Waving the flag

| by Eleanor Turney

National Dance Company Wales is bringing two pieces to the Edinburgh Showcase. Artistic Director Caroline Finn tells Eleanor Turney about the wealth of arts work coming out of Wales

National Dance Company Wales performs Profundis. Photograph: Marj Douet

The two shows are very contrasting, which is what is so exciting – they show the versatility of the company. They both have a real sense of human connection, but in very different ways. Folk, the piece that I made, is based on how we interact with each other, how we behave. I’ve set it in a very surreal landscape. It’s a bizarre little community playing out different stories and interactions. 

There’s not a specific narrative as such, it’s more tableaux with ideas that hopefully people will connect with. It’s quite timeless – some people think it’s set in the past, some people think it’s set in the future, some people think it’s underground. I rather like the ambiguity of it. 

The other piece, Profundis, from Roy Assaf, is much more sculptural; moments of it are like an art installation. It’s much more sparse in terms of the choreography and the stage layout. But it’s got a very tongue-in-cheek element to it. It’s the sort of piece that seems incredibly simplistic on the surface, but there’s actually a huge amount of depth to it. 

It’s playful and it’s childlike, and there’s also the possibility to see something quite existential in it – to find yourself asking quite large questions. It’s difficult to describe, but the audience reaction so far has been fascinating. We’ve had schoolchildren bursting into hysterics and an 80-year-old who was hypnotised and enchanted by it. There are lots of different ways into that piece for audiences.

"The audience reaction so far has been fascinating"

It’s hugely important for us to be taking this work to Edinburgh and potentially elsewhere. On a personal level, I’ve spent a lot of my time working in other countries in Europe. I’ve got different connections – either emotional or professional – and it’s really exciting for me to be able to share my work. For the company, and for Wales, it’s important, too. 

Wales is a country that a lot people don’t know much about – they maybe don’t know where it is, or even that it exists, or they think it’s part of England. A lot of people don’t realise how much culture there is in Wales, and how much is generated artistically. It’s really exciting to be able to shout about it and put it on the cultural map! We’re pleased to be waving the flag for Wales, and to encourage the export of all the wonderful work that’s being created here. 

Caroline Finn, Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales was talking to Eleanor Turneya freelance journalist, editor and arts consultant, and Co-Director of Incoming Festival.

Folk and Profundis are at ZOO Southside from 20–26 August


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