This one is about Belly Dance!

When I set up my blog I thought I would be writing about dancing. Not about what I physically get up to but how I feel about it and my thoughts and ponderings.  Dance being a creative expression for me I wanted to explore some of the ideas and thoughts I have in my head that I share with close dance friends and like-minded souls. It surprised me that I have written so little about dancing and explored other topics but no mojo no words! 

But here are some dancing words: I went on a day of dance linked to stories the other week. Hosted by Pauline and Asif Qu the workshops and haflas were linked into the theme of storytelling. The dance styles of the workshop leaders were clearly not my style being the lovely Angela Noble and Bex Priest but I went with an open mind. Also as Pauline and Asif are close dance friends I wanted to support their event. 

Blasting out the start of the day with drumming is just the best! I would also like to point out that I will never be the best technician with regards to drumming. However drumming as enabled me to go beyond attempting to learn Arabic rhythms like bus time tables and get into the ebb flow and feel of them. There is also something so completely life affirming about drumming in a group. 

Storytelling and dancing. I cannot relive word by word for me the workshops. Both were wonderfully creative and were about the physicality of telling stories. Angela’s explored the notion of physical changes and restrictions in order to create different effects with our bodies to evoke different styles. Bex took a different approach which yes did involve me at one point being a rabid dog! However I suddenly realised that Bex and I shared a commonality – the need to tell stories and our approaches are not so far apart even if the outcomes are worlds apart! 

 The dance world in recent years has gone teacher and workshop mad. The choice on offer these days is fantastic and has certainly improved dance standards.  This has impacted on the amount of dance tuition one can have the opportunities for study. This can naturally be followed through with watching you tube clips of favourite dancers, routines etc.  I think this overload has a direct relationship with my losing my mojo and to be honest being bored of belly dancing. 

 So here is what I am thinking – we have created a realm of beautiful technicians who look great. They have the perfect hip drip, shimmy and hair flick. Whether in the world of tribal improv, cabaret or Oriental style, Egyptian, Turkish whatever I believe there is a wave of copycat dancing.  I have been watching stuff and drifting off. Catching myself thinking “she is gorgeous, she has got it all going on I should love her” but being bored. To be honest I thought I was just getting old, jealous and snippy!  But here is the point – if you do not tell your story your way then what do you have? I cannot watch tribute bands. I can’t see the point. Therefore I have no need to watch pretend Randas, Dinas or Rachel Brices. They exist already for me to go watch why would I want to go watch a pretend one?

Technical ability is important. This is the language of dance. A range of moves has to be your vocabulary and you need to practice you “accent”. But the story must be written in your words with your own phrases and expression.  If a dancer just takes another person’s choreography or range of moves then I would suggest this is just belly dance like painting by numbers- nice colouring in but nothing original.

 Dance for me is about an expression of my emotional feelings and exploration of a piece of music or song. If it makes me feel happy that I attempt to find a physical expression that is mine when being happy. Therefore when watching dancing I want to see a dancer give me that honest approach and their own expression. It is about being truthful and honesty.  It also perhaps needs to be about risks and indeed colouring over the lines to wake up bored folk like me!       

 I danced at a WI event this week. Telling some of those little stories that contribute to map of belly dance (missed out the Harem and childbirth though as no one asked! haha!). A receptive and informed bunch of women, two had lived in the Middle East I decided to share with them my new solo. At the end one of the ladies come up to me and explained how much she had enjoyed it and how she felt I was telling a story and expressing emotion and how much she had loved it. I am not the best dancer in the world and have no desire to be told/lied to that I am. But the very fact that one individual got the story I was attempting to convey was just great.

 On the drive back I thought about all the lovely dancers I know. Last weekend I danced at a sixties birthday hafla and there were women there dressing up, dancing and have a bloody good time. I sat there clapping, smiling and cheering. The dances were fun, entertaining, at times beautiful and overall enjoyable. I love the way belly dance liberates women to let go, express themselves and dance. Many of us do not have the perfect size, hair flick or cleavage. But we do share the same need to tell a story and share our love of dance what do you think?

