Thursday, 31 March 2011

Video of the Week - JoY Special!

We're running this week's 'Video of the Week' a couple of days early, as we want to catch the Jewel of Yorkshire bellydance festival before it starts this Friday!

This week the spotlight is on much loved JoY regulars and friends 400 Roses, who were founded by our teacher Chris :

"400 Roses is a group of dancers from the North of England who were brought together in late 2005  by local teacher Chris Ogden, with the aim of combining UK style folk dance with tribal bellydance - itself a fusion of North African, Gypsy, Indian and Flamenco. 400 Roses is the only troupe of its kind and perform at dance and folk events.

400 Roses use traditional and contemporary folk tunes, medieval influenced music and also bespoke fusion pieces created by local Arabic drummer Stephen Wood (aka Woody). "

This video is from an outdoor performance at Knaresborough last May, and includes live music from the Roses' musicians, the Thorns. They are dancing to a traditional tune, Princess Royal :

There were quite a lot of videos we could have chosen here, all for different reasons - including several on the JoY stage. However eventually we chose this one because you can see clearly the tribal moves and the way in which they are blended  and adapted to create that English 'folky' feel. The live music is a key contributor too, and this dance really gives the 'feel' of a summer afternoon in an English village! If you search 400 Roses videos on You Tube you'll also see some excellent examples of much more complex formations which clearly reflect their folk/Morris dance connections too.

However of course there is another reason for us choosing this video above the others - the judicious use of zils! Yes!

The Roses go down a storm wherever they perform, and we're sure that this weekend at JoY will be no exception - have a good 'un , ladies!

If you want to find out more about 400 Roses then check out their Facebook page and website.

We're off now to get ready for JoY!!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


As the last few days of the old month slip slowly by, it's time to look back at the goings on of recent weeks. March was a time of haflas for Sakura, with three very different events following hot on one another's heels. Rather than do in-depth reviews which probably won't mean much to a lot of you, we're going to look at these in general - and use them to reflect on what makes a good hafla. Of course we may at times drift off and become distracted by the minutiae, but just bear with us and we'll get there!

So here goes ....

The month kicked off with a hafla at Burnley. This is a regular, three times a year event run by our teacher Chris and another East Lancashire teacher, Chriso. It is deliciously informal, and intentionally so --- just turn up, pay on the door and give in your name and music if you'd like to perform. It's held in a large room in a club, with plenty of parking, which is a big plus point for any hafla. There are always a variety of dances from the hostess' classes, which span a huge age range from the 'Recycled Teenagers' (an Age Concern group whose joy and enthusiasm always go down well)  to the little girl - aged around six - who hit the dance floor during every break, soloing and joining in with improv with equal confidence and providing a great floorshow. In addition to this there are always performances from other local dancers, so that there's a really good mix of Oriental, Tribal and Fusion. A lovely thing about this hafla is that you see lots of the same folk - including their families - there each time so it's a great chance to catch up. The audience is so supportive, which makes it an ideal place for dancers to take their first nervous performing steps! Sakura didn't perform this time around as we'd both been ill, but because of the lack of formality we could be relaxed and not feel we were letting anyone down. We did however tread the dance floor with our tribal class which was huge fun. The only down side was that we had to leave a tad earlier than usual ...

Exactly a week later it was time for Accrington hafla, Romy's first foray into organising an event. And it has to be said, her organisation paid dividends - everyone knew where they were meant to be and when. The hafla was held amidst the grandeur of the Town Hall - in the ballroom, no less -  and we had great fun ascending and descending the magnificently ornate sweeping staircase in our 25yard skirts! We were performing on a stage, which was a whole new experience for us as far as improv goes; one of the things we are working on is building up that beautiful connection with the audience that we see in performances by troupes such as Gypsy Caravan and Gypsy Heart, and we did feel at times that we were grinning out inanely into the darkness! Obviously something else to work on! Again there were a range of performances including Tribal, Oriental - and comedy! Despite being anxious about her first hafla Romy was a lovely hostess and her class were unfailingly supportive of every act, which was really appreciated. It was good too to catch up with friends again, including from our 'old' Egyptian class.

