Sunday, 28 August 2011

Video of the Week - Cayte's Top Five!!!

Ok ok ok , I'll admit it. It's been an exciting weekend of dance, laughter, friends, food and fun and the Video of the Week thing escaped my mind completely!! Soooo - something a little different this week. I'm off to You Tube to find my top 5 favourite You Tube tribal videos ..... I may be some time .....

Oooooh - so many to choose from!!! Now ---- do I do a countdown like the top twenty just to keep you all in suspense? I think so!

[DISCLAIMER : This is my Top Five as on Sunday August 28th 2011. It may have changed completely by Monday  August 29th. Or even within the next five minutes. Not that I'm fickle or anything ..]

Woohoo! I'm back ... and it really was MUCH easier than I thought! I have LOADS of videos and groups that I love but there really are some that stand out as true inspirations and loves and it was easy to pick just five .... not as easy to put them in order of preference but hey, I'll have a go!


'I'm in love. Don't ask me whether I prefer the music or the dancing, because I would not be able to decide. They are both exquisite, and almost inseparable. I could listen to this all day long. I could watch this all day long. Luscious. Sensuous. Compelling. A siren's call from our primitive past, pulling at our hearts. Come back. Back to the jungle, to the earth, to the hearth and heart. Come back.'

As it says in the You Tube video description above, exquisite! I love the whole feel of this video, and the mesmerising blend of music and movement. Hypnotic, sensuous, it conjures up images of warm summer days, soft green grass. blue skies, contentment. All's right with the world ....


Sigh. I am just SUCH a  fan of Happy Tribal and these girls do it so beautifully. Those amazing smiles for both one another and for the audience just scream out 'We love what we're doing!' and you have to smile along with them! Add to that shimmies to die for, drool-worthy tucked skirts, fantastic musical choices that really get your hips swinging along with theirs and fabulous dancing and you have one great video pick-you-up and heart warmer! If this doesn't get you grinning from ear to ear then nothing will!


I love all of these ladies videos, but this is one of my favourites because you get two for the price of one! Firstly they dance 'Old School' Gypsy Caravan improv, working together beautifully and seamlessly - I just love watching them cascade the moves from one to the other. They are such fluid dancers! Then you get to see them dance LST, their own format which they have developed from Gypsy Caravan; you can see how they have used the GC building blocks and moves to devise their own style and unique take on the dance. I think they do this brilliantly and it makes my heart sing to see the beautiful dance gift that Paulette has given to us being taken, shaped and shared back in this way - and all with our tribal mamma's blessing...


Now this was a real contender for the top spot ... these girls are one of my fave raves of the moment and I just adore this video! There is so much individual personality shining through here as they interact with one another and the audience, the music is fabulous (Sakura have their eye firmly on it for an upcoming performance) and their dancing is just wonderful --- again so fluid and together. It's another one of those videos that makes my heart sing and it's well up there in my top 5!!

And so --- we are at Number One. My top video. What could it be? Who could it be? Yes, some of you may already have guessed ... I'll give you a wee clue in case you're not there yet. The intro to this video just gets me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, waiting ... just wishing I was there .....

'The next group, from Portland, Oregon and the world beyond .....'

Oh yes.


Seriously, how could it have been anyone else? Here she is, our tribal mamma, one armed and radiating love and happiness as she dances with not only her Gypsy Caravan dancers but also with members of the Caravan Collective from across the world. Every time I watch this video I notice something new --- a new smile or glance between the dancers or out to the audience, the look of sheer pride on Paulette's face as she watches her dancers. Every time I watch it I feel that connection, not just contained within the group but reaching out to draw in the audience. This is the dance that makes my soul sing!

So there you have it - my top five videos at the moment. Yes, yours will probably be completely different and that's only natural. You may well think I've missed people out - but I can only follow my heart and these are the ones that really, truly speak to me. Looking at them now, and having gone through the whole process of thinking about them and  selecting them has actually reinforced and taught me more about what I'm looking for in my dance - but that's a whole other blog! For now I'm going to curl up with a coffee and just bask in the sheer sublime enjoyment of watching these videos again!

