I've had an amazing year in dance this year and I am so grateful and happy for all the amazing opportunities I have had. I've been able to work with some wonderfully talented and generous teachers and determined and dedicated students.
In January I decided to completely overhaul the way I approached my dance practice. It's been a tough road but I've got a lot of work under my shimmy belt and I am really feeling the benefits. February was Valentines day, which meant preparing a special restaurant set, so I really did hit the ground running.
March was an amazing month, starting with Majma, where I did all 5 workshops with the wonderful Ava Fleming. I also managed to fit in a private lesson with Ava, which was absolutely brilliant. There really is nothing like spending an intensive lesson working on exactly what you need to work on with such a great teacher. I am still working on and growing through the inspiration and practical tips from that weekend. I also got to watch Ava dance "Too Close", one of my favourite fusion pieces of hers, from right by the stage.
Then there was Ashley Lopez. I was super lucky to bag a place on a low-ratio intensive weekend with Ashley. She is another brilliant teacher, both in terms of technical dance and inspiration. We did a lot of evil conditioning and some mad layering and technical geekery. We also had a really good session on creating a training schedule and a session on postural analysis, which I have applied to my own dance as well as my teaching.
I also started on Alexis Southall's Tribal Fusion Education programme. This means I have been whizzing up and down the M5 on a regular basis for studio time with Alexis. There are 17 of us on the programme and it has been a blast getting to train and hang out with the other dancers, many of whom were already good friends. We've been sharing ideas and discussions and our passion for Tribal Fusion dance in general. Alexis is a fabulous teacher, she's absolutely lovely but also understands the need to challenge us to push our boundaries. I would like to steal her and bring her down here so I can train with her every day!
It's been a good year for teaching too. I taught a fire dance workshop for Gina and the Bellygees on their glamping weekend, which was a great opportunity to hang out with those ladies and get to know them better.
Classes in Glastonbury and Bridgewater have continued and it's been great meeting a new wave of dancers coming into these groups. Glastonbury classes start back on the 11th and Bridgwater on the 5th (first session is a Burlesque session for giggles).
I've also taught a few hen parties which are always hilarious, a workshop at a large exhibition arena.
I hosted my second hafla in Glastonbury, which was a great success. I was also hosting Samantha Riggs and Demelza Fox who both taught workshops. Sam stayed with me for a little while and it was lovely to get to know her. One thing I love about the bellydance world is that I am always meeting such amazing, fun people. Sam's workshop was so much fun, and it was great to see the participants on stage with her showing off their new Bhangra skills. Demelza is another lovely, fun teacher and everyone got a lot out of her stage presence workshop. I also taught a Dark Fusion workshop. I was really impressed with the ladies who took part, the worked really hard and were totally game when I suggested we perform the choreography at the hafla, after just 2 hours spent learning it! They were fabulous!
We also had some great performances at the hafla in various styles. I am always impressed when people turn out and support events, but moreso when I see the calibre of performances on offer and the amount of work that clearly goes into it. I've also really enjoyed attending a whole bunch of haflas this year. It's been a crazy busy time, to the point that I sadly had to turn down invitations to events I really wanted to participate in.
Autumn brought the conception of the Laylet Amar Ensemble. I got the opportunity to rehearse and perform with talented, live musicians, as well as getting together with Oona for dance conspiracy! Here's a little video of part of the performance:
This performance also happened the same week as Infusion Emporium, which was a brilliant weekend of spending time with some of my best dancey people, training outside my comfort zone with Heather Stants and performing a duet with Kitty Kohl at the fabulous and hilarious Glitterball Shakedown.
I'm in my midwinter downtime now, where I sort out my accounting (yawn), plan my calendar for next year and start shortlisting performance ideas and music. Next year is going to be brilliant too. I already have some performances on the cards, a show in Wells, the TFEP showcase and some haflas. There's some good learning to be done and I'm looking forward to finding out what unfolds.
Whatever happens, I wish you a happy, dance filled new year.