The third and final hafla of the month was another Sakura regular - Kate's Merhaba hafla in Liverpool. Again this is held in a large room in a club, with good parking! It's also a Saturday hafla, which is always a bonus for us in terms of lots of getting-ready time (although on this occasion we'd slipped up and booked ourself on an all day art course too!). This time around it was a joint hafla with the Northern Arabic Dance Association (NADA) so there were dancers from as far afield as Newcastle. In terms of organisation. it probably comes somewhere between the previous two, with music and running orders sorted out before the event itself. Like Chris and Romy, Kate works hard to ensure that the event runs smoothly and enjoyably for everyone, and the Liverpool folk are really warm and welcoming - that's why we like it! We danced in the first half, and were delighted to find that there were two other improvised tribal groups up there - go, improv! Now although we've said that we'll not do in depth reviews here, a special mention does have to go to our friend Jo. We've seen her perform sword fusion solos a few times now and loved them all, but her performance at Liverpool was a triumph! Wonderful dancing, moody and mysterious - and spins to die for! Yay!

So - three very different haflas, all of which we enjoyed but for different reasons. So what actually makes a good hafla for Sakura?

Obviously venue is important - roomy, comfortable, easy to get to ...   So are the range of dances (although having said that, being tribalistas we love a good all-tribal hafla too!). Pretty things to buy go down well, as does winning the raffle (both of us won in Liverpool!). Bars and food are good, although invariably we just CAN'T eat until we've performed (which can be an issue if we're on late!) and after Cayte's experience of having to (unexpectedly) perform after a couple of vodkas at Sarah;s wedding that's a bit of a no-no too!

However, one thing above all others is an essential for a good hafla ...

The people!

Friendly, welcoming hostesses, a warm, enthusiastic audience, the chance to catch up and have a bop with friends. That's what REALLY matters. That's what gives you that post hafla buzz and leaves you going away wanting more. And that's what Sakura were lucky enough to experience this month!

April is looking like a quiet month hafla-wise for us - lots of workshops (including the wonderful JoY festival in Yorkshire - Indian and zilling sessions - and an improv workshop later in the month) and a chance to practise and hone our dance skills ready to step out again in May!

Until next time - happy dancing!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Don't Be Zilly!

Imagine the scene ....

There you are, at a hafla. having a great evening. The lights on the dance floor start to come up, you hear a soft jingling - and a troupe of beautiful tribal dancers move slowly, sensuously onto the floor. Oh, the kaleidoscope of colours, the gentle swirling of their skirts, the fringes that swish hypnotically to and fro, the cascade of flowers in their hair; you sidle forward in your seat, desperate to see more. The music starts to rise, calling out to your soul. It's a slow track and the dancers start to sway in unison, drawing the audience in.. This is good - all's right with the world!

The final strains of the melody fade away, and the first notes of a new track kick in. Great, it's one of your favourite faster tracks! Toe tapping time! The dancers bring the tempo up a couple of notches and .....

Clank clank clank! One two three! Right left right! Six sets of zils start to bash away remorselessly, battering the music into total submission! Clank clank clank, one two three, right left right, all the way through to the bitter end. Hey, there's a lovely twiddly bit in the middle of the track - can't wait to see how they work that into their improv! Oh yes, of course, clank clank clank, one two three, right left right! I didn't even hear it. Our moves and rhythm will prevail regardless of what's going on in the background. Right. To. The. Bitter. End.

And the beautiful moment is lost.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE my zils. I have a pair for every handbag, just in case the urge strikes. I practise anywhere and everywhere, including as an accompaniment to the odd tv advert or theme tune (whilst sporting my zil muffs of course, to alleviate the strain on my husbands ears). However - and here's the big however - to me, practice means broadening my repertoire of rhythms. It means appreciating the rhythms going on in the music and making sure that whatever I'm playing complements that. It means not necessarily hammering away at the zils ALL the way through a track, but choosing my moments. It means working WITH the music, not against it - and appreciating and responding to the different parts of it, even if it sometimes means that there may be the odd little snippet that needs to be pre-planned rather than totally improvised. It means accepting that some music is better left to stand alone, without my accompaniment. Because as far as I am concerned, dancing and music go inextricably hand in hand - and as such I need to respond to it sensitively and respectfully.

