Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Wishing you all a year filled with joy, good health, fun times and dance! From both of us to all of you xx

Until next time, happy dancing! Xx

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Another year, another helter-skelter ride!

Well hello world - it's been a while but it's good to talk to you again! New Year's resolution : to blog at least once a month! Things have just been so hectic lately that life has kind of overtaken us. But here we are, ready to have a look back and a reminisce about some of 2014's good times! Get ready for a helter-skelter journey through Sakura's year ...


New Year, new beginnings. New term of tribal classes in sunny old Wigan , new beginners' workshops. So much fun, so much to look forward to. Tribal Rocks! 

The performance year kicked off with us rocking out to a bit of Muse, by special invitation at Kate and Grays' party in Liverpool. An added bonus was hanging out with our old Sakura member, Sarah! 


Tribal travels down to the Majma festival in Glastonbury to take workshops with our fabulous mamma Paulette! A fab weekend and it was great to meet up with dance sisters from all over the UK (and Italy!) 


More tribal shenanigans, this time at the Jewel of Yorkshire festival in Bradford. Workshops with Deirdre, our UK Master Teacher, and the opportunity to represent Gypsy Caravan style up there on the stage. We were so honoured to be part of such an amazing experience! 


The year brought several opportunities to hop onto that dance floor along with the WildHearts (students from Cayte's classes). At Lowton hafla in May we sizzled out some Spanish styling! Sakura also brought that improv magic to a few other haflas - good times! 


Those of you who know Jan will also know that behind that beautiful smile is a bit of a dark side, which likes to sneak out every now and then via a bit of Gothic Bellydance! She's been performing with Cryptic this year and has now also joined Tanzhexen. Woo Hoo! Well done honey! 


Long, hot summer days saw Cayte heading across the pond to Portland, Oregon for more GC training and oh such mega good times! So many beautiful people and so much wonderful dancing - and a GC TT2 certificate to boot! Yay! 


Lots happening this month! Firstly the great experience of dancing at a local restaurant with the WildHearts. So much fun! 

Then it was into the car and up to one of our favourite cities, Glasgow! While Cayte did a review of GC CS2 (fab to reconnect with UK GC dancers) Jan browsed the art galleries. Evenings were hectic too - haflas, vegan food and dancing on the twilight shores of Loch Lomond! 

Then there was more WildHeart fun at Lowton's Autumn hafla. As it was a special 20th Anniversary Edition we all released our inner rock chicks! Yeah! 

Ooh - nearly forgot our mini roadtrip over the Pennines to the October JoY festival. How could we miss that one out? 


We had such a good weekend teaching and performing at the Learn Bellydance camp this month. It was a privilege to spend time with so many beautiful ladies - thank you all! 


And here we are at the end of the year - and it was back to the Havin restaurant in Southport for another WildHeart performance. Love these ladies! 

Wow - it's always a bit of a shock to see just how much you've managed to pack into a year! There's been so much we've had to leave out too - so much fun, laughter, friendship. Of course it hasn't all been plain sailing; real life has brought along more than its fair share of challenges and yes, kicks in the guts too  in 2014. But the joy, connection and support of this community has kept us going through it all - still dancing!!!

And yes, we'll be back with you in 2015. The diary is already starting to fill up and exciting plans are in the pipeline. The game's afoot! 

Wishing you all a peaceful and healing holiday season, however you may celebrate. 

Until next time - happy dancing!

Cayte x

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Up Close and Personal!

Last weekend Sakura and our students, the WildHearts, took to the road for a trip to the seaside - to sunny Southport! For many of the group they were on their way to a brand new experience, that of dancing in a restaurant!

Our lovely friend, Helen Rawlinson, is a regular featured dancer at the Havin Turkish Restaurant and for her very first event had come up with the brilliant idea of getting 72 fellow dancers and friends together to take over the whole place for an afternoon of friendship, food and yes - dancing. And what an afternoon it was! We were so warmly welcomed by Kadir and his staff, kept well supplied with delicious food (and drink. More than one WildHeart succumbed to cocktails - after performing of course!), we laughed, zaghareeted ourselves hoarse, spilled out onto the pavement outside (to the delight of passers by) and just generally had an all-out wonderful time!

Because of summer breaks we had just two weeks to prepare for our performance but hey - we dance improv and so, despite having never set foot in the venue before, we were all more than ready to shake a leg (and hip!) out there. To fit the venue we had gone for traditional tribal music, bright full tribal costuming - and BIG smiles. I often tell my students, tongue in cheek, that those 'smile' muscles are the most important ones they should be feeling as they dance, and boy were they in evidence on Sunday! I grinned until my cheeks hurt and yipped until I was reduced to a squeak!

