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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

About Bee Line

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I first heard about Line Dancing from a friend at my Calligraphy class in 1996.  It sounded like a good way to start exercising and losing weight again after giving birth to my daughter, Jessica.  However, due to some health complications (a hole found in my mytral valve to the heart) I only began dancing in August 1998.  I heard about a class running at the Glenwood Old Boys Club in Durban North.  The same lady, Alicia Bologna, taught at the Westville Civic Centre, so I attended twice a week.  I loved it and became addicted immediately.  I met some wonderful people and enjoyed the friendly, fun atmosphere tremendously.  The bonus was, I lost almost 15kg within about 6 months!

I had never really been partial to the “cowboy or cowgirl” image, but decided I was going to simply go along and enjoy the dancing.  I love all genre’s of music and found that dancing to country music ONLY, became a little boring, for me personally, after a few months.  I was still excited about this new dance discipline I had been introduced to and wanted MORE!  I began researching Line Dancing on the internet and made some wonderful e-friends online who assisted me by bringing me up to scratch with what the current trends were then.  They sent me music (via “snail mail” in those days) and emailed step sheets regularly.  Learning a dance from a step sheet was a new skill that, at first, I found very daunting and took a while to master correctly.
 
I continued attending classes regularly, read anything and everything I could lay my hands on related to line dancing and continued corresponding with my overseas friends regularly.  I tried to find local teachers and only managed to make contact with Jayne Wilson, Vicki Bannister and Caryl Cusens.  Jayne and Ken taught out at Ballito and were very helpful and willing to chat and share information on what dances they were teaching in their area.  They had apparently heard about line dancing from an Australian lady.  Caryl Cusens taught on the Berea and was thrilled that there was more interest in line dancing and that there would be another class in Durban and was also very willing to advise us.  Vicki Bannister had a small class going in Pietermaritzburg and was also very happy to advise me on what they were doing in Pietermaritzburg.  Vicki had qualified as a line dance instructor in the UK and was the only person in SA, at that stage, with a qualification in this dance discipline.

In 1999, Alicia was no longer teaching regularly in Durban North due to renovations being conducted at the club where we danced and the Durban North dancers were anxious to get a class going in our area so that we could continue to dance regularly.  Occasionally a couple of us would attend a class on the Berea with Caryl Cusens at the old Playhouse Company near Tollgate bridge.  This was a great help and eye-opener too as we realised just how much we had been missing out on over the years.  They were doing some stunning dances!

The Durban North dancers began meeting at one of the dancers, Claudette Noah’s, home each week, and danced in her courtyard.  I taught some of the newer dances that I had been sent from the UK and America and some of the dances that Caryl Cusens had very kindly recommended.  I will never forget - one of the first dances being "Cajun Mambo Walk" which most line dancers still call "Mambo no. 5".  Soon it became a little crowded at Claudette’s, so we decided to be brave and take it a step further and look around for a venue in Durba North to start a proper Line Dance Club.  Alan Travers offered to be our DJ and help us with music.  This man had the most amazing music!  Alan and I sat and worked out a teaching programme and he very kindly made CD compilations for this, in preparation for the classes.  Claudette offered to be our “secretary” and she set up class membership lists and cashed up after each class – and to this day, she still does!  Thanks Claudie, you are a real treasure!

We discovered that the Durban North Pigeon Racing Club was available on a Tuesday and Thursday evening and “Border-Line Dance” was officially “born” in December 1999.  We had 28 people on our first night and it just grew from there.  It was a new “rage” that seemed to take Durban by storm, at that time.  By April 2000 we had approximately 80 members.  This amount of people was  too much for the tiny venue we had, yet, almost thankfully the current “phase” died off for a while and by the end of 2000 we were back down to a steady membership of about 40-50 dancers, which was a lot easier to cope with.

In May 2000 we had our first Social at the Italian Club in Durban North in order to meet dancers from all the other line dance clubs.  We hope it would bridge the proverbial gap and encourage ALL line dance instructors to interact, network and most of all, work together for the greater good of line dancing.  This was the start of the many “big” Socials in Durban and surrounding areas.  It was wonderful as all the Clubs starting taking turns at hosting inter-club Socials and we all worked on a core of similar dances which we all taught so that our dancers could ALL be on the dance floor at the same time.  It was such a thrill seeing so many people, doing the SAME dance, to the SAME song, all in unison.  I was even more fired up and decided to do everything I could to contribute and ensure that line dancing would continue to grow, not only in our area, but Nationwide.

