Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dancing Barefoot - The Sakura Take!

If you've already read the Namaste Tribal blog then you'll have an inkling as to what all this is about! If not then you really need to look at this post and the most recent post in Namaste to get a full glimpse into the amazing weekend we just had at the fabulous Barefoot festival down in Leicester.

It's Cayte here, and I'm doing this (kind of but not quite) double post as I've been down there both as a member of Sakura and as a Namaste dancer - with Sakura Jan and Namaste Jo (Sakura Sarah was away on jollies north of the border so missed this one!). And what an amazing weekend we had! Don't worry, I shall do my best not to repeat myself too much so that the posts here and on Namaste are coming from different slants so that those of you who read both won't feel too cheated! And hey, there's really too much to say all in one blog!!!

So - what is Barefoot?

Well, it's a musical, dancing, healing, arty, inner hippy type festival held down in Middle England every summer. Price wise it's really, really reasonable - I think it cost us around £70 each from Friday afternoon to Sunday tea time, including parking. And for that you get two free shows, an extra outdoor fire show and as many workshops as you can take! Jan has been before and sang its praises loud and long so that Jo and I just HAD to try it this time around. And are we glad we did!

The Accommodation

Although you can stay in nearby B & Bs, most people seem to stay on site either in tents (me and Jo), campervans or caravans (Jan. She was living in luxury but was amost accommodating in terms of cups of tea, comfy chairs and snacks!). There is an amazing array of decoration and fairy lights around the site and it's really close to where all the action is - and not TOO far from the car park for tent-lugging! There are plenty of portaloos which are cleaned regularly and only really started to look a teensy bit grotty early in the mornings after being visited by late night party goers. It wasn't too noisy - we were lulled to sleep by the sound of distant fireside drums on the Friday night and a Samba band on Saturday, although Jo was woken at one point by a screaming child! It's a family friendly festival, but there's lots for children to do - I certainly didn't notice any marauding about!!!

The Food

Drawing upon Jan's past experience at Barefoot we didn't take much food with us - just emergency supplies - but to be honest we needn't have bothered. We even found vegan stuff (although disappointingly one stall that was doing a fair bit shut up shop an Saturday afternoon to restock - just when we needed them most! We did find other places though!). There are curries, chillis (vegan too!), chips, breakfast barms, falafael, wraps, ice cream - oh, and divine frozen chocolate covered bananas! There's tea, coffee, water, herbal tea, chai. hot chocolate and a Pimms bus that sells other drinks too. We visited the Pimms bus. We had Pimms!!!! Most of the food is fairly priced and several stalls open early for your morning cuppa!! And of course it helps if you have a lovely kind friend with a caravan who keeps you topped up with tea, vegan pain au chocolat and fresh peas from time to time!! Thank you Jan! There is also a rather lovely tea tent bedecked with cushions and hangings and drums where you can dream away your day ....

The Workshops

The great thing about Barefoot is that all the workshops are included in the price so you can choose to do as many - or as few - as you like. And there really is something for everyone!From ATS to Capoeira, Five Rhythms to Jive, Aerial Skills to Dhol Drumming, Poi to Life Drawing, Creative Writing to Hooping, whatever your taste there's something for you! Fancy a bit of yoga, tai chi or meditation? Come on down! Graffitti or paint fighting more your thing? There's a place for you here! I had originally circled at least eleven workshops I fancied - but when it came down to it there was so much else going on - including just lazing in the sunshine - that I only did half that number. Jan was a bit limited because of her toe, but because of the great variety of things going on was able to drum and do arty things instead. She did try the Chakra meditation workshop with me and her hubby, Ian ... but unfortunately I led them astray as my chakras meditated their way right out of the Peace tent and over to the calypso rhythm of 'Jump In The Line' pulsating out of the poi workshop! Still, she got to play with her poi!

The Shows

You certainly get your money's worth of shows at Barefoot! Full shows in the fabulous Big Top on the Friday and Saturday nights --- Fire Dancing and Burlesque on Friday and a cabaret show including performances from many of the teachers on Saturday plus another fire show around the camp fire afterwards. Like everything at Barefoot there's a lovely laid back feel - but everything is also well organised! There were tables and chairs (for a charity donation) at the back of the Big Top but we huddled up on a picnic rug close to the performance area on both nights! We resisted the cupcakes during the interval (not vegan!) but Jan had discovered the vegan chilli and chip van so that warmed us up nicely! If you want a run down on some of our favourite acts then hop on over to the Namaste Tribal blog. Suffice it to say here that we had a fantastic time on both nights and that there is really something very special about dancing your way across a field, following a fantastic Samba band to a blazing campfire surrounded by whirling fire poi!!

