Local Dancers take to the Stage with Pasha

Sharing the stage with Strictly star Pasha Kovalev is no mean feat, but it’s what one dance troupe is preparing to do, as his Motherwell Concert Hall show approaches on May 12.

20 students from local school, DanceFuzion, will perform a routine with the star, during his live Magic of Hollywood show, with Anya Garnis. These dancers include: Amy Cox, Ben Ferguson, Carol Ann McRandle, Eden Hardie, Eilidh Smith, Elizabeth O’Farrell, Ellie Stewart, Emma Cumming, Ethan Forgie, Faith Davidson, Gemma Watson, Jessica Hyslop, Kasey Fagan, Leah Hynes, Rachel Dillon, Rebeka Kolbert-Wild, Rhian Cox, Sophie Ratcliffe, Sophie Wood and Teigan Collins.
All the dancers hail from Airdrie and Coatbridge and range from 9 – 17 years old, making their debut even more impressive.

DanceFuzion teacher, Ann Donnachie said: “This is the stuff dreams are made of!”

Having accompanied Pasha during his previous shows at Motherwell Concert Hall, DanceFuzion’s students were again selected to perform in this year’s show.

Donnachie said: “This is the 4th year we have been invited to dance with Pasha and we are over the moon. Now Pasha is actually going to be dancing alongside us on stage; we are super excited!”

On the night of the show, Pasha will join the dancers in a street, lyrical and jazz routine; complete with choreography by Ann Donnachie.

The teacher explained: “The music consists of two six-minute mixes, mixed by Pasha and the producer; these were sent to me and I have designed the matching choreography.”

Choreography now in place, the dancers are practicing to get it perfect.

Donnachie said: “We have just started our rehearsals and will rehearse every Sunday, but as the show gets closer we will rehearse several times a week.”

This practise will come in handy as the junior dancers prepare to join their professional counterparts.

Donnachie said: “On the night of the show Pasha watches the rehearsal and gives great feedback and encouragement.”

She added: “Pasha is so good with the kids, and even signs their t-shirts as souvenirs.”

Don’t miss your chance to see these local stars shine!

Book your tickets at culturenl.co.uk or phone 01698 403120

Glasgow Tango Studio

Glasgow Tango Studio

Bringing Latin flavour to Scottish dance floors is Glasgow Tango Studio. Launched in 2005, by tutors Jeff Allan and Sari Lievonen, the hub operates across different venues and class levels.

Lievonen explained the dance’s appeal, saying: “If you enjoy beautiful music and interaction with other human beings then tango is for you!”

Tango is a partner dance from the Argentinean region, with many modern-day forms.

Lievonen explained: “You can sort tango into two different categories performance tango – which you see on Strictly Come Dancing – and the milonga (social) tango that we do.”

Milonga sessions are set to a tanda of similar songs, before a cortina (break) allows for the swapping of partners. In Glasgow Tango Studio events, dancers swap partners by inclining their head towards a prospectus partner  – who will move forward (to accept) or look away to decline. This tradition is called cabeceo.

After dancers have practiced their moves milongas often conclude with students demonstrating their skills. This improvised showcase is however different from the choreography of performance tango.

Lievonen said: “Learning social tango is like learning a language; you study its vocabulary and grammar and this will enable you to start making your own sentences.”

The spacing of these sentences varies depending on the type of tango. Milonguero tango uses close embraces and small steps, whereas salon tango favors open posture and longer steps. Core to both styles is traveling – heal first – with the music and your partner.

Lievonen stressed: “Tango is about connecting with your partner, not learning fancy steps. It is body language communication within the couple that makes what we call the tango connection.”

Tango connection describes the way in which a dancer can anticipate their partner’s next move.

Lievonen added: “It is possible to experience this connection in the very early stages of practicing. If both parties have the right posture then all they have to do is walk in unison, and the magic of the dance will start to appear.”

To experience this magic dancers can join Glasgow Tango Studio, on 21 April at El Abrazo Milonga (in Glasgow CCA). The night promises music from golden era tangoes, milonga and tango-valses, as well as contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes.

Alternatively, beginners can try the dance at Glasgow Tango Studio taster sessions, the next of which is being held on 5 May, also at Glasgow CCA. These sessions occur around three times a year.

Lievonen added: “Beginners’ courses start in September, January and May. These classes can last 6 – 12 weeks. We also host private classes that allow people to get a better understanding of the art.”

Glasgow Tango Studio classes are currently being held in 76 Kelbourne Street Scout Hall, but updates of their details are held online.

