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.

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