Thursday, November 21, 2013

Suhaila/ Jamila Level I Certification Intensive workshops Brussels, October 24-29, 2013

The month of November has just flown past with all the gigs and gig related trips we had lined up. So many wonderfully unique and greatly inspiring sensory impressions were to be had that frankly, I have not quite had the time to process even half of them yet. The incredibly energetic and sexy Depeche Mode, the ever so powerful The National and otherwordly Sigur Rós all played at the O2 in Dublin and we also travelled to Paris (my very first time in the French capital) to see Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live at The Zenith. I consider myself so very blessed to be able to see all these incredible bands live and admittedly, even though I often resent my full-time office job it does have its advantages. When my favorite bands release their tour dates and are performing live, I do whole heartedly thank the monthly pay check for covering the gig (and dance/arts) induced expenses. At those times I definitely do not miss my student days when I barely scraped by on a part-time job.

I am not going to describe the individual gigs in great depth here, as this was meant to be a brief write up on my impressions of the Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels at the end of October.

Suffice to say that Depeche Mode swept me off my feet with their truly unique, dance inspiring live show and their amazingly energetic delivery (Hail to Dave Gahan and Martin Gore in particular). Dave Gahan's precise impeccable spinning technique could possibly teach any aspiring dancer (or any more experienced dancer wanting to perfect their turns) a thing or two and his hip work is simply mind blowing. The National- What can I say! I don't think I could ever get tired of seeing them live (we had only just seen them live at the Parco della Musica in Rome for my birthday a few months ago). I am glad I was introduced to this fabulous Indie Rock band from Brooklyn whose frontman Matt Berninger never ceases to amaze me with his truly authentic stage presence. He delivers his heartfelt lyrics with all his soul and presence every single time they play live.

And Sigur Rós!! My first time seeing them perform live at the O2 in Dublin on the 16 November! I don't even have the words to describe how I felt during the gig. It was magical, dreamy and truly special, their stage art and projections well reflected on and perfectly matched to their tunes. I felt like dancing in Icelandic fairy forestland all throughout the show, and the musicianship of Jónsi and Co is jaw "dro(ol)ppingly" skillful for lack of better words. To wrap the November gig saga up- Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. What more to say. Dark Lord, Count Dracula, Sandman aka Nick Cave and the incredible Bad Seed musicians managed to create the most magical atmosphere. Nick Cave just floored me with his incredibly strong and powerful presence, and deep sultry voice. telling/singing tales of sadness and sorrow and many more. And Warren Ellis is the best rocker- violinist/ multi-instrumentalist, ever so talented musician ever- Wow! So worth the travel to France. Despite the sleep deprivation and many hiccups on Parisian (not so great) public transport and scammers everywhere, I would do it again every time. This band is worth it for sure!

Now after drooling over the aforementioned musicians who continue to inspire me with their artistry and stage presence, I want to just briefly attempt to recall my experiences and summarise my impressions of the Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels at the end of October. It was an intense five days spent dancing and training our butts off, topped off with late nights studying Dance History for our Jamila Level I exam. But it was worth every drop of sweat. And I am not lying when I say that we sweated buckets of sweat. Trust me, despite the freezing weather, the sweat pools were comparable to when I was training for the Pro-Track at Tribal Umrah in tropical heat this past July. I think this truly points to the physical intensity of training with Suhaila Salimpour. Whatever your opinion may be on certification programs in general, it's difficult to make an argument to contest the hard work students of the format put in. Suhaila Salimpour really does kick arse, and every time I train with her I extremely grateful that she pushes me beyond my boundaries (in this case, it was hard core cymbal playing that kicked my arse and bruised my fingers big time). It now almost feels like a class reunion every time I participate in workshops with Suhaila, and I just realised it's three years in a row now that I have done workshops in the format. It was great to see some of the Tribal Umrah Pro-Trackers again, and to share a flat (and frantically study) with the lovely Shereen who I first met at a dance event in Brighton a few years ago,

I am grateful for this truly invigorating, physically and mentally intense experience which reinforced my spirits and proved that I am a strong player on both a physical and mental plane. I am also happy that I decided to try out the exam scenario and test in the end. I did both the Level I Suhaila and Jamila exams, and participating in this highly stressful, intense environment has taught me a few personal lessons for sure. I have been studying the format (especially Suhaila material) for quite some time now but nothing could prepare me (or anyone judging from the reactions) for the exam related stress that makes your knees feel like jelly and which makes technique you normally (think you) have down resemble an out of body experience.

I personally found the Jamila exam challenging, maybe not as much in a technical sense as it's not pure technique (as is the Suhaila format) but more so because you have to successfully work in and around a group while still being tested on your individual skills and knowledge. You need to trust and utilise your spatial awareness and accurately follow verbal movement cues with confidence even if at times they may be difficult to make out over the music.

