elena walking away from the screen in a field. A  house on the right
NDCWales Presents

Plethu / Weave: Aber Bach

Wales in Germany Short Poetry Dance Film

Aber Bach takes its title from the name of a cove in West Wales where the sounds of a woollen mill and the sea can be heard. ‘Aber' and ‘Bach’ are found in both Welsh and German, though with different meanings. From this notion, the film, which was filmed at the Melin Tregwynt Woollen Mill.

Dance: Elena Sgarbi

Poet: Mererid Hopwood

Film and Edit: Tim Volleman

Thanks to: Melin Tregwynt

Elena Headshot

Elena Sgarbi

Originally from Bologna (Italy), Elena trained professionally as a dance performer at CODARTS in the Netherlands. For more than a decade she was based and worked as a dancer in the Netherlands with dance company de Stilte and as a freelancer on several art collaborations, performing across the world.
Throughout her career she engaged and developed an interest for dance and art education, especially for young audiences.
In 2017 she relocated to Cardiff where she joined National Dance Company Wales as full time dancer.
She now enjoys getting to know a new culture through dance and the many art collaborations she engages with through the company.


Mereriad Headshot

Mererid Hopwood 

Mererid Hopwood won the Chair, Crown and Medal for Prose in Eisteddfod Genedlaethol. She was the Welsh-Language Children’s Laureate in 2018, and in the same year won Tir na n-Og Prize for her novel for children, Miss Prydderch a’r Carped Hud (Gwasg Gomer). She won the poetry award Book of the Year in 2016 with her collection of poetry, Nes Draw (Gwasg Gomer, 2015). She collaborated with musicians including Karl Jenkins, Eric Jones, Gareth Glyn, Christopher Tin and Robat Arwyn and participated in literary festivals in Europe, Asia and South America. She is a Fellow of Cymdeithas Ddysgedig, and the chairman of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and honorary president of the Waldo Williams society. She is a Professor at University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Tim Volleman headshot

Tim Volleman

During Covid-19, Tim started making videos for National Dance Company Wales, where he is a company dancer. Tim’s passion for film started when he was a dance student. Movement has always captivated him and from behind the camera this guided him on how to enhance and partner the movement in the scene being shot. Tim is mainly self-taught with some courses in mobile videography (Cinedans and Netherlands Film Festival). As well as several online courses. Tim’s career in video editing started with an engagement by choreographer Heidi Vierthaler and developed towards more complete dance video projects for which he is shooting as well as editing. Since 2015, Tim has had a longstanding collaboration with event management CCFD in the Netherlands, for whom he documents fashion shows and events. He is currently interested in how colors are used in film and he is refining his technique in color grading.

Elena Sgarbi:

“Working on the second edition of the Plethu film project with Mererid Hopwood and Tim Volleman has been a great opportunity to gain a deeper insight into Wales and Welsh culture.

Through Mererid’s enthusiasm to share her culture and this project, I have been enabled to get to know first-hand a wonderful corner in North Pembrokeshire and its important wool weaving tradition.

The collaboration on the video has been tightly connected between the three of us, as well as Hanan Issa and Rufus Mufasa. It has woven threads from one another’s artistry in order to build a connection between Wales and Germany through words, movement and images.

While we began our research from the raw idea of using a traditional Welsh blanket as a starting point for our concept, I think and hope we managed together to create a complex tapestry of cultures, where each thread is an integral part of a bigger reality.”

Tim Volleman:

As film maker I became inspired by the beautiful movement in the poem that Mererid wrote. And I wanted to capture Elena speaking with her body.

After conversations with Mererid and Elena and thinking of the Wales in Germany occasion, some images came to my mind from the cultural traditions of both Germany and Wales.

From the German Bauhaus movement of the early 1900s I took shapes and geometry to play with and, as for the colour palette, I took inspiration from the Welsh landscape: the rich browns, the burnt reds and ochre shades, contrasting in turn with the metallic hues of the dark blues.

And for the Welsh speakers, yes the grass is slightly blue-ing.” 

Aber Bach | But a stream

Ym mwlch y blynyddoedd beth wnawn ni nawr,
ond casglu ein geiriau fel edafedd o’r llawr?
Und hier in der Sprache wo ‘warten’ heißt ‘hoffen’,
laßt uns zusammen die Bedeutungen flechten.
Let’s gather the meanings together and weave
glauben a chredu think and believe,
let’s unfold the future, pass words hand to hand,
o galon i galon, von Wasser an Land …

Gwennol shuttle Schiffchen, blau glas blue,
Wir a we a ni a they a sie a nhw,
bißchen ’chydig Bach stream nant ffrwd,
Frieden peace heddwch, eifrig keen brwd.

Vielleicht p’rhaps falle, still, still, stond
حُب cariad love, aber but ond,
aber mouth Mündung, Mähne mane mwng,
sisial murmur rauschen, zwischen between rhwng.

Wahrheit truth gwirionedd, singen canu song,
cadarn cadarn cadarn, perthyn gehören belong;

Kugel sphere cronnell,
more mwy mehr,
Schreiber yw llenor,
Sterne yw’r sêr.