Squirly Rolls and bringing up small boy

I am back in school again explaining my extraordinary small boy’s approach to the world.

His latest antic means being called yet again by school with long phone calls about what makes him tick and visits explaining why he is “special”.

Of course he is special. I am his Mum and as his Mum I believe his unique and talented as I also do large boy with his A grades and nerdy physics lifestyle. However this is the story account of small boy. I am writing it for my blog I suppose in some attempt to cheer Mums up and make us smile, to shift some of the guilt I feel about my inadequate single parenting and indeed keep as a word document to print off for the next lot of teachers who need to know about smaller boy.

So let us start at the beginning as they say. I am remembering that his birth was tricky; induced with that nasty vacuum sucky thing to get him out, and then I remember I was ill in last few weeks of pregnancy and was monitored every other day. Perhaps the fact he had to be made to come early upset his little equilibrium.

As a baby he looked like Granddad Bob and huffed and puffed a lot so we called him Hufflepuff.

I remember him snuggling into my neck with a head of black hair huffing and puffing. It is worth noting that my memory is of a small person always attached to my body. Last evening after the latest episode in his life larger small child asked for a big hug and wrapped himself around me all legs and arms.

Next memory is stroking back of his neck when he is about 18 months old. My beautiful baby boy. I have cancer, may well be dying and my precious boys will have no Mum. Weirdest time of my life which involved moving house, big operation and lots of tears. I am sitting here remembering the look smaller boy gave me when I came out of hospital. H had not seen me for two weeks. His eyes were full of mistrust and wariness and he walked away from me.

Over the next year this toddler experienced watching his Mum recover from serious illness, three out of four grandparents dying, and grief stricken parents, and his daddy who had been his stay at home cuddly Dad upping sticks and disappearing.  Small boy attended nursery and I remember nursery telling me that as a baby he was “stubborn”. I laughed and said as his Mum I would say “self-determined”.

I can write those words but that year is very blurred for me. I think I went through basic motions of providing care, good enough parenting, a warm home, a bottle of milk and a cuddle. I remember a small person who clung to me for dear life. Struggled with letting me out of my sight, think toddler wrapped around neck, leg my extra appendage.

 So a little description of my small child around this time. So he was running around in a batman suit talking in his own language. He talked nonsense to the rest of the world as he had his own words for things. Large boy and I were fluent in his speak and would translate. He was very cute and would toddle off around to the neighbours and go sit on the sofa and talk small boy speak.

Pooing constantly in batman outfits was not so cute. Neither was always pooing at wrong moment such as being at cinema, in a café and indeed hiding when he did so, not cute at all. He also decided to be in complete control of his food from this moment onwards with the beginning of the squirly roll diet.

I cannot remember when squirly rolls became part of life. But they are always there. Or an empty box is there. Empty squirly roll boxes have filled with dread and anxiety resulted in tantrums hoo haa and grief. Chocolate and grief. I never expected to be a single Mum trying to do everything. I was trying to find work to pay the bills, grieving for my Dad and trying to get life back on track. Bribery of chocolate mini rolls seemed a reasonable option to manage small boy’s self-determination. The exhaustion of extracting small boy from screaming under the table, refusing to bath, dress get up could always be solved with a squirly roll and a cuddle.

Good enough parenting. Small boy and squirly rolls started a lifetime of controlling behaviour about food. My barely coping parenting managed the best I could with squirly rolls. As I could barely get myself dressed, but had to present myself to the world as “doing okay as I am strong” squirly rolls just got me through without anger or indeed injury.    There is even a newspaper article written about me, the boys and food you can google us!

      School is approaching as my little batman is now four.  I am remembering a kind health visitor drinking tea in my summerhouse on a hot summer’s day. Summer seems better time for potty training. Except my small boy will not be trained with or without squirly rolls. So many pooey pants. I am a disaster as a mother but not even nursery seems to get him “trained”.