Until next time - Dance the dance that makes your soul sing!

Cayte x

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Turning Heads, Tribal Style!

Hi - it's Cayte here! The other day I was thrilled to find a feathery base that I bought in San Francisco last year. It's been earmarked for a glorious new hair decoration and I'm rather excited at the prospect. However it's also got me to thinking (yes, I appreciate that can be dangerous)! Thinking about tribal hair in all its wonderful, amazing forms .....
The tribalistas among you will know excatly what I'm talking about here. Decorated hair isn't just an optional extra, it isn't just the icing on the cake; it's actually a vital and integral part of your costume. Just envision a tribal dancer in all her glory - the deep, vibrant colours, rich luxuriant fabrics, heavy antique jewellery, carefully applied make up and bindi ...... and then imagine her hair - plain, simple, unadorned. No matter how lovely her hair might be, the costume is incomplete. It really is a top-to-toe look. And nowadays there are so many options (I was quite overwhelmed when I researched ideas for this post!) that there's no excuse!

So --- what CAN you so with your hair?

In the early days of tribal, a turban was de rigeur. You will no doubt have seen early FatChance photos or videos showing how beautifully these complemented their costumes, adding to that wonderful eclectic ethnic mix. However, that was around twenty years ago, and for all sorts of reasons turbans aren't seen as much now. In many ways that's a shame - done right they look dignified, elegant and imposing and really help to enhance that image of strength. However, they really do need to be accompanied by full tribal make up ... as Cyreigna shows beautifully here :

Fabulous - she's really rocking that look! And the addition of flowers gives it a softer, modern twist too! I should add at this point that, beyond a bit of home experimentation (which ended in a worrying resemblance to Widow Twanky!) I've never actually worn a turban so can't advise you on the practicalities, but our teacher Chris has written a tutorial; check it out here if you'd like to have a go!

 Another approach. more wearable for some, is to use scarves to create a head wrap. The scarves go around your head so don't cover all your hair, creating a softer look - you can leave your own hair or fake dreads to hang out either at the bottom or from the crown of your head, and can then decorate the scarves with jewellery or flowers. Tribal Jane is a bit of a fan of this look, as you can see! Her advice is to wrap and twist the scarves, using a base scarf that won't slip - and then just go for it with feathers, flowers - whatever you fancy! As with a turban you can use really special fabrics and colours that tie in with the rest of your costume.

You can use scarves as liberally or minimalistically as you wish; here Jo is wearing a scarves as a hair band, but the beautiful colours and added decorations make them look really special! The world really is your oyster here - just play and have fun! But don't forget you'll need a good selection of clips and pins to hold it all in place - you don't want to lose bits of head gear every time you spin!

Our next look is the rather fabulous hair garden. Basically it's what it sounds like - a head of hair adorned with flowers, feathers and hair sticks. However, you do need a bit of hair to attach all this too, as you can see here! This really is a look that you can make as elaborate or as simple as you wish --- you can use your own hair as a base, or can add fake dreads made either from yarn or from synthetic hair.  When adding flowers you can buy ready made flower clips quite easily at supermarkets and accessory stores; the garden in this photo was built up from several clips including a lovely hand made flower clip from our dancing friend Tania at the  Tribal Temptress. Alternatively you can buy fake flowers at garden centres (amongst other places - we've found bargains at supermarkets and pound stores!) and then, depending on the thickness of the stem, either trim them down and just poke them into your hair or stick them onto a clip to make your own creation!

Here you can see that Sarah has used a bun as a base, which has then been built up with synthetic dreads, flowers and feathers. A decorated hairband completes the look. For a bun tutorial as well as lots of other interesting and useful stuff take a look at Auralynne's blog here. There are also lots of tips for making hair sticks and other lovelies both here and on her website!