Class participants are encouraged to book in advance, via the website or phone, to ensure even numbers for dance couples. Lievonen also explained that while tango is open to all ages, she finds it best suited to adults.

She concluded: “Life experience makes you more comfortable dancing with a partner. Men think that you need to impress a woman with fancy footwork, but this is not what women want, they want to dance with someone with whom they can relax.”


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Proving ceilidhs aren’t just for weddings is the Scottish society EdinBal. From its base in Edinburgh the collective organises folk dancing classes and events.

EdinBal Chairman and Co-founder Jean-Christophe Denis said: “It all started in September 2013 with a group of friends who really enjoyed folk dancing. After attending festival and dance nights in Europe, we decided to run events in Edinburgh. So we organised monthly dance workshops.”

While hosting the workshops Denis was also involved in organising the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival (lVFDF) a student-led event with alternating locations.

Combining the two projects, Denis and the team planned the 2014 IVFDF in Edinburgh.

He said: “It was a lot of work, but we loved the experience; 900 people attended the weekend and had a lot of fun.”

The festival’s success spurred the team to organise other events. So, in April 2014, they hosted the first EdinBal dance.

Denis recalled: “The dance featured one French and two Scottish bands, which was a lot of pressure but totally worth it.”

Getting great feedback from the event, Denis and team decided to formalise EdinBal by signing its societal constitution in November 2014.

The Chairman said: “We now have 40 members (signed up till the end of May) and four big nights planned.”

To support these nights EdinBal continues to build partnerships with foreign and local folk bands.

Denis explained: “EdinBal has had to develop music sessions to grow local artists’ European repertoire.”

While these sessions prepare the bands, EdinBal tutors prepare the dancers at each event.

Denis said: “We spend the first 30 minutes at our ceilidhs explaining everything beginners need to know to enjoy the night. There are always lots of friendly experienced dancers who are willing to help beginners.”

While the EdinBal ceilidhs can stand alone many dancers use them to showcase the steps they learn in the workshops.

Denis said: “We host workshops in Edinburgh and our sister society, GlasBal, holds classes in Glasgow.”

Workshops are £5 full price, £3 concession and Society members get a £1 discount.

The Chairman continued: “Our classes are pretty well balanced. Usually we have more ladies than guys, but a few times the opposite has been true.”

Denis said that most EdinBal dancers are in their 20s – 30s, but he explained the workshops are suitable for all ages.

He joked: “Some of the dances can be quite energetic, but there is always a way to save your energy.

“In Brittany it’s very common to see many 80 year olds dancing until 3am!”

Denis explained that each class starts by demonstrating steps before practicing them to live music.

He added: “The last part of the class about learning dance techniques, like improvising, non-verbal communication, space awareness and more technical dances.”

Denis admitted: “Beginners can struggle a little bit at the start. But folk dances are designed for everybody, so the basics are very accessible.

“By the end of  each class I see beginners happily dancing and enjoying themselves!”

Fun, Denis explained, is the whole point of folk dancing.

He said: “There is no competition, we are not dancing to put on a show, we are just dancing for ourselves.”

Denis added: “The folk music creates a special atmosphere, with unusual instruments such as bagpipes or hurdy-gurdies joining the more common accordions and fiddles.”

With such a unique sound it is no surprise the European folk scene is growing.

Denis said: “Ceilidhs have always been popular in Scotland. In France folk dancing was seen as old-fashioned, but there has been a recent revival including young people and modern music influences.

“In Belgium folk dancing has moved from being non-existent in the 90s to almost mainstream now, and that’s really impressive.”

Encouraging people to join the scene, Denis said: “Don’t be shy, don’t hesitate, join EdinBal!

“We are a bunch of friendly people who create an engaging atmosphere at our events. Dances are easy and in no time you’ll have lots of fun!”

Hip Hop Vibe


Bringing urban to Dundee is Hip Hop Vibe; an event that celebrates street dance, art and music.

On October 20 from 2-9pm, Bonar Hall will host choreographer Andy Instone; who has worked with artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Sean Paul and Alexandra Burke.

This time working in union with Dundee Dance Partnership, Instone will deliver a programme of urban tutorials and a closing party.

Scottish Dance Theatre Head of Creative Learning, Dawn Hartley, said: We open with Andy Instone giving us a presentation about the history of street dance; and after that it’s practical dance, graffiti art, and DJ skills workshops; finishing with an after party where everyone can get their groove on.”

Attending the event will be Leisure & Culture Dundee’s Urban Moves Dance Company, but Hartley explained guests with no urban knowledge were also welcome.

