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