Category Archives: Dance

Participatory Arts – Capturing the Learning, A Response from Sara Sirati, Ardour Academy.

In response to the lockdown triggered by COVID-19, many arts organisations have taken their work online, sharing content for audiences to view for free. However, creating participatory engagement online is much more challenging and, as a sector used to being face to face with people in their practice, it’s clear that the current restrictions change the nature of participatory arts based activity substantially.

Following a vital conversation on social media led by Guy O’Donnell, Learning and Participation Producer, National Dance Company Wales which opened a discussion on how we can deliver participatory arts effectively, a range of partners are collaborating to lead Zoom discussions for the sector where we can talk about the impact of the lockdown on our work and work creatively together to think beyond the lockdown.

In partnership with ArtWorks Cymru a series of free Zoom meetings have been set up to discuss and share current working practices in participatory delivery.

Capturing the Learning

These Zoom meetings will explore how we capture the learning from organisations and artists who are currently delivering projects. We’ll explore what methods are working well, what are we learning through this experience, and how we are adapting  our working practices.

Director of Ardour Academy, Sara Sirati is presenting at the first Zoom Dance meeting on Wednesday 3rd June 3-5pm The meetings are free to attend but numbers are limited. Sara gives a personal response below to the challenges and solutions she has created to support participatory dance delivery in the current climate.

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

Hi I’m Sara… a therapist, dancer and choreographer. I’m also the director of a Cardiff-based dance and well-being, not for profit organisation called ‘Ardour Academy’.

What challenges did lockdown present to delivery of your participatory practice?

I think mainly wrapping our heads around the sudden change and making decisions that would benefit all our staff and participants, were emotional and practical challenges for us. We wanted to ensure we continued to run our services, when people need it the most and find effective ways of moving our services online. The Arts can struggle regardless of the COVID-19 crisis, and of course even more so recently, due to the crisis.

 What systems did you put in place to ensure delivery?

We made sure that we piloted a few workshops, using a variety of systems such as Ζoom, Microsoft Τeams and Facebook Live. We collected data from our participants regarding clarity of picture, sound, genres and duration of classes. Following government guidelines, we set up our studio with required equipment to ensure smooth and professional delivery of sessions, whilst keeping our instructors safe during lone working.We were very lucky to have local artists and practitioners that could walk to the studio and deliver sessions, whilst strictly following government guidelines.  

We also moved all our therapeutic practices to telephone and videocall services.

Did you have any particular challenges or success that you would like to share?

I guess funding was a major challenge for us. We were shocked to realise that all the small business funds released by the Welsh Government did not include not-for-profit organisation. We noticed a lot of “loopholes” in the information released, which discriminated against businesses like ours.  Although at the time feeling incredibly disappointed and defeated, we have instead made the decision to focus on Third Sector and Arts Sector funding. Politically this was a tough decision to wrap our heads around and accept that community projects would suffer, due to the nature of funding schemes passed by the Welsh Government.

On a more positive note, I would recommend connecting with others that are doing similar projects. I was positively surprised by the number of people that offered to help when I put a post out or sent an email. I would also recommend taking into consideration the fatigue caused by virtual learning and delivery. It’s important to manage your expectations and accept that it is not the same as what we may have been used to and our experience as result may feel different. Piloting projects and going in with an open mind has been very helpful for us.

What are your plans for future delivery?

We aim to have a virtual and varied timetable of dance, mindfulness and fitness by the end of June. It has been important to us to take our time with this, and try things out whilst holding a curious stance. Going forward, we see ourselves offering online classes for a minimum of six months. Our studio offers a lot of partner dances, including Salsa, Swing Dance and Tango which are intimate in nature, and contact based. We are not prepared to deliver those classes, even if government guidelines relax as we want to ensure our practice is as safe as possible. Hence, getting our online timetable right, and utilising the expertise of our instructors is key to us. We will also continue to run our therapeutic services online for the upcoming months. I would like to add here that we offer affordable counselling, and currently have the capacity to offer free counselling to a small number of individuals experiencing financial difficulties. We also issue hardship passes for our classes, which would allow a number of individuals to engage with weekly classes, they otherwise may not be able to afford.

