July 30, 2012

Cultural Diversity Awareness Day

I’m sure most of us have at one time or another been unexpectedly surprised by an event; this happened to Kay and I this past Saturday when we performed at the Ethnic Minority Business Service (EMBS) in Oxford.  The invitation was last minute - and what an amazing warm welcome and the audience’s appreciative response!

We stayed on and got to know some lovely people, enjoyed nice food and sat down to relax in a lovely garden which felt like someone’s home.

Thank you Grace and looking forward to future collaboration!

Acholi Day

Rita, Philippa and Kay
Africa here we come!

Starting in May - “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed then Mohammed must go to the mountain”.  We may not have gone to Africa but it was as near as and the ladies of Ashnah joined Grace and Sarah of Afrofusion at their event hosting an Acholi day fundraiser on Saturday 26 May 2012 at Oxford’s St. Clements’ Family Centre.
Grace, Sarah and Jan Debrah

Infectious and beautiful earthy drum beats courtesy of The Oxford Rhythm Centre, Oxford Drum Troupe and the lovely Jan Debrah of African Footprints kept everyone’s feet tapping (or was it stomping) and the sounds were wonderfully interwoven with the singing provided by both Haula Nakakembo and Joy Osaiah.  Dancing was showcased by the inexhaustible Grace and Sarah of Afrofusion, Mariam Muwanga and her swaying and hypnotic hips of and Ashnah’s own ATS® style which went across very well.  Let us also commend the wonderful and flavoursome food that was provided – yum yum!!

Then in July - Ashnah attended this community event to help celebrate and get to know this East African tribe.  Taking place at the East Oxford Community Centre off the Cowley Road, the programme included a theatrical performance, traditional African story-telling, and dancing; good food kept spirits and energy levels lifted!  We were joined by the County’s High Sheriff’s who even took to the dance floor with the rest of us and all happily bumped and bopped.

L-Kay            R-Pete, Cathie and Paul from ODT

Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage

Rita, Janet, Jo, Carolyn, Philippa, Vicky
We went to our favourite haunt on Friday and didn’t it turn out to be quite an evening - filled with firsts and yes, some minor crises!!  The good news was that it was our very own Janet’s debut with the group and she did brilliantly – here’s to the first of many.  Ashnah was also joined by Carrie Nicholson and Vicky of Brutalbellydance and that turned out to be a fun collaboration.  However, the evening almost didn’t happen as the pub’s CD player decided to act up!  Mercifully, technical minds prevailed and Vicky and Peter, our landlord, put their heads together and saved the night by transferring the music to ipod!  Lalalalalalala (zaghreeting to the uninitiated!) and oh! how could I forget - our Kay was away on holiday – missed but never far from our minds ;o)

Eastleigh Mela

We’re going national people!!  Well, we’re certainly more frequently going further afield for our performances and spreading the good word and having tremendous fun with it.

Sunday 7th July, alongside NirzariTribe and Paul and Pete of Oxford Drum Troupe we performed at the 7th Eastleigh Mela in Wiltshire.

Hosted by the Asian Welfare and Cultural Association, this community event promotes cultural unity and diversity and offered a whole day showcasing music, dance, workshops and cuisine from all around the world.  The weather may have been quintessentially British, but the sun did come out to play and we all had a lovely time!


Ashnah kicked off July supporting ODT at Wittfest (Wittenham Free Music Charity Festival) in the most picturesque village of Long Wittenham.  This event is the most perfectly ‘bijou’ festival the group has yet attended.  It was conceived in 2000 as a one-off charity fundraiser and has been going and growing ever since.  It takes place in the lovely grounds of The Plough and a visit there is a must.  The programme had something for everyone from the various Morris dancing sides including my personal favourite, the Border Morris dancers (who as far as I’m concerned are the funkiest and most ‘badass’ of the lot!!) to folk and blues music as well as a whole host of activities for the younger visitors.  The weather held and we all had a fab time.

Hathor, Kidlington

With Philippa away on holiday, Kay and I represented and showcased our mask dance as a duet. We got plenty of lovely compliments, along new students wishing to sign up to our classes, and had a lovely evening.  With Hathor’s ever growing popularity, the evening attracted dancers from further afield so yey for eclecticism and long may it carry on.

Oxford Mela

Our visit to Kanta’s fundraiser this year was as brief as it was sweet.  Its location this year was at the Oxford Spires Academy which devout Bonanza attendees will recognize.  We arrived in good time to catch the performance of Oxford’s Messy Jam group, a wonderfully colourful and vibrant troupe of urban dancers ranging from the ages of 7 to 17 who gave plenty of attitude and went down a storm!  We unfortunately had to disappear for a quick change and within a few minutes of re-appearing, already had to take to the floor.  Well, most humbly,  we came, we saw, and conquered, had photos taken, gave out our cards and as quickly as we came, we had to leave.. No lovely Indian food and worse still, no henna sniff sniff!!!!

A wonderful afternoon!!