There are differing views as to whether zils should be seen and used as a prop or as a musical instrument.  As a violinist and amateur percussionist (having dabbled in kettle drums and doumbek)  my feet and ears lie firmly in the latter camp. When playing the violin, a melodic instrument, in the school orchestra (yes, only a school orchestra but I did rise to the heady height of leader of the first violins!) I would not have dreamed of going out there and sawing away relentlessly at an open 'D' string throughout whatever piece we were playing. Firstly it would be working completely against the music, and secondly it just would NOT sound good. If that was as far as I'd got in my musical path, I would go away and practise until I could do more. Similarly, open 'D' string or not, in most cases I wouldn't be playing relentlessly all the way through - because the composer would have arranged for instruments and sections to fade in and out , to highlight interesting melodies and rhythms and to provide accents and nuances. Even the percussion section, which often had something going on all the way through (and I was the violinist who had to leap over the rest of the string section to provide a bit of support on the glockenspiel and tympani part way through Noye's Fludde!) would be employing a range of sounds and rhythms. And working together, all of those different sounds made a beautiful whole.

And so it should be with dance music - tribal or otherwise. There are some beautiful tracks out there too that can be enhanced and enlivened by your zil accompaniments - but enhancing does mean working with the music, not against it. It means listening, allowing the music to work in isolation where it merits it, allowing the audience to hear what drew you to that music in the first place. Zilling whilst dancing isn't easy, you may feel extraordinarily proud of the fact that you can hold that one two three whilst you move, but if that's as far as you've got, then, just like the open 'D' string, are you really ready to put it out there on the stage? Wouldn't it be better to go away and practise until you can hold a range of rhythms and use them sensitively and appropriately? Wouldn't it be better for the audience to go away with the lasting impression of a synergy of wonderful music and dancing in their thoughts, rather than the painful memory of a real ear-bashing?

Of course you may subscribe to the line of thought that considers zils to be a prop rather than an instrument. So what is a prop? The dictionary defines it as 'a support'. So what is it supporting? Are you using it to support your dancing, so that you get a steady rhythm all the way through and don't need to worry too much about the fancy bits in the music that might stop you from saying your dance was 100% improvised? If that's the case then choose music without fancy bits so that you don't need to worry about them - there's plenty out there! Otherwise think about what you're supporting with your prop -- the music or the dance. Shouldn't it be both?

OK, rant over. I appreciate that you will not all share my point of view. I appreciate that some of you will still want to go away and zil that one two three incessantly because you enjoy it and because you can and that's your prerogative. Just one thing; if I'm there in the audience I will probably be loving your dancing and your costumes and your smiles and energy. But I won't be loving that zilling!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Video of the Week - Gypsy Heart Tribal!

At the end of each week we're going to (try to!) post a You-Tube clip of a dance video that really speaks to us! If nothing else, it will capture some of our inspirations in one spot - and will remind us of why we love them!

First up it's the turn of Gypsy Heart Tribal. These lovely ladies are the sister troupe of the Gypsy Caravan Dance Company and are based in Portland, Oregon.

"Gypsy Heart Tribal is the new incarnation of the Caravan tribal belly dance experience created by dance legend Paulette Rees-Denis. This troupe of accomplished and experienced dancers represents a fusion of the classic Caravan vision of Tribal Style Bellydance, founded in 1991: the Gypsy Caravan Dance Company, the Caravan Dance Collective, Urban Berbers, Sister Caravan, Caravan Daughters, and the Caravan Soul Collective International.

Gypsy Heart builds on this heritage with a new interpretation of tribal belly dance for contemporary audiences and with a new generation of belly dance students. The artistry, beauty, and vision of Gypsy Heart draws on traditions—old and new— from cultures including the Middle East, Africa, Spain, and India. Carol Vance, long-time member of Gypsy Caravan, is the troupe’s director.

