Tag Archives: ATS® bellydance

Summer of dance

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13692988_10153561590635672_4965015085609723190_oTribal Unity

We began our summer, dancing at The Three Horseshoe Inn, Llangeitho. We were warmly welcomed and we thoroughly enjoyed our first dance outing.

13528430_10154418410354739_3392390366723899125_oAt the beginning of July, we were welcomed into the Wee Crafty Folk family at their Steampunk Extraordinaire, at the Blaenavon Ironworks. We danced in the sun 13559002_10153651712746700_6105772231861420128_othe rain and the wind 13592700_1758587191066436_4345694993005621029_n on a tiny stage 13582071_862262727212696_7293021555466940758_o and some bumpy ground. We made new friends 13528627_255460211502108_8729822987007473526_o13438956_10154326978680850_5101103827962123973_n13580516_748663858569317_4559449785190045217_o13528436_679809571849_581917443817173174_oand welcomed our newest Tribal Unity Wales performer! (She came to support us and Ashley had kindly offered to take photos so we persuaded her that it was a good day to dance:-))

Last weekend was the Lampeter Food Festival and the rain kept away again! 13693039_1363739183641733_703608656464810052_oWe danced two half hour sets in the entertainment tent plus audience participation and we loved every minute. 13701245_10153561592555672_7997562574212675563_o13765668_10153561595495672_2563386093820760471_o13731820_10153561600885672_335389288742989006_o13692978_10153561600715672_3681990756507417176_o13708338_1363739186975066_5349987637826492300_o13719506_10153561594605672_2555305949072770709_o13737576_10153561597910672_7474765846159049178_o

This Saturday is the Cardigan Bellydance Festival and we’re dancing at a birthday party on Sunday.

Classes are officially finished so my toe will have a week to rest (did I tell you I broke my toe? It’s been a painful month as well as a wonderful one!) and then I’ve two lessons to teach before the music festival on 13th August at the Brynog Arms in Felinfach. Tribal Unity Wales will be performing there between 3pm and 6pm and that will conclude our summer of dance…if the sun shines on a Sunday, of course, there will be impromptu dancing and picnicing in Cribyn!

For more information about Tribal Unity Wales, go to the Tribal Unity website. http://www.tribalunity.co.uk

You can message Deana for lessons in Essex via the website. You can message me here.

Enjoy the rest of summer and dance!

http://www.wendysteele.com has a Tribal Unity Wales page and you can view our performances via the Youtube page of Halo Quin https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAubabZ0MNYMtzHpCFqjM1A

 

Welcome New Moon

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Catching up with friends and family in Essex after Christmas was lovely but saying goodbye to my children is never easy, especially as I had no routine to return to.

With firewood stacked in the lounge, my partner set off for a job in Oxford and left me home alone.

I’ve always found the final week of the waning moon a challenge. Though my mind is keen to ‘tie up loose ends’, complete started projects and have something to show for my endeavours, I’ve found it difficult to apply myself.

Edits are going well on the third Standing Stone book, The Gathering and I finished one short story which you can read here https://wendysteele.com/2016/01/06/short-story-scratching-the-surface/ and wrote, edited and polished two more which I’ve submitted for magazines but my energy levels were low and I could feel the tears close to the surface.

And then Tribal Unity Wales came to my rescue! A suggestion of an evening get together gave me something to look forward to and catching up was just what I needed. Inspired by my ladies, I set myself the challenge of completing the lime mortaring/rebuilding of the wall up the stairs.

The tiny window was a later, hasty addition and needed my attention. I mixed one bucket at a time (3:1 sand and lime), pretending to be a cement mixer for ten minutes until the consistency was right. The old earth mortar needs to be scraped out and loose stones removed ready to be reset. All the resident earth mortar needs to be wetted to give something for the new mortar to adhere to. DSC_0195DSC_0197After half an hour, I use a damp paintbrush to remove excess mortar and to give a slightly smoother finish. DSC_0198This side needed a lot more rebuilding, finding suitable stones to fill the gaps rather than just mortar. DSC_0199Two hours on Friday and four on Saturday got me this far…and then I fell off the planet.

I was so pleased with my achievements but with rain pounding the windows, seeping up through the hall floor and leaking through the roof, I despaired that my efforts were worthless and my plans to commune with the new moon seemed hopeless…so I lit candles around the lounge and danced.  I danced hard. Breathless and exhausted I sat in the middle of my circle with Rosie Rabbit and the goddess Isis spoke to me. I scribbled on my pad, tearful but excited and once I was calmer, I turned to my Tarot cards and the future looked brighter. DSC_0160

Taking small steps works for me. Yesterday I set myself lots of small challenges and completed them all, starting this new moon phase with a clean tidy room, notes and plans for the new term of dance and lots of story ideas.

