Category Archives: Dance

An Interview with Aleksandra (Nikolajev) Jones

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

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

Hi there and thank you for having me! I am a Serbian, Welsh Choreographer, Director and Producer based in Cardiff. I am the mother of Ilija 20, Mina 18 and Mirjana,  6 years old. You can find out more about me and my work here.  

So what got you interested in the arts?

I was classically ballet trained from an early age. When I was 9, I was accepted to the National Ballet and Music School and my love for dance just became my main focus.  For the last 28 years I have been lucky to work with artists from all around the world.  They continue to make my creative journey and who I am now. I am still learning!

The Gravida Project which you are currently Directing and Producing centres on inviting pregnant dancers to explore their inner and outer creativity to produce a full length piece for stage. Can you give us some background information on how this project first developed?

In 2012 I arrived in Wales and I fell pregnant for the third time. OOOPs, this was not part of the plan! I needed to stop again and at the same time I was absolutely delighted by this new person in my life. In every one of my pregnancies, I was feeling different but rather then drained and tired, I was focusing on the creativity and possibilities of my new body and connection with a new baby.

I had a strong vision that I should work with pregnant dancers, and pregnant communities. I started to  investigate more about motherhood, families using the medium of dance, theatre, creative/mindful movement and film.

Tanja Råman and Lara Ward rehearse Gravida. Photo: L M H C

This is how Gravida Project was born, supported by Art Council Wales and surrounded by amazing artists and communities. You can find out more details at www.gravidaproject.org.uk and join us on this creative journey!

Gravida opens ways in which pregnancy can be better incorporated professionally and celebrated universally in the form of dance. What response have had from the dance sector to this innovative project?

To be honest, it is not easy to find professional pregnant dancers, but on the other hand we are having a huge response from artists who are mothers already. At the and of the day we all came from the womb and we have got the memories from the water/womb, hidden and invisible, birth and breath, life and death.

I believe that “invisible and visible worlds” are meeting in this project and giving us the opportunity to open up questions about existence, life, our wellbeing and how all of it impacts on future generations.

The Pregnant female is increasingly visible in popular culture from Annie Leibovitz’s, Vanity Fair cover image of Demi Moore to Beyonce’s use of Instagram to announce pregnancy and subsequent birth. Is similar visible change taking place in the dance sector?

When we started the women in pregnancy project 7 years ago, the pregnant body was not in the media at all, and I feel it is still not in capacities that it should be. Our main aim is to open more platforms for mother artists, pregnant artists, mothers, single mothers, any females to continue to create during and after pregnancy and to see pregnancy and this “new body” – “the body gravida” more as a challenge rather the obstacle.

What are your long term plans for this project?

The long term plan is to open the platform for professionals and communities. To meet and discuss about the diverse aspects of taking care of OUR physical, mental and emotional states. Using creative art to express, exchange and share to support each other, to ultimately  connect and communicate better.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?

Gravida Project is the project of The Republic of the Imagination, Registered Charity and we are aware that Pregnancy and Maternity are one of the most important parts of Equality and Diversity Act in Wales. Gravida Project creatives and collaborators are from Wales, Serbia, Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands, Bali – Indonesia, Slovenia, Poland, Finland, Scotland, Canada, France, Swaziland and South Africa.

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

Mother Artists and Family Projects.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

I am excited by artists here and I am part of the diverse networks. I feel Wales is my home and we are doing a lot at the moment, also we can do even more TOGETHER.

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

I would like to be more specific with this answer but at the same time I would like to share this:

My very last experience that I would like to share with you is the strong feeling of freedom to express, my personal appreciation to be here and witness the Creative Art of Wales with creative people.

Thanks for your time Aleksandra

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

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

Firstly, a massive thank you to YANC and Get the Chance for the opportunity to be part of this event. Ground breaking engagements are being made by YANC with a diverse scope of arts practitioners and young people of today pushing boundaries in delivering up to date masterclasses, whilst providing and facilitating the relaxed and required networking opportunities. I loved the fact that YANC seemed to be almost inclusively driven by what the Youth want out of these sorts of occasions, with lots of brain storming and idea throwing activities around.

