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As some of you may know American tribal-fusion performer Sherri Wheatley will be visiting Peebles and Glasgow teaching workshops and performing at hafla’s in both venues. Borders Arabic Dance is hosting the first of three workshops (“Combos and Transitions”) next Thursday (July 22nd) afternoon and that evening there will be a hafla with a wide variety of performers. Saravati Tribal are playing host to workshops two and three (“Layering Fundamentals” and “Polished Performance”) in Glasgow on Saturday and Sunday (July 24th & 25th) with their hafla on Saturday evening. Visit the links for more info and to book.

From what I understand a big part of the reason we’re getting to have Sherri over is thanks to Tigerlily who met her on a bellydance trip to South Africa. Well done Tigerlily, and thanks to the lovely ladies of Borders Arabic Dance and Saravati for getting these workshops and haflas together!

Something I noticed in the promotional material for these events is that Sherri also goes by the title “Cherchez La Femme”. This is a French expression literally translated as “look for/seek out the woman” and is typically used as a way of saying that the root of most problems involving a (straight) man is a woman. I’m not clear on how this connects with Sherri’s dance persona, maybe it’s more about the cadence of the phrase than it’s meaning, or perhaps it’s a modern reclaiming of the expression (I’ve noticed that there’s a feminist salon in Melbourne, Australia with this title). If I find out I’ll let you know – and if you know please share!

AND if you’d like to see Sherri perform before the hafla’s, well, that’s what YouTube is for 🙂 Enjoy:

I had the distinct privilege to attend and perform at the Mussleburgh Hafla last week. Elspeth SwishandHips organised and compared most of the night, as well as dancing twice – what a woman!

There was a huge variety of performances – from professional dancers to beginners, in groups, duets and solos with styles ranging from modern Egyptian through to tribal fusion with much in-between. Props used on the night included sagats (also called zills or finger cymbals), stick/cane (two different dancers used this, and did so quite differently), veil and fan veils (courtesy of yours truly).

A fan veil, if you’ve never seen one before, is pretty much what it says on the tin – a fan (usually wooden, sometimes plastic) with a silk veil attached. They come in all sorts of different lengths (I believe the “standard” length is 1.5 yards) and a variety of colours. They are fun to work with – similar to veils as they share that beautiful, floating quality, though are different in the sorts of things you can do with them. Here’s a shot of me using mine with the fan closed taken my Douglas Cutt (and there are loads more of the hafla on his website)

In as much as the fan veils are a lot of fun, just like any other prop I find it can be quite hard when dancing with said prop to not let it take over the show and I worked quite hard to make sure my performance was a fan veil bellydance performance. From my perspective I succeeded and I’m really quite pleased with what I put together; hopefully you guys will be too!

I filmed Elspeth’s first dance – quite badly I must admit, I kept being distracted by her performance as I looked at it over the camera, and as such wasn’t concentrating on keeping the camera tracked properly on her! Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

There are loads more videos of the hafla performances on Elspeth’s YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/shimmyology

I’ve also set up a new YouTube channel for my bellydancing videos – both the ones taken of me and the ones I take of other people. You can find me at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ShelleyDancing

This Thursday sees the return of the Musselburgh Hafla organised by the lovely Elspeth SwishandHips (photographed here by Kaleidoscope Studios)

The tickets are £5 on the door with all the proceeds going to Children 1st (who were previously known as the RSSPCC). It’s happening at the Musselburgh Rugby Club on Stoneyhill Farm Road (accessed from Eskview Crescent off Eskview Terrace). Doors are at 7.30pm for 8pm start.

From the sneaky peek I’ve had at the performers list it looks like it’s going to be a really diverse cracker of a show! I’ll be on, doing something different (ahhhhh! Why do I do this to myself?!?!). As Elspeth mentions on her blog, there will be a raffle and a bellydance bring-and-buy sale, where you can sell your bellydance bits and pieces (costumes, coin belts, accessories, etc).

Hafla, hafla! July 1st, 7.30pm at the Musselburgh Rugby Club – see you there!

Those of you living in the UK under a rock (or those of you living outside the UK) might not know that this weekend sees the return of Raqs Britannia, the UK biggest bellydance convention organised by Tracey Gibb and the Belly Dance Super Stars team.

