Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Farha, far away

Oh my… where do I start on the Sydney Trip? I don’t know that I want to do a blow by blow account but let’s see how that goes…

It was odd to be going away knowing Terry had passed away. I don’t think I had comprehended it properly still and with Tommy over on Great Barrier it made it all the more difficult. Still, as Tom pointed out, Tel-boy would have wanted us to get on with living rather than moping about after him… I was determined to do my best!
We flew Emirates to Sydney and by the time our shuttle dropped us at Parkside Apartments in Parramatta it was around 8pm – going on dark. We claimed beds, dumped our bags and headed down the road for a walk so we could get a sense of where the theatre, dance studios where and…. The Bazaar!!! Wheeee!! Shopping!!!
It was a pleasant surprise to find the theatre just a short stroll from the apartments – only 5 minutes away. The dance studios where many of the workshops would be were only a little further down the road. The train station and mall were not much further on from there… it was all so much more compact than I had imagined after my forays into Google Maps…. Good … less time walking, more time to do other things!
We stocked up on milk, bread, cereal, etc, walked back to the apartments to unpack and then turned in for the night.
Most of us were awake quite early the next day… our body clocks betraying us, still on NZ time!
After working out a system for distributing the two sets of keys between the 5 of us in our apartment and swapping cell phone numbers everyone went their separate ways. My first workshop wasn’t until 11:30 so I stayed back to shower and breakfast but by 9:00 I was itching to get out so I packed a day bag and set off down the road. I made my way to the theatre where the bazaar was still being set up. Most stalls were up and there were a few people milling about so I started poking through the goodies. Vicky came racing up behind me having snuck into the bazaar before it was quite open and was very excited to have already found a costume and purchased it! Crikey… the shopping frenzy had started! I steeled myself… I did not want to buy anything on the first day in the flush of excitement and then regret it after… it was not going to be easy!
I made my way down the street and found a cafĂ© around the corner from the dance studio. I sat back with a coffee to watch the world go by for half an hour before registering for the class. I played a bit of “spot the belly dancer” seeing ladies with hip-scarves, armed with bottles of water, some already loaded up with bags of goodies from the bazaar, all making their way along the road towards the studios.
I’m sad to say I was quite disappointed with my first workshop in as much as I had expected something quite different – based on the description. The blurb for the workshop told us we would “examine how to transfer from one technique to another, focusing on transition of movements” and “explore precision arm technique in conjunction with hip technique”. But basically we learnt choreography… what? To be fair the description did say “In this class you will learn a short choreography focusing on the examples of the movement transitions you have learnt” but I had expected at least some discussion on the actual techniques included in the choreography and that the choreography itself would be would be a tool through which we could learn and consolidate the moves. It wasn’t… we simply learnt the choreography … a string of moves to a piece of music with no real attempt to expand on why we would do certain moves… It was quite disappointment and I was now worried about what the remaining workshops would entail!
Still … I was there… doing it… it would be okay! I wandered back along to the theatre … or rather to the bazaar, for another look over the goodies.
I had set myself some rules about what I would look for … I was interested in finding a sword, silk veils, endless wave harem pants in particular and I really did not need any more coin belts or hip scarves with coins on. So far I hadn’t found any silk veils or harem pants and there was really only once style of sword there… but they didn’t ring any bells for me. And then I saw them… assuit coin belts! Oh dear! I fondled them for a while before doing a few more laps of the other stalls… returning occasionally for another look and all the while telling myself I didn’t need another belt with coins… sigh.
I returned to the apartment later that afternoon to freshen up for an early dinner with the whole group at El Phoenecian before the show. It was a truly spectacular dinner! Most of us opted for the banquet which meant we got to try a variety of dishes. Banquets are always a very sociable way of dining and I enjoyed the dips and salads and most especially the lamb kebabs…. Mmmmmm-mmm!
Then it was off to the show!
I really had no idea what the show would be like having only really been to teacher/student shows here in NZ. To be honest I walked out of the show a little under whelmed and initially I wasn’t sure why… the dancing had been beautiful, the music fantastic and there where most certainly very entertaining and comic moments… I was tired and a little disappointed. Then it dawned on me that perhaps I had not realised I really did have some pre-conceived expectations based on Belly Dance Super Stars videos which is really an entirely different beast. In hindsight that was wrong… and a bit of a shame because it left me with niggling doubts about the worth of the show. Comparing the Farha Tour to BDSS is like expecting Riverdance when you’re watching Irish dance… wrong, wrong, wrong. And I wished I’d made more of an effort to go and see the show again, as some of the others in our group did. Still, it has opened my eyes to Egyptian dance and I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to see it.

The rest of the trip was a blur of workshops and shopping… I won’t go through it all in detail or this post will never happen! The remaining workshops and lectures were fantastic so my concerns after the first workshop were unfounded. I had an absolute ball and would go again in a heartbeat!

And now... I'm going to bail... and leave you with this...

Friday, November 21, 2008


While I pull together a post about my Sydney trip have a think about going to see this movie...

I saw this last night and I can't recommend it enough. What a wonderful movie!
It has a certain poignancy with the recent passing of a couple of mates, who will now never get to the age of the cast but who I know would be in there boots and all! But then again, they're probably doing that already.

The songs these wonderful people sing take on a whole new meaning simply because of the ages of the choir... there's a certain irony when a little wee 92 year old woman sings "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" by The Clash (or "The Crash" as she calls them)... and then as she finishes performing the song on stage the audience roars back.... "STAY!!!"

Tears were streaming done my face the entire time from the sheer emotion of it... there were sad moments, yes, but also many rip-roaring thigh slapping moments as well that had me laughing so hard the tears didn't stop!! There were times when I'd spontaneously start clapping... and others in the audience had their own moments as well... sitting in a theatre with tears rolling down my face at a rate of knots I could hear others sniffling around me, collective Aaaaaaw's when there was bad news and every now and then something would really tickle someone and they'd burst into a short applause themselves....

Don't wait for this to get to TV... go see it in a theatre...

...Take tissues!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's been a bit quiet around here...

... because I've been away... guess where... let me give you a clue...

Yes... after months of waiting it was finally time to see the Farha Tour. I had a fantastic time but am too tired to write about it now... it has been a week of great highs and lows.

A very special friend passed away last week before I went away and while I was away another friend also died suddenly. So despite the fantastic trip I feel emotionally wrecked right now...

I'm not up to much more of a post than this at the moment ...