It's so easy to get thrown off by what other dancers are doing around you, or to get derailed, so it's really a great lesson in being present and concentrating fully. The other challenge was of course the cymbal playing. For it being "just" Level I Jamila a lot of skill in terms of cymbal playing mastery is required of the student, and I find left hand dominat cymbal patterns a definite challenge especially when they are sped up. Suhaila proved once again that she wants each one of the participants to perform at their best abilities, and while she was firm in the testing environment, she was very encouraging and supportive as well.

All in all, I am super excited about having had this precious experience, grateful about studying with Suhaila and her lovely assistant teacher Sabriye and to Maëlle for organising this event. It was such a great opportunity for further development which I would recommend to any dancer, whatever their preferred stylisation (be it Tribal Fusion and Modern Style Belly Dance, traditional Raqs Sharqi etc).

Thanks for such a wonderful dance experience, looking forward to seeing you all again, and dancing with you soon!

~Dance OM~ 

Jamila Salimpour Level I workshops

Suhaila Salimpour Level I workshops

Junonia Dance Company Autumn Hafla @ McGrattans on Fitzwilliam Lane, Dublin 2

It's been quite a few weeks/ months since our Junonia Autumn Hafla (6 October 2013) but I have simply been up to my ears with work and dance related travel (Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in Brussels). I truly was unable to set aside time for composing a brief entry highlighting the beautiful hafla experience. The following paragraphs will serve as an extremely concise memory aid to record some of my main thoughts surrounding the event.

The hafla turned out to be super special not only for me but it seems for all the dancers involved, judging from the feedback received. The venue I chose this time worked out a lot better than Sweeney's (which we used for our summer hafla) mainly because the layout is square and so allows for the audience to properly follow and watch performances. From that point of view, it was a major improvement, and we were able to set up chairs for the audience as well as my newly acquired Panasonic in order to record the event. A very exciting little detail for me as I always loved videography and photography. I cannot wait to use my camera more often in the future and to learn more about videography and related editing software and applications.

I felt greatly supported in the preparations leading up to the arrival of our guest dancers that night! All my beautiful core students arrived early and helped with prepping the place. In the end we managed to create a proper audience seating area, a nicely and snugly set up souk (=market place) at the back and we even set up a makeshift changing area to the side of the stage. I got to admit it, it looked somewhat like a coffin but the purple velvet material that the crafty Miss Nell from the Zoryanna brought in came in very handy. It allowed us to conveniently put on make up, and dump our costumes out of everyone's sight. The whole set up was a collective effort, and I was so relieved to get so much support from all the dancers so a huge shout out of thanks to you all, you know who you are! I am especially grateful for my Viking partner in crime to be present at the event and assist with the set up! Thank you very much for coming along to the venue with me way early, for helping me with the sound check, stage set up and the camera! I am infinitely thankful for your help and support all the way through knowing that dance is not your most pressing passion.
It really does make all the difference to have a partner and supportive team back you up.

As mentioned, I got my Panasonic camera as a birthday gift and it came in so very handy. It recorded the performances beautifully and we now have a lovely visual reminder of our beautiful event so check this Youtube channel for the recordings

I am also planning on uploading them to my own Youtube dance channel at some point soon at

In the next few weeks, I will make a concerted effort to revamp the website at and to update blogs and facebook pages for Junonia Dance Company, so please do subscribe to the Youtube Channel/ Twitter and facebook group pages.

All the above media will contain information on hafla and shows in the future, as well as workshops I am organising or attending and any dance/music related type information.

Thanks to all of the dancers who performed at the Junonia Autumn Hafla who made it so very special and thanks to Nadia Gativa for designing a flyer last minute (see below).

~Dance OM~

Above images are by Ricardo Meneghel, photoshop edit by Ana Aninha.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ailbhe Large- Tik Tok Tribal Fusion Workshop/ Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios/ Saturday 16 November 2013

Post- workshop write-up!

I am just after coming back from Paris where we saw Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live at The Zenith (19 November 2013).

Nick Cave is one of those rare to find, naturally charismatic and enigmatic stage personas and his performance and powerful presence just blew my mind. Despite his tiny frame, he exudes a quietly strong and serene Dark Lord, Dracula type vibe which is just awe inspiring to say the least. Seeing him perform live was extremely special to me as it made a long cherished dream of mine come true. It did not only inspire me to work towards becoming a better performing artist myself (despite a strong penchant to introversion) but it also made me want to pick up the Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman again. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are a definite must watch if you care about high quality music and showmanship. I for one am definitely going to travel to see them at other gigs in the future and very much look forward to being pulled into their storytelling, magic multiverse many more times again!

Coming back home to the daily grind is always hard but I am motivating myself to get through today's office/work day by thinking of inspiring dance workshops in the recent past and workshops scheduled in the weeks to come. I have been fairly busy plotting workshops with fabulous dancers across the UK and Republic of Ireland regions and will be announcing further dates and details soon.