So we start school in pants and big boy uniform talking his own language. He has a beautiful smile and starts to draw. He draws long elongated stories and tales of beautiful abstract ideas. His drawings reflect his own vision of the world of monsters and tooth fairies and a God who is a big red smiling ball with long cuddling arms sitting on a sea of clouds.

With grommets fitted in his ears his own language starts to fade as he enters a hearing world. When you view the world through small boy’s eyes and life begins with squirly rolls school is a tad dull. Pooing everywhere makes it more fun though. Pooing gets you lots of attention from kind but dim ladies and I can watch the world spin around me while I poo.

This is my first encounter with head teacher with patronising look and her big book of badness notebook. She told me my son had mental health problems. I told her to get stuffed, wrote a behavioural plan and a letter that explained that before he was three Mummy had cancer, grandparents dies, daddy left and mummy grieved. Silly cow.  Most grownups would have not coped with a life time of grief that my little man had experienced yet he somehow had managed to still be standing all be it with pooey pants and a squirly roll in his hand.

My little man at five just wanted to be a toddler a little longer. School didn’t and still does not suit smaller boy. Throughput the years I have had to visits every form teacher and explain: My son does not do being told what to do or rules. He is his own man and everything is up for negotiation. Pick your battles wisely with him or you will have a nervous breakdown. I didn’t engage with a battle of wills with him.

Small boy is strong and self-determined.  Such great qualities to have as an adult. Sort of stuff to write on a CV. Middle aged women who teach small boys aren’t so keen on self-determination. They like children who conform and who do not hide behind curtains, run off, crawl under tables and refuse to undertake school work.

When you see the world with a sense of wonder and interest and your senses are open to a world of possibilities why would you want to read a dull nursery rhyme book? When you can draw your own picture of the universe and God why would you need to colour in or join up the dots? So small boy doesn’t and spends a year drawing at the back of the class. Oh but we love him continues the rest of the world as he runs  in the sports day giving the crowd a cheery wave coming last with a cheeky smile. Remember he has no intention of coming first or running fast, why would he?

“Errrrrr have you considered a statement?”  says year three teacher. I am exhausted running this parenting race by now. The head teacher’s big book of badness has been out too many times and naturally as a working single parent my boy’s inability to conform is a result of my shockingly bad parenting. The notion that assessments could be done and possible support surprised me. It still amuses me now that small boy’s inability to conform still in large part has resulted in support at school.

I sit here smiling as he did indeed get a statement a pretty hefty one at that. So my boy is no longer perceived as “bad” but “special”. Everyone loves him. He is funny charismatic and cuddly. He has a twinkle in his eye that somehow makes most of his antics funny. As I am working small boy is supposed to go to afterschool club. He has already been thrown out of one club by refusing to walk back with the ladies and hiding under the table. With this one he votes with feet. He tells form teacher Mum is collecting him, distracts at home time and nips home to be with brother. On his third successful attempt at escapology I give up and big brother takes on the after school care. You see this is example of small boy’s tenacity.

Throughout all of this small boy continues to hug me. he will not leave me alone as my mother says. Out of sight he is independent and getting on with life but when Mum is around he clings. Physically he lies on me he wraps around me, he is there constant. Being loved and giving love is for me one of the wonders of being a Mum. Small boy has the biggest heart and huffle puff was the most snuggliest cuddliest boy. I miss this now he hits greasy smelly unhuggy teens.

Throughout primary school he is loved well liked and non conforms. He does not participate with rules, conventions or traditions. He cannot go out to play so stays in and builds Lego men. He makes his own super heroes by painting them and will occasionally oblige with a quick run around if he is allowed to wear a cape! Concerts and Christmas carols and assemblies are excruciating. I sit there as a Mum alone surrounded by Mums, dads, grandparents all proudly watching their off spring. I have sat there fingers crossed or pinching myself to not weep as small boy wanders off, mutters through songs, refuses to be a donkey, only does assembly as “banana man” in a super hero yellow cloak, refuses to be an executioner until the last moment and I sigh with relief as he has sat still for 30 minutes. I have attended sports days where he has come last in every race including one time not running at all as he refused surrounded by parents smiling and cheering off spring on.