As soon as, I walked in, I was greeted by Sarah  Jones, YANC network’s Chair and artistic director for Mess Up the Mess. Sarah kindly told me exactly what was going on and where. A welcome pack was provided in English and Welsh, this included the days schedule where you would choose what masterclasses you wanted to attend which was also sent by email prior, a feedback pull-out, a substantial list of delegates names, company and their email was provided (invaluable data!), when your wish to pursue contact with people that you have met. This handy touch further enables the networking continuing process, after the event, something that is sometimes missed at previous events similar to YANC’s.

The types of delegate in attendance

There were various freelancer’s in attendance, dramaturgs’ and performers’ from many companies and practitioners, many having toured throughout the UK, ladies from SPARC theatre and Valley Kids, Various personnel from Mess up the Mess Theatre, tutors from CAVC and RCT, Flossy and Bo, Opera Sonic, Rawfest, Ethnic minorities and youth support, Team Wales (EYST), Narbeth Youth Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, 20 stories High, Circus practitioners, Theatre Na nOg, Jukebox collective, Young Identity, Common Wealth theatre, and Paper trail.

I especially enjoyed my chats with a young man called EZ Rah, a Cardiff based Mike Controller, who has recently won an award for his contribution in attendance at Jason Camilleri’s Radio Platform held at the Millennium Centre and that was launched last year. It was also good to see, such a myriad of people from all over Wales and even outside of Wales enjoying and interacting creatively.

Masterclasses

Young Identity

Young Identity is Led by outstanding facilitators, versatile poets and established spoken word performers. Shirley A May @thegirldreams is one of the founders of Young Identity, someone who I found talks deeply from the heart.

It was herself, her daughter, practitioner and spoken word artist Nicole May and Reece Williams, an artist development advocate and one of BBC1 Extras Words First Finalists, that delivered to the group.

The session starts with interactive word, action and mind play. “Hulla hulla Dance, Dance – Hoop, Dance. It was extremely interactive with competitions from the offset. After all that dancing about and whilst our adrenaline was pumping, they asked us to talk about our life stories. They used their own life experiences to encourage people talk about theirs. “Today I was feeling” and you were then asked to write for 5 minutes about this. Some were spoken aloud, then significant sentences were drawn out, through a thought provoking process they taught. “Cloudy with a chance of rain” and, “I often get nervous around people, but I love them”, were proudly spoken by others. Many other practical skills and ways of creating structured poems in the conventional and un-conventional ways were explored and I ended up coming away feeling I could literally carry on with the process they taught and explore the whole concept a lot more having been in attendance.

Shirley May talked about visiting Picasso’s house in Malaga and the journey that Picasso took to get to the end art product and breaking form. She said Art; whether, it’s in written form or whether its structured to everyone’s approval or not, it is about developing but not discarding the old forms and the characterized elements like rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern.

Young Identity encouraged participants to always read; whatever that may be. To push yourself to overcome barriers, stance and with practice how, power can come through your body. The no disclaimer policy whereby you are not allowed to say anything to support or condemn your own words before talking. This is great because it encourages equal levels when delivering this art form. Another thought concept noted, “Is it even a poem, if we cannot hear you speak it?” Reece Williams told us that we could click our fingers also known as snapping, instead of clapping our appraisals and that this is becoming more and more popular in today’s culture.

Young Identity is part of the Frankfurt International school, but sadly has had their funding cut recently from the government. For me an absolute shame, as the work they are doing as like YANC and Common Wealth Theatre needs to be done.

Common Wealth Theatre

Common Wealth make site-specific and award-winning theatre events that encompass electronic sound, new writing, visual design and verbatim. Their work is political and contemporary – based in the present day – the here and now. Described by Lyn Gardner from the Guardian, “a company that bursts open our consciousness”, a statement, I wholly agree with.

Facilitating this event was the absolute amazing Rhiannon White. Rhiannon is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Common Wealth and a Cardiff local. I received an outstanding energy from Rhiannon and the depth of her work is liberating. This part of the day is where I felt I was intensively challenged positively, enforcing collectiveness and the freedom of individual thought. Rhiannon did this well, by firstly asking us to speak to people and tell them random things about yourself, what we are most proud of etc. Before I knew it there was fully grown and smaller humans of all walks of life, dancing around imitating Body Builders, their Fathers after a few, and people in-love.!

It was hilarious, but a respected art form at the same time. Jumping back into the thought pool you were asked to write down three things to do with each thought induced subject. The subjective answers of individuals were then placed into a centred bundle, we talked about these, using different forms of expression, whether voice, movement or complete silence. The range of ways that you could respond in felt like art in present and was moving, emotional and sometimes philosophical.