Major statutory home repairs mean I won’t be there this year, to my great disappointment. I had a blast last year, took two inspiring and helpful workshops with Ansuya, the memory of which is not tarnished despite the fact that in the second one, the one on floorwork, I tore both quads and hobbled around in pain for quite some time afterwards. Both were interesting experiences for me. When I teach I prefer to teach small classes, and as a student I prefer small classes as well. But these workshops were packed – I mean there must have been at least 40 people in each, if not more, and they are far more expensive than regular classes. And yet, I still found them worthwhile.

I enjoyed the show (gasp!). I’ve read frequently on the internet that it’s “too much of a show” and “not real bellydance” neither of which seem particularly relevant to me, but because of how often I’ve seen it I feel the need to defend the fact that I liked it… It strikes me as the difference between seeing a popular band in a huge stadium versus an intimate, acoustic performance. They’re just different beasts. They also do the same/similar routines several years in a row which I’ve heard criticised but I don’t see that as much different to bands playing their popular songs. I mean, if you’d never seen Petite Jamilla before I think it’d be pretty sad not to see her do some version of her spinning double veil routine.

This year Germany’s Leyla Jouvana will be in attendance, teaching workshops over the course of the weekend. I met her in Tennessee several years ago where I took a weekend intensive workshop with her and her partner and drummer, Rowland. They were a great team and Leyla was a good teacher – energetic, upbeat and challenging. She also differentiated the teaching well to work appropriately with the different ability levels in the class.

If you’re lucky enough to be going – have a blast!

After a little bit of stress about where we would perform (NOT the cobbles!) and worry about whether or not the weather would hold, things turned out marvellously! Nice paving stones for the dancers to perform on and nice sunny weather (though there was a bit of wind). I wasn’t ‘together’ enough to remember to bring my camera, but Susanna of Habiba Dance has very kindly allowed me to use her (beautiful) pictures from the event.

There were some technical difficulties right at the start of the event, which plagued the beginning of the youth choir, but got ironed out and the kids sung their hearts out. It was very cute. Following them were Susan Tonner’s ‘Twisted Tails’ tribal group:

(Picture courtesy of Susanne, Habiba Dance)

There were loads of them, all beautifully and lushly dressed, all co-ordinated. What I love about tribal is its strength and dignity and this performance had that in spades. Well done ladies!

Next up was a band described as “Samba Fusion” – it comprised of bagpipes, electric guitarists, singers and young people playing drums. Really interesting sounds, and I was particularly happy when they put out a version of a Proclaimers song (I have a soft spot for the Proclaimers, what can I say?). Following them were another band, fronted by the cousin of one of my students (such a small world!). They were raising money for LGBT Youth Scotland, and man that singer could wail! He had a brilliant voice and the rest of the band were equally talented. My attention started to dwindle however, not because of any lack of talent from these guys, but because my girls were up next…

They performed beautifully – I was so proud; their first public performance! Susanna captured them below just after they’d finished all together with Elspeth’s class – you can see some of the performers still in their final pose. Although the theme colours of the event were red, I had my girls in blue to differentiate them from Elspeth’s dancers. They made their tassel/fringe belts themselves and either made or customised their own tops too. What talented ladies they are, in many fields!

(Picture courtesy of Susanne, Habiba Dance)

Next up were Hilary Thacker’s students, performing a veil dance. The wind had picked up by this point, but they managed admirably, veils held for much of the time in a ‘backwards butterfly’ position which coped well with the wind. The tie-dye silk looks really nice fluttering in the breeze. Following on their heels were local troupe Zahirah, who’d managed to put a choreography together despite not actually being able to practice together (the wonders of modern technology!) and despite injury. Last on were the Helwa Hurdies, dancing their lovely flamenco-inspired piece. It’s one I’ve seen before but I was happy to see it again, it was beautiful and strong and a great note to end the bellydancing on. And here’s some footage Elspeth took of the dancing:

After the Hurdies performed the balloons were released. Check out the expression on the kids faces:

(Picture courtesy of Susanne, Habiba Dance)

It was a great night, lots of community spirit (in spite of one bothersome/attention seeking kid) and lots of local talent!

…and you know, I think the next time I’ll be seeing live bellydance performances will be at the Mussleburgh Hafla, July 1st. Hope you can make it too!

