When I first heard about Atlantik 1050 I wasn't sure what to think. The idea of learning about a new culture and challenging myself to learn some of their traditional dance was very exciting, but as someone who is not the most outgoing or confident dancer that excitement boarded on fear. I hesitated for a long time before deciding to put myself forward.
By the end of our first workshop I was so glad that I'd pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I'd had so much fun doing ceilidh dancing, some highland and learning the basic Basque steps that I'd forgotten to be worried about whether or not I was dancing well, or if everyone liked me. This was helped by meeting Jen Wren, our choreographer and Emma Smith from Dance Base, who were both very friendly and put us all at ease.
After a few weekend rehearsals where we further explored different aspects of Scottish and Basque dance we spent a week putting it all together and developing our sense of confidence and performance which was assisted by the wonderful dance moves of Shakira. This taught me that if you have fun while you're dancing, and you show the audience that you're having fun, it will make the performance much more enjoyable.
At this point we were ready to be joined by Alain Maya, Basque choreographer and the dancers and musicians from the Basque Country. Unfortunately, some of our Edinburgh performances were rained off, but we still had an excellent time performing at Dance Base, finishing with a ceilidh with the audience.
About a month later we were all reunited in Errenteria, Basque Country after some travel complications (why is Paris CDG so big?) Despite this, we still made it to rehearsals with Jen and Alain and made the most of our weekend, stopping for lunch with Dance Base's artistic director, Morag Deyes, taking part in a ceilidh workshop and even getting in some shopping before our performances on the Sunday.
This experience has taught me to try new things and go out of my comfort zone because it will pay off. I have gained confidence and independence in myself and the challenges we faced have taught me how to deal with difficult situations.
I enjoyed all aspects of this project, I loved learning about a new culture, trying their traditional dances and hearing/seeing their instruments being played (it seems that as long as there is music then the Basque people will dance, whether they are dancers, musicians or grandmothers who happen to be passing by.) I also feel as though by spending time with Jen and the others I learnt more about my own culture, which was an unexpected benefit.