In 2001 we made contact with Carol Ann from the Cape and discovered she had also been teaching line dancing for years before we even knew she existed.  She was hosting the first SA Line Dancing Competition, “Under the African Sky”, on the weekend of the 26th of May 2001.  Adjudicators and dance personalities, Rob Fowler & Stella and Rick Wilden, attended from the UK.  Carol Ann flew to Durban and attended our class, conducted a workshop, teaching us the dances for this competition.  Border-Line Dance, JK Dance Studio and CC’s Dance Ranch (now Dance@CC’s) all attended this event in Cape Town.  It was an amazing experience for KZN dancers to be on the dance floor with so many people!  We met some incredible dancers from all over South Africa.  We decided WE wanted to host the SA champs the following year....

Later in 2001, Caryl Cusens hosted the first “Battle of the Boots” Line Dance competition on Wednesday the 22nd of August 2001.  She had Arthur Furrer (from Switzerland) and his wife, Roshila, adjudicating this event.  This was a Provincial event and was a great success.  This event instilled even more confidence and enthusiasm in dancers and instructors alike, and they were very keen to improve and dance in more competitions.  Caryl was happy for us to use her name “Battle of the Boots” for the following year’s event.  We planned months in advance to host BOTB 2002 on the weekend of  21st September 2002.

We had Bill Bader on board and he coached me through the entire planning of the Battle of the Boots 2002.  I could never thank Bill sufficiently for all his advice and patience...  It was time consuming and hard work!  If I had known what I know NOW, I would never plan an event like this again....  I travelled all over the country conducting workshops to teach the competition dances to all the instructors and met the most amazing dance teachers...  The Mavericks in Gauteng organised a dance workshop and stunning Social for us.  The Cape, as always, were SUPER hospitable and I was thrilled to meet Karin van der Merwe, Jenny, Neville and Maggie, Shirley and Charmaine, to name a few.  They also hosted Socials after the Workshops in order for us to get to know each other better. 

By this time, we had made contact with the majority of line dance groups throughout Southern Africa and had an amazing response to our event.  We were fortunate to have approx. 240 entries and as many spectators per day.  The event was held at the Hellenic Centre in Durban North from the Friday through to the Monday of the following week, ending with a children’s competition, arranged solely by Bernice McMagh, called “Kidzz Stomp 2002”.  This event was held at the Northlands Bowling Club.  Our adjudicators were Bill Bader and Grant Gadbois (Vancouver BC) and Vicki Bannister (Pietermaritzburg).

Between 2002 - 2005, it all became a bit of a blur for me as my personal life became a mess and my marriage was over...  My husband “felt neglected” due to the time I devoted to line dancing (especially during the planning of BOTB 2002).  My devotion to Line Dancing never failed, I was just not physically, mentally and emotionally capable of being as driven and full of “gusto”, until I had healed...  I tackled Line Dancing with renewed vigour at the beginning of 2007 and decided to change the name of my dance club to BEE LINE as I wanted my OWN identity back along with getting my life back...

Nowadays it feels like we have gone from one extreme to the next...  Everyone seems to have jumped on the competition bandwagon and competitions are being held left, right and centre, and it’s almost got to a stage where, unless one is totally encumberance free, wealthy enough so that you don’t need to work, one cannot possibly participate or attend all these competitions.  There are just TOO MANY COMPETITIONS now.  It appears that we now have two types of line dancers, the general dancer who enjoys dancing and attending classes for FUN, and the serious competitive dancers who hardly even come to class, or if they are there, are so busy going over competition dances in the next room, or so exhausted from practicing for their competitions, that they are no longer participating or having fun in class and learning the normal dances along with everyone else...

Competitions sadly change some people...   Some dancers never make an appearance until there is a competition on the horizon and then they expect coaching and to dance under your club name...  I had always hoped that Line Dancing would grow, but not to the stage where it became ONLY competitive and less Social and sadly, less fun.  I feel there are too many competitions and too few Social events such as Workshops.  Clubs host Socials all the time yet we appear to have all gone back to our little “Islands” and the interaction and networking between Instructors no longer exists...  I believe we need to strongly review and remedy this situation, forthwith.  I, for one, dance and teach dancing as a form of recreation – it’s my hobby and a way of me giving something back to my community.  I do not want the fun taken out of line dancing by having to announce a new competition on the horizon every couple of months.  I vote for more line dance workshops, which will ultimately benefit the competitive dances anyway and provide a “lighter” side to line dancing. 

I derive great pleasure from teaching Line Dancing, mostly because it’s a dance form that ANYONE can participate in, one does not require a partner,  line dancing brings people great joy, fitness and health and a great sense of achievement!  It provides people with a “safe” social outlet, no matter what age they are.  I would never have met all the wonderful people I now regard as friends, had it not been for line dancing...  Teaching dancing has taught me a new level of humility and respect for others as well as patience.

