I am so happy to check in and report that after a couple of months of lockdown, we are finally back in the studio on Thursday nights with REAL LIVE DRUMMING and BEAUTIFUL SHINING FACES smiling back at me, as we share this beautiful experience of music and dance together. On my first night back, about mid-way through the warm up, I had a good look in the mirror at my dance whanau behind me, and I had tears of joy welling up in my eyes to be with these beautiful dancers who I love, once again! To be back sharing what I love with other humans in person! How much I have missed this immersive experience of connectivity each week! The live drums inspiring and awakening us, the movers moving, and the joy overwhelming me in the best way possible in a wave of emotion! There is nothing in the world like the collective experience of expressive movement and music! Dance is life!
Lockdown was such a huge change after the great high of Newtown Festival with 80,000 in the street partying down in our dance neighbourhood. Suddenly being at home in solitude with our families/bubbles and connecting with a screen both keeping us together and dividing us was such a stark contrast.
It has been a new experience of zooming Moringa Dance classes and practices and also getting to experience some new enriching classes with international artists from around the world, making the world a smaller place and connecting with the international drumming and dance community. During that time, I also participated offering free workshops in online versions of International Dance Day festivities held by International Dance Day Wellington and El Barrio Latino Bar, and shared some of our performance videos to keep the teams inspired for the virtual Relay for Life event line up, and offering virtual dance and yoga workshops in the Shift-It Collective.
I am continuing to make zooming into live classes available as long as I have interest in this option in our dance community, so please be in touch if you are still staying home or even just logistically find it easier to dance from home! Zooming in is a koha-based experience, and I am also now offering an option of affordable koha for my live classes as well for anyone who is lacking funds in this unprecedented time.
I am so grateful to be in New Zealand in this wild time of history.
Sending much love to all of you.
Stay safe and be strong!
Yours in Rhythm & Dance,
We have hit the ground running in 2018!
So much to do, so little time to write about it!!!
We began with Just So Festival in February, where we had so much fun camping with our families and roving around drumming and dancing and enjoying the festivities and all the fantastic art and music, the highlight of the weekend was when our roving performance location coincided with the end of the lantern parade and we danced and drummed to an enormous crowd at sunset with handmade lanterns in hand by the river. So memorable!
The following weekend (2-4 March) brought Chris Berry's visit, and we had a brilliant time at Tapu Te Ranga Marae, deepening into the Bana Kuma rhythms, having lots of great laughs and mbira and singing by the fire and some serious drumming and dancing for the kasha ceremony, honouring the fire and water elements, preparing for new beginnings with all the old stuff burned in the fire, and the water washing it all away, renewing us. Then we raced over to Newtown Festival on the Sunday to perform with Kubatana on the Community Stage, which was fantastic. Left with a great buzz, and got to enjoy many other performances by group members across other wonderful local groups, many of us had one or more costume changes that day!
Later in March, we had an amazing time performing with Kadodo at Cuba Dupa! Koffie Fugah put together a big supergroup of African drummers from around New Zealand and invited Moringa Dancers to dance with them! So we had a lot of additional practice with the guest artists, and coaching from Koffie, and an epic stage show on the Swan Stage. It was such a great experience. Also, I got to teach a mini-dance workshop backed by Kadodo which was quite a thrill and ended in a downpour of rain, facepaint running down my face but a huge smile shining throguh it!
Now we are in April!!! Finally getting around to blogging!!! I have started community classes back on Tuesday eves, which has been awesome! Last week I began tutoring a few brave souls from the Wellington Police Dept who will be shaking their stuff at Africa Day with a traditional West African dance! I leave tomorrow to go up to Dannevirke to teach at the Kadodo Intermediate Drum & Dance Camp for a few days and very excited to teach some dance and learn heaps of drumming with Koffie and mbira with Dave Edwards.
May is coming, and with it will bring a new Dun Dun Dance class I am starting in Newtown, at the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre on Weds eves, which I am very excited about! I have been gathering drums and material all year and finally I am delving into this new adventure!
Maputo Mensah, my teacher in Ghana in 1996, will be visiting during May!!! He will be performing with us at Africa Day (12 May, Shed 6, 4pm)!!He will teach a Tues eve dance workshop series at my usual community class time, and my Dun Dun Dance class while he's here! This will be such a great chance to learn from an amazing teacher who is based in the US, on his first ever trip to NZ!
I am hosting him and Koffie for the Rhythm & Spice Retreat (African drum & dance camp) at Tapu Te Ranga Marae 24-27 May! This will be an amazing experience, I can't wait!!! There are some wonderful drummers and dancers coming along who I am very excited to reconnect with, not to mention the amazing teachers and chance to learn so, so much while enjoying the beautiful food and hospitality at the marae.
If you would like to have Maputo and Koffie come to your school or workplace to offer a performance/workshop/teambuilding experience during May, please contact me about it!
When May is over, I will take a huge breath and sigh of joy and relief knowing that I have really done the first part of 2018 to the fullest!