As Winter wanders away….

…I am feeling so much brighter and happier.  I do dislike the greyness and general coldness of winter, and to be honest, if I won the Lottery I would probably buy another home somewhere that was warm and sunny.  Why buy another home and not just relocate?  Because I do love the UK bizarrely.  I’d just like it to be warmer and sunnier…

As it was half term last week I did some tidying up in the garden and my next thoughts should what I’ll try and grow (and most likely fail at) in pots in the garden this year.

As last week was a busy one with the children generally I didn’t get a huge amount done, but I did just about complete a necklace that I was embroidering (you’ll get a proper picture once it’s all finished) and I got some fabric flowers made. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with them yet…..

Once I’ve decided what I’m doing with them I’ll let you know..

And in dance news, well, I’m working on something for my solo at Hipnotic in March, will be tweaking and honing what my Tribal ladies and I will be dancing to at the same event, drilling my learning disability class in readiness for their performance in May, practicing with Covert Bling for the upcoming performances with them, researching what I’m going to do in my new fitness and drills class and start teaching my daughters Primary school class a (hopefully) simple folklore/fakelore dance as this term they are learning about ancient Egypt.  That should be enough to keep me out of trouble….

Post Hipnotic Come Down

Running a regular belly dance event is a stressful thing.  With the recession in the UK ever tightening its grip I am always pleased to see people arrive and take their seats, join in with the workshops and enjoy the performers who travel for miles just to display their vision of the art-form that is belly dance.

Kitty Khol, Emma Pyke, Blackwillow

Working together myself, Emma and Kitty strive to offer a belly dance event that offers more bang for your buck – we have a great venue, offer a workshop for people to join in with, show a DVD on the screens so that between performances there’s always something to look at when you’re chatting with friends and getting a drink from the bar and as always strive to showcase dancers both local and from further afield (no mean feat for a Sunday night) as well as vendors who will help you to achieve a full belly dance wardrobe.

Tonight (as ever) we were able to offer the most wonderful performances from accomplished performers including myself (I was pleased with my full-floor layback), Kitty, Kamara, Sundara, Carrie, Razia, a penultimate performance from host troupe Covert Bling and all the way from the Brazil, Elis (and please go watch her on her YouTube channel…….amazing!)  (Apologies to those I cannot add links to, Julie and Cassie, Judi and Barbara please get some clips up of yourselves!)

Even though I may need to use a hair-brush as a pretend microphone the well oiled machine that is the Covert Bling team always ensures that night runs like clockwork.

Our photographer of the night, Kathryn of Capture This Moment, will have gotten some amazing pictures that soon you will be able to see on our Facebook page, so get along there and check them out.

And now it’s only another two months until the next Hipnotic event….if you’re in the UK and only a moment from the M4 then get yourself along on September 25th…….even if you’re not a belly dancer…. x

Being Overt….

Ahh, that got you didn’t it!  No, this isn’t a post about being overt in the sense you thought it might be, it’s about a belly dance I gig I did with my troupe mates tonight.

I dance with a belly dance troupe called Covert Bling and as Covert Bling we perform improvised tribal belly dance, but tonight we were Overt Bling!  Sparkly costumes, full on cabaret style with props and everything.  Not all of us could be there, so it was down to myself, Helen, Kat and Emma to wow the crowd who were attending a charity night with an Arabian theme.

If you don’t partake in belly dance yourself then you won’t know that it’s common to end up getting changed in a toilet cubicle, mirrors are a blessing, and often things are pretty dire.  Much less glamorous that you might imagine.

We did end up in a toilet cubicle but for the most part we were all dressed on arrival instead of having to get changed there.  It was fun.  Whilst we waited for the opportune moment to be introduced and do our stuff (people were finishing off their meals and there’s nothing worse than getting left overs caught on your veil so the organisers were very thoughtful and were clearing tables before introducing us) we chatted and caught up on gossip, advised whether hair and jewellery accessories were required (when you’re using a veil things can get tricky) and generally acted like the good friends we are, checking fastenings, whether there was lipstick on teeth etc.

The crowd seemed to enjoy their unexpected entertainment and we all thoroughly enjoyed the chance to get up and strut our stuff.

What was even nicer was when some women stopped us on the way out and complimented us on our dancing.  Obviously we pounced on the opportunity to plug that three of us teach and that we run a bi-monthly event. It would be silly not to.

And on the way out, after being thanked again by the organisers, someone said, “Gosh, it’ll take you ages to get your make-up off now won’t it?”  Nope.  Wet wipes.  Told you it was glamorous.

My next personal gig is with a branch of the WI.  I’ll keep you posted!


Ch ch ch ch changes……

So.  Very soon I shall close down my Blackwillowtribal website.  Why?  Everything will be shifting over to Etsy for all of those unique items you all so love and want to buy.  I love Etsy.  Not only can you buy from me but you can see who I love and buy from them too – it’s like being in the BEST shopping arcade without having to leave your own home…..

So what else is happening?  Well, the Blackwillow Belly Dance site will have new information added, and YOU can get involved.  Tell me what you want to see, or read and learn about and I’ll do the hard work for you.

