December 29, 2015

San Francisco - here we come!!

from top - Deana Lawman, Carol Buckley, Kelley Beeston,
Kay White, Philippa Moirai, Philippa Watts,
Jesse Stanbridge, Rita de Chadarevian
This is a first - a post before the event has even happened!!

So ..... Ashnah are off to San Francisco in January, to the Mothership - the home of American Tribal Style® created by Carolena Bohlman-Nericcio in the late 1980's.

11 years ago I read about the journey of 2 UK dancers visiting FCBD®, of their experience, and I dreamed of doing the same one day, but never thought I'd ever do it.  Well, here I am ...... along with my lovely Ashnah ladies, counting the days down.

We have a full on schedule - workshops with Carolena and Kristine and performance rehearsals at the FCBD® studio, numerous workshops with Wendy, Anita, Kristine, Carolena, Sandi, Marsha, Kae and Terri at the Homecoming event, sightseeing and not forgetting - performing with Troupe Britannia!!!  There are 7 of us travelling from various parts the of UK and will be performing together at the Homecoming event along with Jesse Stanbridge from FCBD®.

Looking forward to meeting all our American Facebook friends and hopefully our Ariel from Ashnah who returned home for a year!!

Now where's my suitcase ........

December 15, 2015

Barefoot Hafla, Aylesbury

This party was so chilled and fine – we all had a blast and to top it off, we also bumped into a couple of our Nirzari chicks, Shereen and Lulu, who were there to give everyone the once over!   The location was a brand new larger venue which was well-attended without being overly crowded (which I like).

The programme mainly tribal offered a nice variety.  It showcased Gypsy Caravan, ATS® both improvised and with props (mucho dramatico swords).  There was also a lovely flowy skirt dance (watch out for the really nice photos I managed to take).

Deadre and company, thank you so much for your warm hospitality.

Workshops with Jesse Stanbridge of FCBD®, London

Totally eventful weekend and an absolute blast! Kay and I signed up to the Jesse Stanbridge workshops which Philippa Moirai was hosting and which was tremendous.  Practice, drills, light bulb moments and everything wrapped up in good humour and laughter.  On Saturday, at the end of the afternoon, we all quickly got changed and made our way to Tower Bridge which was the elected backdrop for this year’s London Flash Mob.  The weather was on side and the cast totalled approx 35 dancers.  It was all so uplifting and no one wanted it to end so we decided to carry on across the bridge and rounded off the evening with drinks.

Sunday came around and ended too soon.  It was such a pleasure to see everyone, to hook up with old friends and to finally meet Facebook ones (Marek).  I hope you all made it safely home and I can’t wait to see you again.

Maho Workshop

Back by popular demand, Ashnah had managed to agree with Maho Beaumont an Abingdon stop-over while she was on a mini-European tour. We literally had her for a couple of days and managed to make the best of her time taking her out to Helen Sleiman’s party of the Saturday night but ensuring she had a good night’s sleep before putting her to work on Sunday!  This time around, the two workshops focussed on spins, turns and flipping performances.

A good and productive time was had by all which culminated in tearful goodbyes as Maho was returning home to Japan – sniff sniff!

Helen Sleiman Hafla, Swindon

Dance-wise, our weekend kicked off with an evening hosted by the Sleiman family and fronted by the delightfully unstoppable Helen.  The programme featured showcases from Ceroc to Irish dancing, bellydancing and of course ATS®.

As usual, it was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone for a good ol’ natter – fab times and huge thanks to all the Sleimans!

November 14, 2015

Oxford Christmas Lights

On a freezing cold evening in November, Ashnah performed at the Oxford Christmas Lights event at Gloucester Green, Oxford.  I don't think I've known such bone chilling weather as it was that night ..... 

A couple of the Oxford Drum Troupe members were singing in a choir, along with many other dance acts - all of us celebrating the turning on of the Christmas lights for 2015.

After dancing (without feeling our numb limbs), we headed off for dinner and settled on a fabulous Thai, where we huddled up to keep warm.

Video link on the photograph:

October 26, 2015

Splash of Pink

Ashnah and Zoku joined forces for this local fundraiser in aid of Breast Cancer.  The good weather ensured a great turn out and the programme featured the likes of Mr Hemmings Morris Dancers, The Flying Aces Street dancers, The Strawberry Fayre Majorettes, and of course yours truly.  In attendance were Micky and Minnie Mouse and we even had storm troopers dropping in and they were on the very bestest behaviour! 

Our local Oxfordshire firemen were also there and we of course couldn’t miss the opportunity of having photos taken with them. Congratulations to Masons for winning first prize in the shop window competition!