Small boy sort of has friends but generally he is not fussed. He has his “first friend” our old neighbour who is like a kindly older cousin. Various boys have knocked on the door but he remains ambivalent. Until recently his only exercise was bouncing on our now defunct trampoline where he would bounce and tale stories from his own imagination. We have a room full of Lego which in his world is far more interesting than playing in the park. Kids like him though. They think he is funny and suspect slightly elusive.  He rarely has play dates and does not do parties. I gave up with birthdays after the age of seven. He hates groups, clubs, joining in or being part of any gang.

As a Mum sometime I yearn for a normal boy who is steady at school, play footy and hangs out with mates. I have a smallish boy who struggles with reading and writing has few friends, won’t join anything, who is charismatic, fantastic at art, making things and has a head full of smart ideas.

He walks to school with his long suffering mate C. Great friends C and his family remain steady support. Until he was about 10 small boy refused to have haircut. I used to have to shave his head once a year with him kicking and screaming wrapped in a quilt helped by a friend so social services wouldn’t be called! One day small boy was late coming home and I found him in C’s kitchen happily having a haircut by C’s Mum. She kept asking and he just said yes!

Oh around this time there was the smoking episode. Small boy had a video camera his dad had bought him and liked making small films. He created a lovely little film of him and his mate having a fag in the summerhouse! When his mate at school denied it the teacher said they had video evidence! There was no insight from small boy that this was wrong. He just tried it, videoed it as an interesting project, said it tasted nasty and that was that.

It is exhausting being his Mum. Choosing a secondary school for small boy broke my heart. He is a non-conformist and our education system will never meet my boy’s needs. With energy support and money home schooling would have been an option. I have neither the support or resources to support small boy with meeting his needs and true potential so local all be it nice, comp is where he goes.

Attempts with his statement and teaching assistants to support his needs sort of work but he runs away lots. Always home but always a worry. I have spoken to the heads and the SENCO leads all well intentioned to settle my son. I have had Mrs B the Head teacher in my kitchen phoning me when I am on the M6, I have discussed with Mr I the deputy head the reason why small boy wants to “make suicide” by jumping off a thirty foot wall. I have also attempted to show his teachers his beautiful creativity. I go to parents evening armed with pictures of his drawings, his legomen, his cushion covers and stories of his take on the world.

If you can create beautiful intricate drawings why would you want to colour in your favourite abstract artist? If you have a head full of fantastic science facts why waste time writing a worksheet down that you cannot read and struggle to write?

“We love small boy” is always there but you tell me how I engage my small non-conformist in maths homework? Geography he might do if it involves making a map or devising a leaflet because he wants to. There are fewer cuddles now and he has entered the world of the net. Despite boundaries and parental controls I am still a bad mother as he spends too much time on laptops and games machines. He can’t /won’t read and rarely goes out to play, eats weird food and it is massive struggle to get him to undertake a shower so often smells.  He then comes to find me with a book full of sketches and cartoons. I come home one day to house covered in blue paint as small boy has undertaken a “blue” painting project.

Months do go by without the dreaded “what has he done now at school call” but there always an expectation or indeed my wave of guilt that I should do more. I roll in from work shattered and there is only me. No Dad, no sister around the corner. I do homework the dishwasher stays unloaded, cook tea and there is no reading time. I can create some enthusiasm for often dull dreary homework, I stick time tables on fridge but my son controls his own destiny.

Anyway at twelve years old and in Y8 life has been remarkably quiet. There is a sense that some emotional maturity means that small boy has stopped running and has finally got with the “plan”.       

I have been distracted with life being a daughter, work and meeting older boy’s needs. Deep down I know small boy’s life was far too quiet so made an appointment to catch up with new SENCO lead last week. So I am driving back from Nottingham university and get the phone call from school wanting to discuss the small boy’s latest progress. 

