November 13, 2009

Tribal Vibe 2009

Following on from the Collective Soul course, I indulged in a weekend of dance workshops at Tribal Vibe held at Aylesbury, organised by Steffi Colbert of Barefoot Bellydance. I took part in Paulette Rees-Denis's Trance workshop which was wow and a must to experience, and her Shimmy Queen, Solo's in Tribal and her Formation workshop too which has given me plenty of 'food for thought'. Friday night there was a welcome party with food, wine, shopping followed by group dancing, individual troupe dancing, solo's and just get up and join in with whoever was leading, and continued on into the 'chill out' room until the early hours.

Philippa joined me on the Saturday evening and watched the show which I danced in. Afterwards Paulette got everbody up and dancing, Barefoot band played long and hard with Paulette lending a hand at drumming too, followed by more chilling in the chill out room with pizza's, wine, chatter, people being 'henna'ed' with various designs and collapsing into bed about 2am again.

Sunday loomed only too quickly and Philippa left ...... along with my hotel room key (yep, and with my luggage still in the room)!! Doh!! ;-)'

Report and artwork by Kay

October 23, 2009

Gypsy Caravan Collective Soul

I’ve just spent a fabulous 3 days on the Collective Soul Level 1 course with the amazing Paulette Rees-Denis founder of Gypsy Caravan, and hosted by Steffi Colbert of Barefoot Bellydance in Aylesbury, where I met 5 other ladies on the course too - Sharon and Kay (Kalitribe), Sandra (Tribal Hussy), Chris (Four Hundred Roses), and Sarah (Phoenix) where we talked about our backgrounds and individual paths which led us to this dance style, the history of tribal bellydance, the community spirit, the connection we felt within our own troupes, and where we see ourselves in the future with dance. We then danced, learnt new steps, zilled different patterns, and listened to drum rhythms and learnt to identify them all with Paulette’s instruction, corrections, praise, encouragement, energy and humour. We lunched together, laughed, wined, dined and studied together for the final days testing. We all passed and not only did I gain my prized certificate, I also gained a better understanding, an even bigger passion for this dance, a great feeling of well-being, a connection and a feeling of belonging, and a deep caring for my fellow dancers whom I felt I’d been dancing with for a very long time.

report by Kay White

Picture L-R Sharon, Kay W, Paulette, Kay I, Sandra and Sarah with Chris taking the picture

October 11, 2009

Against Breast Cancer

Oh the sun does shine yet again!!! What another glorious, sunny autum day it was when we were invited by Against Breast Cancer to participate in the Abingdon Splash of Pink Day which took place on the Market Place, with many shops supporting this wonderful cause by dressing their windows with shades of pink decorations and balloons. Along with the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers and Janice Day singing and reading from her book, we danced a variety of our choreographed dances and also our completely improvised tribal style too, along with Piotr playing djembe and Jen on the shakers. Then ... a first for Ashnah - oh my goodness, did someone dropped her stick!!!!! Oooh, but we pretended we hadn't noticed and carried on (in giggles).

Donations for Against Breast Cancer

Ashnah video

Bellydance Congress

Congress 09 … It’s over and I’m back to my reality .. but how sweet it was while it lasted!!! Back to back workshops for the duration, the opportunity for endless shopping, shows galore and of course burning the floor (Abdel Kader Saadoun & Band were absolutely sizzling). This 2 yearly gathering of top bellydancers, teachers and rising stars from all 4 corners of the world was this time round graced and lead by the legendary (drum rolls please) the one, the only, the inimitable Madame Fifi Abdou - this woman God bless her could teach us westerners a thing or two or three about Diva-esque behaviour but who cares? She’s earned her stripes, has written the book so I’m certainly not going to argue - long may she reign. For the first time, I had the opportunity to see Sadie dance, and on that particular night, she was just ahead of Randa Kamel. The differing styles triggered a whole discussion on the range and direction of bellydancing, from the American locking to the more fluid, original and emotive Arabic style. Khaled Mahmoud was on form and performed the best I’d seen him dance in a long time, Anasma (pictured right) took my breath away - I hadn’t had the pleasure before and she was simply mesmerising. So many headlining dancers, so many groups and a greater tribal presence as well - I cannot possibly name them all, but every single solitary one contributed in such a unique way to an absolutely memorable event......
Report by Rita

September 24, 2009

Wallingford Bunkfest 2009 (video)

Well, the weather yet again turned out to be another gorgeous day for us when we danced at Wallingford Bunkfest. After many weeks of extra rehearsing, dragging 2 unsuspecting friends along to get them to drum for us with the promise of fame and fortune (ahem), and by the time we packed all our equipment (CD player, amp, leads, sticks, zills, shakers, drums, dancers, entourage etc etc and grandads red shopping trolley to carry it all in) into 4 cars, we looked like we were off on tour!!!