Bringing the spontaneous and improvisational core of Tribal Bellydance to each performance, this troupe will take you on a dance journey as old as time and as new as this moment."

(From the Gypsy Caravan Dance Company website

Enjoy ....

We just like everything about this - the relaxed style at the beginning, the hypnotic slow parts, the beautiful set-up for the second piece of music, the smiles and joy they emanate (especially during the faster tracks) and the way in which, particularly during those tribal solos, you really notice them responding to nuances within the music - not just ploughing on responding to the basic rhythm alone but REALLY dancing to the music itself.

Love it!

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Sakura Tribal have been seriously addicted to YIP! podcasts since - well, since as long as we can remember. Together with our dancing friend Jo we stalk cyberspace without respite, just waiting for news of the latest release, which inevitably causes squeals of uber-excitement and a flurry of text messages. As Jo messaged me the other day: 'Excitement! 2 Yips in 1 week!'.

Yes, serious addiction indeed ...

Quite simply, if you haven't checked these podcasts out yet, where HAVE you been? You need to get listening right now! Gossip (sorry, I mean news!), music, interviews (Shay Moore, Unmata, Carolena to name but a few) - this podcast has it all. So never mind reading this blog, click here and start Yipping!

Are you back now? Have you experienced the full Yip! fabbydooziness? Do you understand what we're raving about? Then I shall continue!

Yip! is the brainchild of the lovely Tammy and Mary from Orlando, Florida. Of course if you have listened obediently you will already know this. (You have listened obediently haven't you? Or do you need to sit on the naughty step? There's still time to do the right thing - just click here!) Not that we are madly promoting Yip! or anything of course .... Mary and Tammy are wonderful presenters - warm, bright and funny, they welcome you right into their lives, and their passion and sense of wonder at the magical world of bellydance shines through and gets you hooked. If you were compiling a list of folk you wouldn't mind being stuck in a lift (or elevator, for our American friends) with, then their names would be well up there (unless of course one of them has claustrophobia issues, in which case they'd have to join in by shouting through the door. Lifts make me edgy enough without anyone having panic attacks)! And of course they both have definite tribal-leanings, which endears them to us all the more!

Anyway not only do Tammy and Mary have a great podcast - they are also gorgeously generous people to boot! A few weeks ago on their tribe (on they ran a giveaway, with Mary promising to send out Yip! themed gifts to the first 5 people to comment on the thread. Well, for once I was there in time ... and then, a couple of comments later, there was Sarah too! Squeals of excitement ensued, as you can imagine! A couple of days ago (and after much postman-stalking) our parcels arrived (big apologies Mary and Tammy - we were so giddy that it didn't even cross our minds until that point that you could have sent the stuff in one big package to one of us and we could have passed it on. Of course then there would have been a big fight over who opened it, so it's probably just as well!). We were both thrilled at all of the pretties in the parcel - a Yip! magnet, Yip! cards, beautiful anklets with Yip! beads  (hand-made by super-talented Mary) in a little tin covered in yippy messages, lovely little notes to accompany it all .... we were both proper chuffed! We shall wear the anklets whenever we perform and channel your Yip-ness, girls! (Tribal Jane - see earlier blog post if this means nothing to you - has been eying up our anklets enviously, but I've told her that as she has rather straight feet I would have to pin them on, which she isn;t keen on. So I've mollified her by telling her I shall use one of the Yip! cards to make her a little dance bag to carry her zils and water bottle in).

Huge, huge 'Thank Yous', Mary and Tammy - we love our gifts! xx

If you've just discovered Yip! you'll need to get back to listening now - I reckon you've got around 40 hours of podcasts to catch up on! If you've heard them all, you can also meet the girls at Fans of Yip! Podcast on Facebook.

Bye for now - and happy yipping!


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

All About Cayte

Well, Sarah has come up with a fantastic list of questions for me, so here goes ....