I find it most humbling teaching Beginners (as I will never forget my first lessons) and cannot describe the pleasure it gives me when I see my efforts “pay off”.  By this I do not mean in a remunerative sense either...  When one sees a dancer obviously feeling a sense of achievement and you can stand back and watch your class simply having fun with the dances you have taught them, you know you have done your job well.  It is so incredible when you are able to watch a person “grow” in confidence.  Initially when you meet them, the first thing they inform you of is that they have “two left feet”...  Eight weeks down the line, when you  remind them of this, they have moved beyond this and are beaming as they now have mastered approximately 6 dances!  I also hope that these dancers remain humble and never forget how they started so that they, in turn, may encourage and assist beginners to enjoy line dancing as much as they now do.

Being able to teach is a GIFT and a blessing and I am truly grateful that I have been given the ability to be a great and patient teacher and that I have the time to share this with others each week.

I am a bubbly, free spirit and am far too talkative for my own good – the words “verbal dysentery” spring to mind...  I love all types of music and dance, yet appear to excel in the funkier dances.  Waltz is one of my weaknesses which I am determined to work on as I love the graceful movement yet need to execute this correctly...  I love any dance that’s a challenge to learn and dance and aspire to learn new technique all the time by constantly reading up on latest styles and technique in ALL dance disciplines.  It’s a personal challenge for me as I was not able to attend dance classes as a child (for many reasons) and most of what I have learnt about dancing is self taught by reading and practicing - OFTEN.  I was only able to attend Ballroom and Latin for a few months and learnt a bit about the basics, for which I am now grateful.

I have attended other classes over the years, as an adult, such as Modern and Modern Jazz, Tap dancing, Hip-Hop and Nia.  Still hope to try belly dancing and am enjoying the new Salsa class in our area.  I also invite teachers from other dance disciplines to guest teach at my classes to enable my dancers to broaden their vision on dancing as a whole and learn other techniques.  For example, a modern dance teacher could teach us how to improve on our funky dances, a Ballroom and Latin teacher can show us correct rise & fall technique in our Waltz or do a cha cha with better technique...

I enjoy choreography a great deal, but more so from the aspect of the team or demo group level.  It is so rewarding to put a team medley together.  We are so fortunate to have such an abundance of incredible dances available on the internet that there is hardly a need for us to choreograph our own dances.  I rarely have the time and will only choreograph a dance if a piece of music get’s my attention and there is not a great dance available online to learn to the music.

I am passionate about dancing and dance teaching and hope to continue to contribute in some way to the success of Line Dancing in South Africa and enjoy the support of dancers for many more years to come.  I treasure the special friendships I have acquired though line dancing.  Line dancing classes are very different to other dance classes as they appear to be less formal and there is always that element of fun and laughter.  I have yet to go home from a class feeling “flat”.  The spirit of the class is always so uplifting.  You can arrive at a class feeling totally exhausted and once you start dancing, you just seem to become revived and get that second burst of energy!  I thank all of you who believed in me sufficiently as an instructor,  from the start, and through your amazing support, kept me going through all these years... 

Dancing is not only a great form of exercise and recreation,  but it is one of the best forms of therapy too.  It’s good for the mind, body and soul and a form of exercise I would recommend for anyone.  I am so grateful I discovered line dancing and am healthy and fit enough to continue teaching....

 

 

About Bee's Love of Art

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Besides dancing, I have a PASSION for ART.  I prefer teaching Card-Making and Altered Art aka “Off-the-Page” Scrapping, but I have been roped into teaching Scrapbooking on occasion as well.  (Check out the Artwork Gallery's for examples of my work) My Scrapping is something I battle to teach – don’t misunderstand me on this - I am happy to share idea’s and techniques.  My pages are just very different and “busy”, therefore, rather difficult and time consuming to teach….

I am always available to teach Card-Making Workshops.  To book, please contact me well in advance to arrange a Workshop.  I make up all the kits myself, so I need time to prepare for workshops.  One can arrange a workshop based on a theme, example Mother’s Day or make several varied cards based on budget, the level of the people attending, their preferences as well as how much TIME we have.  Time flies when you are having FUN and I have found that a weekend Craft retreat is ideal for these workshops.  However, I can conduct a 3 hour workshop or full day workshop just as easily.

Since I was a child I have always enjoyed Art – in any form.  I am fortunate to have been born into a very creative, multi-talented family, so, it’s in the genes.  My Mum was always referring to me as a “squirrel” or “hamster” due to my hoarding and collecting junk.  (She does the same, by the way, but is not as addicted to collecting as I am).  I was always going through the garbage and saying: “How could you throw that out, Mom!  I can use that for my art!” Yes…I am still a collector of bits ‘n bobs (and trash).  Surely you have heard many an artist saying: “I’ll keep this – it may come in useful someday”… (My Pops does the same thing with nuts and bolts – which I ALSO sometimes fought him for – all for the sake of ART!)