Rhiannon talked about her projects, what she feels about theatre and how we can all be a part of it. WOW is a festival that celebrates the achievements of woman and girls, also looking at the obstacles woman face across the world. They are holding think in sessions and big public planning meetings starting Wednesday 2nd May at Butetown community centre and around Cardiff at various locations over the period of four days. I would highly recommend attending one of these sessions, which are open to everyone, woman, men, girls and boys.

Last but not least

The YANC Meeting

The very important YANC meeting took place, minutes were provided and accounts. Why did this happen at the networking event? I was thinking this at first then it come to me. If you are going to buy a membership and invest in this group, then surely you would want to know where the money is going? It was a brilliant way of demonstrating just how much work and support is provided. Also, how most of the work done is voluntary, reflecting just how much this group wants to help the youth sector.   There is to be a lot of role swapping and the inclusion of new people this year which is hoped to bring for new and exciting projects. YANC will be supporting RawFfest this year and planning more Casgliad events.

Overview

I need to be honest and give you how I saw attending this event from my very personal view. I had been looking forward to this event for weeks, but I suffer with acute anxiety. My anxiety stopped me from attending the first day as I hadn’t been to this sort of event for some time, I felt I was totally out of the loop, but with help from the fantastic Guy O’Donnell, I attended Sunday and I am elated from the experience. My barriers were instantly broken down, I was enjoying myself, learning, laughing, meeting new people and wondering why the heck I was scared to go in the first place. So, If you are reading this and you too, have anxiety, about these sorts of events, then get in touch with YANC because these meetings are so inclusive, down to earth and real in approach you will worry about nothing and instead be in one creative bubble to the next. They also offer support and membership through email and social media interaction and one to one meets if necessary as well as these fabulous events.

Beth Clark

Review Northern Ballet’s Jane Eyre, New Theatre Cardiff By Barbara Hughes-Moore

It’s always a treat when the Northern Ballet comes to Cardiff, and it’s been a privilege to indulge in the artistry of their past productions that include the lovely likes of  CleopatraBeauty and the Beast, and Casanova. But their production of Jane Eyre, currently on its UK tour, is an utterly breath-taking feast for the eyes, ears and emotions that simply must be seen.

Based on the classic novel by Charlotte Brontë, the ballet follows the traumatic, and eventually triumphant tale, of our titular heroine as she navigates a wearying world of romance, mystery, drama and deceit. The story has been retold time and time again across a myriad of mediums, so what could possibly set this version apart?

My question was answered as soon as curtain rose. Cathy Marston has choreographed and conceptualised this show to perfection, delicately maintaining an admirable faithfulness to the source material whilst developing a distinct, innovative edge to the newest telling of this transcendent tale, from imaginative staging to exciting choreography. (The most striking scene for me was when a row of headstones glided into view, from which ghostly figures emerged to taunt a young Jane as she visited her parents’ grave – such Gothic touches had me giddy with glee). Every single dancer – principal, soloist and ensemble alike – brought their A game, from the joyously carefree Adela to the sternly solemn St John and the sadistic Mrs Reed, but I have to shout out to the particular performers who carried the singular burden of portraying their exceptionally complex, flawed and iconic characters with seeming ease and natural elegance.

Our titular heroine is always tricky to adapt from the page to the visual medium due to the fact that she is largely introspective;  though wildly passionate within, Jane’s emotions are often compressed and concealed behind a calm, collected facade. Ayami Miyata is completely heartbreaking as a young Jane, expressing both her overwhelming despair and her iron will in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and corrupt authority figures. Because of this we understand how Jane became the person she is in adulthood, with each emotional scar and every sorrow-honed trait being beautifully portrayed by Abigail Prudames. As Jane forges her own identity through torment and toil, Prudames encapsulates the character’s growing sense of self, strength and independence with every expressive movement.

Jane’s love, Edward Rochester, is also troublesome to translate because he is, in technical terms, what we literary folk like to refer to as a ‘hot mess’. But Mlindi Kulashe was more than equal to the task, inhabiting both of these elements of Rochester’s personality with effortless grace, and completely embodying the character from the moment he strode onto the stage. Thorny and thoughtful, alluring and angsty, Kulashe’s painstakingly detailed performance conveyed every gamut of Rochester’s being from his swaggering imperiousness to his surprising tenderness, and his chemistry with Prudames is palpable. Every stage of their relationship feels simultaneously real and magical, from tentative interest and aching frustration, to its beautiful fulfilment and the inevitable fallout. Their intricate, instinctive and incredible performances anchor the entire show, and their dances were the standout moments in a production positively brimming with gorgeous choreography.

