So this whole gig started because of the amazing things appearing on social media about what was happening in Europe due to the virus now called Covid-19. People in isolation were keeping up their spirits and doing their best to create a sense of resilient community by singing or dancing on their balconies. It was both scary and moving as we wondered what on earth we ourselves were heading into. However, while we waited for our own wave to gather momentum, it happened that there was a lengthy spell of warmth and sunshine in early spring, so for a laugh and to join in the plucky Eurospirit, I decided to video myself dancing on the balcony of the house I am fortunate enough to live in – and what better choice for a solo dance in the sun than a fandango from the Pays Basque?
But why the name, Bright Heart Moves On? A bit obscure? Well, I used to teach yoga at one time, and I set up a Facebook page in connection with that, titled Bright Heart Yoga. When I started making these dance teaching videos I thought I would re-purpose the existing page but as I no longer teach yoga, and the page now deals with dance movement, I re-titled it Bright Heart Moves On. When it came to setting up the website, I decided to hang onto that theme.
This rest of this page will tell some bits of the story of my dance background.
If I were being really thorough I’d talk about my grandparents on both sides, and my parents’ participation in amateur ballet shows, competition ballroom and the very latest thing in the ’40s and ’50s in South Africa – Latin American – but for now let’s jeter ahead to when I went to ballet lessons twice a week between the ages of 6 and 13, before realising that I was never going to be a prima ballerina. It is possibly worth mentioning that it was during the ballet years that I first encountered the mazurka and the pas de basque… But my, what a long way we’ve come since then!
French dance started happening for me after I arrived in the UK from South Africa in the mid-’80s.
There’s a bridging ‘discovering traditional music’ bit back in the late ’70s when I was at uni but I’ll get back to that later, when we’ve nothing better to do.
As a newly arrived colonial in London, I didn’t know who to ask, or where not to go on my own, in search of trad music and hopefully, eventually, dance. Some trial and error was involved.
A new friend took me on a day out to the 1st Southend-on-Sea Folk Festival where I heard Blowzabella playing wonderful tunes on weird instruments. I had no idea you could dance to that stuff, though.
The next year, thanks to my landlady at the time, I had the opportunity to go to Sidmouth for a few days where another new friend suggested I might like French dance. There’s a demonstration down on the seafront, he said, I’ll show you. A line of dignified dancers clad in black velvet, the women with beads on their dresses and elaborate hats, drifted sideways while their feet did complicated things underneath them. Come on, my new friend said, they really like it if you join in. Before I could have second thoughts, there were two extra dancers dressed in shorts and vests in the team. Luckily he did know which end of the line to join. Equally luckily it was their last number and the imperturbable dancers migrated off the stage area before we could get into serious difficulties. I had no idea what my feet were doing or that it was a Breton dance, not French.
To be continued!