Today was a 'first' for our newest member Jennifer Boyd (Jen), all the way from sunny Oxford, as she joined us for her first performance with Ashnah, as well the first time we'd danced to our live drummers too!!!! A really big thanks to Fiona and Piotr for their superb drumming and their time spent in the crash course we threw at them, and thanks to our other blonde Jen for joining in with the shakers when not dancing. Thought we all 'jelled' well folk. (Jen pictured right with Rita behind her, and below left Fiona, Piotr and our other Jen)
We performed improvised tribal (no choreography at all) on the little stage with our drummers, then the Kinecroft stage with our choreographed dances and CD's, and then trooped off to The George pub for more improvised tribal and drumming (check out the video's on Video Bar of the left of this page). With the help from our friends belly dancers Isisisters from Witney, again loaning us their amp again, we again returned to the little stage for one more time. Thanks ladies.

Tired feet, hands, and hunger loming, some trooped home whilst Fiona offered to host us at hers with showers, dancing to Bob Marley and a takeaway (with Bob accompanying us to the Chinese too).

All 'Marleyed' out now, so roll on Bunkfest 2010!! Yay!!!!

Conservative Club Family Day

Sunday 30 September 09 and Ashnah strutted their stuff at the Family Day organised by The Conservative Club (Con Club) in Abingdon. The weather was playing along, the barbecue was out, and the children kept busy with games and face paint. More mainstream entertainment was provided by the two dance groups who use the Club’s upstairs space for rehearsals so along with SalsaEngland, this was our first opportunity to show what we did every week. We did a couple of numbers outdoors and decided to finish our gig inside. The music system proved so much better and added not only general atmosphere but immeasurable bounce to our steps. This was our first showing of our recently acquired improvised tribal skills ... and even if I do so say myself ... I think it went really well .. we may not have blown the roof off but we certainly earned decent cheer. Check out our YouTube video on the Video Bar on the left hand side of this page, or click on the photo. Next stop the Wallingford Bunk Fest ... please pray for sunshine!!
Ashnah Video
article written by Rita........

August 20, 2009

A New Talent ??

Is it a phase or a craze? Neither - seems to be a new found love ........ playing drum is just sooo therapeutic. Bought a tabla a year ago after inspiration from other musicians, dabbled a bit, took workshops, then bought a djembe this year with the idea of playing for Ashnah (one day....). Along with Phil, we played with our djembes, added zills, bought some shakers, Rita and Agne joined in too - and hey! sounds ok......ish.

But who will dance if you play mmmmm.....?

maybe they'll ask Me...ow

Rita, Phil and I have now started to take lessons with the Oxford Drum Troupe Absolutely brilliant. Yea, ok, sore hands ouch, but great fun and well recommended.

Barefoot at Warwick Folk Festival

July, warm weather, great company, laughter, plenty of dancing and lot's of wine - I danced with Barefoot Bellydance at Warwick Folk Festival. I don't think I've ever taken part in such a long procession, I couldn't feel my fingers after playing zills and dancing for so long. What a brilliant exhausting, but great experience though!

Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I wanna go to bed ..........


Hathor hafla in Kidlington, and another showing of our skirts in our skirt dance, Hanina by Galactic Caravan, Intergalactic. It didn't go 'exactly' to plan (1 foot wrong by someone led to 2 feet wrong by the rest of us ha) but we managed to finish upright and smiling. Great evening!

Abingdon Dance Festival

This year we were again invited by Abingdon Town Council to take part in the 2009 Abingdon International Dance Day. There were Irish dancers, Flamenco, Balkan, the Traditional Morris dancers, us - Ashnah yay! and many more. We showed off our new 'uniform', with our beautiful full tribal skirts made specially by Bellynut Tribal (think we're getting the hang of this matching costumes now)! Check out the full 'swishability' in the pictures below - all together now - oooooh.............

Hey, look at me!