As ballet is a dialogue-free medium, it’s down a heady mix of the dancers’ expressive movements and the skill of the orchestra to convey the high, complex emotions of the story being told. Live music has no equal in this regard, and Philip Feeney’s sumptuous, near-supernatural score, performed live by the incredible Northern Ballet Sinfonia supplanted the need for dialogue and beautifully complemented the action taking place onstage. Similarly, lighting is largely a thankless task, because it’s only generally noticed if it’s very good or very bad. Thankfully this ballet boasts the former, with the wonderfully expressive lighting enhancing the nuance of emotions at play and complementing the dancing and music in lieu of words.

And because a doubles PhD researcher gotta double, allow me to enthuse about how deftly themes of duality, also inherent in the text, were woven into this production. After the prologue, in which a traumatised, wandering Jane is found and cared for by St John Rivers and his sisters, Jane looks melancholically into the middle distance as her younger self appears on stage; we know it is her because the adult Jane mimics her past self’s movements as if in a mirror, or a memory. Later, when Jane finds herself in the direst of straits, she sees her young self again, a memory that mocks and offers no comfort, merely a reminder of her misfortunes. The scariest, most unsettling moment occurs when Bertha, Jane’s foil and spectral double, duplicates Jane’s movements as if she is indeed her shadow, demonically illuminated behind a curtain as the fire she started burns behind them.

Mariana Rodrigues gives a cunning, characterful performance as the first Mrs Rochester, and she and Mlindi Kulashe wonderfully convey the characters’ strange, spiky history. Happily, then, that Bertha has a more active, present role than her book counterpart, literally haunting the characters as a living spectre, a revenant in a red dress. In a daring, active change from the book, this version of Bertha breaks out of the attic to crash the wedding, giving her more agency and expression than her novel counterpart. At one point, Rochester and Bertha resemble Gone with the Wind’s Rhett and Scarlett down to the clothes and the burning background, though their interpersonal connection is even more tangled and twisted than Margaret Mitchell’s selfish star-crossed lovers.

Themes of mental health, present in the original text, are also deeply entrenched in this version, perhaps most notably through Bertha, who’s often crudely and cruelly referred to as ‘the madwoman in the attic’. Bertha acts as a lens through which to analyse the period’s struggle to understand issues of mental health issues  (something which, along with the postcolonial context, is explored further by Jean Rhys’ ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’). Jane is periodically plagued by physical manifestations of her inner maladies, in the form of grey-clad dancers who pull and poke and prod at her. Are they spectres of Jane’s past, an externalisation of her depression? Perhaps they insidious angels, or vindictive demons? At first I wondered if they personified the windswept moors, the Gothic landscapes that so inspired the Brontë sisters. But above all I viewed them as the cruel hands of fate, dragging Jane inexorably from one unfortunate event to the next in her sorrow-saturated life.

At the end, Jane extricates herself from Rochester’s loving arms, but she isn’t leaving him; her ending the play standing alone and apart embodies the notion that this is Jane’s story. She has found a purposeful, fulfilling life as well as a partner and an equal – possessing both the independence and companionship she has long craved, and proving without doubt that those things are not mutually exclusive. I did miss some iconic scenes from the book, such as Jane and Rochester’s dramatic anti-meet cute in the forest, and the burning of the wedding dress; though both would be tricky to recreate, and also proved unnecessary in an already packed production that fully captured the soul of the story.

Haunting, harrowing yet hopeful, Jane Eyre’s story remains as relevant to us now as it ever did. Northern Ballet’s adaptation weds faithfulness with innovation in an enchanting adaptation of a timeless story that will linger long after the final curtain.

Audio Description for Welsh Dance with Owen Pugh

The Director of Get The Chance Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to meet with actor, facilitator and audio describer Owen Pugh. We discussed his career to date, recent audio description training with Coreo Cymru for The Family  Dance Festival and his thoughts on the arts in Wales. 

