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Anthony Matsena on GALWAD and his role as Lead Choreographer

Updated: May 27

Our friends at GALWAD have interviewed our co-artistic director Anthony Matsena about his role as Lead Choreographer for the project and have allowed us to share the interview below about his hopes for the work.



Anthony Matsena in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Photo by James O'Doherty


Tell us about yourself and why you got into dance:

There isn’t one specific reason why I picked up dance. Dancing was something we did in my family. If I had to pick the biggest reason it would be my older brother. He was a Michael Jackson fanatic, and he was always dancing. So, we were always dancing in the house and started pushing how far we could go at the age of 13 and 14.

My career has progressed as a Choreographer from the moment I graduated. At London Contemporary I was under the assumption I was studying to be a dancer, but times have changed and younger voices in Choreography are being heard, which is great. I’ve been able to pursue a career as a choreographer, which has been a blessing.

I’ve still been able to perform as well, most notably in Tree at the Young Vic by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah.That was a cool milestone. Another epic moment was to be a Young Associate with Sadler’s Wells. And more recently the work I did with my brother Kel on Shades of Blue for Sadler’s Wells and BBC – and all the work we did in lockdown and seeing that come to flourish.

How would you describe your dance style?

I think I use various ideas. My first love for dance was with Krumping, and then Hip Hop and Breakin’. That’s always been a part of my life. Over the years I picked up ballet and contemporary, and that has influenced a lot of my dancing as well as theatre. Me and brother Kel have lots of influences even from the school subjects we studied and the world we live in.

My inspiration for dance is life in general. Dance effects movement and watching people and experiences as human beings. Also, protest and activism finds its way in my work everywhere. It’s also experiences that I see from afar that affects me in some way. Text, imagery, anything that I come across finds its way into the performance.

What do you hope to achieve from being involved in GALWAD, and what are you excited about?

I’m hoping to deliver a story that anybody from Wales and anybody worldwide can resonate with and connect with. I hope to bring to light a bright and hopeful future through our storytelling, not only with the physical narrative but through the other elements. I want to make whoever wants to be part of it able to do so, and to connect with different groups across Wales. I also hope to grow as a person and as an artist, because I’m surrounded by a brilliant, brilliant team of creatives.

I’m very excited about the opportunity to choreograph so many bodies. I’m really looking forward to that. But from a wider perspective, I’m really excited to see what ends up happening. It’s one of those projects that seems so incredible but also so daunting and sometimes you can’t even imagine the end point because it’s just so epic.

Why do you think GALWAD is different?

GALWAD is different to anything I’ve been a part of – not only because it’s happening over the course of a week, which is just insane, but it’s also how many different forms of media there are to connect with for this project. From radio, TV, live, digital, and so much more – there are so many different ways you can be a part of it. And in many different cities!

It’s crazy to think that one story can bind all of those things together. It’s truly an epic vision of the team that put this together. It doesn’t just rely on one form of art, it relies on so many. So I think it’s special in that way, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

What impact do you hope this project will have in Wales?

The impact I’m hoping it will have is that the story of Wales is the story of the world. I hope that the people of Wales know that what we say and our actions that we apply are going to have an effect in a global sense. And that our country is a place of culture, belonging, diversity, love, purity, and all of those things. It’s a story for the world to look to in times of hope.

For more information on GALWAD, visit https://galwad.cymru


 

Dywedwch wrthym ni amdanoch chi eich hun a pham wnaethoch chi ddechrau dawnsio:

Does dim un rheswm penodol pam wnes i ddechrau dawnsio. Roedd dawnsio yn rhywbeth yr oedd fy nheulu yn ei wneud. Pe bai'n rhaid i mi ddewis y rheswm mwyaf, fy mrawd hŷn fyddai hwnnw. Roedd yn caru Michael Jackson, ac roedd bob amser yn dawnsio. Felly, roeddem bob amser yn dawnsio yn y tŷ ac yn dechrau gwthio pa mor bell y gallem fynd yn 13 a 14 oed.

Dechreuodd fy ngyrfa ddatblygu fel coreograffydd o'r eiliad y graddiais. Yn London Contemporary roeddwn i’n tybio fy mod yn astudio i fod yn ddawnsiwr, ond mae amseroedd wedi newid ac mae lleisiau iau ym maes coreograffi yn cael eu clywed, sy'n wych. Rydw i wedi gallu dilyn gyrfa fel coreograffydd, sydd wedi bod yn fendith.