…and what a treat you have in store for you – not one bellydance performance, not two bellydance performances but a whole heap of them!

After a local choir kicks things off at the “Red Leith” event at 7.30pm you will be entertained by the ‘Twisted Tails’ tribal bellydance group. THEN after some upbeat Samba fusion and more music some of the other Leith Bellydancers will be up to entertain you around about 9pm. Students from Elsepth’s and my own class will be performing together, students of Hilary Thacker will be dancing as will local group Zahirah, and of course veteran performers, the Helwa Hurdies!

So come along and make some noise for the Leith Bellydancers! Friday, 7.30pm, Malmaison at the Shore – be there or be square 😉

To brighten up this rainy summer day, allow me to introduce you to Tamsyn:

I first met Tamsyn at a tribal fusion workshop where I couldn’t help but notice that she had a scar that was almost identical to my own. We were scar buddies! So we got talking. Over time I’ve learned that, as well as being an enthusiastic bellydance aficionado and a great dancer she’s a very knowledgeable (and thoughtful) teacher. We share a love of tribal fusion, but also both have broad tastes in bellydance and appreciate lots of different styles. I feel lucky to have her as my dance buddy and friend.

Which is all lovely, but why am I telling you about Tamsyn? Well… she’ll be taking over my classes at The Yoga Room from September onwards! She’ll be coming along to a class or two in my next term so if you’re thinking about continuing you’ll get the opportunity to meet her then.

And to finish off this post, here’s another gorgeous picture of her from a recent performance in her newest outfit (made by her own fair hand – where do her talents end? 🙂 ).

Come along to the piazza outside Malmaison at The Shore next Friday (June 11th) for the “Red Leith” event which kicks off the Leith Festival. There will be a whole bunch of community performances, including a few by Leith Bellydancers. Students from Elsepth’s and my own class will be performing, as will other local bellydancers. And… it’s all free – so come along for a couple of hours and be entertained!

And if you’re not sure where Malmaison is, here’s some help courtesy of Google Maps (‘A’ marks the spot).

See you there!

EDIT:  This event’s gotten a mention in the Evening News!

As some of you might have noticed I was in the paper this weekend, this time in the Scotsman Magazine on Saturday. I only found out about it when a friend told me! I had been asked for a picture a while ago by the lovely people at Out of the Blue for something that might appear in the Scotsman, but that was the last I’d heard about it. I gave them one of the fantastic pictures Kaleidoscope Studios took of me and it ended up being used in an article about interesting fitness classes at the newly renovated Out of the Blue. The ironic thing about this is, of course, that I’ve now taken a break from teaching at that venue!

That said, even though the info isn’t quite right, I am at least still teaching some bellydance classes. The current term at the Yoga Room finishes on June 9th (next Wed) and the next term (and my last term teaching for a while!) begins June 30th, preceded by a beginner’s workshop on Sunday June 20th. Online booking is open! (I’ve just realised my new term starts the day before the Musselburgh Hafla – which I’ll be dancing at! See the Facebook event page for more information on this charity hafla.)

This happens to be the second time I’ve been in a paper doing bellydance stuff. This time, although I wasn’t attributed, I like the picture much better 🙂

Hello lovely readers,

Over the summer I will be continuing my Wednesday evening classes at The Yoga Room (beginners from 7.30pm, intermediates from 8.30pm). Both sets of classes cost £40 (£36 concession) for an 8 week block (June 30th – Aug 25th, not Aug 4th).

As usual I’ve got paypal set up so you can go to my site http://www.shelleyskipper.com/classes.html to book classes and/or workshops there. And if you don’t fancy paypal cheques, bank transfer and cash are all fine. There’s more details about payment on the website.

And just so you’re aware this will be the last term of regular classes that I’ll be teaching for a while. My counselling training will be stepping up it’s intensity in September and I’ve had the increased time commitment required highlighted to me on a number of occasions, as well as the emotional drain it will be. So I’ve decided to take a step back from teaching bellydance once Uni starts back. Some of my current students suggested a night out to mark the end this era and I think that’s a smashing idea!

I don’t plan on dropping out of the community, I will still be at haflas, hopefully attending workshops as a student and maybe running one or two myself as time permits. And the classes at the Yoga Room should continue – I’ll put up more information about that as I have it.

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