You can listen to this interview through the sound file below

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

Hello! Right, well I am an actor and facilitator based in North Wales, originally from Penarth, via London now living with my family in Mold. I’ve been a performer for quite a few years now and worked on numerous theatre tours, film as well as radio and voice over. As a facilitator I’ve worked with young people on various topics as well as in more corporate environments.

You have recently received audio description training from Dr Louise Fryer, BBC Radio 3 Presenter and Audio Describer, and Anne Hornsby of Mind’s Eye, both pioneers in UK audio description as part of the Family Dance Festival. The training was organised by Carole Blade, Creative Producer for Dance in Wales with Coreo Cymru. Can you give us more information on this training?

Certainly, well I heard about the training after going to Taking Flight’s ‘Breaking out of the Box’ symposium at Theatre Clwyd a couple of months ago and I jumped at the opportunity. The theme of the symposium was Access and how can access across the board be improved by the industry in Wales. Audio Description was brought up in the conversation briefly along with many other access issues. I’ve always had an interest in radio drama and have done a couple of radio plays myself, that I was really intrigued by the idea of potentially using skills I have as an actor and applying them to a role I didn’t know too much about. We started with introductions meeting Louise, Anne and Carole, from whom I heard of the training via her company Coreo Cymru. We then flew into the training, learning about various sight afflictions and what effect the have; to get an understanding of how vast and varied the pool of people are who require AD services. We also discussed the possibility of how you could incorporate AD into a performance, making it more of a fluid form of access, which really appealed to myself. We learnt about scripting the action; this was particularly hard in the medium of dance as it is so visual that you feel you are describing absolutely everything. Through the company’s dress rehearsals you’re looking out for everything; subtle movements or the environment or specific dance moves. It was incredibly challenging, yet highly rewarding.

We then took part in a seminar where we heard from representatives from the Cardiff Institute for the Blind about their experiences; positive and not so positive, in theatres and other cultural venues across Wales. As well as hearing from Megan Merrett from HYNT who represent Welsh cultural venues that push for better access in their buildings as well as getting people who have additional access needs into cultural venues. It was particularly key to hear from the people who actually use this service, I definitely picked up some good tips! On the final day we took a performance each and Audio Described the whole piece. It felt great to be chucked in at the deep end, you really learn to understand the challenges that are faced in a live performance. The whole process was really rewarding, it has definitely encouraged me to explore AD as a career path, I’ll definitely be looking for future opportunities.

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

Very, very basic. As I mentioned before it was briefly mentioned in the symposium I attended earlier in the year. I have also seen it is available to use at numerous cinemas as well as TV channels and streaming services, but hadn’t much prior knowledge of it in regard to live performing art at all.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?

Speaking from experience I have seen first hand at castings the lack of diversity, or perceived lack of diversity and equality. It’s a hard industry to get seen for projects in general: work is of a premium. I feel gatekeepers at organisations have the biggest responsibility to how wide they spread their nets, as well as more encouragement from producers to new writers that demonstrate something that represents the wonderful diversity that is available in Wales so that their voices are heard in the places that matter. And I really hope we are seeing a shift toward that.

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

I would give it to the Arts Council and encourage them to back every company that has strong beliefs in promoting their work in communities all over Wales, not just the popular spots!

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

It is a forever growing menagerie of talent across the board. Such brilliant new writing, acting and directing. Such exceptional theatres and companies producing top quality, award winning work. We are pretty spoiled really!

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

‘Black Men Walking’ was a brilliant piece of theatre from Eclipse Theatre Company that I saw at Theatr Clwyd, a bold and diverse piece that struck you in your soul. A great mix of storytelling, music, rhythmic poetry. Loved it.

There will be Audio Description at The Family Dance Festival at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday the 14th April.

Audio Described performances and Touch Tours Sat 14 April @ 12.15 for Welsh show and 15.45 English show.

Welsh language taster workshop led by Cêt Haf, (S4C’s Nansi in Follow M) following the 12:30 shows each day.

 

 

Ioan Gwyn and Innovation in Audio Description for Welsh Dance.

The director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell recently met with actor and audio describer Ioan Gwyn. They discussed his background, his recent audio description training supported by Coreo Cymru and his thoughts on the arts in Wales.

You can listen to this interview with Ioan at the link below.

Hi Ioan, a pleasure to meet you can you tell me more about  yourself and your practice?

