<![CDATA[Angharad Harrop - {150}]]>Tue, 15 Mar 2016 05:38:53 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[The presence of the past...]]>Wed, 17 Jun 2015 22:43:44 GMThttp://www.angharadharrop.com/150/the-presence-of-the-pastPicture
The origins and history of Welsh folk dance is a long and interesting one. The Methodist revival in the 18th Century ensured that mixed folk dance came to an end as it was seen to be sinful. The set folk dances that we practice today are dances that have been pieced together from memory, or recently composed within the same style or manner of those that have been remembered. Mrs Catherine Margretta Thomas is the lady responsible for bringing these dances, in particular the Nantgarw dances, back from the depths of her memory. She was born in 1880 and remembered seeing the dances as a child. 
We have used many of the Nantgarw dances as a basis for the inspiration of the movement. It has been our point of reference from which we have diverged and elaborated. Fragments of the memories are woven within the choreography. What is nice about the use of the dances in this way is that it's presence is felt but not imposed. An air of the past is built into the choreography, but we are not trying to re-create it. The past, instead, dwells within the present moment, allowing us as performers to reside within the dichotomy between the two. 
{150} marks the anniversary of 150 years since the pioneers set sail for Patagonia with the aim of protecting the Welsh way of life, it is because of their success in this, that we are remembering their incredible story and able to bring it to a wider audience. An interesting parallel to this comes with the inclusion of folk dance. The dances only became written down when it was realised that the Welsh were loosing, or indeed had lost, a vital part of their culture. In 1802 Edward Jones wrote 'Wales, which was formerly one of the merriest and happiest countries in the world, is now one of the dullest'. The documentation of the dances served a tool for preservation of a Welsh way of life that had been lost. In including glimpses of these dances within the choreography, it is almost as if we are giving a nod to the history of Welsh folk dance, knowing that it is there, and it is because of the efforts of those who fought to save it, that we are here, performing (fragments of!) it today. 

<![CDATA[If you go down to the stores today...]]>Fri, 12 Jun 2015 23:01:24 GMThttp://www.angharadharrop.com/150/if-you-go-down-to-the-stores-today
The first week of {150} rehearsals ended with a cast and crew visit to The Royal Opera House Stores in Aberdare, where the production will take place. The word 'Epic' was brandished around quite a bit as we took in the site and listened to the plan. It was uttered in response to the size and scale of the building, with reference to the undertaking of the performance and the incredible detail of the research, planning and preparation, and also, and most importantly, with regards to what the pioneers who sailed on the Mimosa 150 years ago did. They left their home and their lives in pursuit of a dream of a new Wales. They were promised a fertile valley, ideal for farming, both arable and livestock, but were met with a desolate and arid landscape with no sign of life for miles around. (A bit of an aside, but there has been a fantastic programme on BBC Wales with Huw Edwards where he visits Patagonia, tells the story of the pioneers and meets their descendants, asking questions about what remains of the culture their forefathers traveled all that way to protect.- Well worth a watch!). The Welsh were forced to live in caves on the beach where they landed for the first 4 months, but with ingenuity, perseverance and faith they began to tame the land. They irrigated the river by creating a canal system that carried water to the surrounding valley making the land fertile. They managed to grow wheat for which they won prizes in the US and Europe. They built a railway. They suffered many years of hardship in pursuit of their dream, and ultimately they achieved it. They literally created a new Wales within the barren desert plain. It's a fantastic story with stories that have become legend within it. It's a tale of adventure on truly 'Epic' proportions. What better place to tell that story, than in a place where imagination is harboured. As we walked through the stores the bays are full of set, brimming with possibility, the imagination can truly run wild. As Marc Rees spoke to us about the different scenes you could feel the buzz of the cast and crew. We are apart of what has been a near 4 year process, each of us coming in at different stages, the sense of anticipation and excitement of what we will achieve was fervent. As we gazed out at the end of the tour, onto the surrounding hills of Aberdare full of expectancy for the show ahead, I began to wonder is this even slightly akin to the hope the pioneers felt when they set off for Patagonia? to create a Wales away from Wales, and what a crushing blow when they arrived to the desert plains rather than the fertile valley they had been promised. What they achieved was incredible, their love for their culture was so strong they went to the most extreme lengths to ensure it survived. They are now a part of our history and I am proud to be Welsh because of them. 
<![CDATA[Scores, Scores and Scores]]>Tue, 09 Jun 2015 21:04:39 GMThttp://www.angharadharrop.com/150/scores-scores-and-scores
{150} rehearsals have begun and day one and two have comprised of learning the scores devised from the new Patrwm Patagonia - a collaboration between Marc Rees and Melin Tregwynt. It's been great to see the score in action after months of imagining. The rhythm created by the six dancers, not just through their stepping, but through the score itself, is almost meditative, echoing the motion of loom as the weft and warp move through. 
The pattern is a combination of the Tehuelche (the native people of Patagonia) and the Welsh approach to symmetry. As the wool moved through the loom in Melin Tregwynt the two cultures were woven together, just as they have been for the past 150 years since the Welsh landed in Patagonia. As we step the score, we become immersed within this hybridity. This vital bond that the Welsh had with the Tehuelche resonates within the structure as our steps build to reveal the motion of the pattern. 
The pattern will be glimpsed within other moments of the performance, making it's presence felt and reminding us of the importance of this relationship of the Welsh and Tehuelche that enabled the Welsh to prosper in their new land. 
<![CDATA[Plethu / Plaiting]]>Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:29:44 GMThttp://www.angharadharrop.com/150/plethu-plaitingIn Welsh folk dance we refer to some of the patterns as a "pleth" or a plait. There are many variations of a pleth, just the top couple crossing top and bottom, everyone crossing just top.... The pathways created in the space are intricate and interesting to watch and dance. There is something about the terminology too, "plethu" to plait, to bring several parts together to make them stronger. Perhaps for us, on this project, it's the past and the present, drawing upon memories and the act of remembering to tell stories that are rooted in a cultural history that has shaped our sense of ourselves.
<![CDATA[Y Sipsi The Gypsy]]>Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:52:31 GMThttp://www.angharadharrop.com/150/y-sipsi-the-gypsyPicture
Welsh Clogging has long been a fascination of mine. I love the stories about it and being part of a living, breathing "tradition" (I am always a little wary of using this term because of it's connotations with the past, I'm not sure it is the right word to use as clogging is very much alive and kicking (excuse the pun!), but I am short of another so it will have to do) I love that I am continuing to do something, that once a long time ago, someone else did, they passed it onto someone else, and eventually it got to me.
Clogging managed to survive the Methodist Revival and is Wales' only unbroken dance tradition (there's that word again!). Emma Lile states in her book A Step in Time: Folk Dancing in Wales, that the reason clogging survived was largely due to the gypsy families 'who were less influenced by the condemnation of religious leaders' (Lile 1999: 34). Dance in Wales had almost been obliterated, Hugh Mellor recalls that when he began collecting the dances of Wales at the beginning of the 20th Century he was told ‘Wales has no dances; if she had they have been forgotten generations ago.’ (Mellor in Williams 1985: 6). 
Religion was life for the Welsh who set for Patagonia 150 years ago. There is a lovely clip of Nain Maggie ( of Casa de te Nain Maggie) talking about the crossing and the importance of Capel here, I can only find it on facebook so appologies for the poor quality.