Thanks for your time Sara

Dance and Wellbeing During Lockdown, NDCWales, Dance Ambassador, Angharad Harrop

National Dance Company Wales Dance Ambassador Angharad Harrop reflects on the challenges and creative activity she has developed during the Lockdown period.

Angharad is employed as one of the NDCWales, Welsh Priority Venue, Dance Ambassadors. This project is funded by The Foyle Foundation

NDCWales supports seven Welsh Priority Venues. Each Priority Venue has a Dance Ambassador who is local to the venue, knows the companies repertoire and has received specialist training. Their role is to support the public to access the work of NDCWales and keep year-round contact with its communities Wales wide.

Delivery is informed by the dance already happening in local areas. This model supports local communities to become audiences and participants. This helps with engaging more people in a broader range of dance but also to sustain and develop the dance sector in Wales as more people engage with the artform.

“Before the COVID-19 crisis came, I was working as a Dance Artist in schools, a Dance Ambassador with NDCWales and with community groups. Some work has been postponed, though much has continued.

The projects that have continued have shifted into a digital space and are being shared, as best as possible, with the spirit of the live interaction and emphasis of community that drives the work – including NDCWales’ Rygbi education pack and Ribidirês – early years dance sessions supported by Pontio. I am fortunate to have young children, who love to move and use their imaginations, and a supportive husband. This has allowed us to collaborate as a family to create learning resources that engage both children and adults in dance that supports children’s education and development.

Creating videos in this way has allowed me to use my work to support the wellbeing of my family, with the exploration and learning of my children becoming the heart of the work. We have made some wonderful memories as a family from within our home, whilst supporting the learning and development of our children.

We have climbed through forests, flown to space and scored a try for Wales in a crowded stadium.

Our hope is that through working as a family, we can give confidence to other families to use movement and dance to support their health and wellbeing at this difficult time. Inspiring families to get lost in a journey into the unknown from their own homes, to discover the power of touch and to learn through fun.

Our hope is that through our work families can strengthen bonds and make magical memories, of meeting aliens and winning the Six Nations for Wales, and to allow themselves a minute to find the value in flying as freely as a butterfly, without a care in the world.”

More information on Angharad and her work is below.

Angharad is a Dance Artist working in North Wales. She has worked as a choreographer and dancer for companies such as Light, Ladd and Emberton, National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol. She is co-director of Cymru:Brasil and intercultural performance company who create work inspired by Welsh and Brazilian culture. Angharad works across the community and within education delivering projects for companies including National Dance Company Wales (Dance Ambassador), Pontio at Galeri and Theatr Clwyd. Angharad has a passion for Dance in Early Years and through her company Ribidirês runs bilingual classes to encourage a love of the Welsh language from an early age.  

Review 2067 Time and Time and Time, National Dance Company Wales by Becky Johnson.

This piece choreographed by Alexandra Waiestall uses a structured improvisation for its’ choreography and was a part of National Dance Company Wales’ Kin tour. Unfortunately, due to current circumstances, the tour was drawn to a sudden halt. Therefore, in response to this, NDC Wales performed this piece via live stream, for audiences to watch from the safety of their own homes.

Alexandra Waiestall

The screen was filled with seven boxes, each with one or a couple of dancers inside of them. With each of the ten dancers streaming from their homes, it allowed us as the audience to see into their worlds and connect with them as people and not solely performers.

It began with the speaking of a script, which in turn the dancers used as a set of instructions to aid the creation of their movement. These instructions provided context for the dancers’ making and provided clear connections within the movements between the dancers. Therefore, although they were each moving in their own isolation, they were connected as one. Even those who were performing in the same, shared space as others seemed separate and isolated from one and another. Occasionally, yes, they would enter each- others’ bubbles but it was not this direct communication that connected those in the shared space but again this more prominent connection through intention.

