Friday, 28 March 2014

Belly dancing at our February meeting

After our recent excursions, we were back in the church hall on February 22nd for our first proper meeting there since October. We've missed the old place! Our special guest was the lovely Helena, an amazing belly dancer who is known as one of the best in the North of England. Helena teaches belly dance and performs extensively, both solo and with the Orientale Dance Company which she founded (to see more about Helena's work visit

Helena joined us to first give a talk on the history of her specialism, Egyptian belly dance (or to be more correct, Raqs Sharqi or 'Oriental Dance'), and then Helena performed for us (including one dance with a sword balanced on her head!) before finally leading us in a taster workshop. It was a pleasure to have Helena with us as she's a very genial and talkative guest - her love of Oriental Dance shines through - and she is a brilliant performer. Getting the chance to watch her dance was definitely something different for our group. The workshop was also lots of fun and surprisingly strenuous, but in a good way of course! After our warm-up, we delved into a box of scarves to be properly kitted out for our veil dance. Helena performed a miracle by actually managing to teach us a whole routine in quite a short space of time, although I won't say too much about how well we all executed it! Here are some pictures of the fun.

Sarah's practically gone professional after one session

After whirling round dementedly with our scarves for 20 minutes, we were definitely ready for a cup of tea and our usual gargantuan shared lunch. We thanked Helena and bade farewell, and after a short break to refuel, we were joined by our second guest, Dr Wenqing Li, who practises Chinese Herbal Medicine locally at the Good Health Centre on Street Lane. Dr Li talked through the principles behind Chinese Medicine and how it differs from Western Medicine, and as a doctor who qualified and worked at a high level in China, Dr Li was particularly concerned with the more unregulated status of Chinese Medicine in countries outside China (Dr Li studied full-time in China for 6 and a half years and then worked as a doctor in a Beijing hospital for 25 years, whereas here Chinese Medicine is treated as a complementary therapy and practitioners with much less knowledge and experience can practise it). Thank you to Dr Li for her insights into Chinese Medicine, and you can find out more about her work at

Dr Li

Next up, on 29th March, we will be making a return to our creative workshops with the fantastic Jayne showing us how to block print. An apron and tote bag will be provided for everyone, but you can also bring along anything else you'd like to print on. Can't wait!

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