Whilst we're talking about yarn hairfalls, they really are easier to make than you think. You can buy them from e bay and other places, but take care as some are very sparse to say the least. If you're feeling crafty there's another great tutorial from Auralynne here. We have made our own in the past using yarn with ribbon and lace added for effect. However, rather than attaching ours via a pony tail band, we used a large haircomb. We wrapped the top part of the comb (ie not the teeth!) with yarn and then attached the falls one at a time by weaving them into the wool. This method allows you to make a really thick fall, and you can then glue or sew fake flowers over the top to both hide the join and to make a complete accessory. You attach it by putting your hair into a pony tail and then just sliding the comb down into the top between your head and the pony tail band. It really is VERY secure (we never ever lost one!) and your pony tail is hidden by the thick falls. Unfortunately we don't have any recent clear photos of us wearing our yarn falls as we haven't sported them for a while now. However this photo made me giggle -- it is me, after my very first tribal performance several years ago! You can just see the falls (I did get the hang later of doing a higher ponytail so you could actually see the lovely flowers from the front. I also stopped coordinating my falls with a yarn fringe hip belt! Aaaagh!!!).

'All this is very well', I hear some of you cry, 'but I haven't got enough hair to do that!'. Fear not, I understand completely! Both Sarah and I had our hair cut short (and I mean too short to scrape into a ponytail folks!) earlier this year and we had to do a big performance hair rethink. And so - the tribal hairband! Basically you take a hair band - either thick or thin - and decorate it adding flowers and so on to your heart's content, and then just - well, wear it! Simples!!!! In thsi photo we've used that method. Sarah has a feather and jewel decoration, attached to a thin band (which she covered with satin ribbon) whilst I'm wearing a thicker headband, decorated with ethnic braid and then with flowers, feathers and hairsticks added. Yes folks, everything you see there is attached to the one band - and what a revelation it was! So easy and comfortable! See the Gingerbread Bunny's Folksy shop link below if you're not feeling crafty enough to make your own - she has a couple of these for sale!

THE GINGERBREAD BUNNY :  Once again you can buy flower and feather decorations from various sources, including Sarah's Gingerbread Bunny store  - get in touch with her and link to her Folksy shop via her Facebook page here. This is one of her feathery creations in cerise and black and I just LOVE it! I am resisting with some difficulty!!! Below it is another of her creations - a custom order in red, black and white, currently being sported by Kate of 400 Roses! Check out the Gingerbread Bunny Folksy shop here for gorgeous items to purchase - alternatively get in touch with Sarah for a custom order! Oh, and if any of you in the UK are going to the Tribal Twisterhood's Sleepover Weekend in November - check it out here -  Sarah is actually running a workshop on how to make these beauties (and yes, you will come away with one all of your very own!). And the Bunny doesn't just do hair decorations - check out her crocheted zill muffs and wristlets as well as tribal head bands, hand made journals and lots of other crafty stuff!

VAUNTVILLE : If you're into an elaborate, vintage look then you need to take a look at the creations of our friend Brandy from Portland, Oregon; we were honoured to dance with her last summer and she really is a lady of many talents! Her Facebook page here has lots of her fabulous creations for your delectation.
She makes all manner of luscious feathered and bejewelled lovelies which  would work beautifully with fusion costuming - or indeed for any special occasion. Gorgeous!!! Take a look at her Etsy shop here for more examples of her work.
DEADLY DESIRES : And finally, now for something for those of you who like to dance on the darker side of life! Deadly Desires is the brainchild of another of our dancing friends Paula, from Yorkshire. Yes, the bejewelled skull you see adorning the fabulous headdress on the right is REAL. It was made for dark fusion dancer Bex, who featured in our Video of the Week a couple of months ago.
This photo is of one of her very recent creations - a blackbird's wing fascinator (and yes, once again the wing is real!). I would hasten to add here that Paula only takes materials from animals that have died naturally or in road accidents. She says of her work : 'Most of the skulls and feathers I use have been collected and prepared by myself. I view it as an opportunity to recycle an unfortunate animal that has generally been in collision with a vehicle and offer it's spirit a chance to go forward with dignity and beauty'. Check out the Deadly Desires Facebook page here!