So we have this dichotomy. The Nonconformist views of the Methodist Church and the folk dance which it tried it's hardest to repress. So, what happens we use both these as influence? 
The Welsh Folk Dance we know today has been shaped by the history it has endured, it is remembered in pieces and fragments of memories from those who saw it. When working with it to create choreography we are allowed a freedom, to wonder, to imagine and to create. The patterns of the dances captivate me, as dancers weave in and out of each other, I cannot help but imagine the whisperings  between each other! (Often when I dance they are a reminder of which direction to go next!) But what if these were stories being told, of journeys and voyages, and the pathways of the dances maps guiding the next generation?
One of my favourite movement in Welsh Dance is the Gypsy. Two dancers lock little fingers and turn to change position. This fleeting moment of a concealed touch gets my imagination whirring... what message does this secret touch contain, from today yesterday or 150 years ago.

Just to keep with the gypsy theme and because it's a lovely recording, here is Nansi Richards playing Pibddawns y Sipsi on the triple harp.
<![CDATA[I ddechrau.... To start                               ]]>Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:24:18 GMThttp://www.angharadharrop.com/150/yn-dechrau-to-startPatrwm Patagonia Picture
This is the Patrwm Patagonia going through the loom at Melin Tregwynt, Pembrokeshire. It is a combination the Tehuelche and Welsh approach to symmetry. This pattern will be glimpsed throughout the show and one of the places it will be referenced is...... you guessed it.... the choreography!

Dyma'r Patrwm Patagonia yn mynd trwy'r gwŷdd ym Melin Tregwynt, Sir Benfro. Mae'n gyfuniad o dull Tehuelche a Chymraeg i cymesuredd. Bydd y patrwm hwn yn cael ei cipolwg trwy'r sioe i gyd ac yn un o'r llefydd bydd yn cael ei cyfeirir yw ...... Dyma fo .... y coreograffi!

Felly, sut i wneud hyn?

So, how to go about this?

Using the pattern we have developed a score for the dancers to follow. It's difficult to envisage exactly how it will work until we have all six dancers in the studio. The beginnings though are promising for an intricate step pattern, that reflects the precision of the loom, the accuracy of Welsh clogging/ stepping and focus and drive of the Welsh settlers who landed 150 years ago and successfully created a community that still thrives today.

Gan ddefnyddio'r patrwm rydym wedi datblygu sgôr i'r dawnswyr. Mae'n anodd rhagweld sut y bydd y sgôr yn gweithio tan bydd y chwe dawnswraig yn y stiwdio. Ond mae'r dechreuadau yn addawol am batrwm o gamau cymhleth, sy'n adlewyrchu cywirdeb y gwŷdd, trachywiredd clocsio Cymreig a'r ffocws a hymrwymiad o'r Cymry a laniodd 150 o flynyddoedd yn ôl.