Tag Archives: Sherman Cymru

“Dancing in Cardiff” – Jo


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


“Over the last 25 years, the Sherman has been a part of my life” – Katherine


I’ve lived in Cardiff for 42 years. So in thinking of a place that felt special to me, I had lots of choices. I love Donkey beach in Penarth, a secret little place under Penarth cliffs that my Nan and Gramps took me and my sister when we were little. I love the sea around Cardiff Bay and the docks. Bute Park, Roath Park, Victoria Park. Cardiff has good parks. I like sitting on Platform 7 on Central Station looking over to the Brains Brewery sign and the smell of the hops. I could have talked about lots of places that make Cardiff my home but I really wanted to talk about a place that has been part of my life for the last 25 years and I hope will continue to be so for the next 25 – Cardiff’s Sherman Cymru.

My first visit to the then Sherman Theatre was in 1985. I was 15 and had come on a school trip arranged by the English department to see Macbeth. I remember having to sit within hands reach of my teacher because my concentration wasn’t great and it was long. I was bored and fidgeting and desperately wanting to get back on the bus. When it ended I was relieved.

The next time I came to the Sherman was in 1987. I was being interviewed for a administration placement on a government Y.T.S. Scheme. I had left school with no qualifications to speak of so my choices were limited. I remember there was a matinee on. As I was lead backstage and down to the administration offices, various characters passed me by covered in copious amounts of blood, running from one side of stage to the other, backstage calls sounded out and dressing room doors opened briefly exposing a mixture of discarded costumes and everyday clothes. A blood curdling scream echoed through the maze of backstage corridors as I met the General Manager, ‘Sweeny Todd’ she smiled, ushering me in.

I began my placement the following week and my relationship with The Sherman Theatre began.

My placement was only for a year or so and as the end of the scheme approached I was dreading having to leave I felt like I’d found somewhere that I fitted. A permanent job came up in the finance department and I was offered the chance to stay. Although I worked in administration I spent all the time I could with the production team. I often volunteered to work on productions for the experience and did a lot of work for the Youth Theatre productions. It started to dawn on me that my heart was in the more creative roles in theatre and so after seven years I left the Sherman Theatre and went to Welsh College to train to be a Stage Manager.

Over the last 25 years or so the Sherman has been a part of my life. I’ve worked there and experienced making and watching some great theatre. This year Sherman Cymru are producing a play I’ve written called ‘Before It Rains’ and so my relationship with the building continues.

I couldn’t be prouder.

Katherine Chandler’s first play was a musical comedy called The Bankrupt Bride that was produced by Theatr na n’Óg in 2009 and toured nationally. She has had a long-standing relationship with the company and her play We Need Bees, a children’s play for the under-sevens, is currently on tour. As a writer, she has also had short plays produced by Dirty Protest and Spectacle Theatre. In 2011 one of her plays was selected by Pentabus Theatre as their We Are Here 2011 winning script and was developed in association with Sherman Cymru. Katherine is the recipient of an Arts Council Wales grant to write a new female-led comedy and is under commission from National Theatre Wales to develop a new piece of work with them. In early 2013 Katherine will be on a studio attachment at the National Theatre (England). Before It Rains runs at Sherman Cymru between 25 September – 6 October 2012. Katherine currently lives in Penarth.

Katherine was photographed at Sherman Cymru by Jon Pountney