The point of focus flickers between the dancers themselves, their movements, and their views of their surroundings. We as an audience are with them, seeing what they see and engaging with the stimuli that is determining their movement. Each performer has their own understanding of the text given, with moments of pause and breath throughout. The dancers continue to move in and out of frame, reminding us that we are only seeing one perspective of each dancer, even though we are seeing seven different perspectives of the performance.

The introduction of the use of phones and torches brings a shift to the piece. We seem less focussed on the performers and more so the effects of this new dimension within the piece. They begin to interfere and although enhancing the performance, make me question the duality of how this relates to daily life. The dancers shift in their movement quality, and so does their intention and focus. Due to this we acknowledge a shift in our perception and question if we become the ones being filmed, or is it in fact that they are really filming each other? We change how we once saw the screen and question how we see through a lens as compared to before, and is this any different to how we previously watched the first part through our screens at home?

Such phrases stick with me from the text, such as, the “Electricity goes off”. The dancers would join in silence and stillness until the text spoke of it turning “on”, moving once again as the music returns. Another phrase being that of the reference to a “blue sky”. The dancers, although independently of thought, turned their attention to their external senses, prioritising their sight or the sensation of the light on their skin. Many showed us where they could see the outside, usually through a window and continued to move towards that reflection. This journey of visualisation showed us how each perspective of each performer although distinctly different was connected to each other and how their independent decision making often led to similar ideologies.

The score itself provides detail whilst still allowing space for thought and creativity. I would love to play with the score and test how my own methods for improvisation would be similar/ different to those for the company dancers. And how connected, I would feel to them through this one piece of text.

The piece seemed extremely relevant and pressing to our mutual experiences of lockdown. How can we continue to connect to one and another through technology but focus on how we can achieve this with real substance in a way that replaces human touch? Also, how do we see our surroundings, and do we take advantage of them by the misuse of technology in our daily lives?

Overall, it is wonderful that NDCWales shared this piece with us in an alternate format and it is even more wonderful that it was live and not just an online screening. It gave connectivity to an audience in a way in which a usual theatre setting cannot achieve and really provided a platform in which improvised work, that relies so heavily on inter-personal connections, can continue to grow.

Graduate Showcase Robyn Elias

Many Welsh or Wales based arts graduates are finding this current period especially difficult. Their usual opportunities to meet agents, prepare for final year exhibitions or productions may take place later in the year or sadly not at all. To raise awareness of the diverse talent graduating this year GTC is offering any Welsh or Wales based graduate the opportunity to be showcased on our website. If you are interested, please do get in touch.

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

Hello! My name is Robyn Elias, I’m 24 years old and I’m in my final year of the BA (Hons) Dance Degree at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, so I will be graduating this year!

I’m mostly trained in contemporary dance but have a lots of experience in and enjoy ballet, tap, commercial and circus skills!During my time training, I’ve had the opportunity to work with artists such as Matteo Marfoglia, Gwyn Emberton, Zosia Jo, Emma Lewis, and Jo Fong. I’m excited to graduate and get started as a professional dancer, and see what stuff I can get involved in!

Can you tell us about your creative process?

I like to create from things that I enjoy or that intrigue me into wanting to discover more! I recently created a 25 minute dance work that investigated the creation and development of choreography that is derived from research into neuromusicology. This idea came from my love of listening to music! I was intrigued to how different types of music makes us want to naturally move in certain ways, so I wanted to explore this even further!

As as young Welsh artist graduating during a very difficult period, what investment and support do you think is required to enable your career to develop and prosper?

Well, the amount of online classes and streamed events that are available is amazing! So getting used to everything being online is a bit challenging to be honest. But it’s nice to see the dance community come together and support each other. This has really helped me stay motivated and keep moving through this time.It’s made me more aware of what is actually out there and enabled me to get to know dance artists and companies a bit more. It’s also allowed me to take classes with industry professionals in other styles that I wouldn’t normally get the chance to!

A range of arts organisations and individuals are now working online or finding new ways to reach out to audiences. Have you seen any particularly good examples of this way of working?