Oasis Workshop in Devon & Respect Festival in Exeter

Ashnah have been attending the Oasis workshops in Devon for a while now, but this particular weekend was special because we were staying on to join up with Kalash and some of their students at the Respect Festival in Exeter. Also joining were Jacqui Spiers, Jo Taylor, our darlings Shereen and Angela of Nirzari, Jane and Steve Lawler (musicians fantabulousos!) and Carol Buckley and all 13 of us most certainly were one heck of a colourful sight to behold!

Our allotted performance was on stage under a marquis and our audience was wonderfully receptive.  We then found ourselves a too good to be missed space next to djembe drummers and did an impromptu 15 or so minutes so all in all, we had heavenly weather, beautiful crowds, terrific company and an absolutely glorious weekend!  Thank you all, thank you Kelley and Kalashies - let’s do it again sometime xx

Workshop at Swerford

Kay was invited to teach a workshop to a group of yoga ladies in the lovely village of Swerford in the Cotswolds hills in Oxfordshire.  It was their annual holistic get together, and this years event included yoga, massage along with my taster workshop and an amazing feast of vegetarian foods all home cooked, which I was invited to join.

Thank you for inviting me to join in your celebrations.

Jan's Bellyspa Weekend

My destination was Torquay for a fun-filled bellydance weekend where I was also teaching a Level 1 two 2-hour workshops on Sunday.  I don't recall being away from our Ashnah girls for so long .... but with the hotel being so beautifully situated by the sea, I didn't give them any further thought!!

I knew most of the teachers from my lovely hostess Jan Piggott to the star name of the weekend, Nawarra, who's an absolute doll!!  The numbers were manageable and made for a cozy weekend where people quite quickly got acquainted to some degree with everyone.

My workshop went smoothly and I discovered in Heike Humphries a model student who became very helpful - vielen dank Heike!  All in all, I had a great time reconnecting with some (Yvette Cowles, Heike Humphries) and making new acquaintances.

Thank you Jan for the invitation!

Wallingford Bunkfest

Esme, Shereen, Pips, Lulu, Kay, Cat

Singing is part of this number
Shereen, Angela and Lulu
Kaleidoscope came together for that event, a favourite with everyone especially as we’re joined by the inimitable Oxford Drum Troupe.  While on the one hand it was our lovely Cat's first at Wallingford, it was our Ariel’s temporary farewell gig – she’s gone back home for a
year leaving us all in countdown mode!  Huge thanks to Jenny for the organization and thanks to the lovely hubby of Shereen, Thurstan, we have a huge selection of photos to choose from!

Ashnah & Nirzari as Kaleidoscope and Oxford Drum Troupe

The Summer Oxford Fair

This event held in the beautiful venue of The Fishes inn in North Hinksey was Ashnah’s second venture there, hardly surprising really as it’s such a complete, perfectly packaged event from the beautiful setting, to the pub’s welcoming team, the food that is a feast to both eyes and stomach and of course the gardens which double as a fab landscape for both the displaying artists and their exhibits (paintings, silks, jewellery, and pottery) and for us in all our glorious fineries using the space for performing.

Albert with mummy and his Princesses!
Our day was made more perfect through the acquaintance of our latest and youngest fan, a darling cherub of 3 with the peachiest skin called Albert.  That boy was so Zen and polite and even tempered and had the good sense of calling us his princesses (quite right too).  He fell in love with my fan and in return for his charms, he joined us for lunch where we treated him to fish and chips!  A simply perfect day.

Linslade Canal Festival

I’m blogging about a worthy contender to the runner-up spot to Ashnah’s favourite festival at Wallingford, a brand new destination for us in Linslade, Bedfordshire - the Tindenfoot Waterside Park, a picturesque rural setting by a lake.   At first appearance, we thought the event was contained within the field we could see; were it not that we had to perform on another stage, we’d never have wandered off the obvious path and discovered stalls upon stalls which promoted everything from eclectic foods, to environmental pursuits and various arts and crafts, all running alongside a beautiful lake.

Alongside our performances, Kay and I held a couple of workshops and bumped into a student of ours Jade who was game enough to join in (thanks Jade)!   The weather was mercifully kind to us, the organisation second to none and our lovely hostess Linda Wallis was very helpful.  One last comment, this was one family and dog friendly event so take note for next year ; o)

September 27, 2015

Cowley Road Carnival

Carnival day was upon us, we were raring to go, the weather was beautifully sunny, and we were once again joined by Cat Ariel Weber as we set off for this popular festival.

Our name in the road ..... ok, spelt wrong ...
The whole day was pulsating to all manner of eclectic sounds and smells and happy smiling people. After we'd performed on the stage (video here) we took part in the parade that stretched all along the Cowley Road, which was quite exhausting.  We had our name on the road yay! and a sign (star shaped sign ooh) where we were to stand (even if they did spell our name wrong), and were even assigned our own escort to carry out star sign (though Rita cut that off the picture above boo).  At the end we were all treated to water and chunks of lovely juicy melon.  Just right for thirsty work.