What made you choose tribal bellydancing?
I don't think I chose tribal - it chose me and reeled me in, slowly and inexorably!
After starting in Egyptian bellydance I was drawn into tribal by Deirdre Macdonald and then started to go to classes with Chris Ogden (I still make a 90 mile round trip each week to go to her classes - she's awesome!). I do love the costumes but it was the strength and power of tribal that appealed  (I'm not saying Egyptian and other forms of Middle Eastern dance can't be strong and powerful, but I felt a different 'quality' in the tribal moves that worked for me). After a good few additional workshops I discovered the magic that is improvisation - the sense of excitement, of connection, of truly creating something together in the moment. To me when you dance a choreo it can be lots of fun and look fab, but essentially you are dancing out an 'old' response - the way that you (or someone else) felt when they first wrote that choreography. When you improvise you're responding there and then to the music, to the other dancers and (if you're performing) to the audience - inviting them in to share your connection. There are a couple of moments in Gypsy Caravan's performance at Tribal Fest 10 (see the link on the sidebar) that really embody that for me. Firstly the moment when Paulette joins Peggy at the front, smiles at her and mouths 'Hi!'. The connection between them is tangible! The second is where Paulette can't perform a certain move properly because her left arm is in a sling and she laughs together with the audience - again really making that tribal connection. That what makes me love this dance style so, and that sense of effortless connection is what I hope and pray I'll achieve - one day!

What has been your favourite workshop/lesson and why?
Oooooh, so many fab lessons, so little time!
All of CS1 was amazing, as were the lessons we did in Portland last summer (see the article on the sidebar), but for me it would have to be a workshop we did with Paulette in Glasgow in 2009. It was all about including solos within tribal formations. I was TERRIFIED!!! Solos are so not my thing. But it was absolutely fantastic! Of course I found out that solos in the tribal context don't mean being all alone on that vast stage but rather being totally supported by that chorus line of tribal sisters zaghareeting and hissing in encouragement behind you (I just love that hissing, but sadly it doesn't seem to happen everywhere. Sakura got their first tribal hisses in Glasgow in January and I was extremely excited. I kept hissing to myself all weekend afterwards!).
Anyway I took the workshop, did my solo bit - and loved it!

Describe tribal bellydance in 3 words.
Connection, creativity, community.

How do you prepare for a performance?
Firstly, of course - practice, practice, practice!
Then I have a performance bag pre-packed with make-up, travelling straighteners, toiletries and all the basics, for if I'm getting ready away from home. It saves me lots of time and forgotten items! A couple of days before my performance I check that my costume and jewellery are laid out and packed up if necessary and that music is sorted.
On the day it's bath, hairwash, makeup, bindi, costume! Ideally this ritual takes a couple of lovely leisurely hours - but I have managed it in 45 minutes!!!

What music do you like to drill and perform to?
I use a variety of music to drill to at home - both traditional tribal/bellydance and non-traditional music. My current favourite is 'Satellite' by The Hooters. It's fantastic for all sorts of moves.
Performance-wise I - well we - go for music that 'speaks' to us. Recently we've danced to 'The Huntress' (Gypsy Caravan) and 'Toura Toura' (Cheb I Sabbah) and will be dancing to something by Tamikrest soon. We also have a performance coming up that will be to something less predictable and very cool - can't wait! Apart from these artists we have a long playlist of tracks we want to perform to by artists such as Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rupa and the April Fishes, Solace, Rin and the B52s!

What is your favourite item of costuming?
My lantypoons (or pantaloons as they are more properly known)! I have 10 pairs, and those of you who know me well will also know that I make regular trips to the House of Raja and come back with (very reasonably priced) saris which are inevitably made up into - lantypoons!! I have batik ones, lime green ones, stripy ones, bright orange tiger print ones - you name it. My favourite (and most recent) pair are VERY wide and puddly and are made from deep emerald green taffeta. I adapted the design at the top so that they are still flattering when worn without a skirt over the top (I do look like an Oompa Loompa in some of my other pairs until the skirt goes on!). Sarah has a matching pair in a rich, luscious purple. They're waiting for their first performance outing at the moment - we need the right track to match the overall costume look.
I do like my lantypoons full and long and must confess I do occasionally get the odd toe caught in them whilst dancing - but I have developed strategies for breaking free gracefully and unobtrusively!