To be continued …….  


Pink nasty knickers and life’s challenges !

Grab and seize the moment to laugh and see the funny side of things in yourself and in life.

What a lovely conversation to be having on the radio – striving in directions that are up lifting and positive. As I drink my coffee and ponder this I realise this is what I attempt to do. Life does indeed chuck its challenges at me but I strive for the positive.

It is however tricky. I have a couple of friends who are being really challenged with life crap right now and it has taken me back in time to the “pink knickers”. Nearly eleven years ago I was diagnosed with a weird nasty cancer in my colon. I say weird as it was not the normal sort of nastiness growing there and for a week in time according to doctors and nurses it was highly likely I was dying. This time is hazy in my head but I hold close particular moments from this time; touching my toddlers soft neck, stroking my small boy’s head, my lovely friend Gill (now passed on) squeezing my hand and being surrounded by the love of family and friends.

So following a CT scan being in scary places I went into free fall for a week before being summoned to the consultants office to be told I was not dead.

I remember the curtains. Those 1980s patterned curtains. I was scooped up by nurses told to take my jeans and pants down and lie on the couch. I attempted a “But the doctor will not see anything…” to no avail it was strip off and get on the couch for Dr God! Dr God was coming and I needed to obey.

Dr God waltzes in with the nurse hand maiden by his side.  So I was told that I had a tumour in my colon that could be removed and that I was probably not dying by Dr God with my knickers around my ankles. Pink nasty nylon tarty cheap knickers. I had lost so much weight pink nasty tarty pants were the only ones that fitted!  I am still sitting here laughing now I as do remember him leaning over me to show me a photo of my tumour!!! Pink knickers bizarreness!

So Pink knickers for me is now my barometer for life crap. When faced with life’s challenges my thought is always “Is this as bad as a pink knickers moment?” Invariably it is not. A deep breath and visualisation of pink nasty nylon I realise I can cope.  Now I need to clarify here. There are many things in life that do not make me laugh. Pink knickers challenges make me cry, angry sad and distressed. But it is indeed working out what is real and worthy of time and an emotional response.

I shall be using fb later to spread my blogging word. Recently I posted a positive moment about my son and being a Mum. A friend of Mum expressed how nice it was to read something positive. She observed how often folk just moan and grumble about life’s day to day problems.

So much of life is day to day stumblings and grumblings. Keeping chirpy is tricky. Many of us hate our jobs and are resentful of the constant need to earn cash to pay bills, do chores etc. For me the biggest challenge is the mundane-ness of it all. Did I really survive the pink knickers moment to write another boring document that no one will read? The truth is that I didn’t. I did however survive to stroke my  smallish boys neck as he walks by, stand on tippy toes to ruffle my large boy’s hair , have happy memories of my friend Jill and some of the wise gifts she gave me  and feel the love of family and friends. And laugh, dance and love.

So as I sit here thinking about friends experiencing pink knickers moments I reflect that those pink knickers are a gift. If one can survive the pink nylon and overcome such nastiness life will always be a search for the funny bits thereafter!   

So I am off now as I have a daft dance to practice for a sixties birthday party than involves feather boas, fancy shoes, dressing up and red lipstick x 

Summer pocket full of memories

I have not written anything for ages . My excuse being it has been summer. Well as I am sitting here avoiding the rain it now feels like autumn. I have a summer full of memories so my  ponderings today  are about attempting  to capture the best bits of summer and a sort of count my blessings sort of list . But more than just a list I am attempting some reflection on why and what was good.

