has given me the opportunity to get grounded and to connect to people, to the arts, to culture. It’s given me the opportunity to mentor young people and it’s given me the opportunity to extend and rebuild my own career. What’s marvellous about get the chance is its open and flexible approach to giving people a chance to connect to culture. Why don’t you give Get the Chance a chance?

Beth Armstrong, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name’s Beth. I’m 24, and I’m from Wrexham, North Wales, and I’m currently training to be a primary school teacher. I’m a member of Get the Chance because it allows me to watch a great range of theatre performances which I wouldn’t normally get to see due to financial reasons, and also allows me to see a really diverse range of different kinds of theatre which I think is great for expanding my knowledge and experience of theatre in general.

Having my work published online is a great opportunity for me because it allows me to have a wide audience for my writing, and it also allows me to engage with other reviewers and read their work as well, so it’s a really fantastic opportunity.

Samuel Longville, Volunteer Critic

When I left university, Get the Chance was a really amazing, creative outlet for me. I was able to see so much theatre for free which would have been really difficult at the time, having left university as a not very well-off student. I was working a quite tedious nine-to-five job at the time so Get the Chance really served as that kind of creative outlet for me, allowing me to see as much theatre as possible, and not only to see it but to think about it critically and write reviews about it. So it really let me utilise the things I’d learned on my drama course at university.

I’m soon to start an MA in Arts Management at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and I think, without Get the Chance, my enthusiasm possibly could have wavered over the past year, and I still may be stuck doing the same nine-to-five job that I was previously doing. So I really can’t thank Guy and Get the Chance enough for all the opportunities they gave me over the past year.

Helen Joy, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Helen Joy, and I’m here to talk a little bit about my experiences with Guy O’Donnell and his extraordinary Get the Chance. I joined Get the Chance as a 3rd Act Critic when it started, which is a couple of years ago now, and I was a little less grey(!), and it has given me the most extraordinary opportunities that I would not have had the opportunity to take otherwise. For example, I was able to go to the Opera regularly, something I never thought I’d be able to do or that I would enjoy. I’ve been a keen follower of modern dance – ditto, never thought I’d do that – and it’s also given me the chance to really think about how I evaluate things.

So, for example, much more recently, I was given the chance to interview Marvin Thompson. I think this gave me one of the biggest challenges I’ve had for a long time. He, and the experience of planning and conducting an interview, and recording it visually and hourly on Zoom, made me really think about, not just how I wanted to react to him and to his work, but how I felt about it.

Often, I fall into a particular category: of the classic middle-aged, white, educated woman, where the opportunities are already ours, and we’re very lucky with that, but we’re also quite a silent group. People don’t really want to hear what we’ve got to say, which is why we tend to shout it from the rooftops I think; or why, equally, we disappear into the aisles of supermarket. This has given me and my colleagues tremendous opportunities to re-find our voices and to share them, to listen to what other generations have to say. It’s been a really important experience for me. Long may it continue. Thank you!

Barbara Hughes-Moore, Volunteer Critic.

My name is Barbara Hughes-Moore, and I recently completed my Doctorate in Law and Literature at Cardiff School of Law and Politics on Gothic Fiction and Criminal Law. So by day, I’m a scholar, a reviews editor, and a research assistant; and by night, I write longer retrospective pieces on film and television through a gothic and criminal lens on my personal blog.

I’m a member of Get the Chance because its mission is all about increasing the visibility of, and accessibility to, the arts for everyone. Since becoming a member, I have attended and reviewed numerous theatre productions at the Sherman Theatre, the New Theatre, and Chapter Arts Centre. I’ve been a featured speaker on the Sherman Theatre’s post-show panels. And, more recently, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing director Alison Hargreaves on her short film Camelot for the Uncertain Kingdom Anthology. Most importantly of all, Get the Chance has not only given me a voice – it has given me the space, the opportunity, and the confidence to use it.

Gareth Williams, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Gareth. I am 29 years old and I live in North East Wales, and I’ve been asked to say why I’m a member of Get the Chance, and I want to answer by slightly rephrasing the question in order to say what Get the Chance means to me. And first of all, it means having the opportunity to respond to the arts in Wales; to contribute to the discussion around arts and culture in Wales; and to engage with various art forms.

To that end, it is an opportunity to support and promote artists and organisations, particularly those that I’m passionate about. So for me, that looks like theatre, particularly the work of Theatr Clwyd in Mold; music – I’m a fan of country music, and it’s great to be able to showcase Welsh country music talent on the Get the Chance website – and TV drama. Welsh TV drama is going through a bit of a golden age at the moment, and it’s great to be able to be a part of that as somebody who critically reviews these shows as a writer.

I’ve always been much better at writing than speaking. I’ve never been very good at expressing an opinion though because of low self-esteem and confidence. But being a member of Get the Chance has given me an opportunity to express an opinion. It’s increased my self-esteem and my confidence to speak about how I feel about the things that I see and watch and listen to and engage with. And I think, for me, that is the most important thing about being a member of Get the Chance: that opportunity to express an opinion which, a couple of years ago, I would not have had the confidence to do.

Sian Thomas, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Sian. The main reason I joined Get the Chance is because I love reading and I’ve always loved reading, and I really like having a definitive place where I can put down my thoughts on any piece of media and see people respond in so many different ways, and even the authors of the books that I’ve reviewed responding in so many different ways as well. It’s really lovely to have that kind of freedom of expression and I really value being a member.

Amina Elmi, Volunteer Critic

I am a member of Get the Chance because it gives me a platform where I can speak my mind . It allows me to give my opinion and being able to do so enables me to explore the media, the news and whatever preferred genre or medium of entertainment I want.

When it was introduced to me I was into writing and that has helped shape what dreams and ideals I have while also keeping my writing skills at a solid, good level. I am fortunate to be a part of Get The Chance because it has given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

Hannah Goslin, Volunteer Critic

I am a member of Get the Chance because theatre and the arts is what I eat, live and breath. To be able to connect with fellow performers, practitioners, critics and journalists is a wonderful chance to learn, be inspired and to network.

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