April 20, 2012

Moirai Workshop & Barefoot Bellydance

It’s not often that we have the opportunity of having a top ATS® dancer and teacher such as the graceful Philippa (Moirai) come to these parts, so when the Barefoot Tribal ladies invited us to this event, Kay, Pips and I didn’t hesitate to say a ‘big yes’. Philippa’s approach to addressing the class’ needs was to get us dancing and honing in on our shortcomings. It was all in the detail - arms to the feet, body positions, thinking of simplicity over elaborate moves and ultimately finding space in all that we do – it was such an enjoyable experience and Philippa herself couldn’t have been more gracious. Thank you to the Barefoot ladies for organising this.

Kalash - Oasis Workshops

Some of us at Ashnah started to attend Kalash’s ATS® workshops held in Tiverton, Devon. Don’t let the prospect of a 2-hour plus drive put you off (says the non driver!) as they’re certainly worthwhile. One Saturday every 3 months is given over to all levels of ATS® dancers and coming together as we do is a perfect opportunity to improve, tweak and strengthen our dancing let alone catch up with all and sundry. The day is hosted by the lovely ladies of Kalash, and lead by their most wonderful Kelley Beeston whose praises I can’t sing highly enough – firm, nurturing, warm and welcoming and oh, almost forgot, an endless font of knowledge (straight from FCBD® San Francisco itself)! I can’t recommend these workshops enough. We’ll unfortunately be missing the July one but roll on September!

April 16, 2012

Wendy Allen workshops - July 2011

A Blog article I'd missed publishing - seriously, how could I!!!!!!

July - Philippa and I travelled down to Devon for 3 days of workshops with the wonderful Wendy Allen of FatChanceBellyDance®, and hosted by Kelley Beeston and Kalash Tribal. We stayed in a delightful B&B just outside Tiverton set in its own grounds (great fun manoeuvering up the steep road including bends in the typical Devon
countryside ha).

Wendy Allen (left)

Samantha Emanuel (below)

Pips and I took separate workshops on different days, though we covered basically the same ones. The workshops covered were The FatChance Flair, Hand and Arms - Connect the Dots, and Work That Shimmy and a 4th one which totally escapes my mind!!!

It was hard work, ouch the arms!, and especially so for me since I'd hurt my back the week before but was determined not to miss this event as I'd booked it months before, so I struggled painfully through the workshops with lots of laying on the floor to ease my discomfort.

Saturday evening there was a get together for all the workshop participants, which was hosted by Kelley in her amazing barn. Pips and I set out all dressed in our tribal finery, and drove the 10 miles to her house. Oooh-arrr those lovely Devon country roads foxed us with their high hedges/walls, narrow, twisting lanes and even our Sat Nav was puzzled too.

During the evening there were much dancing from various troupes, troupes mixing together, much eating from the fabulous spread, and the wonderful Souk provided by Angela from Tribe Zuza. Then the highlight came ........ Wendy Allen performed for us! We all sat in awe watching as she skilfully moved from step to step with such ease ......... not only a truly beautiful dancer, but a wonderfully warm-hearted lady too.

Then a surprise dancer (something I'd forgotten was going to happen). Amazing! I thought wow someone ought to snap her up ..... stunning! Philippa whispered to me after 'I think her name is something like Samanuel' ......... I suddenly grasped reality and squeaked 'Samantha Emanuel'! But of course!!! How thick can one be ............ seriously folk? She'd been in my class earlier that day, had just danced for us and I hadn't twigged ...... big ruddy DUH!!! My humblest apologies Samantha :-?,

So here's the weirdest situation. There was Pips and I ..... in the middle of the Devonshire countryside ..... in a barn ..... full of spectacularly dressed ATS® tribalists ..... with Wendy Allen and Samantha Emanuelle from Bellydance Superstars ......... how surreal can that be!!


Wendy and Philippa

April 01, 2012

1st April

Spaghetti on Trees, Aliens Landed, Ashnah never to dance!! ........ happily I can say none of them are true - it's 1st April - Happy April Fools Day!

Swindon Shimmyers hafla

Most memorable sight of the night?” John Sleimans’ martial art jump; I’ve never seen the man so smiley or exuberant!! It was quite novel and I enjoyed the experience which happened at the end of a rather nice evening. Jen, Kay, and I attended the gathering and saw among others the lovely and original Xenia of the Malmsbury Tribal Bellydance Group, Carrie from Brutal Bellydance who unusually was wearing a skirt, and Emma Pyke from Reading along with Covert Bling. I saw Helen Sleiman who both lead her Zakoura girls and did a lovely solo and Luisa and Gary Taylor were also there – she unashamedly strutted her stuff, a nice baladi number, and he playing photographer (Ashnah have yet to go to one of her haflas hmm.. should drop her a line!). There was a welcome new arrival on the scene, Diana Soraya so a big welcome to her! The programme was varied and interesting and a many warm thanks to the Swindon Shimmyers’ Sue Bickell for organising this party cum fundraiser.

Majma Dance Festival, Glastonbury

Report by Rita
With Carolena Nericcio and Megha Gavin of FCBD® headlining this year’s event, tribalists from all over descended en masse and in glorious techni-colour onto Glastonbury – almost all the Ashnah ladies made the trip and we were minus our Jen.