Jan has said to me how much she loved it (as we all did) - and how much less nerve-wracking it was than performing on stage or even on a hafla dance floor. I've been pondering this, and I think there are a few reasons for this. 

First and foremost, there was a fantastic atmosphere in there - everyone, from audience to bar staff to waiters was right behind the dancers. There was such a wave of support and lurve in the room and there wasn't any of that sense of 'being judged ' that you can sometimes get at some events. The grins weren't just on the faces of the dancers - they were universal!

Secondly, the venue was so much more intimate than many hafla venues (I'm not having a downer on haflas here. I love them too!). When you're so up close and personal the joy and happiness that is, for me, at the heart of Gypsy Caravan, is so much more infectious. That connection with one another and with the audience is even stronger than usual. Being right there, in that uplifted moment, really does become everything!

Thirdly, we had chosen the traditional route music, costume and dance wise (thank you Gypsy Caravan!). I do enjoy performing to lots of different types of music (in fact the WildHearts have something VERY different coming up for our next performance which is making us very happy and more than a little giddy!), but there is definitely something very special and joy- inducing about some of those tribal tracks - they get right into your body and soul, and, when coupled with improv, just feel magic. I think the only thing that could have made the whole experience better would have been having the Caravan Project Band there to play for us live (hey, come on guys - it's not THAT far from Portland to Southport!!).

So all in all the afternoon was a resounding success - both for us as dancers and just as a fabulous day out! Huge thanks go to Helen, who did a superb job of organising it and of looking after us all. Thank you too to all the Havin staff, to the wonderful audience (especially to our very own WildHeart fan club) and to all of the dancers who entertained us and made the event so special! 

We honestly can't wait to do it all again. Make sure the WildHearts are right there on your list Helen!

Until next time, happy dancing ...

Oh - and just in case you're in the Southport area and fancy a great night out, with delicious food and maybe a glimpse of our Helen - the website to visit is

Friday, 29 August 2014

Connection and Community

Well, I did promise you some posts following my amazing escapades in Portland, Oregon recently. - so here goes! 

I think that one of the most heart-bursting, overwhelming realisations that I brought away with me from the whole incredible experience has to be the power, strength and love embodied within this beautiful Gypsy Caravan community of ours. From the bonds forged between those of us who trained, shared, laughed and cried together to the dance and music sister and brotherhood in general, the sense of inclusion, of being a real and valued part of it all, was just so strong it was almost tangible. 

As visitors to Portland I'm sure I speak for everyone else when I say we were hugged into it all with open arms. Being welcomed off my plane (tired, bedraggled but happy) by Paulette and Christine, similarly welcomed into Paulette and Jeff's home, dancing and chilling with the Caravan Project musicians and the Amulet Moon ladies, shared meals out and about with Gypsy Caravan and my CS girls, late night visits to ice cream parlours ( which included the dogs - mustn't forget those! And a special thanks goes to them for their company during meditation at Paulette's - good times!), hitting the Jamballah showcase together, intensive shopping trips,  a fabulous trip out to the Gorge and falls, talking rock and blues with Jeff, smudging from Carol at class ..... So many amazing memories. This is a dance of love, joy, belonging; of being valued for who you are, right now - and having spent that time with all of these warm, wonderful people I see exactly where it comes from. I loved Portland the first time I visited four years ago and yearned to return; now it is very much my 'home from home', one of those true 'soul places'. And this is not because it is just such a beautiful, cool and funky place to be (and believe me, it is!). It is because of the people there - the community of like-minded souls and gorgeous spirits that Paulette has built up around her. Oh how I love, love LOVE this dance - and oh how I love, love LOVE this community!!

Anyone who has done Collective Soul will know too about the bond that develops there between you and your dance sisters. Yes, it comes through the dancing, journaling and sharing that are integral parts of the whole thing, but it comes too through that out of class stuff that you do together. I still have wonderful memories of CS1 in Portland - heading out to Astoria and the coast together one evening, driving down to Portland from Clatskanie for extra classes (practising our ME rhythms on the way!), limoncellos in the Noble Rot! (And it was particularly fabulous to meet up with Kat, from my CS1 class, this year too' Mwah!) Then of course there was TT1 and CS2 in Milan ... more meals out (of course!), hitting the local Lidl with great glee, rampaging around Milan sorting out poor Wendy's passport (who would have thought CS included trips to the local police station?!), chilling and drilling at our lovely apartment .... And now I have a whole new batch of memories and new friendships to add. So many of these bonds are so real and so lasting .... you experience so much together, supporting one another throughout a whole gamut of emotions as you dig deeper and discover so much more, not just about the dance itself but about yourself. I am just so, so grateful for all of the beautiful people that Gypsy Caravan has brought into my life - love you all! 