Well, there you go .... that's about it for now. I do confess I could have gone on for PAGES with this post - there are so many beautiful photos out there and I'm really conscious I have had to miss some looks out - kuchi headpieces for example. But I need to stop somewhere I suppose! If you're on then you'll find ideas in the photos of many tribes on there, including Tribal Bellydance and Make Up and Hair for dancers. When looking for the first photo in the post I did a search for images of tribal headdresses, expecting lots of photos of Ouled Nail, Bedouin headwear and so on. Well, I got a few of those - but mostly I got loads of photos of tribal BELLYDANCE hair! I could have spent hours looking!!!

Hopefully you'll be feeling all inspired now! Until next time, happy dancing!

Thank you to Brandy Grey (Vauntville), Cyndi Cyreigna, Paula Bavill (Deadly Desires) and The Gingerbread Bunny (Sarah Jones) for use of images in this post

Video of the Week - Imajica!

'Lit by the fire...powered by the hips.'

What images does this conjure in your mind? Powerful words indeed, for an equally powerful group of dancers. Imajica, formed in 2005 and hailing from Hertfordshire in the UK, consists of Horizon (Samantha) and Mneme (Jo), who have recently been joined by a third member. Julia. They specialise in contemporary and jazz fusion bellydance and also are the most awesome fire dancers:

'Embracing their darker side they will entertain you with their undulating hips, an alluring stage presence & sensuous energy. Imajica blend the beautiful dances of the East with the raw energy of the West. They will ignite you, fire your soul & leave you mesmerised by the fusion of music & dance!'

WE have to admit a total fascination with fire dance. It all began when we saw Awalim in Glasgow several years ago ------ the lights in the room dimmed and slowly, sensuously, the girls appeared from behind us, palm flames flickering and casting strange, leaping shadows across the walls .... That's the only time we've ever seen it 'in real life', but we cannot deny trawling You Tube relentlessly to find more, and the videos of Imajica are among our most watched!

So not only to indulge us but to ensure that you are all hypnotised by these girls too, let's get the ball rolling with the first  of two videos of their fire performances!

We've chosen this video, of Imajica dancing with palm flames, because of the incredible atmosphere it evokes; on their website the ladies describe their fire shows as 'both opulent and mesmerising' and we really couldn't put it any better! The lighting, quality of movement, flickering flames and music combine to create something that is simply magical.

Our second video, using fire fans, has a slightly different atmosphere:

The brighter lighting and more uptempo music here mean that you don't get that same dark, almost eerie quality to the video - but also bring advantages too! Firstly, you can fully appreciate the quality of the dancing - the strength of movements really embody that phrase 'powered by the hips'. The ladies dance beautifully and seamlessly together, moving and spinning around one another apparently effortlessly (no mean feat we're sure with a blazing fan in each hand!). You can also really see how they manipulate the fans, spinning them around and in and out of each other. Again on their website Imajica talk about the way in which :

'Dancing with fire in your hands evokes something deep within  your soul
that screams to be set free'.

You really get a sense of this from the energy in these performances. We just love them!

Now we really would be doing these hugely talented ladies a disservice if that was all we showed you - because of course, fire dancing isn't all that they do! Last year we enjoyed a fabulous jazz fusion performance from them at Tribe Vibe in Aylesbury, and a flick through their videos shows all manner of other great fusion dances too.

So just to whet your appetite, here's an example of their contemporary fusion :

Two things really strike me about this performance. The first is, once again, the strength and power of the dancers hip movements! The second is the grace with which they turn and move around the stage. The contrast between the two elements works really well, resulting in a fabulous performance. Thank you ladies!