Later in the evening I found small plastic bags filled with stuff. One his filled with salt, one with mixed herbs the other with grass from the garden. Small little bags that could be perfect props for “Breaking Bad”. In his head I know it won’t be for getting up to “no good” but will indeed just be his latest creative prop making project. Fortunately school the see the funny side though without concern.  As single Mum I rant on about not being a druggy, the bags were for earrings and that I have parental controls!

Secondary school; has not been too bad for small boy. He likes the varied lessons and has slowly been improving narrowing the gap of his amazing smart brain and what he puts on paper to be assessed by. He almost plays by the rules. Until now and I am here again explaining why small boy has “lack of effort” with a big reminder of why he has statement. He is has no “ism” so how do your explain his needs? He is beautiful, funny creative smart boy who cannot read or write very well, still has some speech issues and will not conform to rules and struggles with negotiation. He is self-determined, tenacious and thoroughly exhausting.

 To school I think put him on report if you want. He might respond if he cares we shall see. After school there he is rummaging around in the cupboard for a squirly roll. He refuses to discuss plastic bags of salt, school life or effort.  I know he listens though as he sits on my lap with his large limbs draped around me. He then shows me his latest funny drawing and we smile and eat squirly rolls.                

Epiphany moments cannot always be found in chiffon and coin belts!

I love debate and discussion. I suppose I am thinker. So more than just turning up every week engaging in the practicalities of teaching dance I also like to ponder its different components.

This last week brought me into a wonderful discussion generated by Anne White’s article on  

What draws British women to learn Arabic belly dance?  The link is 😦http://libertymagblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/contemporary-art-what-draws-british-women-to-learn-arabic-belly-dance/)

 Please go read as  Anne’s involvement in the UK dance scene is much longer and greater  than mine. A key dance mover and shaker both as a dancer ,teacher and events’ organiser  in London I can always rely on her for interesting and insightful views on our own dance scene. What  I have recently confirmed though is that the  London inner city dance scene Anne is part of and the dance scene of the  rural community I live, teach and perform in are different experiences. At some point we shall endeavour to capture our late night discussions,  long phone calls with cups of tea and  wild creative  women Facebook posts in messages into some coherent thought!  

  As I move into my tenth year of teaching it is time for me to reflect on where I have come from to make some decisions in 2014 of where I am going in my next decade.  As a belly dance teacher  culturally I have always felt a bit of fraud. I have never been quite sure how a girl from Devon who ended up in Shropshire via London with a background of ballet and contemporary dance ended up teaching a Middle Eastern dance form?  Anne asked  a similar  question to this recently on social media and I was fascinated by the answers. For some it was a slow drift into a dance form from a culture they were already familiar with and for others it was an epiphany!    So this blog is considering whether I indeed ever had any epiphany moments in last ten years and if so what impact has this had on me as a performer and teacher?


I look back at my first belly dance and an epiphany it was not. The teacher had little or no cultural reference to what she was teaching nor understanding or knowledge of music she was dancing to. She was just sharing what she had experienced elsewhere and the few moves and dressing up opportunity she had experienced. To be honest I cringe slightly at my early days of belly dance. It was the nineties and  I had left London and become a small town girl. Whilst wafting chiffon and jingling coin belts was getting back into dancing and performing  deep down my conscience was nagging me to seek  more knowledge and  cultural references about this dance form.


 Flick flacking my veil and dancing with chiffon scarves  made me feel uncomfortable and to be honest fake. In London I had danced as my alter ego “judeetee” who was a parody of all dances ( think judeetee does high art Pans People)and here I was in the hills becoming her! It was however not all bad.  I was new to Shrewsbury and I was struggling to find any dance class that would challenge and this one was fun. I can remember laughter and sisterhood and friendship many of which have stayed with me over the years. The dressing up and performance opportunities for one who is such a show off as judeetee was also a bonus!