Hi, I’m originally from Tal-y-bont in Ceredigion and I’ve been an actor for over ten years now, having trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama. I’m a bit of a newcomer to the world of Audio Description and I’m loving it!

You have recently received audio description training from Dr Louise Fryer, BBC Radio 3 Presenter and Audio Describer, and Anne Hornsby of Mind’s Eye, both pioneers in UK audio description as part of the Family Dance Festival.

The training was organised by Carole Blade, Creative Producer for Dance in Wales with Coreo Cymru. Can you give us more information on this training?

It was very whoooosh! Louise and Anne gave us a thorough breakdown of the function and importance of Audio Describing for a blind or visually impaired audience and also explained the process of crafting a script for a live stage production. This was all done over a long weekend so it was a lot to cram in but every piece of information and advice was golden and they were both so open to my myriad of questions and queries, I am forever in their debt. They both admitted that dance is by far the hardest art form to Audio Describe so I’ve hit the ground running!

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

Last year I worked with Taking Flight Theatre Company who do fantastic work with producing plays that provide access to D/deaf and visually impaired audiences. Thus whilst playing both Caliban and Ferdinand, I also had to AD a few bits throughout the show so perhaps that was my maiden voyage into the AD world.

Ioan (left) in the Tempest with performer Sam Bees. Photographic Credit Jorge Lizalde

Later in the year I worked with Chlöe Clarke and Sami Thorpe’s company, Elbow Room Theatre, on their production “The Importance of Being Described Earnestly” which wove the AD into the fabric of the text and was a terrific experience.

I’ve also recorded an audiobook for the RNIBs library.

Congratulations you are Wales first audio describer in the Welsh Language! What interest have you had in this new service to improve access from the Welsh speaking community?

Diolch yn fawr! As there hasn’t been a Welsh speaking audio describer before, it may well be a case of making communities and companies aware of this now, but based on the interest I’ve encountered and the random emails asking if “Are you actually a welsh speaking audio describer?” I can confirm the demand is there! We took the dance festival to Galeri in Caernarfon and I met a visually impaired Welsh speaking lady who regularly visits Galeri for various audio described events. She attended our show and she was very enthusiastic about the prospect of being able to go to Welsh language theatre that was audio described.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?

There will always be barriers in various guises and it’s up to everyone to spot them, acknowledge them, and remove them. Sometimes knocking politely isn’t the answer, sometimes you have to kick the door in.

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

Film. I did my B.A in Film Studies and it’s a long-standing ambition of mine to make a film one day! Wales has a wealth of stories to tell, and not merely from our folklore like Y Mabinogi, but in contemporary Wales. Why are other countries able to regularly fund and produce relevant vital films and Wales aren’t? One day I’d like to go to the cinema to see a macabre comedy set in Llandudno, or a Welsh Language Sci-fi film set in post-apocalyptic Aberystwyth.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

There’s always something going on in some capacity. Whether it’s a small music festival, a touring theatre show, or a new piece of writing on S4C. I think there’s just about something for almost everybody going on at some time, and personally I just enjoy working with such talented people from Wales and those who have settled here and are making the arts scene richer with their presence.

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

It was a while ago now but I had a great time at Flossy & Boo’s Alternativity, bursting with originality and The Other Room is a great space to see theatre.

As a side-note I’d add that as a self-professed comic book fan, seeing the Welsh flag at the end of Black Panther had me struggling to contain my inner-nerd…

Thanks for your time Ioan

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

 

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

Get the Chance is in the running to be named as one of Wales’ best organisations for being accessible to deaf people.

The shortlist has been announced for the Excellence Wales Awards 2018 – the annual awards run by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru.

The charity’s awards recognise businesses that take steps to make their services accessible to the 575,500 people in Wales who are deaf or have hearing loss.

All organisations either nominated themselves or were put forward by a person who is deaf and has received a good service in the past year.

The shortlist is now in the running to be awarded one of four titles;

  • Service Excellence
  • Excellence in Health
  • Excellence in Arts and Entertainment
  • Excellent Employer

The awards will be decided by an independent panel, made up of people who are deaf or have hearing loss. A People’s Choice Award will be chosen by the public, to vote for Get the Chance in this category please click on the link  here.

Rebecca Woolley, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said,

“The judging panel now have a difficult job to decide the winners from an impressive shortlist. All the shortlisted organisations prove that simple changes can really improve the lives of people with hearing loss. I hope that organisations across Wales are inspired by this shortlist and start thinking about the simple changes they can make to ensure their services are accessible to the one-in-six people who are deaf or have hearing loss.”