Everyone is different but if you are looking for ways to live with depression or you want to bring happiness to your life every day, my non-fiction book may help. Love, light and new moon blessings xx

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=la_B007VZ1P06_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1354202723&sr=1-5http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354202865&sr=1-3

One year on….missing you

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Approaching the end of the pagan year, it’s time to look back at both achievements and disappointments. Where have I been? Who came with me? Could I have handled that better? What did I learn? How have I grown from these experiences?

In November 2014 I launched a new book, the first of a new series, The Standing Stone books.

Standing Stone Home For Christmas Cover drop shadowMy eldest son came to visit at the Midwinter Solstice. DSC_1200

I danced my feet off with my fabulous ladies of Tribal Unity Wales…we even danced for the eclipse! 17005_1637467316511758_8560746038090504212_n11705339_1637467806511709_6336127877735496573_n11875606_10153165243553867_114847764_o11012386_10153650985507802_1147847422645631772_nOur little house finally has a roof!11150930_1600818576843299_7145038719453612890_n

I worked hard clearing to the end of Bramble Avenue, along our riverbank DSC_000811947900_1654664588125364_5441217376693406600_o(1)Tribal Unity came from Essex to visit and we danced on our outdoor stage

On the beach with my home girls

On the beach with my home girls

I introduced juicing into my diet and changed the balance of vegetables on my plate DSC_1436and published another book!DSC_1413

But my strongest feeling about this year is missing those I love. I’ve missed my children, a constant pain in my heart that though appeased a little by phone calls is only alleviated once I hold them in my arms. I’ve missed my friends, women who have loved and supported me through the best and worst of times. But most of all, I’ve missed my mum and dad. While mum was alive, my promise to dad to look after her kept him alive for me but now they are both gone, I grieve for them both. All year I’ve carried the pain of their loss, silently held within me, only let out in great gulping sobs and screams when I’m alone or the odd persistent tear I cannot restrain.

As the wheel of the year turns, moving us on towards winter, I must let go. My ritual on the riverbank tomorrow night will help me move forward, helping me leave the negative behind while I spend the winter months with my thoughts, working through emotions and emerging anew in the spring.

Samhein blessings xx

The spring in my step

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When I’m depressed, I lose the spring in my step.

I function, exist in the hours of the day and night but I don’t live. Creative pursuits lift me but focussing, using the joy of inspiring, helping and healing others, is tough when I’m depressed, really tough.

DSC_1431And of course, real life, the every day labyrinth of work and bills and relationships, has to be negotiated.

Summer wanes, autumn beckons and I sink into the yawning pit of despair. The Wheel does not cease to turn because I cannot climb aboard. The leaves begin their fall in a blaze of fire and fury, pelted to the earth by the gathering wind. Scuttling eddies announce my way through the lanes, raining flames on my misery.

And then I dance. DSC_0005I still carry my burden of darkness but the bliss of those few dances lightens my step allowing me to appreciate the moment: a chilly Autumn morning, surrounded by friends I love, talking to new people, dancing to live music, dancing with friends, spreading the love of ATS® and making people smile.

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My steps are lighter. My heart is lighter.

Surround yourself with those who love you and find the spring in your step this Autumn.

 

Summer Solstice…the build up

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Since the new moon on Tuesday, life has gone from chaotic to manic…and I’m loving it!

Tuesday is always a busy dancing day, teaching a Beginners class at lunchtime and a Beyond Basics for two hours in the evening but this week, classes were buzzing and we’ve two more events in the pipeline where we’ve been asked to perform. The amazing thing is, we are not a performance group and most of my dancers have only been dancing for a year. Let me tell you our story…

Barefoot Festival 2014

Barefoot Festival 2014

I had been dancing with Tribal Unity for four years when we finally sold our house and prepared to set off for our new adventure in Wales. My wonderful ATS® Bellydance teacher, Deana Lawman, asked me if I would like to be Tribal Unity in Wales. I was overwhelmed and delighted to accept such an honour so from August 2013 to February 2014, from tent life, to caravan life to a house with no heating, I planned how to begin teaching ATS® Bellydance. I found a venue, advertised in the local free magazine, The Grapevine, and began teaching in March 2014.

