The REALLY big news is that I started the month with a trip to the beautiful city of Milan. Not just any old trip - this was most definitely a dance trip. Those of you who know me well will know that up until three years ago I had never flown in my life ... never even had a passport ... and so it was a really big deal to head off for Italy all on my ownsome, with a change of plane at Frankfurt (which was actually more exciting than scary as I LOVE take offs and landings - the more in a journey the merrier as far as I'm concerned!). But hey, I had a really, seriously strong motivation for making that trip, and the thought of flying all alone wasn't going to stop me!
So, what had spurred me into action you may ask? Why, training with my amazing dance teacher and tribal mamma, Paulette Rees-Denis of course! Linking up with beautiful dance friends from all over the world .. sharing thoughts, hopes and dreams .. days filled with hard dancing, laughter, tears ... these things aren't called 'Intensives' for nothing!
Having travelled to Portland, Oregon back in 2010 to train with Paulette and to take my Collective Soul Level 1 certification programme with her, I sort of knew what to expect. This time however I was expanding my horizons a little and was going for both Gypsy Caravan Teacher Training Level 1 and Collective Soul Level 2 over the course of the week. I knew it would be hard work, I knew it would be fun, I knew it would be rewarding, I knew it would be physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. And boy, was I right! And yes, it was fabulous! This really is 'training' in the true sense of the word - all too often I see people use the term 'trained in ...' when they've actually only been to a few classes or a couple of workshops in a style (ooh, I feel a blog post coming on there!). Group sizes are kept small so you receive really individualised attention and correction from Mamma P herself and so she really gets to know you as a dancer. There is a wonderful balance of dance technique, improvisation, developing musical understanding, zilling, discussion about all things tribal, journalling ... with a bit of yoga, breathing and meditation thrown in for good measure! You revitalise old friendships and forge new ones with dancers from all over the world and really come to understand and sink deep into the whole Gypsy Caravan philosophy - TRIBAL really and truly ROCKS!
I do have a fair few 'diary' type blogs coming up .... how I got to experience a side of Milan that I never dreamed I'd see, how to tell your malfouf from your masmoudi, the joys of Italian LIDL and other Lombardian food experiences, life in the Italian Big Brother Hoooooose. the fabulous folk I met and danced with .... so I'm not going to go into all that here and now. Instead I'm just going to throw in a couple of thoughts about my dance training experiences ....
First up was the Teacher Training ...in order to take this you need to have already taken (and passed - yes, these certifications do involve end-of-training testing!) Paulette's Collective Soul Level 1, which focuses on your personal dance technique. The training covers how you would actually teach moves and combos (lots and lots of practice at this!), but is oh so much more! Working on student corrections, thinking about what tribal is and how to market it, sharing experiences, hopes and dreams, zilling, teaching Middle Eastern rhythms ... it's all in there! And to cap it all off of course there is the opportunity to draw upon Paulette's wealth of knowledge and experience in dancing and teaching this wonderful style! I just can't tell you how much I got out of it and how much I would recommend it ... my class have already started to reap the benefits!
Oh yes ....... and I passed!!!! Huge smiles all round!!!! So proud and honoured to represent this style and to be a part of Taking Tribal Global!
No time for resting on our laurels however as it was straight into Collective Soul Level 2 training! The Collective Soul series of certifications is all about your personal dance development - about Paulette supporting you in becoming the best dancer you can be - as opposed to your teaching of others (and I do believe teaching is NOT for everyone. It does disturb me when I see teaching being treated as a 'natural progression' for dancers. It's a very different thing --- and yes, I do feel yet another blog post comiung up). So as you can imagine - lots of dancing, working on personal technique, dancing with others, dancing with our zills ... some truly, truly beautiful moments in there!
And such a sense of achievement when Paulette handed me that certificate! Yes, more testing .... personal feedback from Mamma P about what I now need to do and work on to take those next steps in my dance journey. Freakin' fabulous!
So here I am back in the UK ... still buzzing from the whole amazing experience, with the benefit of JoY workshops with Les Soeurs Tribales yesterday to stave off any post-Milan blues! I seriously cannot say enough how much I love this dance style, how much it speaks to me, how much it makes my soul sing. And how eternally grateful I am to my tribal mamma, Paulette, for all her love, encouragement and support ....
Until next time (which won't be long - I have sooo much more to blog about!) - happy, soul singing, rocking tribal dancing!