Guy O’Donnell, Director, Get the Chance said,

“Our volunteers produce unique content which supports Deaf audiences and artists to ensure a range of opinions are seen and read relating to sport and cultural provision. We are honoured and humbled to be shortlisted as part of this years awards.”

The awards will be held at Cardiff’s St David’s Hotel on 4 May 2018, presented by ITV Wales News reporter Megan Boot.

Review: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella by Sian Thomas

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Last March I was lucky enough to have a relative key me into ballet. I saw Matthew Bourne’s “The Red Shoes”, and when I was invited to see his take on Cinderella, I already knew I was bound to have a wonderful time – and I did. Though The Red Shoes will always harbour a soft spot in my heart because it was my first ballet, I think it’s safe to say I liked this one much more. First of all, as a novice, I think it’s pretty important that this time, I knew what was going on. The story of Cinderella does not escape me even as it harbours a few changes (like being set in London 1940 and having a war theme, and Cinderella’s family being bigger than I remembered).

Costumes were incredible, and I think by “costumes” I mean “Cinderella’s dress”, because if we’re being honest, I was excited to see what it would look like as an audience member, rather than in pictures and pamphlet photos. And it was stunning; truly. Even her costume before the dance was lovely. I’m always a fan of flowing skirts and dresses, so seeing the way they moved as people danced was such a treat to my eyes. So, in that vein, the dancing was incredible. Still, a year later I don’t know much (or anything) about ballet or dancing in general and my eyes continue to be unaware of mistakes and unable to form any critiques (not that I have any at all, actually).

When I left The Red Shoes, I remember I came out on a high, as if I could suddenly redirect my life even though it was 10pm and I would be going home to bed afterwards. The same high followed me out of the theatre after Cinderella. An odd kind of high, one that left me sitting quietly and thinking and reflecting and just trying to figure out what words I would use to really show how much I loved this performance. I couldn’t find many. It’s definitely a “you have to see it to understand” kind of thing (which is why I’m going a step further to place some links here: in case anyone becomes interested in going).

Five stars because it really was wonderful and I’d love to see it again and I know I would enjoy it just as thoroughly every single time.

Video Review of Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella” at the WMC, Cardiff by Roger Barrington

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

VIDEO REVIEW

 

 

The interview excerpts of Sir Matthew Bourne are copyright New Adventures Production.

If I have inadvertently used any other copyrighted material, please let me know – I shall be happy to acknowledge the owner or remove.

REVIEW SUMMARY

 

Matthew Bourne’s ballet, “Cinderella” is currently playing at the WMC until 7th April.

It provides a scintillating experience of creative development of a familiar story. Set in the London Blitz of WW2, this is not a gimmick, but a version that works on every level.

Cinderella is pretty much as you would expect, wicked step-sisters in tow, but there is no Fairy Godmother. Instead you have a male character called The Angel who guides Cinderella for good and bad in order that she fulfills her destiny.

Instead of a handsome prince, you have Harry the Pilot. The RAF, recent victors in spoiling the Luftwaffe’s attempt to pave the way for the Nazi invasion of Britain, were the glamour boys of the Armed Forces. Actually. they were known as The Brylcreem Boys due to the way they used the cream to obtain a smooth look with hair in total control.

The Ball scene, is re-invented in the real life venue of the Cafe de Paris, which was a venue where chic young people met and danced the night away, irrespective of whether there was a air-raid being enacted overhead. On the 8th March 1941, the club received a direct hit, killing and wounding over a hundred people.

The dancing is as polished as you would expect from a Matthew Bourne work. He is the director and choreographer and together with his lighting designer Neil Austin and set and costume designer Lez Brotherston, conjour up a magical two and a half hour show of countless memorable visual delights.

Music is recorded, but played by a specially commissioned orchestra, over 80-strong, named the Cinderella Orchestra, and it is played in Sensurround which makes you feel that they are present.

Prokofiev’s music is delightful and all the sums add up to a wonderful work of creativity.

Irrespective of whether you like ballet or classical music, there is enough theatricality in this show to last you a very long time, and I unreservedly recommend it.

Continue reading Video Review of Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella” at the WMC, Cardiff by Roger Barrington