I came home a couple of weeks ago carrying so much love and joy with me that I'm surprised I wasn't charged for extra baggage. And yes, I came home re- inspired, not just to become the very best dancer that I can be, but also to really do my bit in helping to develop this Gypsy Caravan community right here in my little part of the world. And guess what? A couple of days after my return I taught my regular weekly class. As I watched those ladies - watched how they greeted me and one another, asked after each other, supported one another both then and as they danced together with smiles, laughter and yips, as we joined one another for a celebratory meal after class with so much laughter and happiness - as I watched and talked to those ladies, I felt it! Those WildHearts are such beautiful souls and together they have built that community - a little piece of Portland right here in Wigan! THIS is the power of this dance, THIS is what it's all about! 

Of course none of this would have ever been possible without one woman! Paulette, your love, generosity and care for your dancers is what has made all this happen! Your excitement when someone (usually me !) finally 'gets' something they have been working on, your true commitment to helping everyone become the best that they can be (not just in dance but in life), the way in which you I make everyone feel included, the fact that you are not above cleaning blood off poorly feet (me again!) from yoga mats or running out in your break to try to find wrap for said poorly feet ..... You are just amazing and a real inspiration! Thank you so much for all that you have done and continue to do for me, for this dance and for this beautiful, fabulous community!

Until next time - happy dancing! 


Monday, 18 August 2014

Collective Soul : Change Your Life!

I am just back from THE most amazing trip to the home of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance - Portland, Oregon. I have so much to share with you - thoughts, reflections, connections, experiences, tribal love. But at the moment I am still processing it all; I need a little time to work out how all these posts that I need to write for you will flow and hang together. 

However I do have something to say that, for YOUR sakes, really can't wait. Next month - September - there will be opportunities in locations in several countries across the globe for you to start your Gypsy Caravan Collective Soul journey. 

Seriously - you do not want to miss this. I could say a lot, lot more (and indeed will in a future, longer post) but just wanted to get the message out now whilst there's still time for you to register. Paulette Rees-Denis has created something REALLY special here. Collective Soul is so much more than just a dance course. Yes, of course tribal bellydance is central to it but, like tribal, the course will reach parts of you that you didn't think possible. Without doubt it has changed my life, changed my attitude and whole way of thinking. The further into that journey I go the deeper I go into rediscovering myself - that self that can so often get lost in day to day life and the expectations of others. Doing this training will set you on the path to being the best dancer you can be but will also open you to all sorts of new possibilities. 

If you only give yourself one gift this year let this be it. It will change your life. 

Go to for details of Collective Soul happenings this September. 

Until next time, happy dancing! 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Yes, it has been a while since I posted. No, I have no real excuse except for the fact that things have been super-mad in the Sakura camp lately. And yes, we have exciting news to share!

Four years ago I went on my first ever trip outside the UK - over to Portland (and San Francisco!) to dance! It was then that I fell in love with both Gypsy Caravan style and with the city of Portland. Welllllllllll ...... Guess what? In just under five weeks  I'll be heading back there!!! I just can't believe it - I really can't wait!!! I'll be doing more GC training whilst I'm there as well as other exciting things!! And of course I'll be telling you all about it when I get back!

There's been excitement for Jan too. As you may know, as well as being a Sakura improv girl she has a bit of a thing for Gothic Fusion dance. Anyway - she has been asked to join the spookily fabulous Tanzhexen. You can find out more about the troupe here and see some videos. I'm looking forward to seeing her with them - well done Jan!!!

EDITED TO ADD : It has taken me almost a week to finish and publish this post!!! I now head for Portland four weeks on Tuesday ... sooooooon! 

Another blog will be appearing over the next couple of days (I know, I know; you wait ages for a bus ...)

Until then, happy dancing! 


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A bundle of joy!

Just over forty years ago I swopped my brand new copy of 'Ben' for a well-used 'Rockin' Robin'.

Not such a significant event you might think ..... teenage girls do it all the time. But looking back, that simple thing has stuck in my head quite simply because it WAS significant. It really taught me something about myself. Not then of course; I never thought twice about it. But with the benefit of hindsight I can see that it really said a lot about me and who I am.

For those of you too young to remember, Ben was a Michael Jackson song about a rat. Lovely sentiments. I like rats. But by heck, is that song dismal? Oh yes! In contrast .... 'Rockin' in the treetops all day long, Hoppin' an' a boppin' an' a singin' his song' .... that little robin was just the picture of perkiness and JOY!! My early teenage self just wasn't into wallowing in misery - 'Ben, most people would turn you away' was really not happening for me. Quite simply, it had to go ... and go quickly!

