Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Notting Hill Carnival Snaps

Well its that time of year again and carnival has come and gone already. Wow! As usual, the largest street festival in Europe was enjoyed by over a million people from the UK and beyond. These people, including myself all went to carnival to soak up and celebrate the authentic Caribbean vibes that this event has to offer. Just the smell of the jerk chicken sizzling through the atmosphere; the loud sound systems pumping
out heavy tunes to gear up the crowds; the flamboyant parades and dancers on their floats lighting up the streets of West London, make carnival what it is today: a great event to be enjoyed by all!

I'm more than sure that the founder of the original Notting Hill Carnival held in 1959, would be proud of what it has become. Claudia Jones, aka the "Mother of Notting Hill Carnival" organised the first one in a small town hall to improve race relations in London during the '50s. Well who knew that today, her event would still be flourishing, not only saluting cultural diversity in all forms, but publicly recognising the Caribbean islands and universal culture?

This year the sun came out which added to the atmosphere, as it was sizzling hot!!! It got me up dancing and drinking (oh yeah!) My ears may have stopped ringing from the loud sound systems and my feet no longer hurt from all the walking and dancing, but the happy memories still remain, including the following snaps (photos) I took on the day. Long live Notting Hill Carnival!

Flamboyant Float
Pina Coladas!
All smiles!
Feathery Parade
Ancient Egyptian Float
Jerk chicken! Hmm :-)

Two girls, same dress!
Happy dancing!

Zombies Parading
"Talk to the hand, OK!"
Levi Roots' float

Paraders wheeling along

Sizzling dancers enjoying the fun

Sunshine strutting!
Dancing to the drums!

Shimmy On!


Monday, 19 August 2013

All that Jazz!

I had the pleasure of attending the London Jazz Festival in Canary Wharf yesterday and
loved every moment of it!

Just listening to the live musicians perform to thousands of people in an open air concert was such a chilled and perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  People from all walks of life came along to celebrate and unite in their enjoyment of the soulful and melodic tones of jazz music and its culture.

One of the main highlights was Ian Shaw, an internationally renowned jazz singer, talented pianist and twice winner of BBC Jazz Awards (pictured above). As a down to earth British artist, Ian is a true entertainer. I was blown away by his soulfulness, grounded mannerisms when gearing up the audience to participate, and the richness of his powerhouse voice, which he appeared to be so humble about.

Another artist who was simply fantastic (pictured right), was Zantony Black, a backing instrumentalist who clearly loved what he was doing, because he was beaming with joy and enthusiasm the whole time.  When leading pianist Jason Rebello, informed the crowd that Zantony would be stepping forward from the backing instruments to sing for us, who knew he'd be so good?  Not only did he sing with such deep and enchanting harmonic passion, he made an effort to engage with the audience, moved around the stage and jammed with the other musicians. It was a shame we couldn't see more of him.

All in all a great day out and incredibly inspiring, as it got me thinking about my own stance on performing and how I need to develop as a dancer. Yesterday I could clearly see that these jazz artists were comfortable in their own skin, so their inner confidence and joy was evident by the quality of their performances. With references and tributes made by these musicians to Joni Mitchell and other artists, their enthusiasm and deep reverence for all things jazz-like and musical shined through. This has motivated me to really think about and get a feel of all aspects of the instruments and lyrics used in the music I dance to, so I can hopefully translate this with dance performances that uplift and stimulate audiences whenever I perform, just like the artists did to me yesterday.

Shimmy On!


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dance from the Heart!

I can't quite believe its mid-August already! Its been a while since I last updated this blog; mainly because of a manic few months completing a post grad in teacher training.  It does now feel great to be back attending dance classes, workshops and training again.

During the summer holidays I've developed the daily habit of doing ten minutes of dynamic yoga, followed by twenty minutes of bellydance drills. Just stretching, gliding and flowing with my body again, feels like a weird, but wonderful and liberating concept to be getting back into. Its funny how we tend to forget that by not dancing or doing some form of exercise, you can feel stuck, sluggish and sometimes down in your moods. The creative expression and art form of dance, whether done professionally or just for a bit of fun, is SO freeing, uplifting and releases endorphins to bring about a sense of well-being and  inner calm. The photo on the right, found on tumblr, is of a bellydancer demonstrating how liberating, enhancing and visually pleasing different forms of bellydance can be (if you know the photographer or dancer, please email me so I can credit them).

One things for sure, having followed social networking sites, attended haflas and watched other dancers progress during my hiatus, the London bellydance scene is still buzzing and more exciting than ever. There's more haflas to attend, new genres of bellydance have been introduced, new-found festivals are on offer, increased classes and different kinds of courses to attend, including an array of performance courses. This is all fantastic as a lot of doors have been opened for beginners, advanced and professional dancers alike; all very different from a few years ago.  However, at the same time its quite overwhelming in terms of choice, as there's so much going on.  Decisions decisions...  Having thought about it and remaining true to what I want to work more on in my dancing, its helped me decide on the best course of action for the new dance season in September.

Below is a dance quote I recently found which struck a cord of inspiration, and helped me decide on what to do next. Yes, technique is important, but with the dancer tuning into their feelings and dancing from within, it not only mesmerises and captivates their audience, as they are drawn into the dance, but enhances the dancer's soul as they feel the music, free themselves and dance with inner passion and meaning. 

I love this concept of dancing from the heart, and have since put it on my facebook cover page to remind me to keep dancing, progress in feeling and flowing with the music and most importantly, have fun whilst doing so.

Shimmy On!