What has been your most memorable bellydance moment to date?
That is so easy - the moment when Paulette told me I'd passed Collective Soul 1! I felt OK about the zilling, rhythm work and general tribal knowledge but was convinced I'd fall down (hopefully not literally!) on the practical dancing assessment, even more so because I was under the weather at the time. So that moment when she reached out and handed me that certificate was just pure magic. I was so excited I had to get straight on the phone to our friend Jo (back here in the UK) to tell her - luckily despite the time difference I didn't wake her at some ungodly hour!

Tell us something else about yourself.
I yearn to be one of those people who exudes a Zen-like air of peace, tranquillity and calm. I have a mental picture of myself looking elegant and composed in a long floaty gown, plucking serenely upon the strings of a large gilded harp.
Sadly I know all too well that this is not me. I am destined to be always Frodo and never Galadriel. On a bad day I can even stray into the giddy territory of becoming Merry or Pip. My only perverse comfort in all of this is that several of my friends have come out and identified themselves as being orcs and ents. I probably know a few Gollums too.
I have been reliably informed that the key to releasing my inner Galadriel is meditation, so I will have to try it. I'll just nip down to the shops in Hobbiton first for a packet of razors to sort out my hairy hobbit toes .....

DISCLAIMER : I do NOT really have hairy toes. That bit was artistic licence!

So there you go! Now you know a little bit more about us both!
Look out for our next blog, and happy dancing!

Monday, 21 March 2011

All About Sarah!

I started this blog with the best of intentions and a structured plan - in my head at least. I was going to start by telling you all about tribal bellydance, then move on to tell you about us as dancers and then give you the background info on Sakura Tribal. But of course, the best laid plans of mice and tribal dancers gang aft astray and I have been seized by the moment - going completely off track in the process.

Anyway, to help you learn at  least a little about us I came up with a plan. Instead of me just warbling on and on and boring you all to tears in the process, we're going to do this in a slightly different way. This morning I e-mailed Sarah a list of 8 questions - some serious, some less so. She's been very obedient and has now e-mailed me back her answers, so you can find out all about her straight from the horse's mouth. Read on as ...


How did you first get into belly dancing?
Around 5 years ago I came across an adult learning courses booklet for a local college, There were various courses being offered and I fancied doing one of the dance courses. Not wanting to go on my own I showed my Mum to see if she fancied coming along to one of the courses. At the same time there was a belly dance course and a salsa course. We eventually, with more enthusiasm from my Mum, chose the belly dancing course. I don't know what I expected but I loved what I got!!! I haven't looked back since.

If you could take a class with anyone you haven't already learned from, who would it be and why?
There are two teachers I would love to take a class with. The first is Dulcinea from Gypsy Caravan! I love watching her dance, she is so happy and is such a beautiful dancer. The second teacher is Jill Parker. I nearly got the chance to take her class in San Francisco last summer but was ill and didn't make it to the class. I love her style of dancing.

Three words to describe how you feel when you dance?
Joyful, connected, excited.

Who or what has had the greatest impact on your dancing and why?
The teacher of the first tribal workshop I ever took, Deirdre Macdonald! In just 1 hour I knew that tribal was going to be my thing!

What's your top costuming tip?
Don't skimp on fabric!The bigger the skirt/pantaloons the better!Always make sure they are long enough too!

List five things that can always be found in your dance bag.
Zils, notebook, pen, water bottle and pain killers (I take them everywhere!)

Tell us something, anything, we don't already know about you.
As well as dancing I also enjoy art journaling and general craftiness. I have a crafty blog, where I blog about my crafty exploits.

Go Sarah! I can thoroughly recommend her blog to any of you who are interested in any type of crafting!