First Tribal Unity Wales selfie

First Tribal Unity Wales selfie

I met the most wonderful bunch of ladies! I planned to talk to them about dancing at the Lampeter World of Dance Festival in October, just one dance to show everyone how much fun we have in class but they way laid my plan by asking if they could dance at the Cardigan Bellydance in August…and we did! 10603378_10202597850844530_906991781996694645_n Everyone had so much fun they wanted to perform again…and again and again! ATS® Bellydance allows you as the dancer to bring yourself to the group and before my eyes, a Tribal Unity family was born. From May 2014, my Mum’s dementia worsened and frequent trips to Essex were exhausting and painful but these wonderful women supported me throughout and we danced together, for each other. Indoors at the Cellan Beer Festival Dec 2014 to outdoors in the park at the eclipse in March, we have been there and danced.

11012386_10153650985507802_1147847422645631772_nWe’re now preparing for the Lampeter Food Festival on 25th July and the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on the 8th/9th August. We’re dancing at The LongWood Open Day on 6th September as well as two performances in October, also confirmed.

And we danced together to celebrate the Summer Solstice, welcoming back the Holly King as he takes over from the Oak King, bringing in the harvest and preparing the Land for the winter.10346537_1624424897816000_5432437501420269489_n

ATS® Bellydance is an inspirational dance form, combining influences from Egyptian bellydance, Kathak (classical Indian), Flamenco and African Tribal. This unique style of dance is lead by a leader who gives cues to her dancers so there is no choreography to be learned, just moves and cues. It’s hard work! Our bodies get into bad habits so muscle memory has to be created and that means repetition but when you have as much fun as we do, nobody seems to mind. For more information http://www.tribalunity.co.uk

Our house is coming on…we have a roof now! The new thatch is holding up well to the rain but we still need to finish the ends of the walls so they meet the roof so, we need clom…clay, sand, cow/horse poo and straw.

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But first, we need a man with a digger and he has been booked for Friday and Saturday, firstly to dig out our clay (we’ve removed the battered shed and agricultural asbestos sheeting that was in the way…don’t ask!), mix with the straw we have left from thatching and poo we will collect from friendly farmer on Thursday night and secondly, to dig us a meandering pathway down to our riverbank. Last year we cleared Bramble Avenue so we could walk from one end of the riverbank to the other and this new pathway will mean easy access for the barrow and mower and a clear area to start working out from to plant our new trees (ash doing well, beech still a bit wobbly) for coppicing.

As well as all this excitement, I’ve been writing the third book in the Standing Stone series The Gathering, while editing the second book Silence is Broken, getting it ready for publication on 2nd July and guess what arrived in the post this morning?

DSC_1413I love it when plans start to come together after months, even years, of hard work. Staying focussed on what I believe, trusting in myself and sharing warm heartedness helps with those difficult days. Solstice Blessings to all my friends around the world.

My Lovely Blog – Blog Tour

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Thank you to the fabulous historical fiction author Judith Arnopp for tagging me to join in this blog tour. You can read about Judith and her novels here:

http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/my-lovely-blog-blog-hop.html

 

First memory

What do we truly remember as a first memory or what inspires us to recall a scene, a moment in time from the past? My earliest memories focus on my dad, the most loving, generous and kind man I have ever known. Dad loved the sunshine and the sea so the salty smell, wind in my face and seagulls overhead remind me of him.  My earliest memories are of happy seaside holidays at Cliftonville, near Margate in Kent. During the year I would save 1d from my 4d a week pocket money so I had spending money for our yearly one week holiday. My savings would buy me a Seaside Special comic and an icecream for the whole family, though in retrospect my Dad must have subbed this enterprise. Sat in the sand in my swimming costume with cardigan on top, I created fairy castles and pirate ships, surrounded by moats and bridges so when the sea came in, they stood proud of the tide for a time until washed away, they were reduced sand, a new medium for the following day’s play.

When the tide went out, Dad would take me by the hand to the rock pools. In his beach sandals, he tiptoed across the rocks before pulling back the sea weed and depositing a small crab in my little yellow bucket. The children on the beach loved him. Like the Pied Piper he would lead them across the sand. He showed me how to pick up the crabs gently and encouraged all the children to return the crabs to the pools once parents and siblings had been shown the wonders in their buckets.

Sat in a deckchair in his shorts, white vest and Panama hat, smiling in the sunshine….my first memory.

 

Books

My brother left for University when I was twelve years old. I was a lonely child. Mum didn’t believe in play school so I began school not knowing anyone and I lacked the social skills to make friends. By the time I started senior school, I had learned to hide in a book, preferring the fictional lives I read about to the isolated existence in which I lived. Books transported me around the world and to other worlds I was free to imagine. I wrote stories of my own, creating little books that I attempted to tape together. An inspiring English teacher encouraged my creative writing, set me on a path to discovery within a reference library and prompted me to challenge the careers teacher with my desire to be a researcher for the BBC, rather than a secretary. Her lack of support propelled me into office work but now, research for my own books is a joy and I love nothing more than reading a book and adding to my knowledge.

