December 24, 2014

Oasis workshops and dinner at Toucan, Devon


Nuggets of knowledge shared i.e. workshops – tick
Great social and community gathering – tick tick
Soiree at The Toucan with yummy food, great live and recorded music and friends galore – tick tick tick
Overnight at Lodfin Farm (big up to Elaine and Jim for their warm hospitality) – bullseye
Total = one sparkling, buzzing, fantabulous, almighty weekend!!

Thanks you Kelley!!

December 23, 2014

Firewater Core Tribal Training with Kristine Adams

dancing - picture from Philippa Moirai
Pips and I caught a train to London to attend the day of Core Tribal Training with 4 fabulous teachers - Philippa Moirai and Hannah Mi from Firewater, Beth of Urban Yoga Monkey and Kristine Adams of FCBD®.  We met old friends attending the day, and made new friends too.

The day started with an intense yoga workshop (big ouch) by Beth, followed by ATS® basics by Philippa Moirai which Hannah Mi then took and turned these ATS® moves into a fusion choreo (very ingenious)!! .... then it was the turn of the lovely Kristine who gave us a thorough dance, zill and conditioning workout.  The workshops ended with a fabulous eyes closed / chill out / meditation / relaxing time, laying on the floor with our heads all pointing towards the middle, with an wonderful brief head/face/neck massage mmmmmm.  Didn't want to get up.

Kristine & Philippa Moirai - picture from Philippa Moirai
After a late lunch, we returned back to the studio to find the floor had been laid out with a circle of fresh roses edging the dance area, soft lighting, goodies to buy and music.  In turn students and teachers got up to dance to various pieces of ATS® and fusion music, whilst dancers and teachers sat around the circle watching, zilling and cheering.  A great end to a truly fabulous day!!!

Kristine dancing - photo from Philippa Moirai

December 01, 2014

Abingdon Extravaganza 2014

Ashnah rounded off their 2014 outdoor gigs with a bang!!

We joined forces with Iridescence troupe of Swindon and hit the centre of Abingdon, first to join in the procession around town and then to perform in the Market Place.

We had beautiful weather which drew the crowds out.

There were cute majorettes and tall, manly pipers of the Oxford Caledonian Pips Band, smart cadets, a sweet puppet and even Father Christmas came out to play!  It was smiles all around and after getting changed we took ourselves off to our local Pizza Express where we rested, ate, drank and merrily chatted away the afternoon.  Kay and I stayed on to watch the lights and fireworks display.

It's CHRISTMAS people!!!!!

Here's a couple of video links taken by people:

Contents in this post belong exclusively to

OMEDS Winter Showcase, Oxford

The Oxford Middle East Dance Society (OMEDS) was hosting its winter bash proudly showcasing both its belly dance groups and ATS® tribal dance students (In-Spires) whom Kay White (ATS® teacher) and I (ATS® assistant) were leading out in their evening performance.  Cat, Jen, and Ariel (who was dancing for the very first time in the UK) were wonderful and rightfully left the stage beaming all over!
l-r Ariel, Cat, Jenny

The evening programme included solos from teachers Gwen Booth and Rasha Nour who later also went on to join Josephine Wise’s Johara Dance Company of which they’re members to perform a snippet from their latest show The Mirror.  Special Guest Star of the night was the lovely and vibrant Zara, this year’s Bellydance Trophies winner who covered cabaret and folkloric before bringing the house down and getting everyone up with hot Shaabi sounds – thank you to all the organising team, we had a fab time.

November 30, 2014

Barefoot hafla

Ashnah visited Aylesbury for this hafla, and one of our slots was a collaboration with Mahi tribe from Windsor.  The evening was hosted by the lovely ladies of Barefoot and their musicians, the Barefoot Band, and the evening's proceeds of £306.12 went to the, with a further £167.10 from Barefoot's Jennie's sari stall will go to schools in India, another noble charity.

We caught up with some familiar faces such as Fulya and Mim and also met ATS® troupe, Cat Barclay and her Jadoo’s Jingles who performed a lovely skirt number to a most wicked Calypso sounding rhythm.  As for the raffle prizes, they were the best I’d come across and miraculously, I won some Body Shop beauty products and some chocolates which we managed to finish halfway home; what else is it all about – dancing and chocolates!!!

Monster Mash hafla - Oxford

It was the designated fright night of the Carrie Nicholson calendar and we all rather too lightly ventured into her laird which turned out to be swamped with big black spiders!

She’d invited all sorts; there were representations from ghouls to sea monsters (well a rather fetching mermaid Zoe!) to ghosts (Rebellyon) and to us, rather stylishly and sparklingly masked!!   The programme included belly and fusion and my personal favourite which was performed by the ladies of Malmsbury Tribal who presented their creative Judderman choreo – nice one ladies

I’m glad to announce that mercifully, all of the Ashnah Troupe managed to make a safe escape.

Oasis and Day of the Dead hafla - Devon

All of Ashnah made this long awaited weekend!  As ever, our lovely Mama K lead us into a useful and interesting workshop in the afternoon and gave us something to take home for practice – this time, the slow rush hour fade which I’m really looking forward to nailing!!

