Tag Archives: adamsdown

“Dancing in Cardiff” – Jo

jo-fong-dancing-web

Cardiff has treated me well. I’ve been here for nearly seven years, and the doorway here was through dance, of all things.

It’s what I do, perform, teach, choreograph and since running away from London in 2006, I’ve been settling in. People have been so welcoming and right now I’m delighted, as having presenting my own work here at the Sherman Theatre, we’re currently on the road.

After arriving in Cardiff, I became Rehearsal Director and Artist Development for National Dance Company Wales. I taught, nurtured, and supported the dancers as we toured the UK and abroad. You could say this was my first proper job, as 20 years of choreographing and dancing on a stage, just never seemed like work.

In the last three years I have returned to choreographing and directing and met the many independent artists that Cardiff have to offer. Everyone from dance folk, visual artists, musicians, theatre people and those digital artists that spend a lot of time on their own. It’s interesting, a whole community thriving, creating and working together in multiple configurations.

There’s something here about enthusiasm and support. Without the people pooling resources and ideas many of these projects would not get off the ground and would still be inside the heads of the artists.

I’ve felt welcome and with support from the Cardiff dance scene, the theatres and Arts Council Wales I was able to rehearse, film and stage Witness – Portraits of Women Who Dance. The choreographic portraits are about three dancers, and what dancing means to them, about their bodies and what it is like to be be a performer or put on display. It’s staged on three large screens and the presentation lies somewhere between a documentary and a performance. The dancers are phenomenal, Ino Riga, Eeva-Maria Mutka and Annabeth Berkeley speak in depth and are so generous in their stories. For the most filming took place in Cardiff, we also shot Eeva’s portrait in the glorious West Wales countryside.

Witness has been a privilege to make, as a whole it tells another story about women, the ordinary and extraordinary, their strengths, flaws and being seen.

If you’re interested in actually doing dancing, whatever your age or ability, you might want to check out Rubicon Dance or National Dance Company Wales who have regular programmes to get involved.

If you’d rather watch someone else dance, there’s Chapter Art Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, Sherman Theatre or The Dance House at the Bay.

Jo Fong is a director, choreographer and performer working in dance, film, theatre and the visual arts. Visit jofong.com or  see Cardiff Dance on Facebook.

Jo’s show Witness – Portraits of Women Who Dance – is currently touring. Catch it at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 21 February 2014, or at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon on 13 March 2014

Jo was photographed at Chapter Arts Centre by Janire Najera

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“I don’t think things would have worked out if I wasn’t living in this brilliant city” – Alex

alex-harper-web

I moved to Cardiff when I was 18. All I wanted to do was leave home and get out into the world on my own, and university seemed like the best way to do this. I’m not sure why but Cardiff had always appealed to me, long before I’d even visited the place. I still to this day have no idea why that was.

From a young age I have been obsessed with film, mainly horror and fantasy but I’ll pretty much watch anything. I was watching films that should have sent me running and hiding, but from talking to my sister (the main culprit for letting me watch them) I was absolutely fascinated by them. The creatures and effects I was seeing on the screen captivated me. I went to my local college with the intention of getting into the world of special effects make-up, however I was shot down by a tutor who told me it was a pipedream and that it was completely unrealistic as a real career path. This “advice” sent me into the direction of graphic design but it was never truly what I wanted to do.

I was miserable, I disliked everything about what I was doing and I really needed to change my situation or forever think “what if?”. So I decided to have a go at getting into special effects make-up with a real “now or never” attitude and I haven’t looked back since!

I started doing special effects at home while learning the basics of make up at a local college. I’m my own biggest critic when it comes to my work but I knew I was doing something right when I uploaded the first pictures of my make-up to Facebook and I had a barrage of texts/calls/emails asking if I was ok. This carried on for a few months; experimenting at home, reading books and watching tutorials online and my passion began to grow into almost an obsession!! I realised this was my true vocation.