My children were surrounded by books from the moment they were born. Bath, stories and bed was the norm and they were encouraged to write themselves.

I rarely leave the house without a book….who knows where you may be held up and have the opportunity to read.

 

Libraries or bookshops

On Saturday mornings, from age 12 to 14, I spent my time in the library. It was a long walk, through the twittens (alleyways) up to the town but I didn’t mind because once I was there, I had the world at my finger tips. Libraries are opportunities, free reading for everyone and should always be fought for. Recently, phone box libraries have appeared, recycling a space and giving it a new, important place in our community.

Wales to August 25 2014 001I love bookshops and frequent them with birthday or Christmas tokens. Finances have never allowed for me to purchase new books regularly, reiterating my love of libraries. I love second hand bookshops even more but just before we left Essex, our favourite one in Maldon closed down due to competition from the internet. My partner and I spent happy hours in that shop over the years, discovering dusty treasures from the shelves and curling up in a tatty armchair to peruse them.

Learning

I’m not a fan of pumping information into young children, requiring them to take tests and meet standards. I’ve always believed that if you instill a sense of wonder into small children, you give them the desire to learn and they will do so for the rest of their lives. Giving children opportunities and introducing them to new topics, ideas and cultures helps them decide their own likes and preferences and leads them to the subjects they wish to study further.

My infant and junior schools did all of the above and though senior school was not so good (newly formed comprehensive school from old grammar and secondary modern), I emerged with both O and A levels. I ventured into the world of work, desperately to leave home and start my own life and, over the years, regretted not attending university but in the past twenty years, I have pursued areas of learning that have always intrigued me….history, archaelogy and magic.

My passions

Apart from writing, I love dance and I love cats. Labelled a fairy elephant as a child, I was dissuaded from dance and learned piano from the age of four. I was forty before I walked into a bellydance class and asked if I could join in. Since then, I’ve passed on my love with my company Phoenix Bellydance, teaching Egyptian dance to over 300 women and girls and in the past five years, have danced and trained with Tribal Unity in ATS® Belly Dance and have been teaching as Tribal Unity Wales this past year. ATS® Belly Dance is a blend of styles of Egyptian belly dance, Flamenco, Kathak (classical Indian dance) and African Tribal. Moves and cues are danced by a leader and dancers follow, creating an improvised dance which is inspirational, uplifting and a full body work out.

I’ve never passed a cat in a street without saying hello. Not allowed pets as a child, I’ve taken in rescued cats for many years and now live with Tiggy and Jibby, the latter living in an old barn when we moved here in November 2013. Two seems too few cats to have around but while the large building work has been taking place here, nervous new kittens would not have felt at home here but now we have a roof, it won’t be long before we give more cats a home.

Wales to 20th Nov 2014 078Jibby helping with my writing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your stop of the Lovely Blog Tour and will continue to follow it. I’m passing the baton to two authors who I met via social media and who support Indie authors in many ways. Look out for Kim Scott aka Lydia North and Clare Plaisted on your travels.

http://www.kimscottbooks.com/apps/blog/

 

http://myjourneyintowriting.blogspot.co.nz

https://claireplaisted.wordpress.com
http://plaistedpublishingauthorinterviews.blogspot.co.nz/

Dance…today and every day

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I learned ballroom dancing by standing on my Dad’s feet when I was tiny. Ballet lessons, however, were out of the question as I was labelled a ‘fairy elephant’ and I learned piano instead. I shuffled my feet and waved my arms at the disco in the 80s but it wasn’t until I was forty that I ‘found’ dance and embraced it.

On Saturday night, my Tribal Unity Wales students and I joined the dancing at a hafla in Cardigan. (A hafla is a belly dance party, rather than a performance.) American Tribal Style® (ATS®)Belly Dance is the style I teach, created by Carolena Nerricio in the late 80s and since moving to Wales, I’ve started two classes and am about to start a third. Unlike Egyptian Belly Dance, every dance is improvised, dancers following the cues of the leader.

The atmosphere built as costumes were finalised and make up perfected before we began. As the first group danced, Rose Barter’s Belly Fit class for over 50s, I looked around at the other dancers, their friends and family. Everyone was smiling, clapping in time, supporting the dancers and enjoying the music and I wished we could capture the feeling in the Small World Theatre….then everyone would dance.