When those skirts get spinning, the weight pulls you round...... and when you stop - they sort of - don't .... mmm

Sassy Rita!

July 12, 2009


Kay and Phil went to camp for the weekend at Chepstow, as Kay was dancing with Barefoot Bellydance (Gypsy Caravan style and directed by Steffi Colbert) at the Two Rivers Festival. Great weekend, lovely weather, fab company and lots of fun and laughter. Thanks Barefoot ladies! We were sooo exhausted.

Ashnah goes Tribal

With the arrival of Agne, Ashnah is now venturing into a sideline of tribal bellydance here in Abingdon, so not only are we just including elements of tribal steps into our Ashnah style, we are now having separate sessions to learn Fat Chance Belly Dance tribal style. FCBD is an improvised style of dance with no choreography, just steps, combinations, cues and transitions to learn and remember. I’m looking forward to our first ‘public’ performance with this style, and just turning up with no choreography to remember, though don’t forget of course that Ashnah will continue to perform their original style too.

Tribal sessions are now being held at 7pm - 8pm on Wednesday's at Abingdon Conservative Club, Conduit Road/Ock Street. If you're interested in tribal bellydance and would like to try it out, please to contact

Ashnah Performance Group rehearsals are at 8pm onwards, which is by invitation only.

Ashnah welcomes Agne

In April, Ashnah welcomed a new member, Agne, all the way from Poland (though she lives here in Abingdon of course, bit too far to travel otherwise). With the arrival of Agne, so it fires up the interest in tribal style dancing (yea)!

Birthdays 2009

Birthday meals this year so far, saw Kay’s being celebrated at the Parasol Chinese in Abingdon, Phil’s was a Chinese takeaway hosted at her house with dancing when the furniture was pushed out the way, Diane’s at an Indian in Didcot, Jen’s was lunch at Pizza Express after we’d danced at the Abingdon Day of Dance and Rita did hers in style by christening her new BBQ in the rain with many friends in her garden.

Oh dig em wellies!

Do I really know these people....... mmm

Hello Hello Hello

Another hot day, and this time Ashnah danced at an event in Botley organised by the Thames Valley Police, Abingdon.

Witney Hafla with Nikki Livermore

For the first time ALL 6 of Ashnah members performed the Prophecy stick dance. It took weeks of practice for all who haven’t performed this before, but as always, it was ‘alright on the night’.

Dancing Round Tables

Private party at a Bowls Club - a first for Ashnah - dancing at tables without choreography!!! That’s what Bellydance is all about!

Gypsy Caravan

Christmas 2008 I was invited to join the Barefoot troupe in Aylesbury. I’ve also signed up to do a 3 day workshop Collective Soul (with Barefoot Bellydance) with the famous Paulette Rees-Dennis from Gypsy Caravan followed by Tribal Vibe 2009.

Balkan Evening

Ashnah danced at a Balkan evening with the group Balkansko Oro. We had lovely evening watching and listening to the stories behind each dance, and then watched a dancer from London perform his exciting dance with a drum. Many thanks Sally for the food, drinks and hospitality in your amazing house. Photo’s

October 2008 Tribal Vibe

Photo's courtesy of Barefoot Bellydance

Philippa and I spent a weekend away doing workshops at Tribal Vibe in Aylesbury, organised by Steffi from Barefoot Tribal Bellydance. We both took part in a couple of Awalim workshops then Phil tried the African with Louisa Thomsen followed by the energetic workshop taught by Urban Gypsy (famous for Britain’s Got Talent) both of which she loved and they were such fun, exhilarating and exhausting. Amonst others, I did the zill workshop with Awalim which was brilliant and also the drum workshop run by the Barefoot band which was oh so fab (am now hooked). The first evening started off with an introduction workshop with Awalim from USA followed by supper, drinks and chatter. We picked up new moves to add to our repertoire and met other dancers from various groups.

Saturday started off with a walk to the local (complete in dance gear/costume) and had an spicy Indian samosa for breakfast mmm....... Following the workshops there was a show in the evening with dancers Urban Gypsy, Awalim, Barefoot, Tribe of Kismet and Fulya and performances from Barefoot and the Barefoot students in which I danced too. Fabulous show. Later back at the hotel we celebrated with drinks and an order of 15 pizzas at around midnight!!!!

Sunday more workshops and we staggered home in the late afternoon, tired and weary. Can't wait for 2009 Vibe!!!