National Eisteddfod: Dancers team up with rugby players

The dance performance
Image caption The dance celebrated the unifying power of Rugby in Wales

Dancers and rugby players teamed up for a performance at the National Eisteddfod.

The National Dance Company Wales partnered with Ospreys rugby union players and members of teams in north Wales and Cardiff.

They appeared on the Maes in Llanrwst, Conwy county, with a dance which celebrated Welsh rugby entitled Rygbi: Annwyl i Mi/Dear to Me.

The group plan to perform at the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

The work celebrated the unifying power of the game in Wales, the company's artistic director Fearghus Ó Conchúir told Radio 4's Front Row programme.

"Even dance has its politics and one reason I wanted to look at rugby was because in Wales, it is a democratic sport not necessarily associated with privilege," he said.

"I wanted to reflect on what it is that makes good communities, how we bring teams of people together.

"Because I think in the world at the moment so much is fractured, so much is separated that we need to think about the kinds of environment that bring people together.

"And I think rugby at its best does that because it's not just about those super-humans who are wonderful people playing on the international pitch, but it's about the people playing in their back yards - men and women's rugby, inclusive mixed ability rugby, gay rugby teams."

Image caption Rugby players were interested in the dancers' focus on flexibility

Mr Ó Conchúir said he had recruited both professional and grassroots rugby players to perform alongside the dancers to give it "authenticity".

"We had the great privilege of working with some of the players and academy players of the Ospreys, but also players from local teams in north Wales and Cardiff," he said.

"[The rugby players] were very interested in the way we were warming up - we focus on flexibility. Rugby is not just about brute force. It's also about the loveliness of the hand."

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