Even our own sign ..... spelling? Sigh...
Fabulous all around and huge thanks to Claire Thompson and Anya Fox for their help; they’re no doubt enjoying a well earned rest!

 Kay even appeared on local TV ........ though after a long interview only a few words were broadcast lol !!!!!!
Kay on TV

Exbourne Road Street Party

We were invited to this lovely street party once again and had a brilliant time!  Lot's of entertainment and activities - dancing, musicians, Aunt Sally, Bung a Bog Roll (interesting), pinata ..... and much more! Refreshments were laid on by the street organisers in the Royal British Legion where we retired to after performing.

Many thanks for inviting us to share in your celebrations - a very enjoyable day! What a great community spirit!

Philippa Moirai Workshops

It’s the day after the day before and from a personal point of view, I’m grinning at the prospect of breaking down all that I’ve learned, drilling it and finally dancing it.  Ashnah had a sold out afternoon as La Moirai was descending upon us and a most fabulous time was had by all – nurture and gentle discipline kept us all focussed and motivated even the newer students to the dance.  We had a nicely varied programme from Slow (yum yummy) to Fast to Indian and finally to Spanish – heaven and onward!  Can’t wait for the next so please watch this space.


The ladies of Hathor promote their event as THE dance gig of Oxfordshire and indeed it draws dancers from far and further still who all come to showcase their progress in various dance arts, from Raks Sharki to fusion to ATS®.  On the night and as I watched the programme unfold, the undeniable truth was that the prop of choice this veil was the veil; whether as a soloist, in a duet or as a group, the ever changing shapes of beautifully wafting colourful silks never fails to impact.  To complete the evening, there were 4 stalls ueber full with all sorts of goodies, and we even had a cake stall for the first time!  Food and bar ensure everyone was kept fed and watered (for medicinal purposes of course!) Hathor ladies, thank you again for a wonderful night!

Mr Hemmings' Day of Dance

Ashnah and our OMEDS students Ariel and Cat were again invited to join Mr Hemmings' Morris Dancers at their annual Day of Dance in Abingdon - an event of song, music and dance.  Dance sides worked two different routes and came together after the lunch break for one big dance-off in the Market Place.

We were definitely quite a sight and had the town square awash with colours and much merriment!

 Click for videoVideo of the last dance - courtesy of Abingdon Blog (click on picture to the right to view):

September 26, 2015

Oxford Summer Mela

Ashnah - dancing in the rain!!
The lovely Kanta Gopal invited us again to her summer shindig, the fifth one we attend and it never fails; such a friendly, diverse, community minded gathering and always a success, irrespective of weather!  From Majorettes (the Strawberry Fayre) to vibrant and energetic Bollywood Fusion (Epika Dance) to a wonderfully colourful Bhangra group (Nachdey Hasdey Bhangra Group or Joyously Dancing Bangra Group) which they were and most exhausting to watch as well!  Just like preceding years, there were numerous stalls and uniquely, this time around we had the local television there and were interviewed.

Thank you to Kanta and Gyan for your lovely hospitality!

May 13, 2015

Upton-upon-Severn Folk Fest

Kaleidoscope (Ashnah/Nirzari) hooked up for this event and were joined this year by our honorary member Ariel - this year, we also invited the lovely Sharon along with her hubby Steve, musician extraordinaire who brought his tablah and guitar.  To say that we were flying by the seats of our pants music-wise would be telling a lie but there was definitely wonderful organised madness the whole day which we couldn’t help but comment on!  No selection was pre-arranged and Steve’s contributions followed our speed directions – at one point Steve was joined by Chris Turner from Barefoot for an impromptu drum and guitar number (they'd never played together before) ....... talk about complete improvisation!

Our faithful Betty (boom box) accompanied and supported us and she and Steve took it in turns to create what turned out to be a true organic programme.

The whole day was utter bliss.

April 20, 2015

Oxford Folk Fest 2015

l-r Lulu, Shereen, Angela, Kay, Mel, Rita, Pips, Esme, Ariel
This was by no means a first for us but for some reason it felt special and in a good way!  This year ODT (Oxford Drum Troupe) were unable to join us so our trustworthy Ashnah member Betty boombox took her very special place and saw us through the day, and being such a valued member, she was pushed around in her specially adapted trolley!

The day was a collaboration with our lovely Nirzari sisters, and together we performed as our collective name of Kaleidoscope which we were - colourful and vibrant.  Joining us as well was our gorgeous mermaid Ariel, our student and honorary member from America who
taking a well deserved bow
just slotted in perfectly. We all had a fab time and much laughter and I can’t wait until our next get together which is coming soon; thank you all ladies and check out our pics, they’re totally fab!

making many friends!!