So where on earth is she going with this, you are probably asking? What does this have to do with tribal bellydance? Well, that little robin is kind of a symbol for my life - and dance! Apart from a couple of years of de rigeur teenage angst, I have never gravitated towards sad songs, sad films or sad books. Romantic trials and tribulations? Stick Crazy Crazy Nights on at full blast, get your glad rags on and paint the town red! Feeling down? Get a happy dance track playing and just spin and spin your cares away. I suppose I just feel that there is enough sadness around that I don't need to bring it into my life unnecessarily. I'm certainly not saying that I'm Mrs Happy; on the contrary, those of you who know me will appreciate that I have gone through some really dark days in my life. But when I'm looking for stuff to bring into my world I actively - and more consciously as I get older - look for the light. In a nutshell, I am seeking out the joy ....

And yes, that's true in my dance life too. A few recent events have made me reflect a lot and made me realise why I gravitate towards certain dancers and forms. I dance Gypsy Caravan Tribal Style because of the joy and connection it brings into my life. I won't go on about here - I've done it to death in previous blogs - but it really does make my soul sing. Sing for joy! To me it is filled with light and laughter, and THAT'S what I want to bring into my life!

It's very true of the performances that I love too ... that joy needs to be there for me. It actually doesn't matter what style the dance is. If faces are lit up then I'm feeling the joy. And now I will finally get to the point of the blog ... to share with you just a few of the videos that have brought me that Rockin' Robin joy ...

The first video reminds me of a sad time in my life; just after my mum died. Pedralta/Rashani's 'Magic Caravan' dvd quite literally kept me going, to the extent that I'm amazed it still played. I watched it non-stop whenever I had spare time. I loved it, lived it. This performance isn't actually on the dvd - there's another version of it on there, and this one is only a short extract. But it still gives me a major HAPPY!

The next video is longer - it's Gypsy Heart at Art In The Pearl in Portland. I just love the smiley faces on here, especially Gina with all her happy yips!! At one point it's like a really joyful yippy conversation is going on between the dancers!

And now for something totally different - something slow, but with a fabulous, mellow, peaceful joy about it. I have to confess that some slow stuff just leaves me cold - especially when the dancers have those blank, expressionless faces. But here we have smiles!! It's Origin with Negara, again in Portland.

It's difficult to choose a Wildcard video - they're just all so darn joyous!!! They make me smile all over! Here they are at Tribal Fest earlier this month.

Awalim Dance Company from Atlanta - more feel-good bellydance!! Love these ladies!

And last but not least, no collection of joyful videos would be complete without the dance that has brought so much love and light into my life. Still one of my favourite ever videos of theirs, from Tribal Fest 2010 - GYPSY CARAVAN DANCE COMPANY INTERNATIONAL!

So there you have it - my very own bundle of joy. My go-to videos for those times when I'm feeling low and need a happiness boost. Or indeed, for when I'm feeling happy and need even more happiness! For the times when I need reminding of the beauty of tribal - maybe when I've seen a performance that has somehow stripped away all the joy and connection and reduced it to something robotic and mechanical. Or when I've seen a fabulous performance and want more. The time is always right - these videos just do the job!
So sorry Ben - you're a really cute rat and I would love to kiss your sweet little nose! But I'm afraid that, for me, those robins have it every time!
Until next time, happy - and joyful -dancing!

Friday, 23 May 2014


They did it and they did it GOOOOOOOOOD!!!

Our beautiful class troupe, The WildHearts, rocked it out at Lowton Hafla on Sunday and we are so proud of them!

Some sultry shawl work to start us off ....

Fran, Laura and Jenny!

Followed by swishing skirts ...
Bev, Sue and Sue
See them fly!!!
And some sizzling Spanish styled tribal ....
Audrey, Cody and Janet
All topped off with a good old Knee Slap Combo!
Fran, Laura, Cayte
Take a bow ladies - you deserve it!!!
Jenny (well, Jenny's arm!!), Fran, Bev, Sue, Laura, Cayte, Sue, Jan, Cody, Janet, Laura
Sakura loved it and were honoured to dance with you!!
On a different note ------ Sakura later rocked out to a bit of Korn!!
Cayte and Jan
We really had a great afternoon! Lowton Hafla is always a fab day out - friendly, relaxed but well organised, lots of variety, good shopping and amazing food!!! What more could you want? We are looking forward to the next one on October 19th - which will be the 20th that Sue & Julie have organised and so will be even more special than usual!!
Looking forward - tonight we have a Sakura roadtrip over to Keighley in West Yorkshire to another hafla. We aren't performing as Sakura here though - I'm having a night off and will be chilling in the audience and cheering on Jan as she breaks out her Gothy side with Cryptic! (Some day I will MAKE her blog on here and tell you all about her Goth fusion roots!). Our next performance outing together as Sakura will then be in a couple of weeks in Southport ... fun times ahead!!!
Until next time --- Happy Dancing!
Big thank-yous to Ian Woodward of for all the photos in this blog!