L-R Rita, Pips, Hannah, Carolena, Megha, Agne, Kay

Do you know when you’re taught a combination so fitting and natural you immediately absorb it? well Tara provided me with a few of these so my thanks to her for her gifts!

Later on I met the sassiest dancer ever, the lovely Ava Fleming whose performance on Saturday night was an absolute privilege to witness and who left the entire audience exhausted and begging for more.

As a teacher, she was as lovely and as demanding and rigorous as you’d expect from a winner of the Bellydancer of the Universe to be and more! Mind you, whether my arms are as liquid as gold is not even up for debate!! I also for the second year in a row gladly found my way to the lovely Valerie Romanin who so easily brings out the latina in me “ay esse!!!” the rest of the time was spent in the company of my girls shopping, eating, dancing, talking about dancing, dreaming of dancing, working on dancing – we were straight out of an episode of Fame!!only missing our Jen. Covering the bellydance side of the weekend (and leaving our Kay to take you on her ATS® journey), I arrived ‘bellydance-workshop starved’ and couldn’t wait to get started; I’d signed up to Tara Ibrahim, Ava Fleming and Flamenco Descalzo’s Valerie Romanin’s classes and they all left me shattered and happy and I simply had an absolute blast.

Report by Kay
We congregated at our hotel, 3 cars having travelled down on such a beautiful sunny Friday afternoon. We chatted excitedly throughout our journey, only to stop whilst our breath was taken away at the sheer beauty of Stonehenge suddenly appearing as we rounded the hill on the A303. That sight never fails to make to gaze in awe........

Well I'd plumped for all of Carolena and Megha's classes - how could I not do them!!! Each workshop was fab - going over familiar moves, refining them, writing notes, learning new moves, combinations, dancing with our own troupe members, friends and new people, and writing more notes ..... always write notes (a godsend)!!!

Oh those floor moves!!! Ouch - the thighs the next day!

Sadly the weekend all too quickly came to an end, we said our goodbyes to friends and teachers and made that wonderful journey back home again past Stonehenge .........

Hey! We're doing it all again in October in Edinburgh! Counting the weeks!

Station House Care Trust, Abingdon

How often do you get told your performance had such a positive impact on your audience that’s it’s enabled and stimulated long overdue communication! Ashnah had the privilege of dancing at the Station House Care Trust in Abingdon, a lovely facility which provides high quality residential and nursing care to the elderly and specialises in dementia, very centrally located in our home town. The whole setting was very light and airy and the atmosphere warm and relaxed and while the performers did their thing and concentrated on entertaining, the organisers of the evening ensured everyone had a little glass of something to quench thirst. Later on, we were regaled with delightful memories of bygone days and later on still and in true Ashnah form, we rounded off our evening at a local restaurant... thus ensuring the proper upkeep of both body and soul ;o)

East Meets West Charity Show, Bicester

Man and his dreams .. they come in all shapes and sizes and I suppose if you believe and work hard enough at them, and are fortunate, they will happen. Take this woman, Arpita Desai, whose dream it was to bring cultures together and for a while, a couple of hours, get so many to put their best foot forward in a dance show which was also a fundraiser in aid of the See-Saw and Ronald McDonald charities. Just that happened on Saturday 11th February at the Community College in Bicester and in front of a packed house, Morris, Latin and Swing alongside ATS® Tribal, Bollywood, Flamenco, Belly and Fijian dancing, we even had a karate display, showcased this colourful and most eclectic programme. A wonderful evening was had by all with a promise to return at the next call. Congrats to Arpita and many thanks to the Rotary Club and especially Mike Daniels for all their invaluable help and priceless support.


Winter Wonderland hafla - Jan 14th

We’ve come back from our first 2012 hafla, Nikki Livermore’s Winter Wonderland, at the almost beautifully refurbished Langdale Hall in Witney; besides the place looking rather nice, I actually missed the stage. I don’t know if it will be replaced so I should like to put it out there that I for one think it’s essential; when Nikki and Helen Sleiman kicked off the evening with a free-for-all warm-up Zumba session, I couldn’t see a thing and I’m not vertically challenged! both ladies were lost in the crowd - bring back that stage!!

The hafla itself brought together all the familiar faces and it was great to catch up with everyone. On the programme were among others the various incarnations of the Isisters and Hazzaz groups who invariably jollied the place up and the ladies from Hathor without whom an evening would be incomplete. The lovely Carrie Nicholson made it from Didcot and happily represented the ‘dark fusion’ element providing an excellent foil to the likes of Helen Sleiman who led her Zakoura group in a lovely dynamic modern Egyptian number and later mesmerised everyone with her own solo. There were a few new faces from Cheltenham; the soloist Anne Blagden who from the back bears an uncanny resemblance to Nikki (that’s definitely a compliment) as well as Jane Claridge who closed the show to a Ghawazi number. My apologies to all those I haven’t mentioned; the programme was certainly a full one. I do however have to round up this article by mentioning the ATS contributors, our ‘sisters in the art’ Sundara who performed 2 lovely dances of one of which incorporated a ‘ripple’ effect which I absolutely loved and our good selves Ashnah who took our Kodo dance to Witney for the first time but minus our lovely Jen..