One of the most recent Tribal Fusion workshop experiences that was really nurturing and fun was Ailbhe Large's Tic Toc Tribal Fusion workshop at The Temple Lane Rehearsal Studios last Saturday the 16 November 2013. Ailbhe is the one Dublin dancer that from the very start (aside from my teacher Wendy Marlatt) had me fall head over heels with their performance and natural stage persona skills. She is a wonderful example of a dancer that is perfectly at ease with their body and thoroughly enjoys and masters presenting their art to both smaller and larger audiences. Every time I see her perform live, she skillfully pulls in audience members by actively interacting with them during her performances and by simply being fully present while dancing. It was a precious treat for us that Ailbhe squeezed in a 2 -hour Dublin workshop into her busy schedule and we all agreed that it was super fun and that we want a repeat of it.

I won't go into the details of the drills we did during the workshop (see below for the original workshop description), but suffice to say that we all adored the lovely, intricate and at times slightly wacky (The Walking Dead comes to mind) elements and combinations Ailbhe taught us. Experiences like that are so precious to the Dublin dance community and I hope there will be many more events like this in the future. I will definitely contribute and do my best in organising many of them. Thanks to Ailbhe for taking out time for the Junonia dancers and to all of you for taking part! Special thanks to some of my very new modern style belly dance babies who did a great job of following and studying with Ailbhe!

~Dance OM~


Tik tok tik tok tik tok

Ailbhe Large is back in town! YIP YIP YIP!!:)

In this workshop we will work with timing to break down music then reconstruct it using choice movements.
Playing with timing and isolations, building on them, using layering and different speeds, direction, spins to build an easy but exciting choreography.

Temple Lane Rehearsal Studio/ Curved Street/
Temple Bar- Dublin 2

Start time: 10 30 am- 12 45 pm

Early-bird cash payment: 25 Euro
If paid in cash in Wednesday or Friday Junonia Dance Company classes (before 10 November)

30 Euro thereafter
Contact to secure your spot asap and for booking information.

Don't miss out on a wonderful workshop with the one and only Ailbhe Large who is coming to visit and shimmy with us in Dublin's fair city!! This is a rare and precious occasion to study with a very special, dazzling Irish dancer so be sure to grab your spot TODAY!

Shimmy on
Junonia J.V.S

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Junonia Bellydancemble Summer Hafla @Sweeney's Dame Street, Dublin 1 on 16 June 2013

Another belated entry, but better late than never.

I just wanted to mention that my group, Junonia Dance Company performed at our summer hafla in Sweeney's on 16 June and it was an absolute success. The Junonia dancers worked incredibly hard to rehearse and perform two group choreographies, the first being "Heartbeats" by The Knife, the second being a more traditional piece to "Crush" by Beats Antique featuring Brazz Menazeri.

The weeks leading up to the summer hafla were filled with loads of rehearsals and "overtime", and many discussions on how to create group costumes efficiently. I really enjoyed seeing the dancers grow so much and be so involved and excited about the whole process. It makes my job as a dance teacher and organiser so much easier and much more exciting because I can feel their support and enthusiasm which nurtures me throughout.

While I must say that the choice of venue will have to be a different one next time (It turned out to be far too small and stuffy), I had the impression the hafla turned out really well otherwise. We had a lot of really talented Dublin dancers perform at the event and it was a great start to networking more and will hopefully be a platform of increased collaborative efforts amongst the Dublin (Tribal Fusion and American Tribal Style community) in the future. I really enjoyed organising the event although sometimes juggling all the logistics and retaining a full time employment can be a bit challenging and demands good time management skills. But it all worked out really well, and everyone was so supportive on the night, so a big thanks goes to all my students for being so super amazing, and Nadia Gativa for keeping "my cool" on the night:) You guys just rock and I cannot wait for more haflas to come over the next few months. And a big thanks to all the other performers involved in the event!

Please check out Junonia Dance Company's new group page on facebook at

Image by Eva Ziggiotto

Flyer design by Nadia Gativa

~Dance on~

Greystones Yoga- Weekend Intensive with David Swenson and Shelley Washington May 2013

I meant to post an entry directly after the David Swenson Intensive Ashtanga yoga weekend at the end of May 2013, but clearly that never happened.

Participating in the Intensive Ashtanga yoga weekend with David and his wife Shelley Washington was an incredible privilege and I came out all buzzing and really motivated to take my own Ashtanga practice that bit further. Thanks to Rionach O'Flynn of Greystones Yoga, we were able to study with this seasoned, incredibly insightful and refreshingly funny yogi who has been practicing Ashtanga for the last forty years. It was an inspiring reminder that I am on the right track with my own practice, and that my practice has become so much more than just a way to become and stay physically fit. As a matter of fact, with consistent personal practice, I have managed to transform yoga into a lifestyle over the last few years. I am incredibly grateful to have discovered the practice because without it I would not know what to do, it's my anchor and keeps me sane no matter what is going on in the external world or with people around me.