The Shopping

Ah, now you're talking! Inner hippies eat your heart out! There is just sooo much to see and soooo much to drool over! Assuit, jewellery, henna and hoops. Hippy clothes of every type, fairy wings, candles, poi, flowers, tribal bellydance costumes, zills and bags. Sound healing, crystal healing, tarot and fortune telling. We were in our element - and soon spent up -  but have brought some rather gorgeous things back with us. Luckily most of the stalls don't take credit cards - or Jo's might have taken a bit of a hammering! There's also a really handy convenience store selling both everyday stuff and things like tent pegs and kettles. There were old favourites among the shops, such as Pauline & Asif and Tribezuza, and others such as the very special Devi which are now firmly on our top shops list!

The People

Most definitely the best part of the weekend! It was fabulous to chill with old friends - at Jan's caravan, in the shows, on the grass by the stalls, around the campfire and in the workshops - and also to make new friends wherever we went. For the most part everyone was really friendly and there was very, very little evidence of bad behaviour (we did spot someone getting narky with the poor, hard working stewards over having to show their wristbands to get into the show but hey, there's always one isn't there?!). It's a place where you feel safe whether wandering about on your own or whether camping. It was great to all be there together (though we did miss Sarah) and to hang out and just chill!

To cut a long story short - we'll definitely be back next year, hopefully with full Namaste AND Sakura contingents! It really does leave you feeling very chilled and peaceful - a special place!

And as the fabulous Karen of the Mai-ni-Axe said on the Namaste blog; 'Barefoot vibes have reached deep into my soul!'

Until next time, happy dancing - barefoot or otherwise!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

That Tribal Connection

Improv is special.

Anyone who regularly immerses themselves in it will know exactly what I'm talking about here. It isn't just something you DO; it's something you FEEL. Now dancing choreo can of course be great fun. You can get on really well with your fellow dancers, bond really closely, do stuff together, have a whale of a time on that dance floor, communicate really well whilst you're dancing. But the connection you get when you really give yourself up to improv IS different.

Of course, it doesn't necessarily happen JUST because you're improvising. It's possible to improv more - I hesitate to say mechanically - but that's the closest I can get. And that can be great fun; following one another's moves, having a good laugh together, jumping up to different tracks. But it still isn't the same thing as when you let your mind and body really 'sink' into the improv. Kind of 'deep improv' for want of a better word.

(If you have never felt that true improv connection you may well be arguing with me now! It's hard to explain if you've never experienced it. But trust me, it IS a completely different feeling!)

Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan talks about that 'Collective Soul', about that connection and shared consciousness, that being completely and utterly there in that moment with your fellow dancers. Feeling, moving, responding as one. And that's it in a nutshell. A Collective Soul.

Last night Sarah and I danced improv together at a hafla.We rocked it out to 'SuperMassive Black Hole' and boy did we have fun .... a few seconds of an arranged entrance then into improv for the rest of the song ..... cascades, straight improv, pulling out our favourite moves and having a blast. Feeling that tribal connection!

Then it happened ... last lead change, Sarah stepped forward. Arabic with a twist and suddenly her arms were up and she was spinning round. And I was right there with her. Not a second's hesitation - spinning as one! This isn't a transition we normally do, but there wasn't any conscious thought or analysis on my part. It just happened spontaneously, perfectly. And it was magic! It was true improv.

So if it wasn't conscious how did it happen?

There wasn't a cue - arms going up can mean a few things so that wasn't it! Quite simply, it was tribal connection. It does happen a lot when we dance - but this was a perfect example. We'd been connecting all through the song and dance together a lot together (and with Jan) and so there is a shared, unspoken understanding. We dance close together too - so as Sarah started to turn I'm sure my subconscious must have picked up on the first little muscle movement, the tiniest weight shift. And that moment, that going into a spontaneous spin together, just like that, encapsulates what improv is all about.

Improv IS special.

And yes, Tribal Rocks!!

Until next time, happy dancing!