Group photo at Yvette Cowles' African dance workshop, Penzance YMCA, Nov 2015

So what if Saturday, November 7th, dawned misty and drizzly….it was going to be a day of four hours of dance!  Women from my Belly Bolly classes and from the whole South West gathered at Penzance YMCA for the first of Yvette’s two days of Joyful Dance.

We warmed up with Bhangra, the cheerful, energetic style of dance from the Punjab in India, originally used to celebrate the harvest.  This got us moving around with lots of knee bounces and shoulder shrugs.  Then on to learn the Bollywood technique that we’d be using for our main dance: ‘Marjaani Marjaani Kasame’ from the Bollywood film ‘Billu Barber’.  This had male and female parts, so we learned both, just for the experience….phew!  The philosophy within the words of the song was life affirming; a rough translation goes:
“Everything is fine, everything is just right
You have everything if God is with you
We kept the promises made to God
We follow the rules of the world.”
Then there was a strange Rubik Cube motion with the hands in an ‘I don’t care’ mode.  Bollywood dance is so energising and up-cheering!
Sunday’s mood was equally upbeat as we spent four hours exploring music and dance styles from different African countries including British Cameroon and Ghana, with a touch of Nubian.  We also experienced some Jamaican reggae and Samba Reggae, an Afro-Brazilian style.  These had rhythms and feel quite unlike the North African styles that we were familiar with in Belly Bolly: lower centre of gravity, more chunky with belly-rolling and bottoms!  This culminated in a simple choreography to Asonto, a popular dance and music style from Ghana.  The picture above shows some of us taking a breather between dances; an excuse to eat chocolate.
My thanks go to Yvette for her infectious enthusiasm and obvious skill in getting us, a disparate group, all in sync with the dancing, and loving it!  I also appreciated the company of the fab women who came to the weekend.  We laughed a lot as we learned
Amel Tafsout is the guest Teacher at my next Belly Bolly dance weekend on May 7th & 8th 2016.  She’ll be covering dance styles from the Maghreb, N. Africa.  Watch this space!