My sisters and I have always been roped into designing and manufacturing all the stationery and props for family weddings, birthdays, etc.  In 2002 my business and marriage went through a major downward spiral and I knew I had to find another form of income to become financially secure.  I decided to start on a small scale and put the word out that I was taking on orders for wedding and corporate stationery – simply to set a standard and get a feel for how my style and designs would be accepted by clients.

I am a pedantic perfectionist and knew my work was of a high and exclusive quality.  As the word spread my little home-based business, “A Cut Above the Rest”, began to grow.  This outlet also became my crutch and therapy whilst I picked up the pieces, in my then, devastated life.  I look back on those times and I do not think I would be the happy, positive, bubbly person I am today, without having gone on that journey…  I was fortunate to have this creative outlet to “lose” myself in.  My art kept me sane, made me so happy and gave me a renewed sense of achievement at a time when I could have sunk very low….  I knew I had to heal, set myself free from all which I no longer needed and regain my inner peace and strength to continue to be the best Mom for my children.  I was determined to get my life back on track!  I am truly grateful for the love and support from my incredible friends who kept encouraging me to continue on my creative journey at a time when I was not even sure if my creations were good enough to share!  You gotta have FRIENDS!

I absolutely love any form of art as it is so therapeutic, totally relaxing, and continues to fulfill my life and makes it complete.  I find inspiration in everything I see and love to create various forms of altered art.  I am always experimenting with different, dimensional techniques.  It is so satisfying when you sit back and look at one of your own creations – often amazed that YOU actually created it.  I often chuckle to myself when I look at something I have created and marvel especially at how the inspiration came to me in the first place!  Every creation starts off as a small idea – and then it grows, as your creative flow kicks in.  It’s amazing!  It’s so rewarding!  It’s such a gift and blessing!

I get invited to run card-making workshops – not only for private groups but various Card Guilds, Scrapbooking stores etc. around the country.  I enjoy the challenge of creating unusual cards which one could never purchase in a store.  The idea is to create a personalised card that is so special that the recipient would never want to discard it but rather treasure it forever!  Cards sold in shops are so over-priced and could never compare with what one can create at a fraction of the cost, not to mention the quality.  I encourage people to utilise all their leftover scraps from scrapbooking, being a scrapbooker myself, to make their cards. (I hate wasting…yes, I know…the squirrel syndrome kicks in!)

There is such an awesome variety of papers and embellishments at our disposal these days and a card purchased from a store, could never look as great as what one can create from scrapbook papers!  The cards I design, can also form part of Scrapbook Page layouts and compliment your pages by adding an interesting further dimension or a place for private notes and journalling. 

Art is an adventure and the adventure and fun is never-ending!  I am grateful to have been blessed with creative genes, to have learnt what it is to really LIVE, to find inner peace, to be truly happy, and how to love life! 

Always be TRUE to YOURSELF and BELIEVE…   You have to believe to achieve…

I once read a phrase somewhere, that had a profound impact on me.  Whenever I go through a “wobbly” patch and worry about something, I say this out loud:   “Faith and fear cannot live in the same heart”. 

When I am teaching a card making or scrapbooking class, there is always the person who is noticably “afraid” and overly cautious with their paper and products – just in case they mess up their creation.  There are no mistakes  -  only variations.  Never be afraid to TRY new things.  How else do we learn?  I use paper tearing and “rough” dimension techniques into classes purposely to teach people how to be “brave” and learn to enjoy their art and to SHOW them that even I, as a perfectionist, have to branch out and have FUN with my art as well.  I commonly hear students say:  “I don’t want to make a mistake and mess my project up.  Won’t you tear this for me?”  Obviously with card-making one had to be precise, yet, certain projects involve “messy” work and techniques which obviously have a great end result – you have to go though the “messy” bits to work toward the great end product. By the way, those messy leftover’s are GREAT for collage work!

The moral of the story is:  Life is just like this – we all have to go through our “messy patches” to enjoy the end result.  If everything in life was easy and we never went through the rough and messy patches – how dull and empty would life be?  Personal growth is important and one cannot attain this or even understand or appreciate this if you don’t have those up’s and down’s!  There IS life after divorce and it's far more FUN all round, when you dump your unnecessary "baggage".....

I derive great pleasure from sharing my creative ideas and spreading joy through my Art and Dancing.  I try to be the best Mom and person I can be at all times – being kind to others and treating them the way I wish to be treated, with sincerity, loyalty, honesty, patience, grace and love.  By the same token, I am true to myself and make no bones about speaking my mind in an assertive way either.  Life is what WE make it!  Celebrate LIFE! 

 

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