Probably the biggest thing to me career-wise was when I entered a competition with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts (only after a bit of arm-twisting from friends). The competition was for a zombie artwork/make-up and the unexpected happened – and I won! It was the first thing I had ever won of this nature and I was totally blown away by it all. My work was reviewed by Greg Nicotero who has worked on some incredible films but at the moment is most well known for his work on The Walking Dead…. And he liked it! It was like a dream come true.

Since then it’s been pretty non-stop for me, working on local projects with some amazingly talented people such as 441 films. I also have work coming up on a slasher movie being filmed in south Wales and a music video where I will be turning about 30 people into zombies and letting them loose on a local band by the name of Inhalite.

My knowledge is what I would consider basic in the world of special effects but I’m determined to carry on learning and developing, I send emails everyday to various companies and people asking them for even a few hours of work experience even if it’s just making tea or letting them use me to experiment make-up techniques on. Hopefully one day an opportunity will arise.

Cardiff has such a strong creative community and I don’t think things would have worked out like they have so far for me if it wasn’t for the fact I was living in this brilliant city. The fact is you’re only a short walk away from seeing something creatively amazing be it some graffiti on a club’s wall, a poster outside a shop or a local band doing a set in a small bar down a side lane, the city is full of artistic influence and no matter what happens with my career I’ll always happily say this is where it all began.

Alex Harper is a make-up artist working from his house in the heart of Cardiff. You can contact him and see more of his work at Facebook. He currently lives in Adamsdown.

Alex was photographed in front of the National Museum in Cardiff by Adam Chard

 

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“I’m proud to say that I’m in love with the city” – Tom

Tom Wentworth

I’m having an affair. I know what you must be thinking – but now I want to shout it from the very top of Capital Tower.

I have been indulging in my love affair with Cardiff since September last year. It began with an exclamation of recognition that you get when you meet an old friend, hurtling past the University of Glamorgan’s Cardiff campus the Atrium in Adamsdown, as I arrived on the train. After open days and visits to get my bearings, this was it. I was moving to Cardiff.

The Atrium building simply screams ‘buzzword’, with its glass frontage and the way it appears to rise from the ground. It symbolises my view of Cardiff – modern, fresh and exciting. The Atrium has become the centre of my personal map of the city. That map is growing all the time, adding in the restaurants, cafes and coffee houses where I guiltily eat chocolate cake and listen to city gossip. I hear candid reviews of the best places to eat; the new art collections at the National Museum and where to find peace in the city’s green spaces. I want to know who else I’m sharing my city with, so I drink in the chatter with my latte and head out to explore.

While I’m alone during these exquisite explorations I’m still surrounded by people who are not above waving or saying a cheery ‘Good morning!’. Of course, I’m never really on my own – the city is more than happy to act as the perfect guide, as I experience the new and old together; taking enjoyment from returning to familiar places, just as much as finding new ones.

Like in any relationship though, there are some days when one needs space. Then I head to Shropshire – the original focus of my affections – but I’m always pulled back, often to find that a new building or development has been erected in the time I was away. The city is ever changing and embraces so many cultures but it can sometimes seem rather apologetic of its status as the Welsh capital. However, its pull appears to remain unchallenged as students often seem to stay long after they’ve graduated.

In many ways I feel that I am writing my version of the city; the boulevards and streets have become places where an important part of my life is being played out. I feel a strong sense of ownership with a place I feel increasingly passionate about. I dread the day when I may have to break my bond with this place and relocate but it hasn’t happened yet.

So, I shall continue my love affair with Cardiff but it’s no longer a secret, and I’m proud to say that I’m in love with the city.

Tom Wentworth is a freelance writer and a student at the University of Glamorgan where he is studying Radio (BA Hons.) He openly admits to spending too much time in the cities cafes in the name of research when he should be writing or studying. Follow him on Twitter – @tomthetwit. He currently lives in Adamsdown.

Tom was photographed outside Atrium by Adam Chard

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