David and Shelley take such a refreshing approach to teaching yoga, and make it so much fun. In fact, I cannot remember laughing as much in any yoga workshops I have taken in the past.  I loved hearing David's little anecdotes throughout the workshops. While taking Ashtanga yoga seriously and passing it down in the traditional framework as taught by Patthabi Jois, David Swenson still manages to keep a healthy balance between a serious, disciplined practice and a lighthearted approach allowing for human error and inviting playfulness.

Another thing I particularly loved about David's workshops was the fact that it involved a lot of group work which did not only take out the tension and possible anxiety that some anasanas (like headstand, handstand and backbend) may cause in some people but it also gave us really precious knowledge about how to assist other yogis in accomplishing and practising certain poses in a healthy, supported and controlled manner. While I love backbending sequences I am still a little weirded out by the concept of freestanding headstands (this got much better over the last year) and especially handstands. The idea of potentially falling freaks out my adult self and I much prefer having people around to catch me in case I do happen to fall. I know falling won't kill me and David did explain how to fall and roll out of falls safely but I still have not managed to entirely let go of the fear (that simply imagining the potential of falling creates).

The fact that David and Shelley put us in groups to work on and explore handstand helped me enormously as it made me realize how much fun handstands actually are. I love seeing the world from an entirely different perspective, and exploring my balance and strength. Also, it made me acknowledge that I am probably already strong enough to attempt them (gradually) on my own although my rational mind still tends to try and convince me differently. Another aspect I really loved about the weekend was that we were able to discuss yoga philosophy quite a bit too, which was a great way for winding down the weekend.

While I mostly practise yoga on my own, I always appreciate opportunities of connecting with and getting to know fellow yogis/yoginis. The events organised by Greystones Yoga are always such a welcome chance for me to do yoga in a group setting. The David Swenson workshops (much more like the David Williams workshops at Greystones Yoga last year) really allowed me to exchange myself with yoga practitioners and to feel that I am part of a greater movement. Not only did I get a lift of a beautiful massage therapist and met other yoga girls as a result, but I was also able to meet new people assisting and being assisted in the workshops, and I spent two amazing days in Greystones. Greystones is such a beautiful place and the whole weekend was sunny and bright, and I enjoyed vegan food at the Happy Pear. How much better can life get?

Just because I am only posting this entry now, I wanted to also mention that my participation in the Luke Jordan workshops at Samadhi Dublin on 14 July was amazing too. Again, the second workshop (which followed a Led Primary Series class) was about Yoga philosophy and chanting and I will definitely read the Yoga Sutras in depth after this. My next yoga related adventure will be with the wonderful Gillian Mooney who will teach a series of amazing workshops over the coming bank holiday weekend.. I absolutely cannot wait for it! Saturday 3 August will commence with a Tristhana workshop (10-1 pm) followed by the Principles of Backbending (2-4 pm). Sunday 4 August will start with a Led Primary class (10-1 pm) followed by an Inversions workshop (2-4 pm). And Monday will be an Introductory workshop to the Intermediate series (10-1 pm) which I am particularly looking forward to. See for more information.



Photo by Greystones Yoga

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tribal Umrah/ Marseille 19-29 July 2013

Words cannot express the magical atmosphere at the (itinerant) Tribal Umrah Festival which took place in Marseille this year. Of all the dance events I have been to in the past few years this has by far exceeded my wildest expectations. Not only was I blessed enough to be picked to partake in the Pro-Track program, but the social activities and many dance events organised throughout the week just blew my mind. The talent and immense love and support shared were simply overwhelming and it will be take my quite some time to process all the impressions I had during my stay in the South of France.

We arrived the weekend before the festival kicked off, and I am glad we got some time to explore Marseille before being immersed in dance related events and training the week after our arrival. On getting off the plane at the airport on Friday 19 July, we were hit by a wall of heat and it took some time to acclimatize despite the heatwave in Dublin the two weeks prior to our departure. We were so lucky to have booked a flat on Avenue de Mazarques which we we discovered was just a convenient few houses up from the studio (Olga Semanova Dance Studios) reserved for the Pro-Track. My first experience booking a flat via Airbnb was really quite positive, and I am thinking of resorting to this accommodation option when travelling to events in the future. It really makes all the difference to be staying and living in a local's flat. It automatically gives you a feel of home and a certain sense of familiarity. We loved our flat right from the moment we stepped into the doors. It was great having a chat with the landlady in French and to discover that my French (spoken) skills are not as rusty as I thought they would be due to a lack of practice in recent years. The landlady gave us a few pointers as to what places to check out in the surrounding area, and we were chuffed to discover that the beach was just a short walk from the flat and Parc Borely was just down the road also. All in all, the ideal place to stay for our dance ventures.

