Just in case you missed all of our photo’s and comments and the post’s about our trip to join dancers from across South Africa for the Nova Nouvoue Productions – Happily Never After.

Here’s our blog, giving you a sneak dancers perspective of the whole experience.

Jessica already wrote a blog about the audition process (which FYI is happening again now for Durban) – but click here to go and read all about it.

Let’s start with preparations for the journey, it’s a whole week out of your everyday life! It’s 8 hours a day of dancing, it’s getting to know new people and making new friends.

As women, I think we are a special kind of awesome. Which is a nice way of saying we all need different things to cope to get through the day! So how do you prepare for a week with a dozen or so other women, who you may or may not know?

Here’s what I did: (what you do needs to work for you)

  • Shopping happened and made sure I had enough clothes for 10 days of sweaty (JHB cold) dancing
  • My immune system, got a boost, by choosing healthier options to eat and taking extra vitamin mixtures to boost my immune system
  • Added an extra walk or two to my weekly routine to up my fitness level
  • I prepped my VA clients that I would be away and possibly not reachable during office hours
  • Some of my client work came with me
  • Books for reading

Getting all this stuff into a suitcase proved an interesting packing experience, but I managed to squish it all in. Plus a few presents for the new friends I was looking forward to making.

When we landed at O.R Tambo airport we had time to kill before we headed off to our accommodation. We met up with Kerry had lunch and we got some awesome baby cuddles with her little man!

Now if you have travelled to O.R Tambo you know it’s a huge airport, we eventually found our Uber after wandering up and down the pavement and phone calls back and forth. Oh, it’s a white Toyota, cool we get outside almost every single Uber is a white sedan! I found it somewhat funny, it’s warm and we are dressed for winter and we are trudging along pushing our ton of luggage. Checking every Toyota’s number plate looking for our Uber.

A fellow dancer was kind enough to open her home to us. We are forever grateful to Crystal for the warm comfy beds to sleep in. Honestly without having had a “sponsored” space to sleep, we really both wouldn’t have been able to go!

Monday saw the beginning of a week of dance practice, we had all dutifully learnt the choreographies beforehand.

What was great for us was the feedback we got from the choreographers. As teachers, we so often don’t get a choreographer’s notes on our dance style and technique. I know I generally don’t do choreography workshops, I prefer technique based workshops where the teacher actually takes the time to come over and say, try it this way.

The video’s we were sent to learn the choreography’s from were clear and relatively easy to follow. It was a real treat to see each choreographer approach to teaching you their choreography. I am not so good on audio cue’s as I’m slightly tone deaf and have an issue telling left from right if you ever do a class with me I talk about the blackboard and the cupboards. Time was spent watching the tutorials and making detailed notes. Then using my laptop and a stool facing the mirror to get the correct direction I started practising and Jessica helped loads by doing double watches of some of the dances and telling me if I was going to fast or to slow.

Jessica, on the other hand, learns best from tutorials. With her music background, hearing the cues’ and following left and right come more natural for her.

For both of us, the biggest challenge was the finale Oriental Section. We discovered that when we dance our dance timing is much slower than what it could be or possible should be. This on its own was a huge learning curve for us!

Practices ran from 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday, we were very lucky in that Tasmin brought her mom with. Michelle became a mom to us all. Making sure we had enough water, coffee and that we all ate lunch, she helped in the filming and generally ran support for each of us who were far from home.

The rest of the cast was friendly and pleasant, we enjoyed an intense week of training without egos or cattiness. Each person working on their outfits (provided for us by the Nova group) to get them fitting properly. Moving hooks, adding or removing elastic! All this while chatting and getting to know new people and catching up with old friends.

The threatened whip lashings to get us in line, never materialized as each one of us strapped our “big girl panties on” and did our best. The week actually flew by, one would think, that by the Friday we would be tired and grumpy. But actually not so much!

Opening night, the excitement and the nerves could be felt backstage. I loved how everyone came together and helped each other where ever they could.

Some of us had to learn some theatre etiquette:

  • Don’t move another person’s props,
  • Put things away when you are done or back where you found them
  • Be on hand to help with a quick change

But it was all dished out and received with good grace. For me, it was super interesting having never worked on a large theatre production, learning all about what goes into setting the scene and the mood for the various “skits”.

Here are a few more parting photo’s from the showcase, if you are in the Durban area or if you can travel there go and watch.

Even better do the audition, you won’t be disappointed in the growth you see in your dance. Show shots

Melanie Wallis

Melanie started dancing and performing for Janka’s Oriental Dance Studio in 2006.  Under the mentorship of Janka Kliment, Melanie began her training to become an Oriental Dance teacher in 2008 and completed it under Asja Samia in 2011.  Melanie is also a certified health and fitness instructor.   Following Janka’s return to Slovakia in 2013, Melanie and Jessica chose to carry forward the vision of their friend and mentor.  They purchased the studio and continue to teach the art and beauty of the dance to all aspiring belly dancers.