 Moving onto another teacher I realised she had more than just the one music tape and had travelled to both Egypt and Turkey . She had seen other dancers and also referenced dancers she had watched on video. It is hard to imagine a dance scene without internet , iTunes, YouTube and the belly chitter chatter on social networks but that was how it was back then. We were at first dancing in a belly bubble beginning to create the Shropshire belly dance scene. Happily dancing away to Arabic and Turkish pop we believed we were presenting and delivering something culturally unique to the UK. We are so joined up now as you read this on the net you will laugh at this thought; I wonder on the beginning of the noughties how many UK dancers ( including you!) were considering their unique creative outputs regarding an exploration of Tarkan’s greatest hits? No? Not for you? How about Shakira then?


Anyway I am rambling! Back to big epiphany moments. If one is looking for cultural context for Middle Eastern dance then it was not to be found in Shropshire. Attending the  Jewel of Yorkshire festival was like a door opening to a new world. A sudden realisation that there were like minded souls dancing across the UK may possibly be an epiphany dance moment. Looking back though excited about classes and teachers  it was where I could find music, buy CDs and videos and watch other dancers dance.

The other realisation of a great truth was watching ( on my newly bought video ) the likes of Samia Gamel and Fifi Abdou . It was the simplicity of their dance. Just being with the music and dancing with their heart and soul.  This was intensified when I saw Yasmina and Randa dance on a Farida UK tour.  There is no cultural connection from chiffon scarves in a cold hall in Shropshire to the hot powerful emotion of Randa’s dancing. It blew my mind! This dance maybe about technique , standards and posture but also it is about a dance deep from your soul, an expression from your heart.  Randa connected with me like no other dancer had done before.


The first time I visited Cairo I touched the pyramids, shopped   in the Khan and visited the museum.

But the very being there, sitting drinking tea was a quiet moment of epiphany. Sitting in the  hustle and bustle of Cairo life , listening and watching gave me  the cultural context of  this dance.  A tired dancer in a cheap Lycra costume also revealed another truth . Belly dance was not some high “Isadora orientalist fantasy” here. It was a sleazy and disrespected way of making a living. Also there would always be a challenge of cultural context from this world of Cairo and my land of small town on a river and church hall haflas. Epiphany indeed!


Music brings with its own epiphany. The connection and emotional experience as Middle Eastern music for me has been deeply personal  and not something I can put into words. The musical journey I have been on means that this epiphany has been a slow realisation of music that was so very alien to me that now touches my soul. The realisation that I was able to then dance my story was the most exciting and wonderful realisation and something that came slowly rather than in one dramatic moment.     



“Mistakes are the portals of discovery” so says James Joyce. Perhaps the inappropriate stick dance to simply wrong music and skidding on nylon veils had to be done. So without internet perhaps my  dancing road  had to include (and dancers of my generation had to dance with chiffon and coin belts) to reach our own epiphany.  So I suppose perhaps it is time to step out of the closet dodgy CD ( or indeed tape) of Arabic pop in hand, coin belt, harem pants and chiffon skirt all on and dance like nutters remembering the good old days when you didn’t know what you didn’t know!


Also with no internet or fb to record those big epiphany moments over time in a brain such as mine they become hazy and blurred …. Just saying!



Dance reflections and ponderings with moustaches, voice of Kay and drums!


I have not blogged for ages but it being New Year and all that I thought it was time to get going again. So I am sat here typing before I tackle the job of pulling down the Christmas decorations.  So another year ends. So before I plunge into New Year actions and activity a time to reflect and ponder. So this blog is going to review my 2013 year of dance, look at the highs, lows, not so goods and best bits and see whether I have a plan for 2014.        

Early 2013 saw another Azhara event taking place with the lovely Anne Kingston and Sandra Thomson coming to teach in Shropshire. It all seems like such a long time ago but my lingering memories of this day are watching happy women dance with visual images appearing in my head of happy women smiling and some fantastic skirt swishing!

