Friday, 12 June 2009

Workshops in Seychelles

The publicity says “Paradise, 1000miles from anywhere” and it’s all true.
From a simple question ‘what would it be like to teach flamenco in seychelles?’ to reflections on 3 years of workshops and still seems like a dream.
Think coral and granite islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Turquoise seas, palm trees and rainforest. A socialist government with little influence of Coca-Cola,Kate Moss or turkey twizzlers.
Our task has been to teach flamenco workshops to the whole school and produce a televised performance at the end of each week. Not an easy task in the UK, let alone in a place where few of the children have ever seen flamenco, many of them speak only French or Creole. The only shoes they wear are flip-flops or trainers. (leather does not last long in the rainforest) But rhythm is a universal language and Seychellois have a lively culture where music and dance is an integral part of people’s lives. And much of the local music is based on the same rhythm as Tanguillos.
Our days started early in Seychelles. By midday we had already two 90 minute workshops. The children are always very enthusiastic and eager to learn new things. The classes have always been oversubscribed. Because the children have such a healthy diet, are incredibly fit and slender, their stamina and concentration is truly amazing.
Every year each group we have worked with has studied different rhythms. The children have tackled tangos, farruca, fandangos, and guijarras compas. Using palmas, picas,and footwork, they have worked on complex co-ordinations and rhythmic patterns. They have made their own choreography and chosen their own steps.
At the end of each week the children have produced enough choreography ‘put on a show.’
And Fridays have always been show days, infront of an invited audience of parents and relatives, government officials and national T.V.
In their Sunday best, with Hibiscus and Frangipani flowers in their hair (picked from the roadside) these young people strut their stuff. With as many boys as girls, they really prove how “all god’s children got rhythm.” And how universal is the art of flamenco.
I have always got so much joy and fulfillment from working in the Seychelles. It always reminds me of what amazing things we are all capable of.
I hope we go back real soon.

Friday, 13 February 2009

In The Eye Of The Storm. Day 4. New Vic. 9/2/09

The Monday night our luck ran out after the New Vic gig in Newcastle Under Lyme.
After defying the weather since Thursday, laughing in the face of snow and ice and gales while the rest of the country ground to a halt, it all finally caught up with us on the way home tonight. Our last show on the tour. The M6 and M1 were very difficult, but Thanks to Gordon, we all made it in one piece. Thanks to Renae, the shows were lit and stage managed, and this video shot.

In The Eye Of The Storm

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Day 3. Peña Flamenca de Londres. 8/2/09

No travelling, no problems.
Just a full house for our first time at the Peña.
Thanks to Vera.

In The Eye Of The Storm

Tour Company: Ana de los Reyes. Mateo Solea, La Joaquina, Gemma de la Cruz, Rosa de las Heras, Chris Mullett, Jesus Alvarez.

In The Eye Of The Storm. Day 2. Artrix 7/2/09

The tour bus seems to be blessed. From London to Tewkesbury to Cheltenham to Bromsgrove, the snow and travel chaos is either just behind us or too far in front to be a real nuisance.

By Artrix today, the conditions are easier. And the audience doesn't have to wear its overcoats. Nevertheless, we are still surrounded on all sides by blizzards and icebound roads and closed schools and five mile queues behind jack-knifed lorries.

Roses and Luck and Snow. Day 1. 6/2/09

Everyone did arrive, just.

Mateo and Ana and Jesus managed to scramble in to Stansted in between snowshowers at 11.50 last night. By this morning it was snowbound again, and Luton, which is not that far away, was totally isolated.

The snow hit at just the right places and times for us last night, and the same is happening today. We were chased away from Stansted by it last night, and out of London by it today into the effects of last night's storms in the west country. It's as if we're in the eye of the storm.

To the south and north of Tewkesbury winter chaos reigns. Both Severn bridges closed. The M5 at a standstill. And Oxfordshire enjoying blizzard conditions.

And yet we slid effortlessly along the M40 due to the lack of traffic, and hit Tewkesbury in record time. The trip from The Roses to the digs in Cheltenham tonight, and the trip to Bromsgrove tomorrow - and home again - may be a different story.
In The Eye Of The Storm

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