Friday, 15 February 2013

Everybody Dance Now!

How quickly a year can go by!
I was looking for some photos which I had forgotten to post on Facebook from a hafla I went to last May, and came across some photos from a workshop I had given a year ago.  It gave me so much food for thought that I forgot to write about it!
My friend and fellow dancer Sue arranged for me to do a belly dance workshop in Cwm Penmachno, a small community in North Wales, where she and her husband have a cottage.  In this beautiful valley, the phones and broadband can be affected by earth faults due to the amount of rain, there is hardly radio signal, no TV unless you shell out for satellite and no mobile signal.  No wonder they like to party!

My Belly Dance Basics workshop was part of a day of dance, with another couple of teachers who came to teach a swing/line dance and some country dancing. It was advertised as 'Strictly Cwm Dancing' (apparently, it had to be done. Deary, deary me.). 
I was impressed by the number who came; all ages, including some men, all up for having a go.  I rounded off the workshop with a little playtime, bringing all my veils, fan veils and Isis wings for all to play with while they practised their shimmies and hip drops, shaking their hips to make their hip scarves jingle.  Most of the photos I took at the end are blurred because I was laughing so hard.
Everybody Dance Now!

Lunch and dinner were shared, 'potluck' affairs, varied and plentiful, in the Shiloh community centre, a converted chapel providing a lovely space. The day was rounded off by a party, including a performance of a few pieces by yours truly and dancing until everybody was exhausted. It seemed like everyone was happy to do some sort of dancing and had such energy. 

The party started with a showing of 'Footfalls', a 20 minute dance/art film by Striking Attitudes, a dance theatre company based in Cardiff.  Striking Attitudes collaborated with a few community dance companies around Wales, including Dawns i Bawb (Dance for All) in North Wales.  Some of the local residents became involved in the film as community dancers, and some of the filming was done in the quarry at the head of the valley.  It was a beautiful, emotive film, weaving dance in wild locations and in all weathers with concepts of pathways through life, ageing and its attendant grief for lost youth and times, and the determination to move forward, to carry on, to complete the dance that is life.

I had heard of Striking Attitudes, and was quite thrilled to see this statement about their work:
'Striking Attitudes challenges the ageism endemic in society and the dance community by working with older dancers, providing them with performance opportunities which celebrate their strengths.'

This is the bit which set me off on a whole other train of thought, because I find myself increasingly interested in dance for older or less fit dancers - but I shall keep that for another post (or two).

Back to that weekend last February. On the Sunday, I did an interview for Radio Machno.  Sue then took me on a drive through Snowdonia (Eryri in Welsh), which would have been more breathtakingly scenic if the weather weren't so grey and rainy.  Well, Snowdonia is one of the wettest places in Britain! I hope I'll get to go back to do another workshop when the weather is better!
Mt Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) is up there in the clouds somewhere!

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