After freshening up and changing at The Swan in Bampton (much recommended not least for its lush breakfast!), we headed to our party.  Both our Pips and Esme transformed into lovely flowery zombies (see photos) and my Kay and I decided to remain dull and boring.  We did our number which some succeeded in fluffing more than others (that’s me) but we did have a grand ol’ time – how could we not? Roll on December – thanks to all at Kalash for the organisation and the wonderful hospitality.

October 06, 2014

Helen & John Sleiman's End of Summer hafla

l-r Kay, Pips, Esme, Jane, Rita, Carol, Fiona, Chris
Ashnah and Iridescence
Ashnah and Iridescence were buzzing even before getting to that party.  At our last rehearsals, the dance was coming together so well that everyone was itching to showcase it!!  Helen's parties are always such havens as the entire Sleiman clan shows up and is so welcoming and supportive.  This gathering was no exception - there were new faces (Paula Pavlou and Gemma Sahara), we hooked up with our lovely friends Nikki Livermore and Jackie Cull and met up with Facebook friends Mark Ommadom and Elvin Herrick.

Ashnah had been allotted a couple of slots - we did our group piece first and in the second half were joined by Iridescence who were dancing together for the first time - see the video below (or on the video page HERE) to see how it all went!!!

The flow was brilliant, smiles all around, and the whole performance was an absolute joy - let's have plenty of cheers for the ladies!!!

Video here:

Malmesbury Tribal hafla - Malmesbury

Before the show
Ashnah made for Malmesbury on Saturday night to attend the show organised by Malmesbury Tribal Bellydance as part of their town's carnival.  This year's event was at a new location, the Town Hall which was a really nice venue with a great changing room!

The programme reflected the theme of 'Welcome to the Dark Side' and performances included burlesque, cabaret (our gorgeous Helen Sleiman), fusion dancing, and our own ATS®.

Thank you to our hostesses for their warm hospitality and great organisation on the night!

Video link below:

Getting ready for the show

Shoulder of Mutton and dinner

Resumed our gigs at our local and this time, the evening kicked off with a dinner courtesy of our host Peter who dished up such succulent vegetarian food, we had to pace ourselves.  Our Kay’s hubby joined us and I know he had a fabulous time! 

Fun at The Mutton

September 06, 2014

Red Lion, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell and Mr Hemmings Morris

This was our last collaboration of the season and took place at the Red Lion pub in Brightwell – we danced not in the pub but on the road outside and that brought about all sorts of funny moments between dancers and car drivers – mercifully all in good part.  There was even a local ALS bucket challenge being filmed for which we were asked to be a backdrop! After we’d done our bit, we congregated at the bar to enjoy the jazz night.  Point of note is that our lovely Morris troupe will be attending the Splash of Pink event on 27/9 before hibernating for the winter.

Kristine Adams workshops - Devon

Video here

l-r Kristine, Jacqui, Kelley, Rita, Kay, Lesley, Jo et all

Gosh to think I’d been in 2 minds to go – Kristine Adams workshops - I’m so happy I finally decided to sign up to what turned out to be a b****y marvellous time!  I travelled down with my Pips and we were later joined on Sunday by our Kay.

The days were filled with dancing and drilling and corrections and perspiration and laughter, plenty of laughter!  It was so nice to know the majority of dancers there, as nice as it was to meet the few new faces.

The highpoint of my weekend was the filming Kristine organised; we convoyed our way to the Tarr Steps and she had us dancing on stones over the river – some of us of course took it a little further and decided to dance IN the water – hysterics all round!  Huge thanks to the Mermaids who organised the event and to Kristine (now renamed Lady Dynamite) who was so eloquent throughout!

August 09, 2014

Pagan Pride, Nottingham

Our latest dance event took us to Robin Hood country, to historic Nottingham for the Pagan Pride which took place in the beautifully manicured Arboretum Park.  Held annually on the first Sunday of August, this event is funded solely from public donations and fundraising events and attracts thousands of Pagans and non-pagans alike for a day of celebrations through live music, dance, arts, crafts, food and drink and of course networking opportunities.

The dance stage was hosted by the lovely ladies of Black Peacock Bellydance (thank you ladies for your warm welcome!) and was made up of belly, fusion, Blacksheep Bellydance and ATS® tribal as well as the local Way of the Wyrd Border Morris dancers.  Of note is the fact that I did NOT snooze on the way up there ..... however, I could not resist a shut eye on the way back home :-)

Report by Rita

The Summer Oxford Art Fair, North Hinksey, Oxford

The Oxford Summer Art Fair is the largest open air gallery in Oxfordshire, and it was a real pleasure to dance there amongst such fine, creational people.  We were surrounded by artists galore and stalls housing all manner of paintings, sculptures, jewellery etc, and the setting couldn't have been any finer than The Fishes in the delightful village of North Hinksey.  We even had some sketches made of us as we danced!

Many thanks Joelle for the warm hospitality, and we're definitely looking forward to future collaborations!

