faye holding her hand to her right ear
NDCWales Presents

Plethu/Weave: Ust

Short Poetry Dance Film

Ust by the National Poet for Wales, Ifor ap Glyn and NDCWales dancer Faye Tan explores the idea of complete harmony between words and movement.

Choreographer, Dancer and editor: Faye Tan

Poet: Ifor Ap Glyn

Faye headshot

Faye Tan
Faye was born in Singapore and trained at the Singapore Ballet Academy and School of The Arts before graduating from the Rambert School in London. She then joined Verve, the postgraduate company of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, performing in works by Anton Lachky, Athina Vahla and Efrosini Protopapa. Faye joined Frontier Danceland (Singapore) in 2016, working with choreographers such as Shahar Binyamini, Thomas Lebrun, Edouard Hue, I-Fen Tung, Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet, amongst a varied pool of other makers. The work Faye did in Singapore also included outreach programmes, coordinating Frontier Danceland's youth dance training programme, teaching, choreographing, digital marketing, videography and photography. In May 2019 Faye worked with Richard Chappell Dance (UK) on Silence Between Waves, performing and working with local residents of various ages and abilities in Devon, before joining NDCWales for Rygbi: Annwyl I mi / Dear to me and subsequently as a company dancer in December 2019.

Ifor headshot

Ifor ap Glyn
National Poet of Wales Ifor ap Glyn was born and bred in London to Welsh parents. He is a multi-award-winning poet, presenter, director and producer. A prolific writer, Ifor has twice won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod – one of the festival’s most prestigious prizes. As a television director and presenter, he has won several BAFTA Cymru awards for his work including the Lleisiau’r Rhyfel Mawr and Popeth yn Gymraeg series. Ifor has represented Welsh poetry around the world in both the Welsh and English language, most recently in Cameroon, Lithuania, China, Belgium, Germany, and Ireland. The National Poet of Wales scheme was established in 2005 and is managed by Literature Wales. It is a cultural ambassador role which honours some of the most innovative and highly regarded writers.

Ust Blog by Ifor ap Glyn

The original brief from National Dance Company Wales and Literature Wales was an open -ended one. Each pairing of dancer and poet were free to form their own creative process to explore how dance and poetry might inter-relate, in a short video presentation.

The suggested starting point for these creative collaborations was the concept of cynghanedd. In Welsh this can convey both the system of alliteration and internal rhyme that characterises our most traditional poetic forms, but also in a more general sense the concept of harmony itself.- an auspicious motif hopefully for exploring the relationship between dance and poetry.

Faye and I first spoke in early June, and in our first discussion established some initial parameters for the project. We agreed that we would

  • use ambient sound, sound effects or a  soundscape, rather than a piece of music as soundtrack for the piece
  • try and incorporate the English translation of the Welsh words on screen as part of the visual aesthetic, perhaps  appearing and disappearing in the gaps framed by Faye’s movements, the words responding virtually as it were to the dance
  • leave gaps in the spoken poem, so that the minute experienced on screen wouldn't be too 'busy' (giving the viewer too much to process simultaneously, by having to 'read' movement and graphics in different parts of the screen, whilst listening too)

We also agreed that the creative process would begin with the words. Initially, I wasn’t sure whether the poem should try to explore the idea of poetic cynghanedd itself, perhaps focussing on sound and repetition as much as meaning? Or perhaps be  more conventional in its structure? With a story / contemporary comment maybe? A beginning, middle and end?

The  resulting poem ‘ust ‘ went for something between the two - conventional, but exploring a concept! It explores the synthesis between our two preferred forms of expression, how these two different cogs mesh together within our new construct - or put more simply, (as poets are supposed to!) - 'how do words move?' Cynghanedd in the traditional poetic sense does come into play, but occasionally, rather than as the dominant aesthetic.

Faye then began to make the words move – but as she began to record and edit her interpretation we decided that including the translation on screen as well, would overload the screen visually and detract from the dance rather than enhance it. It was a privilege to work together, (albeit via facetime!), to produce this poetry/dance/film – we hope you enjoy it!