Yes! As not everyone has enough room to move in their homes, there has been many classes that encourage you to find places in your home that you can work with. There is enough out there for everyone of all ages and levels to get involved! E.g. the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD@Home) are offering free beginner ballet class videos on their website for kids and adults!

Dance companies such as Rosie Kay, Hofesh Shechter, Alvin Ailey, Trisha Brown, Martha Graham, and NDCWales have streamed classes and performances online that I have really enjoyed!

These have been through live streams or uploaded onto Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, etc. Individual artists are also offering dance or yoga classes too! I discovered these by following them on social media.

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

Space. More accessible spaces for artists to create! Education. Postgraduate opportunities in Wales! Dance as therapy. The recognition of the benefits of movement therapy for mental health and physical well-being!

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

How determined everyone in the arts is to stay in Wales, and continue to create work and opportunities, and expand the Welsh arts industry!

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

I recently discovered the BBC Arts: Culture in Quarantine website! There’s loads of great stuff on there to watch or read and keep yourself entertained during the lockdown!

Thank you for your time Robyn.

Thank you!

KiN: Connected – new online initiative to connect artists and audiences through dance.

National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales) will be launching its new online programme, KiN: Connected, on Thursday 16 April across its website and social media channels as part of the Company’s desire to create a community for dance online with audiences, participants and the sector.

At this critical time, how we tell stories through dance is fundamentally important.  KiN: Connected will be an online programme which will include some of the most popular, and previously unshown works, as well as running dance classes for adults and children, and the launch of a new commissioning opportunity to support the sector and freelance artists at this time of creative need.

National Dance Company Wales makes brilliant dance with and for all kinds of people in all kinds of places, touring across Wales, the UK and Internationally.  With innovation and imagination, NDCWales wants to widen the spectrum of what dance can be so that more people can make, watch, participate in and learn about dance in Wales and across the world.

KiN: Connected is part of the Company’s digital ambition to support artists outside of the studio as well as reach different communities. Over the last 12 months NDCWales has been exploring new ways of using digital as part of their work, such as dancers working remotely with international artists; developing ideas as part of the experimental platform, Laboratori, as well as being a part of the BBC Dance Passion digital day.  In response to Covid-19, NDCWales has accelerated the launch of its digital programme to support and engage artists and audiences in self isolation, and help connect communities through creative movement.

KiN: Connected consists of 4 basic strands: Watch Together, Dance Together, Create Together and Learn Together, with content in each strand for Adults, Children and Professional or training dancers.

KiN: Connected launches on Thursday (16 April) with a first ever live streamed performance of all 8 company dancers and 2 apprentice dancers in isolation from their own homes, coming together to give a re-worked version of Alexandra Waierstall’s2067: Time and Time and Time, which was originally created with the company for its Spring 2020 tour. This first social distancing live dance piece will be performed via YouTube on Thursday 16 April at 2pm.

On Thursday (23 April) there will be a short dance film inspired by Ed Myhill’s Why Are People Clapping!? in response to the weekly ‘Clap for Carers’ as a thank you to the NHS and Key Workers on Thursday evening which will be shared online after the national clap at 8pm.

NDCWales is also working in partnership with BBC Culture in Quarantine and BBC Cymru Wales to help reach those self- isolating over the next few weeks. The first event will be broadcast on BBC iplayer on Friday 17 April, 11am when NDCWales’ daily class will be shared across Wales and the UK. This week a ballet class will be taught to the company dancers in isolation, and viewers can also join in from home.  In the next few weeks the Company will also be launching its new initiative, Progression Routes Wales, which will be a new commission for freelancers.

NDCWales is known for its open-door access to its studios during classes and rehearsals and has an ethos of making dance as accessible as possible. The online programme is a progression of some of the existing programme, and feedback from audiences and artists online on what they would like to see. In their first week of isolation Company dancers honed their creative skills by creating, composing and editing a short film “Dancing Together, Apart” as part of Wales Arts Review’s #Digithon, which helped raise over £6500 for Freelance artists who lost work during the lockdown.