My friend Teuta and fellow dance soul then joined us that Friday afternoon, driving down to Marseille by car, as she is currently undertaking a road trip through France. It was so wonderful to see her again after a year, and to catch up and hear about her French adventures so far. The next day (20 July) we decided to explore the neighborhood and walk into town (leaving dripping pools of sweat behind us on the way in). I am so glad we made the trip to the Old Port as it's just absolutely stunning. I loved sitting on the edge dipping my feet into the water and enjoying the view across to the boats and harbor. We also got to see the Gay Pride that paraded through town as we walked in and it was super fun to see everyone's make up and dress. The participants had a mad good time dancing and partying though their choice of music was rather questionable at times. The markets around town were also fun to check out, and the whole of Marseille smelled lovely, of handmade soaps and lavender. We also stuffed our faces with Macaroons which was definitely an occasion for me to make a vegetarian exception and for temporarily "abandoning" my largely vegan lifestyle. The sun was shining all day, and we were spoilt rotten by the weather!

The Sunday we finally spent on the beach, and I loved just being in the water, and reading a really stimulating book on neuroscience/brain plasticity.

Our Pro-Track adventures got kicked off by a four-hour Black Sheep workshop on Monday morning, and I loved it. It was nice to study their group improvisational format which is very informed by American Tribal Style and it gave me food for thought for group work when teaching my own classes. The following morning class consisted of the Suhaila Salimpour format taught by Ashara (assisted by the gorgeous Maelle from Belgium) and it was great to review the format as I have been studying it for quite some time now. Deb Rubin's "Dance Therapeutics" class on Wednesday was amazing, tying into and expanding on what I learnt from Deb at the Infusion Emporium in Wolverhampton last year. Amy Sigil then rocked our world the following morning with her "can do attitude" (despite her broken foot). Reciting "I am ready" at the beginning of class was super fun and summoned our energies for a highly energetic, powerful Unmata style class during which Amy also managed to put together a full group choreo (consisting of 21 Pro-Track dancers). The main message being that the movement is already within us and that we need to listen to ourselves and discover our own movement repertoire organically. Another lesson I took away from Amy's class was that even any day to day activities can inform our movement vocabulary as dancers. The last morning class of the week was delivered by Sharon Kihara, and I am so incredibly blessed to have finally studied with this stunningly beautiful and exceptionally talented dancer. Sharon had us do a really strong and much needed yoga warm up which I absolutely loved. She then went on to analyze two drum solos with us which was really informative. In this class, we also learnt a lot about the social dynamics between dancers and musicians before tackling and learning Sharon's extremely fun and unusual drum solo (which she also performed at the closing show on Saturday, 27 July).

Moving on to the afternoon sessions, April Rose worked very hard to create her water choreography with our Pro-Track group. It was such an honor to be working with April and also to be able to collaborate with so many talented dancers. I particularly loved the interactive approach which involved everyone's creative input. While I started out in the "underwater group" and contributed some movement to their routine, I then moved on to joining the floorwork group. It was six of us and I just adored the floorwork despite the hard, concrete floor at the Olga Semanova studio (Nr. 52 on Avenue de Mazargues) and many bruises acquired as a result.

I truly think being part of the Pro-Track was a necessary step towards greater professionalism and integral to my further development as a dancer teacher and dancer/performer. It was amazing to be able to work with dancers that boast such a high level of proficiency, everyone catching on so fast and being so pro-active and supportive of one another. Witnessing this high degree of mutual support and dedication really inspired me, we had such a great sense of community and fellow dancey kinship, it was heartwarming. I just loved getting to know all the amazing Pro-Track dancers and hope we will be dancing together again soon. Our performance on Saturday was just amazing and I am absolutely dying to watch the recording of the piece. Considering we only had two hours four of the afternoons to put together and learn the choreography with April Rose, I thought we did a great job of supporting each other on the night. The Pro-Track water choreography was a lovely way of opening the closing show! Words cannot begin to express what I felt on the night of the performance- The whole atmosphere was just so magical with the stage being set up at the seaside in open air. Dancing outside with the refreshing breeze in our faces was just wonderful and seeing all the other outstanding dancers perform was such an honor. All the performances were just stunning, and I was particularly moved by Sharon Kihara's first number which was so emotional, powerful and truly overwhelming, moving me to tears as a matter of fact.

Our first Tribal Umrah participation got rounded off by a hike to the Calanques which was organised by Djeyenne and her Tribal Umrah crew. The hike was a perfect way of winding down in nature after an intensive week of dancing. Swimming and enjoying the beach after the hike was such a great reward for our hard work throughout the week and gave us the opportunity to socialize and get to know each other better. The trail of pools of sweat we left during the hike to and from the Calanques was so worth it and I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed I will be able to join Tribal Umrah next year also!

Thanks to Djeyenne and her Tribal Umrah chicks, April Rose, all the Pro-Track performers, my students Grace and Yukari and my gorgeous friend Teuta for such a memorable dance holiday!



