Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Fantasia 2014

I had to shake off my desire to hibernate to get myself booked and organised for last weekend, but I'm so glad I did. The annual trudge up to London for JWAAD Fantasia was more than worth it.

As usual, the weekend started with my friend (and partner in perpetrating belly dance here in West Wales) Rose's classes' Christmas 'Do', complete with lovely solos, group dances, silly belly dance games directed by yours truly while some dancers changed, food, and a special ceremony this year to remember and celebrate the lovely Sue Phillips, whom we are all missing terribly. I wish it could be a joint thing with my dancers, but I know that most of them would be working during the day, besides which, there wouldn't be enough time to showcase a dance or two from Imago as well. Never mind, Imago had a little celebration last Wednesday, with a meal out at a local curry restaurant after our last class of term, including a happy significant birthday to one of the dancers. The general consensus was that she must have forgotten her birth year or got it wrong somehow, because in no way does she look 60! But then, I've said that to two other friends this year, too. Perhaps 60 is the new 40? Or maybe, as we all know, it's just that belly dancing keeps you young!

This year I was off to the smoke on my own, as Rose decided to stay with friends in London. The journey felt so long without our usual catch-up chatting, but the Friday traffic wasn't too horrible and I got to my parents' place unfrazzled.

I always wonder a little about the sanity of dancers at these weekend events. We have early starts after late nights, little time to eat between workshops and get dehydrated, despite frequent gulps of water. It doesn't hit you until later, though, because you're too busy in interesting workshops, shopping in the souk, watching the show and catching up with friends whom you otherwise only 'see' on Facebook.

It was so lovely catching up with teaching friends too, enjoying Sandra Thompson's workshop on Muwashshahat, Shona Hagan's Modern Oriental and a challenging, ballet-influenced Magency from Antje Lossin which needed quick, precise footwork. I was particularly interested in exploring percussive dance with Lotus Niraja over from the USA and  Valerie Romanin from France. I managed the workshops by having a chair to sit on every time my knees started to twinge and ache, so that I was up and down like a yoyo, but managed to dance more than I expected and despite the long drives, my knees were pretty good with a bit of extra rest, with no lasting pain or other problems.

This year, workshops were arranged a little differently, with the option of shorter workshops, but there were also tickets on sale to watch the competition, as well as the Saturday evening show. The Sunday afternoon part of the competition was dancing to a live band, which was awesome, but was cut short at the interval. Ozgen, who was also one of the judges, treated us to a performance. He is a wonderful dancer, compelling, elegant and dramatic. After several minutes' dancing, he collapsed to the floor and there was a pause where we all wondered whether this was just a dramatic move, before he groaned in pain. One of his knees had given way, and we left the theatre, allowing him some privacy and the care of a doctor and nurse who were in the audience, while they waited for the ambulance, which would apparently not be there for a couple of hours!  (In fact, it was a few hours before they came, since just rolling around in agony is not life threatening and for some reason, the service was really busy on a Sunday afternoon.) As well as being wonderful dancer, he is a good teacher and lovely person, so we were all terribly worried for him. We also felt for the performers in the competition. Thankfully, his dislocated knee is now healing well and I think the competition was rescheduled and finished.

Sunday evening and most of Monday were spent relaxing and chatting to my parents,enjoying my Dad's anecdotes from his time in the RAF. My Mum has been struggling with a rheumatoid arthritis flare, but is knitting jumpers for a charity supporting African children, so both of us could sit and knit.

I got back late on Monday night and was met by the cats and a heap of mail. The cats seemed a little traumatised by my 4-day absence. Greebo had a massive cat-sulk going on and kept sitting or lying down in front of me with his back towards me. Once I'd put the heating on for an hour to get the chill off the cold cottage, fed the cats, cleaned up some cat sick, unpacked the car and then found my towel and got ready for bed, he was ready to forgive in return for cat treats. I could hardly move for them both snuggled against me all night, more than once feeling the prick of claws to warn me not to try going anywhere as I tried to turn over. I was exhausted, but my dreams were full of dance and music.

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