Fearghus Ó Conchúir Choreographer and Dance Artist

Yearly Archives: 2019

July 14, 2019

Annywl i mi/Dear to me. Week One


It’s the end of the first week of our making Annwyl i mi/Dear to me (the piece we’ll premiere at the Eisteddfod in August).  The team has gathered: the dancers (Aisha, Ed, Elena, Faye, Folu, Tim, Nikita), the composer (Tic Ashfield), the costume designer (Carl Davies) and everyone in the NDCWales company who’s been working in different ways on the project for a while already – communicating about the work, organising how it will all happen, planning for it, raising funds for it, ensuring there are opportunities for learning and participation through it.  Though we’ll see the company’s performers visibly carrying the work, it’s a work that’s made possible by many more around them.

66778915_10155966839561626_5243498591254740992_nWe’re excited because while we’re aiming for our premiere in Eisteddfod, it’s just been made public that this outdoor piece is going to be presented in Japan as part of the Welsh government’s cultural programme around the Rugby World Cup in September and as part of  UK in JAPAN 2019-20 a British Council and British Embassy Tokyo initiative.  It’s a big opportunity to present our work around the World Cup, an opportunity for the company and for dance to be visible in that context.  Exciting but also some pressure.

66524199_10155966840416626_7455640287541460992_nHowever, that pressure isn’t useful in the first week of a making a new piece.  Instead I’ve wanted to continue the spirit of exploration that we had in our previous two weeks of Laboratori so that we could use this work inspired by rugby as a way to forge relationships, communities, teams of support  – support that would take care of people but also that would support them to take the risks necessary to excel.  I want the work not to be about community but to model it and that means taking time to figure out the structures and approaches that will support our community.

July 05, 2019

Rugby around Wales: The Rygbi Project

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For the most part, we’re not rugby experts in NDCWales but we are good at absorbing and transforming information in creative processes and I want to make sure we have plenty of information to digest.

So we’ve visited the Principality Stadium, we went to see Mold RFC training and had one of its players come to talk to us about the culture, about the difference between rugby in North and South Wales, about being temporarily paralysed, about not being afraid, about playing as an antidote to depression, about knowing your teammates so well that you know how they’ll play the ball and can be there to support them.  When we did some movement research for the Rygbi Project at Theatr Clwyd, we also spoke to the rugby fans in their Company 55 who told about rugby as the focus of a community, in good times and in bad.  Screenshot 2019-07-05 at 20.16.25

We’ll continue this process of asking people to tell us about their experience of rugby, as players and fans, so that we can carry this diversity of experiences into our work.  Our work is a work of transformation, of taking these ingredients and making something new, but it won’t be possible without this input from people all over Wales and beyond.

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May 05, 2019

The Rygbi Project – beginning

Website 1420 -610 (5)_2I haven’t posted for quite a while.  It’s just over six months since I started my role as Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales and getting to know the company and the people who care about it and invest in it has taken a great deal of energy and attention.  And in my spare minutes, I’ve been using Duolingo to learn Welsh.  (As an Irish-speaker, I’m keen to honour the equivalent of an súil eile – another eye –  that comes from having a different linguistic frame of reference).

I’ve been fortunate that I have arrived in a company with plenty going on and in particular with strong programmes of work that display the skills of the company.  It’s been a pleasure to support them and to see audiences respond so positively.  Meanwhile, I’ve been busy trying to make sure that we have diverse, stimulating programmes for next year and beyond, when the kind of perspective I’m offering the company and its audiences becomes evident.  The press release announcing some of next season’s activities gives the detail but one of the things that I’m grateful for is the chance to make work with the company.

The work I’m starting is a project that uses rugby –  a physicality already familiar to many people in Wales and around the world – to explore what it means to make a team and a community of support.  It’s a project that continues some of the preoccupations of my work, like Match and The Casement Project.  In the current political climate, it feels relevant to use what dance knows about the making of individual and collective bodies to research and model what new forms of coming together could be, new forms that allow for a greater diversity of bodies to flourish.  I hope The Rygbi Project will connect and transform people’s existing knowledge to provoke thought and provide experience over the next few years.

The work has already begun (and I’ll write about that in my next posts) but its first official performance  will be as an outdoor piece (called Annwyl i mi/ Dear to me) for the professional dancers of NDCWales at the National Eisteddfod in August.  Another version of the work will tour small scale venues across Wales in the Autumn and another manifestation will be part of our Spring 2020 Tour.  So it’s a project that I hope will build on the structures the company already has for connecting to audiences.  And, like The Casement Project, it’s a way of working that will reach into other formats, offering different ways for people to connect to and contribute to the work as spectators and participants and in the process, helping us developwhat NDCWales could be.