If you do a quick You Tube search you will be able to find lots more  performances by Imajica. You can find out lots more about them, including about classes and also their work with the fantastic Can Can Collective on their website here and also on their Facebook page here. So get yourselves a cuppa, settle down to a bit of browsing - and enjoy!

That's about it for this week! There should be another post over the next few days, all about tribal hair and headwear - ideas,hints, photos and links to a few places where you can buy some rather fabulous hair decorations! I'm just waiting for clearance on using a couple of images then I'll be ready to publish!

Until then, happy dancing!

Thanks to Samantha Hough & Imajica for use of the images in this post

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Video of the Week - Pedralta World Fusion Bellydance

We're in the UK again this week, in Lichfield, Staffordshire, to take a look at the fabulous Pedralta World Fusion Dance Company. The group was originally formed in 2005 by Donna Gardner and Lesley Hogg; they have now been joined by Amanda Tivey and Rebecca Jones.

'Pedralta return to the roots of World dance forms, seeking inspiration for their ever-growing repertoire of improvised fusion, now encompassing Flamenco and Sevillanas, Saaidi stick, Balkan moves and 9/8 rhythms, and graceful oriental veil. Remaining true to the group improvisational aspect of ATS, their improvised performances are known for their dynamism, power and grace.'

Pedralta World Fusion Facebook page

Many UK dancers will already be familiar with Pedralta and its dancers; both Donna and Lesley performed with one of our all-time favourite troupes, Rashani International, with Donna directing and producing their 'tarab' show in Birmingham (if you haven't seen the Rashani/Pedralta performance dvd, Magic Caravan, you really need to get yourself a copy pronto - it is just one of the best feel-good dvds we've ever seen! It totally deserves its 'Magical' title!).

Donna and Lez teach weekly classes in Staffordshire - check them out on the Pedralta site here - and Donna teaches workshops across the UK and Europe  (we have been to Saidi Stick and Flamenco workshops with her and learned so much!) (and had great fun of course!)

Pedralta also perform across Europe, but our video this week brings them right back home - to a very recent performance outside Lichfield Cathedral. Over to you, Pedralta!

Wow! Just beautiful! You can really see in this both that strong base of ATS moves within an improvised tribal format - but also the wonderfully proud Flamenco influence! They combine perfectly to give a performance that is powerful, passionate and just oozing 'duende'! Add to that the glorious setting and the sublimely beautiful music and you get a performance that you just can't leave alone - actually we're just off to watch it again! Excuse us ...............

Sigh ...... Just gorgeous! Thank you ladies! Do check them out on You Tube: the Pedralta channel there incudes extracts from the Magic Caravan video (you really do need it, you know!) plus dances with sticks. swords, veils ..... You can also find a variety of other Pedralta videos if you do a quick YOU Tube search!
Here's another video to whet your appetites even more - this one's a compilation of different performances:

Simply fabulous!

Now, not only are Pedralta extremely talented dancers, but they also have a fantastic website. Run by Donna there is just so much information on there- about classes, events, music, health and fitness, costuming .... There are also goodies to buy, from dvds (including Magic Caravan) to funky street clothing to accessories. This was actually one of the very first tribal sites we discovered several years ago - Cayte actually got her first tribal skirt from Donna (and is still wearing it!).  Have a look for yourself right here.

We can't finish without a special mention for Cayte's very favourite Pedralta product -- their famous dance sandals! Inspired by seeing the lovely Debbie Berry of 400 Roses dancing in a pair, Cayte now won't be parted from hers! You really don't know that you're wearing them - they are so subtle and soft that they really are a delight to dance in, and make spins and turns a dream (says Cayte, spinning off into the distance!). Cayte has her eye on a black pair now, to add to her neutral pair.
Hope you enjoyed this week's videos - we're sure you did!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Thanks to Donna Gardner and Pedralta for use of images in this post.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Guest Blog and Video - Wendy Allen Review!

