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