Photo by Neï Mad Photographies

Friday, June 14, 2013

Junonia Bellydancemble Summer Hafla 16 June 2013

Join Junonia Bellydancemble dancers for a summer night filled with dancing and great music! We cannot wait to see ye all at our summer hafla, and burn the dance floor together!

AMOON will provide the musical entertainment/backdrop and to that we say YAY!:)

Dancers confirmed so far: 

Junonia Bellydancemble and Jasmin Victoria
Nadia Gativa
Aoife Hardiman (Apollonia)
Stacey McPartlin (KadriBellydance)
LauraMaeve (ATS/Speak from the Hip/ Kaatna Tribal)
Linday Pearson and Resham-Ka Triba
Nathalie Moyano (Peña Flamenca El Indalo)
Dayenne Dijkland
Emer Wall (Bollywood)
Bella AGoGo

Do not miss out, it will be a great way to catch up, dance our socks off and a wonderful kickoff to the summer vacation period!

Venue: Sweeney Mongrel Pub, Basement Function Room,
32 Dame Street

Time: Doors open at 7 pm (for friends and family)
Performances will start at around 7 30 pm!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Discovering The Moment: An invitation to presence. Workshops led by Tom Pritchard!

I actually meant to decompress and reflect on my workshop experience at Coisceim at the beginning of this week, but then the work rut caught up with me. At the moment, my schedule is so tight with work and dance commitments that I am unsure if I will last much longer. I am so sleep deprived at this point that I am afraid I may turn into a zombie any day- Not very yoga minded of me at all.

Anyway, I still want to write a short entry because I am so glad I did join Tom Pritchard's invitation to presence over the June Bank Holiday weekend. 

The whole idea was a bit daunting at first since I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. To be frank, the voice element of the workshops had me particularly worried. Sadly, I have not used my singing voice properly for a few years. While I used to sing along to my favorite music and didn't have any reservations or worries about how it sounded in the past (I enjoyed it way too much to care), my adult conscience caught up with me eventually. Now that I am sharing a flat, I am usually mute when listening to my favorite tracks and surpress the urge to sing along. Humming along I do at times, but full blown singing? Over my dead body, or at least only when I can guarantee no living soul is around to witness my pitiful attempts of singing.

This observation leads me to explore adult inhibitions. It makes me wonder why with age most of us lose the ability to simply engage in non-judgmental play. Most of the time, we demand a solid reason to engage in activities. Most of our activities need to be geared towards an ultimate (respectable) goal in order to be valid and for us to get a sense of achievement out of it. What we often don't realize is that his achievement driven mindset does not actually increase our sense of self worth but rather prevents us from allowing ourselves simple (and yet so vital) play time.

The sense of wanting to get it perfect the first time around without acknowledging the fact that the journey is more important than the actual outcome is what has played on my mind a lot in the recent past. And this is probably one of the reasons why I wanted to participate in the workshops. It feels like I need to start allowing myself a lot more room for creative play because play is as precious and valid as discipline and commitment. I suppose it's the balance between the two forces that makes all the difference.

The workshops allowed me to tap into my playful self although some parts (like the use of voice and synchronizing sounds and movement) still scared the living daylights out of me. But at least I tried, and alas, it wasn't as bad  an experience as I thought it might be. I even got to improve my fluency in gibberish which was  interesting, to say the least. Also, it was really rewarding to find myself in a room full of individuals from different backgrounds ranging from theatre to literature and dance and hearing about their personal challenges in other areas. Despite our perceived differences, we are all so connected. Indeed, the fact that Tom provided a safe environment for us meant that we could open up to one another and support each other much more quickly, without the pressure of expectations. The sense of mutual support in the group was very tangible!

Needless to say, I particularly loved the movement and body work Tom introduced to us. My body is used to moving so it was happily jumping on the opportunity to do just that. I love being able to improvise as it's not nearly done enough in led classes, or in my own time. And Tom's gradual instruction and progression into improvisational play, I think, was helpful and non-threatening even for individuals without a movement and dance background. The group dynamics that emerged from creative play were really amazing, both in a movement and theatrical way. It's incredible what happens when you listen to the group, and when you allow yourself to just go with the flow and try things, no matter how silly your intellectual and analytical mind may deem it.

So in short, I am ever so grateful to have had the opportunity to join this invitation to presence, and while I am still digesting all this precious information, I am already sure that I want to incorporate (at least some of) the elements and concepts Tom introduced into my own creative (dance) practice (play).

Thanks ever so much to Coisceim for hosting Tom, and thanks to Tom for being patient and super supportive!






Discovering The Moment: An invitation to presence.Two day improvisation workshop in movement and voice

Tom Pritchard is a Glasgow-based dancer who will be performing in the upcoming CoisCéim production, MISSING.
Whether your interest stretches to performance, making art or simply continuing your journey to greater self-knowledge, this physical workshop aims to support your exploration.
Through Tom’s improvisation practice, you will be guided to explore different manifestations of the expressive, present self: voice, movement, painting, writing, singing, stillness.
“We will consider the nature of being solo, in dialogue and existing as part of an ensemble; being in contact and apart; excavating the narratives in our anatomy and the games in our senses.  By tuning our senses, we aim to rediscover the simplicity of inspiration that lies dormant, present and eager within each of us.”

