Monday, 5 August 2013

Gothla 2013 - Workshops and the Open Stage

Picking up where we left off, I woke up bright and early on the Saturday morning of Gothla, and took myself out onto the mean streets of Leicester in search of a fry up.

I ended up at Cafe Brazilia, which was the original home of Gothla when it first started. The breakfast was enormous, and aside from the soggy tinned mushrooms (urgh) just what I needed for a long day ahead.

Workshop 1 was Hecate's Cauldron with Paige Lawrence. I didn't realise until about two weeks beforehand that Paige is actually a bloke, and due to my complete failure to do any research on him at all, had no idea what to expect!

Fortunately for Miss 'failure to plan in advance' it was a cracking workshop. Paige is funny, friendly and extremely approachable, and is the sort of guy you would be happy to spend an evening with down the pub! The workshop focused on looking at different elements of ritual, and how to incorporate these into our dance. We had a thorough warmup and stretch, and then got to really let loose, playing with different moves and expression to evoke different feelings. We got a sneak peek at some of Jamila Salimpour's writings on ritual imagery, and how Bal Anat used this in their famous dance of the magic of birth.
Paige with Gothla organiser Bridie (photo by Sue Hutton)
The workshop ended with free dance to different clips of music, each evoking different elements of ritual feeling. The penultimate one was ecstasy, and I ended up dancing guedra style, feeling lots of positive energy. I was sky high by the end of it!

My second workshop was much more relaxed - Beauty and the Beast makeup workshop with Dawn O'Brien. Dawn is my teacher, and I have long envied her makeup skills, so it was great to get some inside tips, plus (cos it's Gothla, and we're all about the spooky) ;earning how to make some gory special effects. Still can't put on fake eyelashes though!
which is fast becoming a Gothla tradition - the place was full of dancers.

Then it was a quick stop in the hotel room to wrestle with costumes and makeup before hitting the open stage.

Did we rock it?  There was certainly a lot of whooping and hollering from the crowd as we danced, but if you dance to a rock classic (AC/DC Back in Black) to a rock crowd, it's always going to go down well. And as you can see from the photo, we had a lot of fun!

Sunday was a definite 'morning after the night before' sort of day. I sensibly decided not to do any more workshops, and instead spent the morning hanging out in the souk, buying a few things, and chatting to the other hungover and tired dancers (there was also a male 'fashion show' on Sunday, but I'm not sure the internet needs to see that!).

Julie and Lynne Chapman of Kookie Kaftan - showing how much better you look when you don't party til 3am! (photo by Sue Hutton)
There were far too many acts to name them all, but these are some of my highlights. All photos are by kind permission of Dark Soul Photography unless otherwise stated.

Resurrecting Zombies!

This cabaret dancer also had some covetable feather fans

Lapis Lazuli's crazed nurses were both hilarious and extremely well choreographed!

A Weeping Angel from Dr Who - she was besieged with photo requests

Boomshanka's incredible 'thorns around the castle' piece from Sleeping Beauty

There were some very flexible dancers this year!

Fusion troupe Lunatique getting their cannibal on.

Friday, 2 August 2013


So my next blog was going to be a continuation of the awesomeness that was Gothla, but I'm waiting for some pictures to go up, because it's all about the pictures, and in the meantime, I have been evening things out like a good Black Sheep dancer, and flexing my cabaret muscles.

And where better to do that than in a workshop with a lady straight off the boat from Cairo, the lovely Lorna of Cairo

Some of you may remember what happened last time I tried to go to a workshop with Lorna. Mashallah, this time no one tried to run my little Fiat off the road, and I got to the venue with time to spare. The workshops were hosted by teacher Diana Mehira, who has a purpose-built studio, complete with lots of mirrors. I've long overcome my fear of mirrors, and as Lorna favours the 'follow the bouncing bum (FTBB)' style of teaching, I was very pleased to see these.

The first workshop was on Cairo technique, and involved short sections of improv FTBB, after which Lorna would break down whatever we'd struggled with. At first I was completely poleaxed - there appeared to be arms and hips and attitude all over the place, and I couldn't work out what to focus on, but I soon got into the swing of it, and if I wasn't getting everything, I was at least getting enough to have lots of new ideas for adding interest and authenticity to my dance.

During the lunch break, we got a bonus impromptue debate on the state of Egyptian politics - a complicated subject that was broken down into neat bite-size pieces. I feel like I may actually have a clue about things over there now!

Back on the floor, this time to tackle the tricky subject of accents and how to, well, accent them! Lorna has an incredible 16 different types of move or element to mark an accent, and we went through all of them. My head was spinning by the end of it, but in a good way, jam packed with new ways to think about and respond to music. I can't wait to put them into practice!

Hotter than hell, but still smiling!