My solo performance for February Azhara was also the culmination of a dance intensive I had been involved in with Pauline Qu as my teacher and mentor.  It involved a shift in how approached dance physically and indeed an opportunity to strengthen my emotional approach to dance. Dancing this solo (Hkili Hkili by Fairuz) gave me the final permission to just dance to something big and emotional and enjoy it. Finally I was being giving permission to dance to something big and serious outside my conservatory! 

Costume wise the new year as a shift too. No longer smoking and being happily in a relationship means I have had to come to terms with being back to being a curvy woman and also approaching fifty I have had to revaluate what I wear. Thrusting mad ideas and fancy fabric at my wonderfully creative mate Rita meant that the purple  “Cadburys”  dress  was born! It matched the mood of being a grown up dancer! 

 Organising events has been part of this year . Dawn my fab story telling friend is a likeminded soul and together with other kindred spirits we seem to  create  ongoing dance and drumming  performances  which with story tellers we perform to create “Tales & Veils” events.Long walks and conservations about creative performances with Dawn have given support, confidence and some fab bonkers ideas in this past year! 

 Getting to know  and doing more mad creative  projects with my fab mates Pauline and Asif  has punctuated most of this year. As well as being part of Pauline’s teaching/mentor project  we also   created of “The Travelling Fayre” for Tales & Veils and in early part of the year danced to the drum with sticks and gay abandon at a Shakespeare inspired evening! What also made this special is that we got my lovely man drumming on the big djembe too! Oh and we all wore fabulous hats! 

As spring approached I had a couple of weekends of taking workshops with Lorna Gow. I really enjoyed these particularly taking workshops in both Wolverhampton and Lincolnshire meant that I was able to “layer up” what she was able to share with me about dancing. On reflection I believe that these workshops supported that I indeed have many dance “tools” it was about how I now decide to use them in terms of my dance. 

So we are tripping along with some lovely positives but this is a blog about reflection so I am thinking long and hard here. As I approached spring and attending more dance events I realised what a close shop so many events are in terms of performing and teaching. Having danced for over fifteen years  and taught  for nearly ten years I realise that in 2013 I have  been offered workshops with  in my view “peers” or indeed with folk I would consider to my peer’s students. I am sat here now thinking of some amazing teachers and dancers that get so little recognition in the dance community. I also think this happens locally too. As a teacher I continued in this past year to reflect, develop and inspire my students with new ideas and skills and knowledge. However I have been bitten hard this last year by some who place so little value of what I have shared in terms of my experience knowledge and skill from dancing and teaching for   so long and continuing my dance development.I  do however have a very loyal group of students  who by the very fact that I continue to have a full and regular class is a lovely positive reflection on what I have to offer.  Next year I will have been teaching for ten years and I intend to celebrate this with other local teachers and dancers.

 One of the lovely things about being a belly dancer is that you get asked to dance at community events and go to some fabulous celebrations and support some amazing charities. International women’s day was a wonderful celebration as also was The Big Busk in the spring. There was music and dance all over my local town Shrewsbury where we busked to raise money for our local homeless hostel. It was fab to bring together drummers and dancers across Shropshire and go and dance in the sunshine. Katherine came with her dancers from Broseley and it was fab collaboration of trying out new things! 

Drumming has indeed been a big Dum tak punctuation of 2013. Asif has come over regularly to teach workshops and I have expanded my dance friendships this year for starters. I will never be tablatastic but developing my understanding of rhythm and being able to play has greatly improved my musicality and ability to translate this into dance.  I have also loved playing the duf with my lovely man playing beside me. Hopeton and Charlie’s passion for drumming this past year has also been exciting to see and having them come and play at class and develop into our fab class drummers has been wonderful. 