Now if you've been counting you will have noticed that I said I'd asked her 8 questions - but there are only 7 answers. That's because she claimed there was one that she just couldn't answer. I had really thought that she would fire out an answer straight away and I was totally sure that I knew what her  response would be! It just goes to show that however well you think you know your dance partner (or daughter!) they can still surprise you by being unpredictable. So just watch out for the Turkish Drops when I'm leading our next bit of improv, Sarah!

Just in case you're interested, here's the question that caused the indecision:

What piece of music are you totally desperate to dance to and why?

Feel free to chip in with your own thoughts on this via the comments below!

Watch out for another post soon, when Sarah is going to interview me - with a completely different set of questions.

Until then, happy dancing!

The Third Person

The more alert amongst you will have noticed that a third tiny dancer appears to have inveigled her way into the troupe photo in my last post - right there in between me and Sarah. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Janey Doll --- or, as she is now more widely known, Tribal Jane!

Janey Doll joined Sakura quite literally by pure chance - courtesy of a winning ticket at a bellydance show. She was made by Wendy, our talented friend, and was raffled off to support charity. She is named after a truly beautiful dancer who sadly died last summer; although I missed the show I am reliably informed that Wendy and her friend Olive performed a very moving dance in her honour - the last dance that they had all worked on together before Jane
became ill.

So, when Sakura acquired Janey Doll we also took on a responsibility - that of keeping the dancing spirit of the original Jane alive through her namesake. Quite simply where we go, she goes (apart from the odd occasion where she hides until we've gone out then throws a wild party -- claiming we had actually forgotten her of course!).

Now naturally that means that Jane rapidly became exposed to a LOT of tribal. She attended her very first tribal workshop in Glasgow back in January, learning some pretty cool moves from the divine Deirdre Macdonald (seen here with our good dancing friend Jo) and just like us she was hooked! (Coincidentally, our very first taste of tribal was with Deirdre too - spooky!!) When Jane came to us she was looking very beautiful - bejewelled and costumed - but having caught the bug she just had to be triballed up. Belts, scarves, tassels, more jewels, headwraps, bindis ..... she reckons she's not too keen on the hat pins 
stuck into her head that hold her headwrap on but we must all suffer for our art, as we keep telling her!

Now she has a new image and a new name - Tribal Jane - and is an honorary member of Sakura. She's a bit of a devil to improvise with though, as she has a tendency to nip off for a glass of vino mid dance, but we love her  anyway. So if you run into us when we're out and about look out for her. She might even pose for a photo with you!

And in the meantime let's spare a thought for the original Jane and all those dancers like her who aren't with us any more. Their feet may no longer be treading the stage but their spirits dance on in our hearts.


Well, here we are - our very first post on our brand new Sakura Tribal blog! It's all very exciting - and more than a little technically challenging in parts, but it's looking ok so far!

This blog is going to take you on a journey with us, a dance journey, as we work towards becoming the very best dancers we can be. It's a journey through the vibrant, engaging, hypnotic world of tribal bellydance ---- and if you don't know what that is now, stick with us and you soon will! In the words of Paulette Rees-Denis, one of our biggest inspirations and a true tribal mamma :

'...this tribal style of bellydance is life-affirming; woman-beautiful; and spiritually, physically, and creatively energizing...
Tribal is an aesthetically pleasing blend of the folkloric, nomadic, and classical dances of the Middle East, Spain, India, Egypt, but with our contemporary twist as dancers of today. Physically challenging and spiritually grounding, tribal belly dance is about the empowerment of dancers as we improvisationally and collectively dance in our circle, a community of all sizes and ages. It is a dance for every body.'

Since we discovered tribal just over three years ago we can honestly say it's changed our lives. We love everything about it -- the life, the colour, the sense of connection. Through our blog you'll hear not just about our dancing adventures (and mishaps!) but also our thoughts on tribal, our costuming exploits, our wonderful teachers, our plans for the future, the comings and goings and doings of our dance friends (now some of you are getting worried!)  - in short an amazing, magical mystery tour.

More blogs will follow very soon. So grab yourself a coffee, sit back and prepare to be drawn into a whole new world - come, dance with us and let's make this Tribal Pilgrimage together!