As some of you may know, Sakura have been away on a dancing weekend in Bournemouth, so we didn't have a Video of the Week last Friday. However, our fabulous friend Jo stepped into the breach for us and wrote a fantastic guest blog. As she was awaiting photo permission we haven't been able to publish until this week - but it was worth waiting for! You not only get a video, but also a write up of the recent Wendy Allen workshops in Devon. Take it away, Jo! x

Sarah and Cayte are away doing training with the fabulous Steffi of RedTent Tribal so I have hijacked their blog to tell you about my wonderful weekend in Devon attending workshops with Wendy Allen. Wendy is the assistant director of Fatchance Bellydance She manages the troupe when Carolena is out of town, teaches classes and directs a student troupe 'SpinOff Tribal' as well as performing with the troupe.

Here she is performing with Kristine, Sandi and Kae. 

I love this video because of the intimacy of the performance, It is a treat to have the close up shots, to see the serenity of the dancers and because I can drool at the gorgeous costuming. It is also a chance to see Wendy performing solo and her sassy personality really shines through. Oh and the spins.....I first saw Wendy dance on Tribal Basics Vol 7 and it was her spins and turns which made her stand out (and the gorgeous black velvet skirt).

The workshops were hosted by Keeley Beeston of Kalash  and Jacqui Spiers of Tribal Fire 

Originally planned as one day of workshops, demand was such that they sold out within hours so Wendy kindly arranged to arrive early and teach an extra set on the Friday. I was so excited to get in at the last minute, I'm sure my work colleagues were sick of hearing about it.

I headed off on Thursday lunchtime, planning to spend some time in Glastonbury on the way down. However one look at the sky over the A38 changed my mind and I carried on down to Tiverton and Kelley's farm near Bampton. I was the first to arrive and after a bit of fun flinging sheep poo away from my chosen spot I finally got the tent up and settled down to enjoy the view. 

Loneliness had just kicked in when a loud zaghareet pierced the silence and up the hill came Jane, Nicki, Steve and Pete. They were on the way to the pub so I tagged along. By the time I got back the camp was looking livelier with Christine and Maxine from Akula Tribal and Mark and Angela in the Zuzamobile.

Friday dawned with proof that rain before seven isn't always fine by eleven. Who cared when we had six hours of ATS to look forward to (squeal). The first workshop was entitled The FatChance Flair and really focused on the aspects of posture and the quality of movement that separates FCBD from other groups. For me it was an eye opener on my own technique and Wendy's feedback pinpointed what was missing in certain moves. It also really gave me confidence with things I thought I was doing incorrectly because I was comparing my range of movement to other peoples.

The second workshop was Hands and Arms - Connect the Dots. The focus was on transitions between moves and how the arms weave a shape to create smooth and clear cues and transitions. Wendy said this workshop came into being especially for dancers who were self taught from DVDs as the intuitive flow between moves develops by dancing with others. I could really identify with this as I've experienced the panic of being stuck in a move with no idea how to get into the next one.

The last workshop of the day was Work that Shimmy; lots of fun drills to improve the definition of our shimmies. This was a really fun workshop and it was great to see the smiles and interaction of the group.

Wendy was a great teacher, entertaining, fun, with really clear explanations which really clicked for me. Her individual feedback was really focused and I'm sure I'm not the only one to have a eureka moment.
For me the workshops were over but there was still the Saturday night feast to enjoy. I was glad to have the Saturday to chill out and enjoy good company getting a tan in Kelley's orchard.

Kelley, Jacqui and the Kalash ladies had done a spectacular job of turning the barn into a shimmering, exotic paradise. Everyone paused to admire the decor which really set the scene for the treats in store. Mark from TribeZuza had created a tented treasure trove and I tried hard to resist the temptation of the goodies on display. The vegetarian buffet was divine and then it was time for the dancing.

A surprise treat was Sam Emanuel who performed first, just stunning. Jacqui and Kelley danced to a great version of Stairway to Heaven- beautiful and Kalash danced to the James Bond theme - brilliant. 