To be honest boredom set in with dance in spring summer of last year and the introduction of drumming and development of looking at improv influenced by Pauline’s British Tribal Style has been exciting. Experimenting, learning, watching and listening means that we have started to break the rules and develop a “JudeeTee Improv style” which also acknowledges and celebrates Egyptian roots as well as some new exciting tribal elements. Dancing to the beat has also been a great challenge as a teacher!       

 April and may saw me running all around the country dancing here there and everywhere. I enjoyed Jewel of Yorkshire festival again this time taking part Two of Sara Farouks’ teaching course which was affirming and useful. I always enjoy JoY as it has now become a weekend away with my lovely man Hopeton and catching up with mates. I love the workshops and dancing but with both April and October JoY am chuckling now at daft conversations and activity in Ibis reception! Seeing Randa dance again was indeed my performance watching highlight of this year. Just wonderful life affirming stuff.

I have been all over the country dancing this past year but this has also included watching some wonderful dancing too. There are some great dance events in the UK with a range of great performers to watch whether it be local hafla or JoY. What I have observed is how different the atmosphere can be. At some events indeed folk have been more focused on getting changed, videoing themselves or talking and at others every performer has had a clap a cheer and an appreciative audience.  As well as some lovely local haflas I have really enjoyed dancing at Janet’s Sahara Nights. Dancing in front of a different crowd has given me inspiration and I have loved watching the performances that others bring to Sahara Nights. This year I have continued to clap cheer and support fellow dancers. I have also supported friends  with nice inspiring feedback too as they have me. Without feedback sometimes it can feel like you are dancing into an empty space so I am thankful for all those folk who have given me feedback this past year.

 Returning to London to take part in Sara’s last Stand  was very personal to me. I returned to Hackney where I lived for many years and danced at a venue I had danced at twenty years previously! I really enjoyed being back in London dancing and it was exciting to dance in front of old friends. I got a great deal out of my 1:1 lesson with Sara who reverberated into the rest of the year beyond the performance itself. I also learnt some big lessons about myself, my needs as a dancer and person and the direction of change I may want to take. On reflection I probably bit off more than I could chew as would have achieved more if I had spent the week in London  without hurtling back in between to home and  work and I spent way too much money! In fact this was the beginning of some thoughts about how much time and money I do spend on dancing .This is a big point of reflection for me in this year and decisions about who,  where and what I spend my dance time and resources on.

 May madness also means a big thanks to Kay and Christine for poking me to go to Wortley Hall! I loved being a helper and just enjoyed the whole fun element of the weekend. Being the voice of Kay was just the sort of foolishness I love and I enjoyed hanging out with some of my best dance buddies. This weekend reaffirmed for me that I dance and go to stuff as it brings me joy. I also allowed myself to dance a solo at Wortley hall. I danced to my all-time favourite Tahtil Shibak. Being relaxed I was able to put into practice what Sara had given me and share my joy of the song. I had some lovely feedback which went beyond yet another gorgeous grown up frock from Rita!

 Looking through my diary this year I realise that I have not taught so many workshops this year. I did have a rather marvellous weekend teaching at Rita’s day of dance in June. I taught a workshop on dancing with props. In my usual madcap way we went off at a marvellous creative tangent and I will never forget the shopping trolley and the beautiful group improv with fabric! I have taught several private lessons this year. I love sharing my knowledge and skill with folk and have had some wonderful exciting moments watching women I have mentored and taught perform! One of my highlights of this year has been watching some very special women blossom in their dance. 

Oh goodness looking through my diary there was the mad Travelling Fayre Hafla! With drumming and dance with no performances this hafla took on a life of its own. Weirdly few local dancers came and it was not well supported but a group of individuals arrived with drums, favourite dance tracks a sense of mischief and wanting to have a good time! The combination was a special event indeed of just happiness. My memory  will be of the whole room coming together and dancing drumming. It was a real celebration of being in the moment in time with dance and drum. No thinking of the next dance , your performance, whose watching but just coming together with other creative souls and being in the moment. Wonderful stuff and some lovely new friendships created that weekend.