She said: “The event is open to all over five years old. We want a wide range of age groups, because dance is for everyone.”

Hartley added: “Attendees need only bring enthusiasm, a smile, and clothes they can move easily in.”

Tickets to access all areas cost £25; with a discounted rate of £40 for two. Tickets to the after-party, which runs from 7.30 – 9pm, are £10. Guests can book tickets and register for workshops via the Dundee Rep website.

Hartley said: “We are very privileged to get Andy Instone up to Scotland for this event, his passion is contagious and knowledge is priceless. The event is a must for all dance enthusiasts!”

Leisure & Culture Dundee Dance Officer, Alex Hare, concluded: “Leisure & Culture Dundee are delighted to be part of this event. We have been busy organising an exciting timetable for the day and are looking forward to the community celebrating all things urban.”

Galoshans Festival


There’s a new UK arts festival and it’s called the Galoshans. With the Scots name for ‘guising’ it’s unsurprisingly scheduled North of the border. The exact location is however, more surprising. Unlike most Scottish festivals, it isn’t going to Glasgow or Edinburgh, rather Inverclyde.

Bringing the festival to Inverclyde is Scottish charity UZ Arts. The group works to commission, produce and distribute art in all its forms.

UZ Arts Executive producer, Jo McLean, said: “The Community Trust had been organising events as part of the Inverclyde Space programme and, in 2014, they spoke to UZ Arts about growing a festival.

“The Galoshans was an idea that the Community Trust had introduced to us. They told us it was a traditional folk play about George and the dragon. The original custom was to perform the play in spring;  but Inverclyde adapted it to take place around Halloween [alongside guising]. ”

Now UZ Arts are expanding the custom into an arts festival. The festival will still nclude the Galoshans play, as well as music, performances, and installations throughout Inverclyde.

Galoshans will run from 30 October to 1 November, with a complimentary fringe programme that ends in  Inverclyde’s firework display (November 7).

As well as this, the festival will launch with a symposium entitled Moving Out, which pushes artists and audiences outside of their comfort zones.

Using the European network IN SITU, UZ Arts will bring artists across seas to engage with the people of Inverclyde. The artists will create work outside conventional venues, reimagining iconic landmarks.

McLean said: “UZ Arts are part of IN SITU, a 19 country network, which funds international arts projects, and enables collaberations. IN SITU artists will be coming to the Galoshans festival to showcase their work.”

As well as artists, the public can get involved with the Galoshans.

McLean explained: “UZ Arts will be looking for volunteers to assist at the festival. We will also be running internships and opportunities, especially aimed at young jobseekers.

“Whenever UZ Arts run a festival we always try to make it benefit the local community.”

All visitors will benefit from the Galoshan’s reasonably priced and free events (ticket details to be confirmed).

McLean concluded: “We hope the festival will celebrate the international community, while reflecting the Inverclyde’s local pride.”

Galoshans may continue to be an annual source of pride, as UZ Arts have provisionally planned to roll it out in future years.

To get involved with the 2015 festival, visit the UZ Arts Website or email the team.

Ballroom Blitz

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Ballroom has hit a renaissance, with programmes like Strictly Come Dancing dispelling its myth of antiquity. Instead its speedy steps; dapper dress and modern music have been exposed.

Glasgow Ballroom Dancing Society instructor Julia White said: “Ballroom is not just a stuffy old waltz that travels around the room. It can be a fiery Latin Samba, graceful Foxtrot or a whirling- twirling Viennese Waltz. There is something in it for everyone and can be lots of fun; even addictive.”

Having moved from America to Annisland, White (who is now 24) sought to continue Ballroom and this brought her to the Glasgow club.

She said: “Unfortunately at the time the club didn`t have a competing group, so I began to help plan trips to competitions. The group is currently in its 3rd year but the competitive aspect only began this year, and the response has been even greater than expected.

“With expansion of the club we have found more experienced students to help teach some of the introductory classes, and just this year we found a professional to help teach the more experienced dancers.”

Leading the group is Society President Marit Behner, she and White join the rest of the executive board booking rooms, organising events and keeping members happy.

21- year- old Behner, joined the group in 2013, but first started dancing at age thirteen in Germany (where Ballroom is a rite of passage). Having lost practice for a while, Behner returned to the art in college, before joining the Glasgow Society in 2013.

Despite her early start, Behner explains that the art is open to everyone, with no previous experience needed.

She said: “We aim to make beginners classes so everyone can join and learn dancing from scratch. Once you know the basics you can move up to intermediate class.”