Wendy treated us to a solo with backbends and floorwork to die for, then she danced duets with Kelley and Jacqui. With so many fabulous dancers present I was in ATS heaven as Moirai, Akula and others took to the floor.

A huge thank you to Wendy, Kalash, Jacqui and Kelley for a wonderful weekend . Also to Wendy, Jacqui, Kelley and Maxine for photos as I was a totally numpty and forgot my camera.

How fantastic was that? Thank you so much Jo - you can drop by and guest for us anytime! xxx

We'll be back next Friday with the usual Video of the Week - you may even see us sooner if inspiration strikes!
Until then, happy dancing!

Thanks to Wendy Allen, Jacqui Spiers, Kelley Beeston and Maxine Brennan for use of images in this post

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Road Trip - Training with Steffi!

A Sakura road trip always causes lots of squeals and excitement, and last weekend was no exception! We were off to sunny Bournemouth to do some Tribal Teacher Training with the fabulous Steffi Colbert, organiser of Tribe Vibe and now of Red Tent Bellydance.

Of course we were making a long weekend of it ... An early start on Friday meant there was time for a visit to Stonehenge and a bit of a bimble through the New Forest where pigs, cows and ponies caused more squealing and disproportionate amounts of hysteria. Never let it be said that we're difficult to please! We then ploughed through mega-traffic jams and arrived safely at our hotel (where we got a two-for-one bargain as our room doubled as a sauna for the weekend, but that's by-the-by!). Squeal! The weekend was well under way!

Joined by two of our gorgeous fellow dancers, Wendy and Julie, a pub tea was in order --- with a brief detour to get acquainted with one of the Bournemouth lions. Steffi took a walk down to welcome us (how did she know we'd be in the pub?!) It was great to get to know one another (and drool over the beach huts!) during a twilight stroll along the sea front, which - of course - ended up in another bar! The only downside was the hill climb back to the hotel .....

The next morning found us enjoying a cooked veggie breakfast along with our friend from Ooop North, Lorraine - who'd sadly arrived too late for the previous night's outing. Then we all piled into the car and headed up to Steffi's to dance. Yes!!!

What a fantastic venue ..... a huge, bright and airy hall which opened onto gardens, ponds, trees and fountains. It made us feel instantly peaceful and calm. Steffi was there of course (looking sensational in turquoise), all smiles, to greet us and to start the weekend off by 'talking tribal'. There were six of us in total, all with different backgrounds but all coming together with one aim - sharing the love and joy that the dance has brought into our lives!

It was time then for a short break and a trip up to Steffi's place (only a hop, skip and jump away) to enjoy wonderful coffee prepared by Barista Extraordinaire Rick (Steffi's husband) who was not at all phased by the dance invasion of his home. After drooling over the decor and meeting Steffi's lovely daughter, Lily, and the so-cute Twiglet (Steffi's dog) we felt fortified for the dancing ahead and were all raring to go!!

Over the course of the weekend Steffi took us through warm ups, cool downs and all the moves from her Barefoot format. This is based on the Gypsy Caravan style of improvised tribal so it felt very familiar to us, although we also learned new combos too. The key focus however was on how to teach these moves - clearly, concisely and safely. Steffi is an excellent teacher - she gives very clear explanations, really knows her stuff and creates a wonderful, relaxed, happy and hard working environment. She had prepared notes for us and we supplemented these with lots of our own - there was just so much to learn and to reflect on.

A coffee break later in the day brought a fabulous surprise! Lily had baked us a cake - and what an amazing cake it was. So delicious! We certainly didn't need any encouragement to tuck in right away - completely and utterly yummy!!

The final session of our first day was time for questions, but also to learn some more complex combos, formations and performance tips from Steffi - several of which you may well be seeing in a Sakura performance near to you sometime soon! And then it was back to the hotel for a quick outfit change ready for the evening ahead.

Steffi had booked us a table at the rather cool Urban Reef restaurant - lime green beach huts coming out of the walls - overlooking the sea. Rick and Lily joined us and there was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere as we all chatted over the delicious food and drink (Gooseberry and Elderflower Mess to die for!). And what better end to a great evening with friends than a quick paddle on the beach? Fantastic!