Ond rydw i wedi parhau i berfformio hefyd, gan gymryd rhan yn Tree gan Idris Elba a Kwame Kwei-Armah yn theatr y Young Vic. Roedd honno’n garreg filltir cŵl. Roedd bod yn Gydymaith Ifanc gyda Sadler’s Wells yn brofiad bythgofiadwy hefyd. Yn fwy diweddar, cydweithiais â fy mrawd, Kel, ar Shades of Blue i Sadler’s Wells a’r BBC – a gweld yr holl waith y gwnaethom yn ystod y cyfnodau clo yn dechrau ffynnu.

Sut fyddech chi’n disgrifio eich arddull dawnsio?

Cyfuniad o syniadau gwahanol. I gychwyn, roeddwn i’n caru krumping, ac wedyn hip-hop a breakin’. Mae hynny wedi bod yn rhan o fy mywyd erioed. Dros y blynyddoedd, dechreuais ddawnsio ballet yn London Contemporary, ac mae hynny wedi cael dylanwad mawr ar fy nawnsio, yn ogystal â fy ngwaith theatr. Mae gen i a fy mrawd Kel lawer o ddylanwadau gwahanol, sy’n seiliedig ar y pynciau ysgol yr astudiom ni a’r byd o’n cwmpas.

Mae bywyd bob dydd yn dylanwadu’n fawr ar fy nawnsio. Mae dawns yn effeithio ar symudiadau ac rwy’n mwynhau gwylio pobl a chael profiadau newydd. Yn ogystal, mae protestio ac ymgyrchu yn treiddio mewn i fy ngwaith. Profiadau rwy’n eu gweld o bell sy’n effeithio arnaf mewn rhyw ffordd. Testun, delweddau, mae popeth rwy’n ei weld yn dylanwadu ar fy mherfformiadau.

Beth ydych chi’n gobeithio ei gyflawni o ymwneud â GALWAD, a beth sy’n eich cyffroi chi am y prosiect?

Rwy'n gobeithio cyflwyno stori y gall unrhyw un o Gymru ac unrhyw un ledled y byd uniaethu a chysylltu â hi. Rwy’n gobeithio dod â dyfodol disglair a gobeithiol i’r amlwg trwy adrodd ein stori, nid yn unig gyda’r naratif corfforol ond trwy’r elfennau eraill. Rwyf am wneud i bwy bynnag sydd eisiau bod yn rhan ohono allu gwneud hynny, a chysylltu â gwahanol grwpiau ledled Cymru. Rwyf hefyd yn gobeithio tyfu fel person ac fel artist, oherwydd rwyf wedi fy amgylchynu gan dîm gwych o bobl greadigol.

Rwy'n gyffrous iawn am y cyfle i ddawnslunio cymaint o gyrff. Rwy'n edrych ymlaen yn fawr at hynny. Ond o safbwynt ehangach, rwy'n gyffrous iawn i weld beth sy'n digwydd yn y pen draw. Mae'n un o'r prosiectau hynny sy'n ymddangos mor anhygoel ond hefyd mor frawychus, ac weithiau ni allwch hyd yn oed ddychmygu'r diweddbwynt oherwydd ei fod mor epig.

Beth sy’n gwneud GALWAD mor wahanol yn eich barn chi?

Mae GALWAD yn wahanol i unrhyw beth rydw i wedi bod yn rhan ohono – nid yn unig oherwydd ei fod yn digwydd dros gyfnod o wythnos, sydd yn wallgof, ond hefyd faint o wahanol fathau o gyfryngau sydd yna i gysylltu â nhw ar gyfer y prosiect hwn. O radio, teledu, perfformiadau byw, digidol, a llawer mwy - mae cymaint o wahanol ffyrdd y gallwch chi fod yn rhan ohono. Ac mewn llawer o ddinasoedd gwahanol!

Mae'n wallgof meddwl y gall un stori glymu'r holl bethau hynny at ei gilydd. Mae'n weledigaeth epig sy’n perthyn i'r tîm a roddodd hyn at ei gilydd. Nid yw'n dibynnu ar un math o gelfyddyd yn unig, mae'n dibynnu ar gynifer. Felly rwy'n meddwl ei fod yn arbennig yn y ffordd honno, ac rwy'n gyffrous iawn i fod yn rhan ohono.

Pa effaith ydych chi'n gobeithio y bydd y prosiect hwn yn ei chael yng Nghymru?

Yr effaith rwy'n gobeithio y bydd yn ei chael yw mai stori Cymru yw stori'r byd. Rwy’n gobeithio bod pobl Cymru yn gwybod bod yr hyn y byddwn yn ei ddweud a’r pethau y byddwn yn eu rhoi ar waith yn mynd i gael effaith mewn ystyr fyd-eang. A bod ein gwlad yn lle o ddiwylliant, perthyn, amrywiaeth, cariad, purdeb, a phob un o'r pethau hynny. Mae'n stori i'r byd edrych ati mewn cyfnod o obaith.