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

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