 Summertime brought dance camp madness. Attending for second year running this year we took the kids so many memories of my beautiful boy hanging out with folk. I cried with laughter all week at dance camp but dance highlight has to be Boba Karem workshop with Pauline and performance with many likeminded wonderful women. Dance camp is a wonderful celebration of dance and music and what can be achieved with time , open hearts and minds. I am sat here now smiling as I think about returning this year.

 Having time to hang out explore creative and dance with Anne White at Azhara in the autumn was just a joy. A small master class of wonderful talented women created a day of dance to remember. Anne took us on a baledi journey that gave us all something personal to learn develop and cherish. The evening show for me celebrated some wonderful dancing and some personal firsts too. Ya salaaaaaaaaaamm now appears to be part of my weekly Facebook vocabulary now and I indeed look forward to some more Ya Salam moments in this year!

 As I have already said my year has been woven with hanging out with the Qus and Book of Bedtime stories was a great day. Many folk there from my bonkers hafla in June, sunshine and happy folk created a day that went beyond a workshop. Drumming on the lawn  inspirational teaching from Bex and Angela and show of surprises and exciting ideas and performances it was highlight of my year. I shall never forget Santa arriving in Angela’s workshop too!

 Tribal sleepover has to be one of my favorite weekends of this year. Putting donkey parts together, learning new dance stuff, and laughing so much was just wonderful. My lovely man Hopeton happily drummed all weekend and watched me as useful run around like a nutter. Naturally my hafla performance involved me dressing us a man with full moustache and shooting Steffi. A mad saiidi improv with toy gun was a funny highlight but also led me the following day to have interesting conversations about saiidi rhythm and dance.  From a dance perspective I loved dancing in groups and formations and Angela generously shared so much information and gave me some exciting ideas to take into this year.  I also taught an art workshop with lots of sticking and gluing which was brill!

 Christmas events were about lovely support and friendships as have been so many dance events this year. Katherine’s do in Broseley was fab and we danced with our drummers which I love so much. Katherine and I have been dancing together for over ten years. I have attended some lovely events this year from celebrating birthdays “sixties style” in Herefordshire to being Pink with Candi Shirley and Maria in Lichfield , taking the campervan on my birthday to be with Sandra Thomson and friends and so much more!         

Local dancers Lindsey, Katherine , Mel, Terri , Angela, others and I  have all danced together for so many years. Some have moved on but as we move into 2014 I want to bring these women together with their students to celebrate the support friendship and fun of dance we have shared all these years.

 So that has been an interesting reflection for me of my dance year in 2013 so I am now thinking and reflecting hard to critique in order to make dance plans for 2014.  

 My friendships in the dance community are mostly happy ones.  However sometimes belly politics and indeed other folks agendas can really bring me down. This year’s action is-

  •  nonsense shall be addressed as gossip and  Bellyenders and I shall surround myself with folk that leave me feeling positive. As there are so many wonderful mad creative bonkers lovely women out there this shouldn’t be too tricky!

I have developed my dancing this last year and am not sure I need to keep searching for more. Do not get me wrong I am not saying I know it all. But sometimes in chasing that next piece of knowledge /new skill  I have missed time to consolidate what I have. I have also spent far too much money and time this last year. In 2014 I am going to be-

  • discerning about what I spent my dance resources on
  •  I am also going to celebrate what I do know and can do.

I also think I am –

  • going to do my own thing which may involve breaking some rules. I think in my head I live in a shadow at times of disapproval from “authentic” dance world. I have spent enough money time and energy following others .
  • This year I am going to have a bit of a play, be creative and do my own thing.      


As I go into 2014 I am clear that-

  • dance activities and friendships  will make me feel good about myself and bring me joy.   

In 2014 I will have been teaching for ten years. This needs to be celebrated with dance friends so this year will bring an excting JudeeTee event!


Happy Dancing New Year x