Friday 24 May 2013, 17:29
Not so long ago in history a heavily pregnant woman was a rare sight, as she was usually ordered into her "confinement" some weeks before the bump became enormous.
Now a new dance piece is aiming to challenge conventional images of pregnancy by featuring two women dancers as they near the final months of their gestation.
Gravida is choreographed by the Serbian-born artist Aleksandra Jones, who lives in Cardiff with her Welsh husband and herself was recently pregnant with her third child.
It features professional dancers Tanja Råman and Aberystwyth-born Lara Ward who are 32 weeks and 28 weeks pregnant respectively and will be on at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff at 6pm next Tuesday and Wednesday (28 and 29 May).Tanja Råman and Lara Ward in Gravida. Photo: L M H C
Aleksandra told me that the dance piece was born out of a 2012 pilot project funded by the Arts Council of Wales and called Women In Pregnancy and offers a new way at looking at the effect pregnancy has on movement, gravity and even a woman’s career and creativity.
"It is such a special time in a woman's life and yet, for a dancer or performer, a pregnancy can mean their career is finished," she said.
"I wanted the movement...
Friday 24 May 2013, 16:09
We wake up in Philly. I came to this particular venue, the Union Transfer, last year, also with The Joy Formidable.
From the lot where the bus is parked, the building looks like a big, anonymous warehouse. It's in a neighbourhood you probably wouldn't want to get lost in after dark, but most things in most cities are, aren't they?
The last time I visited, it was the day after my first night on a tour bus. I hadn't slept a wink and I'd lost a fight with the bus's airdoor. The humiliation of that particular episode was almost enough to make me flee home.
Thankfully no one brings it up these days. (Oh, yes they do!)The Joy Formidable at the Union Transfer, Philadelphia
Christian (the band's philosophical lighting engineer), Emma and I go looking for coffee. Christian knows this area of Philly.
"There's a Dunkin' Donuts two blocks down."
Sounds good to me. Another franchise ticked off the list. It's somewhat underwhelming, in all honesty. And this from a man who would happily drown himself to death in a pool filled with doughnuts.
That's 'DOUGHNUTS', my misspelling US friends: nuts made from 'dough', not nuts from from 'do'. Hopefully not, anyway.
Philly is - at least on he outskirts - somewhat...
Friday 24 May 2013, 14:25
It's an exciting time for Bridgend poet Rhian Edwards: her first child is due in three months, her first book of poems has been shortlisted for a Wales Book of the Year award and her second collection is coming along nicely.
Two months ago I caught up with her towards the start of her post as the first ever Aberystwyth Arts Centre writer in residence.Rhian Edwards. Photo: John Briggs
Back then she said she hoped her legacy to the venue would be a poetry open mic night that would bring together all the different creative voices that congregate there.
And it seems that dream has been realised as Chinwag, an evening of spoken word, where people can read poetry and prose or perform their work, has just enjoyed its first event and has another planned for the eve of Rhian's departure next week.
The first poetry night saw Niall Griffiths and Tiffany Atkinson reading their poems along with appearances from Lampeter students and members of the arts centre's resident writing groups.
The next event on Wednesday 29 May will see Rhian reading along with Matthew Francis and Samantha Wynne Rhydderch, who have both also been shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2013.Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch...
Friday 24 May 2013, 10:41
This spring is on track to be the coldest since 1979. And it certainly felt chilly yesterday with Arctic winds bringing a drop in temperature and showers as well.
On Wednesday, Cardiff was the warmest place in Wales with 17.6° Celsius but yesterday the highest temperature was nearer 12° Celsius.
There's a little more unseasonal weather to come, as the Met Office has issued a yellow wind warning. Strong to gale force winds with gusts 45 to 55 mph could cause a few problems if you're travelling today.
Today will be a blustery day with a mixture of dry weather and scattered showers. However, it should...
Thursday 23 May 2013, 17:00
In June, the biennial BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition will take place. This prestigious, international contest will see some of the finest voices, on the brink of global careers, converge upon Cardiff to compete for the title of Cardiff Singer of the World 2013.
The Welsh representative will be baritone Gary Griffiths from Pembrey. From an alumnus of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he was awarded their Gold Medal - the conservatory's most prestigious performing accolade - to audiences at Welsh National Opera, Gary is already a familiar face.
As an associate artist of the...
Wednesday 22 May 2013, 16:47
This year, 2013, is the centenary of the Senghenydd Mining Disaster, a tragedy that claimed the lives of 436 men. It was the largest - I hesitate to say "greatest" - mining disaster to ever occur in this country. But mining was always a hazardous occupation and the history of Wales is littered with events of almost similar magnitude.
The Gresford Disaster of 22 September 1934 was one such case. The Gresford Colliery sat just north of Wrexham, the original shaft being sunk in 1908. By 1911 the pit, owned and run by the Westminster and United Collieries Group, was ready to be opened.
There were two...
Tuesday 21 May 2013, 15:44
Sleeping on a tour bus that is weaving and bumping its way down the I93 is an acquired skill. I'm tossed and turned and sleep vaguely through the night.
Any moment of wakefulness where you remember you're asleep in a bunk (or a 'fart coffin' as I have christened mine) that happens to be travelling 60mph in the direction your feet are pointing, brings with it a real paranoia that you're going to end up squashed against the partition, with the top of your spine telescoping out of the back of your skull.
As you can see, I wasn't very good at distracting myself.The Joy Formidable's tour bus
Tuesday 21 May 2013, 14:54
Football's own Tower Colliery: that was how producer Craig Withycombe and I sold the idea to the BBC Cymru Wales programme commissioners about making a documentary on Swansea City's incredible rise from the bottom of the football league to the Premier League in the space of a decade.
It may sound melodramatic but the Swans' success is a tale which is so inspiring, they're talking about a Hollywood film being made about it!
Of course, the football side to the story is rags to riches stuff in itself - club goes from near bankruptcy to the top league - but what we found when making the programme is...
Tuesday 21 May 2013, 12:57
A new play about Wales' answer to Edith Piaf opened last week at Sherman Cymru and has so far received standing ovations from audiences.
Say It With Flowers captures the heady highs and downtrodden lows of the great singer Dorothy Squires. It features Ruth Madoc as the singer later in life and Gillian Kirkpatrick as the young Squires.Ruth Madoc and Gillian Kirkpatrick in Say It With Flowers. Photo: Toby Farrow
I caught up with Ruth following the first performances, and while she was still reeling from the death of her fellow Hi-de-Hi! actor and best man at her wedding, Paul Shane.
She told me...
Monday 20 May 2013, 16:11
I was away from the weather desk last week braving the elements and filming for a new series of Weatherman Walking. We went to Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil and then headed west to Carreg Cennen Castle in Carmarthenshire.
The weather was very mixed with heavy rain, sunshine, hail and cold winds, so the thermals and waterproofs both came in handy. There was even a little snow on the Brecon Beacons and some flooding in Carmarthenshire.
Ray Garner, who runs a weather station at Llanfynydd, recorded over 72mm of rain in 24 hours on 14/15 May making it the wettest May day there since 1996. The previous...