 Those folk that know me well , or folk who read between the lines may gather I am not overly keen on the job that I do to pay the bills. So this year I paid for an extra week off. Indeed this summer I have taken a rather life is for living approach to financial resources to which I suspect in coming months I will suffer the consequences! But heh ho back to the good bits. So in no particular order:

 DANCE CAMP . This is an amazing community that meets in a field for ten days to share dance , creativity , laughter and fun for ten days. We went last year for the first time as I taught there and this year we returned with my partner’s daughter and my smallest son. My personal highlights was helping to clean and paint the compost loos and clowning workshops as well as celebrating Eid, drinking Chai  laughing and hanging out with lovely people. Oh and some dancing too including bonkers Boba Koram and burlesque!  But my ultimate favourite bit was seeing my son get so much out of it and the learning journey my partner’s daughter experienced.  Bringing up kids is sometimes about creating memories for them to look back on as grownups and this summer dance camp gave them this .

My son is one of life’s quirky souls and I was anticipating him sitting in his tent for the week! I watched him carry around and play a ukulele, make friendships and tear around the field with a big grin on his face. I loved seeing him confidently having his own conversations and sitting and drawing and just being the lovely little man he is.

 I am also thankful that he had this opportunity to meet so many wonderful grownups this summer who were able to share their wisdom and kindness with him.    

CAMPERVAN.  Our camper is a converted transit . I love the fact it is our joint project with H and me. It is our little creation and I suppose when I sleep there it is our home on wheels. This year I had a great birthday weekend in it and I love hanging out with my man in our van.

 HANGING OUT WITH MY MUM. My mum is not super woman but she is indeed a lovely Mum. I like being with Mum and spending time with her. She came and stayed for her usual two weeks but I want to note a nice day out. We visited Minerva Arts centre in Llanidloes on a lovely sunny day. Together we shared the joy of a quilting exhibition.  Mum sharing her knowledge and skill of textiles with me and both of us commenting on and enjoying the creative talents. We also drank tea, ate cake and put the world to rights. My mum might be 83 with parkinsons and grumpier with pain these days but she still is one of the wisest women I know and continues to shower unconditional love on my boys and me.

 BEING PROUD OF BIG BOY. Parenting and education has its challenges! My parenting style is encourage, cajole and sometimes shout  a bit to get the work done. I suppose what I do share though is passion for learning about the world and a love of reading and books. Big boy got 3 A grades for AS exams. He worked hard and I am so pleased he got the results he deserved. A lovely memory this summer is taking him out for dinner with old friends Mother and daughter. These were our first new friends arriving in Shropshire. It was lovely to hang out with a close friend with our children who have now become lovely young adults with hopes dreams and aspirations.    

 SEA SUN AND LOVELY MAN.  Our week in the sun away from day to day hoo haa and kids. We did an all inclusive holiday  so I loved no chores at all! We walked, explored, swam in the sea, people watched and talked and held hands and laughed. This week reaffirmed to me all the things I love about my relationship with my lovely man.

 SKETCHBOOK. I have started one and have begun to draw doodle and create a bit. I have enjoyed dipping in and out of it this summer. Indeed it has made me realised how much I like good old fashioned drawing!

 In conclusion I reckon I had a pretty good summer. I wanted to note this summer as my life feels like a transition time as life starts to move in different directions. I did think too much about this list and reading back now there are some clear themes.

Firstly how little work defines me. When I think about my life work is firmly boxed off in a different place. As I type I visualise a white picket fence all the way around it and it being shoved right in the corner! 

Secondly how important family life is to me. I would not categorise my self as a particular Mummy mum! As I am always out and about I do not define myself as being just a parent nor that good at parenting as I am not overly selfless and do good enough parenting! But as a single Mum this year I think I have noted some real rewards and success with my boys. I also know how ready and how much I wish to join and create new family life with my lovely man and his family now.  

And finally how little reference there really is to dance. Dance always takes a back seat over the summer but it has changed. Dance used to drive my very creative being and it doesn’t anymore. I have been dancing this morning as I am dancing tomorrow. But I know in my heart of hearts it is not the same. I will dance for now as I still like doing it and I like the  people. I also need the exercise . But all that drive and passion has gone. Perhaps this is okay I can just dance whatever and do other stuff we shall see.

Oh well in great scheme of things I had better just shimmy on!