TOM PRITCHARD is a Glasgow-based performer, improviser and facilitator working across dance, theatre, poetry and improvisation. He has performed internationally in solo and ensemble works for companies across Europe and has choreographed for, amongst others, Scottish Dance Theatre, IndepenDANCE and the SSCD. Tom is also an international facilitator of dance, improvisation and multidisciplinary performance and has directed On The Stage Of The Present since 2010. For more information about Tom’s practice, please visit

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tribal Remix- Brighton- 3-6 May 2013

Back home- back to the rut! I always find settling back into everyday work life the most difficult part.

Dance Intensives and workshops- whilst at times exhausting with all the travelling required- always nurture me so much, sustain my soul and contribute to my further education as a dancer and teacher. The creative, physical and emotional experiences I am able to gain at those events starkly contrast the routine of my office job, and  I often find it hard to accept the creative bleakness on my return to work.

Tribal Remix was an absolute success as far as I am concerned. A lot of sweat, a lot of floor work and contemporary modern dance (which is right up my alley). More muscles built, teaching skills experienced and acquired. I am ever so grateful for individuals like Hilde Canoodt whose organisational talent and zeal enable the European dance community to expand their dance expertise. Tribal Remix 2013 hosted dance teachers of very high caliber such as Mardi Love, Tjarda van Straten, Mirjam Sutter, Valerie Romanin and last but not least festival organiser Hilde Cannodt herself.

I was sick all of last week, but the zombie virus and my battered ankle did not prevent me from participating in all the workshops lined up for the weekend. I had no choice in this matter, to miss out on any of them would have been heartbreaking. I am so grateful that my conviction pulled me through, sniffling and congested, but all the same.

We actually arrived the Thursday night, and had Friday morning for a wee stroll on Brighton Pier and along the pebbly beach right outside our hostel. I always savor opportunities of going out into nature for peaceful walks so much, especially seeing that we are constrained to our office desks for most part of the week. Not exactly a fulfilling experience. Following our blissful stroll in the sun we had a really rewarding 3-hour workshop experience in Mardi Love's Original Choreography class. I had never studied with Mardi before, so was super excited at familiarizing myself with her teaching style and getting challenges thrown at us. I adore her lovely precise isolations and the combinations which she presented us with make for handy study material to improve precision and speed. It felt like being dipped into Vintage playful romance!

Saturday kicked off with Tjarda Van Straten's  2-hour The way you make me feel workshop which completely aligned with everything (and more) I am looking for right now as a dancer. I found the experimental nature of the workshops and the exercises quintessential to building expression and story line in my own dance. Expression and confident stage presence are aspects I am often struggling with, especially when put before audience. Tjarda made us present our own little improvisational sequence to the class participants at the end of class, and asked us to put emotion and expression into it. A seemingly simple, yet (to me) such frightening task. Again, I was confronted with my biggest fear of exposing  my bare emotions in front of others, which is contrary to my introverted nature. In front of audience, it just does not seem to come natural to me at all, despite the huge love and passion I feel for dance. We laughed a lot in this class though, especially when we teamed up together to tackle the exercises. Tjarda's "unconventional" class was followed by Joe Darby's Contemporary Dance Technique. Everyone loved Joe's warm-up and combinations, and both classes really inspired me to get back to my contemporary modern dance practice at Dublin Dance House and CoisCeim. The day was rounded off by a fun ATS inspired workshop taught by Hilde Canoodt in collaboration with live musician Sabio.

Sunday was another wonderful day filled with fun, dance and laughter. It started with Mardi Love's New Combinations workshop, followed by Mirjam Sutter's high energy Balkan choreography and completed by Valerie Romanin's Barefoot Flamenco workshop. Mirjam's teaching style is so high energy, and drill based and she makes sure to diligently correct students. Out of the whole Intensive this was probably the class that challenged me the most- due to the speed, the different movement quality which contrasts Tribal Fusion and Contemporary. Last but not least, Valerie's workshop really made me reflect on the expressiveness inherent in hand movements and the attitude transmitted by certain foot patterns.

The Saturday night we went to the student hafla, which was really fun. It is always so inspiring to see new ideas presented on stage! Sammy Gatehouse's performance that night blew me away, it was so strong and emotionally charged. Sunday night finished with a teacher show case which showcased stunning performances and although I loved all of them, I particularly responded to Mirjam Sutter's first piece which was dedicated to the Palestine population and their struggles.