August 06, 2014

Swan Upping - Nags Head, Abingdon

Almost ....... almost by Royal appointment - this was certainly one of our highlights on this years events calendar - dancing on Nag's island in the middle of the Thames - perfect setting!

We were invited to join Mr Hemming's Morris dancers to perform at the Royal Swan Upping at the Nags Head, Abingdon, where we danced for a very appreciative audience and team of swan uppers who'd been hard at work all week, counting and tagging swans.  Along with so many, many people basking in the humid evening sun, the beer flowed, darkness fell and the lightening lit up the darkening sky making a beautiful backdrop over the river, and when the soft rain fell, we sheltered under the huge umbrellas, still sipping our drinks, thankful for the cooler air and watched the rain fall into the Thames.

Thank you Les, for once again inviting us to share the stage with you all.

Yep, truly a glorious evening!

July 14, 2014

Eastleigh Mela, Hampshire

l-r - Rita, Kay, Pips, Lulu
The AWCA (Asian Welfare & Cultural Association) hosted their 9th Mela this past Sunday 6th July.  A major cultural community event, the diverse programme posted Irish, Chinese Dragon as well as our own ATS® dancing.  A regular event for us - this year we were again joined by Nirzari, this time Lulu.  Mel was already dancing Odissi at the event, and how amazing she looked!!

There was singing from the Eastleigh choir which blended wonderfully with national performers from the Asian pop scene and Brazilian drums!

The little people were obviously catered for (and kept busy) with everything from kite making and face painting to falconry display and puppet theatre.

On the food side (yummy Indian ice cream), there was an attempt at baking the world’s largest naan bread to raise money for the Fire Fighters, Water Wells Project and Hampshire Hurricanes!  The attempt was successful but has yet to be officially registered lalalalala or yum yum yum!!

July 13, 2014

FCBD® General Skills and Teacher Training, Essex

Our much anticipated and long awaited FCBD® General Skills / Teacher Training week at Rochford has already been and gone; we’re all back in our routine but I’m still buzzing!  On a personal level, although tremendously looking forward to it, I’d been somewhat apprehensive as well, but I needn’t have worried as I had Carolena, Megha, Philippa and Deana going out of their way to accommodate everyone.

Pips, Esme and I all got our GS certificates (congrats ladies) and I stayed on for the TT.  I had a fantabulous time and we all had the opportunity to finally meet all our Facebook ATS® family!!!

So, following on from this training course, all of Ashnah - Pips, Esme and I (Rita), are all certified in FCBD® General Skills, and I'm also certified in Teacher Training and am now excited to announce that I'm also a FCBD® Sister Studio woo hoo!!!!

Huge thanks to Deana and Philippa Moirai for organising this event.  As for THE ATS® big guns, Carolena, Megha, and Kristine – ladies, it was an absolute privilege to meet you.

Wittfest, Oxfordshire

A much anticipated date, we always look forward to this bijou festival as it's one of our regular collaborations with Oxford Drum Troupe, and again this year they invited us along.

This year's 15th Annual Wittenham Free Charity Music Festival held in the grounds of the Plough Inn at Long Wittenham, near Didcot was no different and was raising money for both the Pets as Therapy and the Young Dementia charities.

There was a wide variety of music which everyone enjoyed outdoors while partaking of world cuisine.  Dance-wise, we shared the stage with Morris dancers and oh mercifully, the sun!!!!

Brief video here:

Oxford Mela - Restore, Cowley Road, Oxford

The Oxford mela - vibrant sounds coupled with delectable yummy smells!!!!  The site was basking in a sea of colours from the cross section of performers who'd gathered to provide a wonderfully eclectic programme.  This event is getting ever more popular and Ashnah is certainly proud to be associated with its endeavour.

Oxford Hindu Temple

Mr Hemmings Morris Dancers - Cherry Tree and North Star

Ashnah were invited to dance alongside Mr Hemmings Morris Dancers of Abingdon in Steventon, and Rita, Esme and I joined them for an evening of fun and dancing.  Starting off at the Cherry Tree and dancing for a while for the locals there, we then ventured onto the North Star, which has a fabulous historic interior with a quaint serving hatch.

The beer and dancing flowed well, and we finished up with a big dance off between the teams.  A great evening ...... looking forward to the next one!!!

Hathor, Kidlington

One of Oxfordshire's main dance events, it never fails to deliver on hospitality while giving us all a good opportunity to catch up.  Once again on top form was the incomparable Jane, our hysterical gem of a compere.

The programme included bellydancing, fusion, ATS® tribal and brought together the local talent.  We all stormed the stage for a last dance or two before having to reluctantly call it a night.

Fun in the Park, Abingdon, Oxon

Abingdon's annual event Fun in the Park came round again, and with an invite to perform there, Ashnah got ready for the big day.

The rain fell, dancers fell by the wayside and only Esme and I were able to make the stage, and as we stepped out to dance, the sun shone down!!!!

We arranged to meet a lovely photographer there, and he very kindly took our pictures during the performance and afterwards in the grounds ..... thank you very much Martin!

Later that evening and still in costume, we headed for Kidlington to perform at Hathor (see separate blog article).

See our Gallery page for more pictures.