MUSIC AND DANCE WORKSHOP
I was commissioned by Sheba Arts to deliver a Music and Dance workshop for their new Explore Your Storyteller project in Leigh on Friday, 22 March 2019.
I was looking forward to the experience, but I was not sure what to expect as we did not know which of the women would turn up for the workshops, which are drop-ins in nature. I had prepared an outline of work. The women had been asked to bring a piece of music from their country, something that provokes a memory and/or a piece of dance. As is usually the case, people don’t bring music as they need encouragement from a tutor, so I introduced a song that brought back memories of my own childhood: “Cielito Lindo”, by Luis Alberto del Parana y su Trio los Paraguayos. I explained that my mother used to sing this as a lullaby to me when I was a child and we studied the lyrics.
We had four ladies at the workshop: two from Kinshasa in the DR Congo and two from Zimbabwe. The Zimbabweans were sisters and they explained that they had come from a small village and they did not have a radio or TV, so were not exposed to music until they moved to Harare when they were older. They then developed an interest African music and R&B. The Congolese ladies shared two songs about motherhood and became quite emotional remembering their own mothers back home. The songs were “Maman by Papa Wemba and “Limbisa Nga Maman” by Gatho Beevans. They even sang the songs to us.
Fereshteh Mozaffari from Sheba Arts then explained that music was banned in Iran following the revolution and so their family had had to destroy their music collection.
We then decided it was time to dance! This is where my 15 years as a world music DJ came into its own. I played some African and Latin dance music and soon we were all sharing dance moves. Even one of the Zimbabwean ladies who had a pulled shoulder muscle couldn’t resist the opportunity! Finally, Fereshteh shared a traditional Isfahan dance with us and some of us also joined in. The whole experience was a positive sharing of cultures and really uplifting. I am looking forward to the next workshop in April.
27 March 2019
This was my first time meeting the 'Explore Your Storyteller' participants and it's safe to say that we were all in the same boat. We were all feeling shy and didn't know what to expect.
It is always incredibly difficult to know where to begin, especially with something as broad as visual arts. How can you know what everyone will like, find exciting or have a feel for without knowing anything about them? So I took on this first workshop as means of discovering more about the participants and not to put too much pressure on them to bring out masterpieces.
Our latest project, Explore Your Storyteller, which begins in Leigh this month, is to be funded by the Lottery Community Fund.
Explore Your Storyteller will bring workshops to Leigh, Wigan and Bolton that engage with women from refugee, migrant and asylum backgrounds in diverse, creative projects ranging from music, drama, creative writing and visual arts.
Sheba Arts is excited to bring our projects out into new areas of Greater Manchester with the help of the Lottery Community Fund.
Stay up to date with Explore Your Storyteller's progress via www.shebaarts.com/explore-your-storyteller