Monday was our last happy day dancing. It was a little bit more relaxed than the days before, though I must admit my biceps and triceps thanked me for it with blissful aches. I most certainly "blame" (in a good way) Mirjam's floorwork class for that. I loved loved loved her floorwork items, and I totally want to play with contemporary floorwork more in the future. Tjarda's Silent Waves workshops again presented us with a lot of group exercises using voice to create rhythms and music, and experimenting with contrast, dynamics in movement. It was super interesting (and invited us to be goofy in groups) and I plan to incorporate those items in my personal practice in the future.

Mardi's Slow Layers and Sultry Combinations allowed us to revisit body rolls, chest circles and she taught us a lovely slow combination in the end. We then ended up in the parking lot for a Q&A with Mardi riddling her with questions on her experiences in creating dance opportunities and the like.

I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this event, as events like this always inspire me to push on and to continuously believe in my own path as a dancer and teacher. I love learning and I so appreciate the opportunities that have now become able to dancers across Europe that study Tribal Fusion and modern style belly dance.



    Tribal Remix image

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Suhaila Salimpour Intensive- Lilian Baylis at Sadler's Well, London 7& 8 July 2012

It feels like an eternity ago already. I wish it was only yesterday, and that I could repeat it over and over again, today, for the rest of the week, the next few months, years for that matter. I could not get enough of dance training of such high quality like that, ever!

But alas, the reality is that I am stuck in the office chained to my desk yet another day, eyes glued to the screen, only sustained by recalling the happy dancey moments I spent in Sadler's Wells Theatre, London's equivalent to Dublin Dance House two weeks ago.

This was my first spontaneous overnight stay in London in honor of dance. Initially, I was a little concerned  at flying out to the UK for (barely) two days. Would it be stressful, tiring, what about my carbon footprint?  However, anyone who previously studied with Suhaila knows that staying sensible when Suhaila Salimpour workshops and Intensives are at stake is a major undertaking. Opportunities for European dancers to study with Suhaila in Europe are still few and far in between, although thanks to amazing individuals like Anna Kemper, Hilde Canoodt and Maelle and their organisational talent and commitment the occasions to study the Suhaila Salimpour format increase steadily on European shores.

Since I am only posting this a year after the event (the draft was sitting here this long, desperate right?), I just wanted to add that I am intending to participate in the Suhaila workshops in Brussels this year in October 2013. I am hoping to make a final decision and stick with it by the end of this week, stop making excuses along the lines of it being too excessive- a luxury item- on the list of my other expenditures.


"Breaking Through The Layers'- Alexis Southall workshop in Dublin- 13th April 2013

I have not posted in absolute ages, partially due to the fact that I am still struggling with severe social media phobia, and because some new year's challenges keep me busy in real life. One challenge that currently impacts my training schedule is a fairly substantial ankle injury which I am anxiously monitoring because it has not considerably improved over the last month. I am anxious because I need it to fully heal before participating in the ProTrack Intensive week during the Tribal Umrah Festival in Marseille in July. I am so fortunate to have been accepted to such an incredible event and to study with amazing teachers, Asharah, April Rose, Amy Sigil and Sharon Kihara, to name but the ones I have not had the opportunity to study with yet. Here the link for the full programme:

I sometimes wish I was more in the habit of blogging and sharing my thoughts, but it still does not feel natural to me. Exchanging personal thoughts and experiences with friends and family, fair enough, but publishing them? On the other hand I recognise the importance of some blogs. I for one am forever grateful for discovering and exploring blog entries of fellow dancers who have experienced similar challenges and blocks but are, contrary to me, brave enough to share them with the rest of the community. One of those really incredible dancers is Alexis Southall whose blog has inspired me immensely in the last year. Just to give two examples of incredibly precious entries by Alexis are and the latter of which deals with the responsibility you have as a dance teacher. It definitely corresponds to what I believe "being an inspiring, responsible dance teacher" entails.

We were incredibly fortunate that Alexis came to Dublin last weekend to teach her "Breaking through the layers" workshop during which she taught us a choreography to "The End of the Month" by Broken. The workshop reminded me to appreciate musicality and to intently listen to your piece of music rather than confining yourself to meticulously, mathematically dissecting it, and counting movement sequences. I also realised that I need to push myself a little bit more in my own practice because it is far too easy to just default what you know inherently well already, settling with moves your body has learnt to love and master perfectly. So an item for my practice agenda will be to challenge myself more in terms of increasing the speed and precision of my isolations. I really loved the choreo Alexis taught us! It was short and sweet and I cannot wait to actually get the music in order to review and revise it again.

To complete a perfectly inspiring workshop experience we went to Dada, a Maroccan restaurant on South William Street and my beautiful friend and kindred dance spirit Ailbhe who is over in Dublin for a visit from Madrid where she currently lives, the stunning Alexis (who aside from doing a solo also did a spontaneous ATS improvisation with Gwenaelle) and Lorraine each performed gorgeous dance pieces.

Thanks for a wonderful workshop Alexis, and thanks to Yasmina for organising this event!

My next workshop adventure will be in Brighton at Tribal Remix at the beginning of May and I cannot wait!


Image by Alexis Southall