Day Two started with a session on ethics and professionalism in teaching - and was held in a great venue, the delightfully quirky Boscanova. There were lots of opportunities to share experiences and concerns and to ask questions - once again over great coffee. Steffi also shared with us how she assesses her student's progress, which was really useful.

Time flew - and lunch beckoned. But there was still time for a bit of a charity shop trawl and a Primani Mission on the way back to dance! We all came away with something - even those of us who hadn't planned on spending ANYTHING at all! We were having so much fun it didn't even strike us that we were shopping in our dance clothes (Well, Steffi - you did say that we should be dancers wherever we went, right?!).

Then it was time for us to flex our newly acquired teaching muscles, and to take turns at leading the class. Everyone was so smiley and supportive that it really didn't feel nerve-wracking and we had a ball. And then things got even better as it was time to just dance together! What a wonderful experience to be there, relaxed, moving together with good friends, new and old. I LOVE this dance! Steffi (and Twiglet!)made a fantastically appreciative audience - but oh, how we wish we'd then grabbed her to come and join in with us (Steffi, that is - not Twiglet!). Steffi had been assessing us as we went along and we were delighted to find that we'd passed, and to receive our certificates (along with some really useful personal feedback). Yay!!!! Success!!!!

Now the weekend wasn't QUITE over for Sakura ... an overnight stay on the long drive home was in order, followed by a day in Oxford. More shopping, more pub food, a bit of sight seeing and searching for that Brideshead Revisited vibe. Which, given that we were still on a high from our training just HAD to include a nifty bit of tribal right outside the Bodleian ...... Yes Steffi, dancers wherever we go!

Before we sum up what the weekend meant for us we thought it would be good to hear from some of our fellow dancers - and new found friends. So here goes!

'Thank you to everyone who came and took part in my Tribal teacher training workshop. It was a privilege to share my passion for the dance and to take to time explore how to teach ethically and how to celebrate what we have in common and what unifies us as Tribal dancers from all the many differing styles of the dance. Well done to the 5 girls who completed the weekend, and I was so proud to present them with their certificates.'

'A fabulous time in Bournemouth with some lovely like minded people with one of the most inspiring ladies you can ever meet, the lovely Steffi Colbert. The course was perfect, I learned a lot and was so thankful for Steffi to run this course as it has given me the confidence to go out there and teach beginner classes. Bring on level 2!'

'What a fab weekend, it had everything, dancing, fun, good food and drink, good company and oh yeh, the main reason why I was there- lots of learning of new exciting things.'

'I was inspired by Steffi Colbert's energy, enthusiasm & passion for her dance. She shared with us her life and dance experiences and welcomed us into her home. The weekend was a blast, a combination of meeting and greeting, learning and sharing, dancing and laughter.'

We think those quotes say it all - inspiration, passion, friendship, learning, sharing, fun ...... The whole weekend was professional but at the same time very personal - we all felt welcomed into Steffi's life and dance. A true tribal experience! Whilst we all came to the training with those different backgrounds, Steffi tailored it to ensure that we all got out of it exactly what we needed - that we got the answers to everything we wanted to know but that also we learned all the important stuff that we didn't know that we didn't know! We came away with hugs, smiles, new friendships and inspiration to take the next steps in our dance journeys. Thank you sooo much Steffi for your teaching, support and encouragement. To echo Julie - roll on Part Two!

Steffi really reminded us again of the joy this dance brings into our lives. As she says, 'Dance the dance that makes your soul sing'. We have, and we do, and we will!

Until next time, happy soul singing!

P.S. Before you ask, Tribal Jane couldn't make this weekend with us  ----- she tells us she's scared of seagulls but we think maybe she had a hot date! It has to be said though, she missed out on a fabulous time!

Thanks to Steffi and Lorraine for use of images in this post