Chief Executive, Paul Kaynes said: “Dancers communicate in a way that is important for the world right now – by telling stories through visual movement, fusing fitness with creativity. We’re inviting people to join us by watching and dancing themselves: dance is one of the brilliant ways we can feed our artistic sides, and in the process keep fit in our living rooms.”

Full details of the KiN: Connected can be found at and on social media channels over the next week @NDCWales

Top Tunes with James Doyle-Roberts, Co-Artistic Director of Citrus Arts

Hi James,  great to meet you, can you tells us about yourself and your work?

Hi there, and thanks for inviting me to do this.

I enjoy telling people that I’m quite a good poster-boy for how the arts can save young people who lack direction and, in my case lacked a stable family background.

I fell in love with Hip Hop & Breakdancing as a young teen, and then in my 20’s I discovered circus and aerial work which became my career for almost 20 years. Both things came along at times when I was heading down negative roads. What they have in common are the life benefits of physical training and a strong DIY cultural ethic of just making things happen before seeking permission.

The soundtrack to my early childhood was new-wave punk, Ska, and the early years of Hip-Hop. Breakdancing and the version of Hip-Hop culture that landed in Wales was my path away from the miserable cultural confusion of the 1980’s.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in Manchester at the height of it’s music scene, in London at a time when arts & culture really mattered, and back in Wales to work with NoFit State Circus when they were really hitting their stride.

I’m now Co-Artistic Director of Citrus Arts, along with the amazing Bridie Doyle-Roberts. Citrus have been making shows that combine Circus, Theatre, Dance, and Design since 2009 and we’re based in the Rhondda Valley. We tour shows around the UK and the last few years have seen us championing the hands-on skills that come with Circus life as a way to bring the people of our community together to create ‘Exceptional Experiences for Everyday People’.

 This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

Music is and always has been, a major force behind my path as an artist.

As performers Bridie & I played in plenty of shows where the music felt like an add-on background texture, that’s why Citrus Arts places an emphasis on picking high quality soundtracks and live musicians for our shows.

Bridie & I have two small children, so it’s hard to find time to immerse ourselves in music. There’ve been dozens of times when the boys fall asleep in the car, so we keep on driving, talking about ideas for shows, playing albums, and making major decisions about Citrus Arts’ future as we keep going until one of them wakes up. It costs us a fortune in Ice Cream when we eventually stop to play in a park, or beach for a while before turning back home.

My go-to sounds at the moment all come from the brilliant Late Night Tales series of compilations. The LNT label invites top-notch musicians & producers to curate a 1-hour musical soundtrack for a ‘movie’ that’s never been filmed. My favourite track I’ve discovered so far is “Henry McCulloch” by David Holmes, BP Fallon, & Andrew Weatherall.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list five records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 

The Stranglers – ‘All Live & All of The Night’

My first music festival was Reading in 1987, where I saw The Stranglers headline the Friday night there along with The Cramps, The Pogues, and Iggy Pop over the weekend. This album was partly recorded that night. I still love the sound, image, and artistic message of the punk movement, but was just a young lad with a paper round when it had the real power to shock.

The musicianship in this album still stands out as a moment that shows how punk evolved into the more interesting areas of the charts in the 80’s.

Devo – ‘Q- Are We Not Men?’

I’m still enthralled by how this band made a unique musical, visual, and political style around their image and output. Two brothers in the band made Devo’s pop videos way before the advent of MTV, another member invented the Roland Emulator keyboard/synthesiser, and between them they built a complete and un-improvable artistic world for their music and message.

I love the fact that the lead singer Mark Mothersbraugh now makes music for Marvel super-hero movies.

Massive Attack – ‘Blue Lines’

I was working at a big record shop (a “Megastore”, according to Mr Branson) in Cardiff when this came out and nobody, and I mean nobody, from the Phil Collins-loving security guards to the guys in the classical music department had anything but huge praise for this album. For me it was a re-connection back to my years of loving early Hip-Hop, Soul, and Jazz influenced music, and represented a way to cross between tribes of taste and friendship groups.