All of my other blog posts will be moved across to this one.  Why?  Because I have a pre-schooler at home with me until January next year.  That’s January 2012.  I need to concentrate on him AND my daughter who just turned seven.  They both need me.  I’m a single mum now with less time on my hands to do what’s good for me outside of my children.  But do you know what?  I need this…..  I need belly dance.  I need to keep promoting and running the Hipnotic event in Reading cos I LOVE it.  And I need to keep making things because this has always been a part of my life and until now I haven’t been able to fully understand how close this is to my heart – to my reason for being.  I love to create things and I JUST CAN’T KEEP IT ALL!

But I need to have everything in one place.    To have everything in a place where I can access and talk to you, explain to you, share with you everything that’s going on.

So I’m stream-lining and sorting it all out.

Make sure to subscribe to THIS blog to keep up to date with everything – it’s all going to be here very shortly……..

Bedouin Girls Hafla, Windsor

Last weekend saw Covert Bling, the troupe I dance with,  attending the Bedouin Girls Hafla in Old Windsor.

First of all I must say that the timing of the event was just perfect for a glimpse of the largest full moon for 20 years.  It was the most beautiful thing, because it was a different size and different colour than a more usual full moon.  As an example, the more regular occurrence of the  harvest moon later in the year is something we are used to seeing even if we are unfamiliar with it and so we expect it to be bright and orange or if we are surprised we can soon understand whey it looks and feels so different.

In March here in the UK we do not expect to see such a large pinkorange moon-face.  As we drove along the unromantic highway to the venue town, we (me and Kitty Kohl) were transfixed by the beautiful natural phenomena we experienced.  And, in addition, thanks to Google Maps on Kitty’s phone we almost supernaturally arrived where we needed to be.

Onto the event itself.  This yearly event has a good venue and attendance.  Held at the Old Windsor Club it regularly raises money  and this year proceeds were going to the Thames Valley Hospice.

So here’s the deal for me as a performer.

This event offers a small but spacious event space.  That doesn’t really make sense but it means that it’s not a big space, but it’s big enough. Everyone needs to project out to the audience at this friendly event but not so much that you frighten them!

Changing room space is limited but I think this year everyone had realised that that was the case and came to the event as fully costumed as they could with their *every day* clothes brought along to change into later.

Each year the event has a *mini-show* from 8pm till 8.45pm and then it’s food and dancing till 11pm.  I think this is an excellent format.  It works really well as there’s enough dancing to talk about, enough food to  eat till you pop and and enough time if you have the opportunity to dance until you drop.  There’s also one vendor, and this year saw the return of Penny and her Everything Egyptian bazaar.

First up were the Bedouin Girls – a cheeky, fun and engaging choreography from the hostesses of the evenings event.  Always good fun and engaging to watch we keep asking them to come along to Hipnotic and I finally got the answer I was looking for – although the date is tba!

The came the *Dangerous Trio* led by Lynne Hogg – and when questioned they admitted that their name was a warning (definitely unqualified I can assure you!) that they might cause damage with their sticks.   Not a chance of that from this experienced trio.  They held my attention with their masterly and assured use of sticks with a great Saidi track, “Yammouna Fi AL Saaid”.

Next was Nikki, one of two solo performances.  Nikki danced to the very familiar and much enjoyed Nourhanne version of *Habibi Ya Eini* and I found her choreography to be engaging, free of too many repeats and one that the performer really seemed to enjoy.

Covert Bling were next – the troupe that I dance dance with.  Four of us were able to come long, and as usual we were improvising common steps and combinations to a piece of music that was familiar to us, Lesgi by Solace.  (I’m not advocating iTunes with that link….if I can I’ll change it….)

It’s a piece of music we danced to a few years ago.  Drilled to for some time.  It’s familiar to us as a toupe but it’s not something we work with a lot now. So we chose it for this Hafla because it presented a chance to:

Go back to our roots

Go back to something we know but don’t really KNOW.

Improvise in a way that feels both unfamiliar and safe.

It was enjoyable for us as there were a couple of slip ups, and so we will watch the footage, make some changes if need be, drill a lot, eat some more chocolate and make jokes and laugh about random things and most importantly keep on enjoying being a part of this experience.

Salomes Sisters were next with two tracks, *Trust in Me* (the proper Disney Jungle Book soundtrack version  – my favourite version ever)  and then a track they called “Wheelie Bin”.  I absolutely loved that their costumes were made to their own personal taste, and had a basis of white and old gold that they had all executed really well.

Saaidah aka Lynne Hogg was next up for a great solo to a track she identified as a *Lovely piece of old fashioned Saaidi*.  And she did it great justice with all of the energy, fun and challenge that Saaidi offers.

To close the performances section Hathor performed to *Jai Ho* from the soundtrack of the blockbuster film Slumdog Millionaire.  Always a treat to see something choreographed to a piece of music that has entered the cosmic pyschology, this was a fab way to end the performances section.

After everyone had cruised and enjoyed the buffet there was time for a raffle and then the rest of the evening was given over to dancing the night away.

Top marks to the Bedouin Girls for a fun evening and I look forward to seeing how much they raised for Thames Valley Hospice, AND having them come and perform at Hipnotic.

P.S.  I forgot my camera so can’t supply pictures!!