DSC_1261Our two group dances, one in groups and chorus and the other in formation, were interspersed in the programme with stick dances, a veil dance, a drum solo and other duets and solos. There were no egos. Each dancer was there to share the love of the dance.

Tribal Unity were invited to dance to the live drums and my partner joined them on the tabla. Hayley and I danced a fun, crazily fast duet…how can I describe how much fun that was?

My life changed when I started belly dance. In my early twenties I used weight training, swimming, aerobics and stretching to keep fit and sculpt my body. Thirty years on, dance gives me that and so much more.

I began with Egyptian Belly Dance, attending work shops all over the country to learn new skills and develop my dance until I became a tribal babe just over four years ago. Now I have the privilege to teach American Tribal Style® Belly Dance to others, sharing the love of the dance and the bliss of being part of a tribal family.

Don’t wait. You don’t need an excuse. Dance…today and every day.

To find out more about Tribal Unity http://www.tribalunity.co.uk

To find out more about American Tribal Style® Belly Dance http://www.fcbd.com

 

 

Facing the fear

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I remember the day ‘Destiny of Angels’ was finished. Written, edited and the button pushed to publish, I shook like a leaf in a hurricane. I already had published work ‘out there’, dance articles and interviews in magazines, but this was my first published novel, a work of fiction and I was asking the public to read it. Then the paperback arrived.

575517_2923802914446_700076725_n The joy of holding my first book in my hand was wonderful and I bathed in a glow of contentment for days, until the fear began again as I attempted to market my book online. As my ‘baby’ was downloaded, I read the reviews with trepidation until I realised that readers were enjoying my story. I was inspired. ‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles’  soon followed and I published two volumes of short stories. With the addition of ‘Too Hot for Angels’, my first venture into erotica, I believed I was showing the world the kind of writer I was, adaptable, prolific and fearless, so I launched my big birthday celebration by giving away my books and waited for the 1800+ readers to respond….and nobody did.

Disappointed, disenchanted and defeated, my writing pad and pen sat idle for a while until the story of ‘Wrath of Angels’ refused to be suppressed and I wrote the second book in the Lilith Trilogy. Time for marketing my books became minimal as we sold our house and moved to Wales. Through those years, the fear of failure hung over me.  How could I call myself a writer when nobody read and reviewed my books? Inspired by my new surroundings, a new story began to form so I made a few notes, faced my fear and edited and published ‘Wrath of Angels’.  I returned to social media and was shocked but delighted to find good friends who remembered me and my books and helped me restart my writing career.

Wales to 21st June 2014 013

On Saturday, I faced my biggest fear of all. I stood behind my table, in a large hall surrounded by talented creative craft folk,  and when anyone approached, I stood up and said ‘Hello, I’m Wendy Steele and these are my books.’ Why is that so scary? Because I have a real fear of meeting new people. I remember the first night of my City and Guilds evening class on teaching adults, having to stand up, introduce myself and tell everyone why I was there and how the teacher had berated me ‘If you can’t stand up in front of us, how are you ever going to teach anyone?’

I believe life is about facing your fears, challenging your preconceptions, allowing  you to explore paths you may otherwise miss. I’ve been teaching dance for almost seven years now and I have a ‘trick’ that helps me…during the warm up, I find it difficult to make eye contact, even while I’m speaking but I promise myself that when the music finishes, I will have my ‘teacher head’ on and all will be well. Sometimes I get my words muddled at the beginning of a lesson but I’ve learned to laugh at myself and my ladies laugh with me.

At the festival on Saturday, I spoke to lots of people and I enjoyed it. Talking about my passions makes me happy and listening to other people and their hopes, likes and ideas is inspiring. I took a tin of my homemade gluten/dairy free chocolate cake, cut into tiny squares to give away and that proved an interesting talking point. I sold a few paperbacks and gave out my promo postcards (handmade with recycled paper, card and glue!), promoted ATS® dance, next week’s World Wide Flash Mob and the Lampeter World of Dance Festival the following week but, best of all, I spoke to a number of people who want to write. I started a list with contact details so I hope to run a ‘Getting Writing’ workshop before Christmas.

Facing the fear makes for a challenging but exciting life. My first book written in Wales,  ‘The Standing Stone – Home for Christmas’ will be published at the beginning of November and I’m not afraid, just excited.

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You can find all my books on my Amazon author pages http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1365459567&sr=1-2-ent
http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

The Witch is back! You can buy Wrath of Angels for just 99p/99c until 10th October.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wrath-Angels-Lilith-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00KTH2E4Y

http://www.amazon.com/Wrath-Angels-Lilith-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00KTH2E4Y/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402305692&sr=1-7&keywords=wrath+of+angel