White agrees: “Our beginner’s class is perfect for anyone that has never danced before, and for those who have danced but want to learn the basic Ballroom footwork. As dancers progress they can move up to the intermediate class which adds addition footwork and moves.

“We don’t force anyone to move up; they can come to as many of the classes as they want, although the more they do come the faster they will learn.”

Classes run Monday and Wednesday in Glasgow University’s Union and Chapel buildings. Updates on class locations can be found on the Society’s facebook page.

Monday hosts an open floor from 2 to 3pm, where dancers can practice and socialize, then it’s Beginners from 3 to 4pm and Intermediates from 4 to 5pm. Wednesday from 3 to 4pm is a mixed Intermediate and Beginners class; then from 4 to 5pm is Competitors. Class slots also vary from term to term.

Beginners and Intermediate classes are £5 is per lesson, with the fourth free. Competitors’ classes are a further £5.

Beginners need only bring themselves, no fancy footwear or partner is required.

Behner said: “Our intermediate and beginner classes are open without a partner; we rotate partners throughout the class, to keep it mixed and sociable.

“For our competitive class however, we ask people to come with a set partner, though we help pairing people up at the beginning of term.”

She added: “We have a good mix of ladies and gents or leaders and followers. At some points we have more leaders, at others more followers, but it is no problem pairing people with the same gender. In fact, it’s taught me a lot more than just being a follower.

“In terms of age we have mostly students attending, but are open to all ages as long as people enjoy dancing.”

A standard class teaches two different dance styles, usually one Latin (such as Rumba, Chacha or Samba) and one Standard Ballroom (such as Tango, Waltz, and Quickstep).

White concluded: “There are wonderful benefits to dancing, whether it`s gaining confidence, improving posture, getting in better shape or even just making new friends. It`s fun and the people are friendly. There`s nothing to lose from trying.”

For more information visit the Glasgow Ballroom Dancing Society facebook page.


Cordao De Ouro

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Capoeira is a martial art with a difference; it uses combat, music and dance to express Afro Brazilian history.

Capoeira Instructor Fiaz Jaca Cdo explained: “Capoeira originated in Brazil among African slaves. The slaves were banned from practicing martial arts, so they disguised it as dance. Today Capoeira incorporates this influence in its beats and languages.”

Dance is now vital in Capoeira culture. While some classes focus on ‘play’ similar to sparring Instructor Jaca’s Cordao De Ouro class also uses musical movement play to improve stretch and coordination. It was this aspect that first brought him to practice.

He said: “My ex-wife is a dancer and she was trying to loosen me up, both physically and mentally, so she brought me to a Capoeira class. At the time I could barely touch my toes and wasn’t sure if it was for me, but the music kept me going back.

“Capoeira has elements that appeal to everyone. It’s not about using force; it’s about leverage and technique. At the higher level we use the pads and bags to practice kicks and strikes.”

Each Cordao De Ouro class has a different focus, with sessions running at various times and locations across Edinburgh and in Glasgow’s Wellington Church. In Glasgow: on Monday from 6 to 7pm is a beginners group; then from 7 to 8:30pm is an intermediate. Wednesday from 6 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with Capoeira music. Friday from 6:30 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with acrobatic training.

Kids classes are also held in Wellington Church; on Wednesday from 4 to 5pm is a group for 5 to 10 year olds; then Friday hosts three classes: one from 3:30 to 4pm for 5-8 year olds, another from 4:15 to 5pm for 8-11year olds and finally one from 5 to 6pm for those 11 and above.

Adult Classes are £6.50 booked individually or cheaper when part of a block. Beginners get their first class free and can participate in gym clothes.

Instructor Jaca explained: “In class we will start by introducing the new members; then we warm up, practice dynamic stretching and the ginga [basic play] stance. Once warmed up we will move on to partner work, kicks, counter work and basic acrobatics, like cartwheels. This will then evolve into sequences and be practiced with different partners.”

Partner practice is showcased at the end of each class, inside the Roda or circle. Students will stand in a ring and watch two of their peers ‘play’ in the middle. Instructor Jaca explained that the Roda symbolises the world.

“This is what Capoeira is: the Roda, the play in the circle, the music, singing and history. When the music is right it builds timing and improves response. Capoeira is not just about learning the moves; it’s about how you develop as a person.”

As students develop they progress through a belt grading system that uses colours of the Brazilian flag.

Instructor Jaca said: “As the instructor I will monitor the students to assess their level; but no matter the level, every student must show commitment; this brings a sense of community to the group.”

