Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tai Chi by the Sea

Tai Chi and the Stillness of Movement
Teena Gould

Teena Gould came to see me today. She is such a striking woman. You know how some people always look like they just stepped out of a designer’s boutique.

She feels like someone I have known since we were girls, but actually I haven’t known her very long. I met her at Mandy’s place Morfa Isaf last Summer when I had my cliff edge moment with Emma and Suzanne. (see earlier blog) When I returned to the party, there was Teena. She is an Award Winning ceramicist, a key committee member of Disability Arts Cymru and has throughout her career, worked with literally 1000’s of people on Community Arts Projects even before there was such a thing!

Working in toughest parts of Brixton in the 70’s through to now, based in West Wales at her ceramic studio, she is as vibrant and as engaging at 65 years young as some twenty year olds. She has a very special twinkle in her eye. I really like her, we laugh a lot and think on the same wave length. I admire her, I respect her contribution to the arts culture, she has been part of making the arts accessible to all and without artists like Teena, we would never have the Community Arts Strategies in place now, she is one of our Arts Fore Mothers having been delivering and facilitating across 5 decades.

Teena is also a qualified Tai Chi Instructor. When I was working as Director of The Story Telling Weekend: Children’s Tale trail, Teena offered to do Tai Chi for the children. I asked her if she could do Tai Chi and Story using movements that linked to the stories being told.

When I watched her on the cobbled stones with the children, I had one of those, ‘That’s why I do this’ moments. You know, it can be stressful at times Directing large scale events and I am so wrapped up in making it so that there are not that many opportunities to feel what’s happening... but when I watched all the children doing Tai Chi for the first time in their lives, with their parents, stood on the old cobbles, all connected through Teena as the central point, I was so moved in my soul. It was a WOW moment.

I want to include Castles into Fusion Inspire. There are 600 of them on our West Wales Coastline.

I was thinking about Castles and Tai chi ... castles decay, stones fall, slowly, over centuries, their shape changes without us noticing on a day to day basis, they are still, yet moving ...

Tai chi is also about embracing decay, or rather, re-birth, in the calm stillness of the movements, whole stories are told, life stories, heart messages ...

Taking these 2 elements, it is easy to see how they will link together.

I can visualise Teena with a group, filmed in black and white on slower than slow motion ...
She suggested Llansteffan Castle. I haven’t been to it, so will take a look as I haven’t heard back from Picton Castle yet.

Also Bigyn Primary School would like to get involved and they are based in Llanelli, which is not far from Llansteffan, so I think the universe is trying to show me what to do ...

I have a meeting booked with the school in May and Teena is totally up for it. Perfect back drop ... I have semi drafted the song whilst being on Fusion retreat in New quay,  it is called 600 Castles ...

It is musically based on a form a traditional welsh folk singing, coming from the premise that the singer should not try to be bigger than the song, does not need to be over expressive, just pure, an instrument to the song. It is based around 5 notes traditionally. It is this that informs my song. Usually my songs are very much about me expressing a story. I love texturing, emoting and carving my identity through a song, so this will be a challenge. Musically, I have written it around 5 notes in 5 different variations of the chord of A,  as a homage to traditional welsh folk song.

In 600 Castles we’ll be in the key of A. Again this is a change from my usual G or C where I’m normally most comfortable but I am having to adapt to this new voice that giving up smoking seems to be leaving me with! It’s changing every week. For the first 8 weeks I completely lost control of my mid range! But my high range is stronger and my bottom end deeper. It seems to be coming back though this week! Must be the New quay wind blowing the cobwebs from every part of my body and not just my head!

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