Every single track is excellent, but the decision to choose “Safe From Harm” as the opener was a masterstroke.

Ted Barnes – ‘Underbelly’

It’s hard to find Ted’s wider work on the usual online platforms, but this album is a great example of his style. Citrus Arts’ first touring show was based around Ted’s music and if you listen to this, you’ll hear why we chose it.

Barnes was Beth Orton’s composer when she rode high in the UK album charts in the 2000’s. My favourite story about this music is knowing that Ted’s father was a Toymaker in the seaside town of Whitstable in the post-war years.

This album sounds like a boy sneaking-in to his Dad’s shed where wood was carved, and tiny mechanical things came to life.

DJ Shadow – ‘Private Press’

Another personal tale coming up here, but this is DJ Shadow’s best album.

In 2012 the Hip-Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa donated his personal record collection to NY Columbia University’s Cultural Archive – they were the plates of vinyl that were cut, scratched, and mixed to create Hip-Hop in the yard parties that founded the genre.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist were allowed to take those actual records on tour as the Renegades of Rhythm performances where they played them as a set, in tribute to one of the founding artists of Hip-Hop.

I saw the show. I listened to those actual grooves on those vinyl plates that inspired me to take a lifelong journey into physical performance, and the way that communities can make their own lasting mark on what I’m sure wasn’t considered ‘art’ at the time.

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this? 

I feel like I want my own Radio show after doing this!

If there’s one track I’d like to share with you, rather than remember for personal reasons, it has to be Ted Barnes’ “Sting in The Tale”.

Its lush, gorgeous, beautifully crafted music that everyone should try dancing to.

Thanks for your time James

An Interview with Wales based Dance Artist Becky Johnson

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

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

 So, what got you interested in the arts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What excites you about the arts in Wales?

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

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

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

Thanks for your time

Thank you very much for getting in touch!

Rooting Hip-Hop Theatre in Wales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The passion to do this comes from personal experience:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaga is a unique dance training, Gaga Movement Language גאגא שפת תנועה NYC are currently offering 3 classes a day 7 days a week with a suggested donation.

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

Juliard School of Performing Arts are running ballet barre classes through instagram

You can learn the famous Rosas Danst Rosas from Anne-Teresa De Keersmaecker here online, easily done at home with a kitchen chair

The Dance Centre is offering fun online musical theatre inspired classes.

Rebecca Lemme / Acts of Matter offers a free online Barre Class you can do without a proper Barre–4ulAhmvpNotiVJIMz3Z3v_PIYW6pKyT0bZ_JQFfJN0Cow

The Guardian has an article on tips for dancing at home.


Overwhelmingly our dancers suggest following Yoga With Adriene for youtube yoga

Cat Meffan Yoga – another office fav, with a huge range of free classes on youtube.

Our dancers also enjoy the Down Dog App which also has a ballet barre class option

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


These festivals aim to gather streamed content and classes in different ways – Social Distancing Streaming Concerts 

The Social Distancing Festival 

Creative Distance, The Theatre Cafe 


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

Tundra by Marcos Morau

Reflections documentary and dance film from our Dance for Parkinson’s participants.

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

Rosie Kay’s 5 Soldiers

Or Zosia Jo’s – Fabulous Animal is available to stream for donation here

Berliner PhilharmonikerUse the code BERLINPHIL by March 31 to get 30-day access to the orchestra’s stunning work

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

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

The Guardian have posted their own list now too

Filmed on StageHosts links to mostly paid streams of large Broadway shows and musicals

You can watch the west end production of Wind in the Willows here 

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

Other Cultural Activity 

Free Museum tours from across the world

Free colouring pages from museums

Free National Park tours

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

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

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

Welsh for work with Learn Welsh Cardiff – Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd A 10 hour course free

Say Something in Welsh A podcast based language learning system with free and paid options including Welsh

Duolingo The number one free language app has a great Welsh course too

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

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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