Capoeira’s traditions have now been recognised by the United Nations, which in November 2014 awarded it cultural heritage status.

Instructor Jaca concluded: “Historically Capoeira was about the African and indigenous Brazilian fight for liberty. So Capoeira is about freedom. People rush to Capoeira class to unwind from the stress of the day. If you are looking for mental, physical and spiritual peace Capoeira is the thing for you.”

To find out more or book a class, visit Cordao De Ouro Capoeira website.

Polling Opinion



Since its boom in the noughties pole classes have popped up all over Glasgow, ranging in location from night clubs to community centres. This surge in popularity has pole trainers locking horns with patriarchs and feminists alike. While many participants deem the activity a sport, there are still those who class it as erotic dance.

The problem lies in varied expectation, as Dr Samantha Holland found in her 2010 study, some women liked pole ‘dancing’ for its feminine image, while others preferred pole training for its opposition to gender roles depicting women as weak. This, she explained, led to a division between dancers and acrobats.

Holland said: “In the same way that a high church has incense and robes, the strippery classes have high heels and feather boas; and just as a low church would eschew too many statues, the exercise classes have bare feet and refute comparisons with lap dancing.”

Yet, of the two it seems the ‘lower church’ trend is leading, with 73 per cent of Holland’s survey saying they took classes to improve their fitness, while only 61 per cent did so to feel sexy. Further to this, 85 per cent of the 140 polers surveyed said they had no experience or intention of working in a strip club.

Interesting as the doctor’s statistics are, they are somewhat unbalanced, with only 3 of the polers surveyed being male. This inequality reflects another dispute among polers, as to the acceptance of men within the practice. Theorists often establish pole classes as being empowering to women, on the basis that they exclude men, creating all-female gyms. This view is expressed by Holland, as she said: “Classes are not subject to the male gaze because pole classes are, for the majority, all female.

But this perception seems to be changing, as 23 -year-old dance instructor, Zhang Peng, proved when he won China’s 2007 National Pole Dancing competition.

Wolanski’s Pole & Aerial Fitness owner said: “Men are by nature stronger in the upper body so find a lot of the moves easier to perform than the females, but they do not do so well where pain threshold is concerned and the co-ordination for spins do not come so easily.”

Wolanski has been professionally training for over five years.

She said: “I was fortunate to represent Scotland at the World’s first Pole Cup in Brazil. Their government is backing the organisation and the event will now be held annually in different countries across the globe.”

Events such as this return pole fitness to its roots of Mallakhamb the traditional Indian sport, dating back to the 12th Century. It involves gymnastic moves being performed on a vertical wooden pole or rope.

Wolanski added: “People who automatically associate pole training with strip clubs should be aware that it never originated here. Pole originated from India as part of the Mallakhamb dance; then associated with the pagan festival. This was well before Western society created the strip club industry.”

“Even classes termed as pole dance are now unlikely to aid people who wish to join clubs. Classes can cause bruising and burns depending on what moves the individual is working on, something I can’t imagine managers at these clubs would want on their dancers.”

Bruises and burns seem inevitable in an exercise as high impact as pole fitness, something which would suggest it is not suitable for the young and elderly. But, never one to accept defeat, Wolanski disagrees.

“I can’t speak for all pole classes but my classes cater for all ages as there is no adult content. In fact juniors pick it up far easier as they don’t have the same fear factor as adults. Although, I don’t give certain moves to children as some techniques put a lot of pressure on elbow and knee joints.”

The ability to tailor work-outs to individuals’ needs enable people of any stamina or shape to practice pole fitness. While Wolanski says her class can practice in their tracksuits, more advanced moves require skin contact with the pole. The pros often strip down to their smalls, to allow grip with their stomach.

The idea of bearing all daunted student teacher Cara McKnight, as she joined Pole Physique on Argyle Street.

The 22-year-old from Dennistoun said: “I was so nervous I expected it to be a bunch of perfect-looking, stuck-up girls, but it’s not at all. There are girls of all shapes and sizes and everyone is made to feel welcome.”

She continued: “I would say my arms are a lot stronger now, as you’re holding your body weight, a lot of the moves tighten your tummy muscles too. It’s a good way to work out without realising you’re working out. Though I don’t think young girls should be doing it, as I guess it is a form of sexy dance.”

Despite dividing opinion there is no denying the growing popularity of pole classes, X – Pole statistics claim every 12 hours, somewhere in the world a pole studio is opened, or added to a business.

See Miriam’s pole fitness demonstration via her Facebook page.