Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Just One More Piece

My closest beaches are on the Daugleddau Estuary. They're not ones you would really want to swim from, are not very scenic unless you like oil refineries, LPG terminals, jetties and so on, don't have much by way of interesting shells and shore life, and have pebbles and mud rather than sand. All the same, they are fairly clean, with very little rubbish mixed in with the heaps of seaweed. There are tugs and pilot boats going to and fro, yachts, a Ferry to Ireland, people out rowing Celtic longboats (generally not when the Ferry is due!), and a selection of birds to watch. Despite their rather muddy and industrial nature, these beaches are becoming my first choice when I want a short walk with a sea breeze.

Returning from a trip to the bank, I was seized by the urge to do a little beach combing for my usual 'shopping list' of water-worn glass and ceramic, interesting stones, driftwood and shells. I turned off my usual route home and was soon at one of the estuary beaches. There were a pair of swans and a small group of gulls, but otherwise I had the small beach to myself on an outgoing tide.

There was quite a lot of glass mixed in with the pebbles, but nine out of ten pieces were still too sharp and I soon became fed up of tossing handfuls of glass shards back into the outflow stream which had carved a stony gash down the beach. The last time I had visited this beach, I was struck by the number of rusty nails and they were still there. Definitely not a beach to walk on with bare feet, and I felt sorry for any dogs who came for a quick run.

I crossed the outflow stream and went to explore an area which had always been underwater when I'd visited before. The small rock pools had a few of the usual suspects - limpets, winkles, beadlet anenomes - but nothing much. I was still seeing a lot of sharp glass. I walked around another rock and found another little shoal of pebbles, this time with worn glass lying around, as if it had all been swept into one place by the tides. Keeping half an eye on the water, I picked up a several handfuls of glass, along with a couple of bits of clay pipe stem and a few bits of ceramic, plates and old stoneware jam or marmalade jars. I kept my eyes open for the pipe bowls too, but each time I thought I had found one, it turned out to be the curve of a worn and broken slipper limpet or cockle shell. Some of the glass had so much greeny-yellow algae covering it, that it looked green, but will probably be clear glass once it's clean. Some was the thick, blackish glass of old liquor bottles. The sailors, fishermen, shipwrights and other labourers who once worked along the waterway would have tossed their spent pipes and empty bottles into the water for the waves to deliver back, decades, or perhaps even centuries, later.

The calls of oystercatchers and a subtle change in the sound of the waves alerted me that the tide had changed. The water was indeed running the other way. I still had plenty of time before it would be high enough to cut me off, but the light was going. I headed back around the rocks and up the beach, taking a different route in the hope I might find something else interesting, but the tantalising glimmers were only slipper limpet shells and bits of wet slate in amongst the reddish stones.

With my bag of finds swinging heavily from my fingers, I was reluctant to leave the beach, wanting to find another piece. And another ... just one more piece.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Lampeter World Dance 2015

It doesn't seem long since the Cardigan Belly Dance Festival in August - well, it has only been two months. All of a sudden, Lampeter World Dance was upon us and I was in full cat-herding mode again.

Autumn is well and truly here; there has been an outbreak of horrible colds and dancers have been dropping like flies. Two pieces were cut from the running order in the 36 hours before the show. The main problem with the running order was to ensure variation in the style of dances whilst giving dancers who were in more than one piece enough time to change and catch their breath. With a bit of jiggling, it seemed okay. Luckily, there were no special requirements for lighting, the music was run from a few CDs, and we had a set of technicians who knew what they were doing to look after that side of things. I printed several copies of the running order, but it seemed to me that everyone wanted one and I ended up without one! Note to self, print enough copies next time so that every group gets one, plus one for each dressing room door.

Also creating problems was the Friday night show slot. It's fine for anyone living locally, but a bit of a scramble for people having to come after work and travel, since Friday night traffic can also be a problem. So it was wonderful that we managed to get Zara's Zouk up from London again, this time without Zara who was submitting her PhD thesis, and especially impressive that our star dancer and workshops teacher Tracey Jones managed to get to Lampeter all the way from Wiltshire, whisking her daughter away from school  and depositing her with her grandmother on the way. Mind you, Tracey Jones is impressive and inspirational; you can read about her story here.

This year, India Dance Wales joined the show with short piece of Bharatanatyam Indian classical dance. The three young dancers were utterly enchanting. One of them is the daughter of someone I used to dance with in Carmarthen, several years ago. She was there with husband, another daughter, and her mother and father.  I had only met her mother once, although we have mutual friends, but she recognised me and we had a lovely chat in the interval. My friend Wendy teaches ATS® in Lampeter and danced a slow duet as well as fast pieces with the whole tribe. Thalatha provided drum solo to live drumming and joined Tribal Unity for an impromptu post-show jam (which I was too busy chatting to join!). Rose and her dancers gave some of their pieces another airing, and two of her older dancers did an Isis wings duet, with the husband of one of them singing 'Music of the Night' to a backing track. He has a great voice, hitting the high notes (A4, I think?) with a resonance which made my spine tingle. There were other solos and duets, including a Chinese dance. A pair of dancers came down all the way from Corris again, and gave an unintended lesson on how to manage a costume malfunction during their belly dance duet.  They have no teacher and dance a sort of generic belly dance which would probably upset the purists, but they dance from the heart and their joy in dance is palpable and infectious.

I received some lovely comments about my Zeibekiko piece, which was nice after all the time I spent researching and rehearsing. I was disappointed when I watched my video; plenty of room for improvement and the lighting reduced me to a fuzzy bluish blob. Oh well, the only way to get better is to keep dancing!