CD15 – the anniversary edition!

We are still basking in the afterglow of an absolutely brilliant festival celebrating our 15th birthday. I don’t think things could have gone any better and it is fair to say that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

I am very proud of our achievement of lasting so long – from a humble little event in Bideford & Appledore to a much larger affair in a 3 star hotel in Torquay; what a long way we have come! We’ve had our ups and downs over the years but despite the nay-sayers and fierce competition we are still here and still going strong, with a unique brand that John and I carefully craft and nurture to ensure it stays the very special event that it is. We put our hearts and souls into Celebrating Dance and it rewards us every year without fail, with an amazing experience packed full of fabulous people, doing fabulous things.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in CD15 – the Anniversary Edition.  From the simply brilliant Delegate Showcase on Friday evening, complete with a very well deserved standing ovation for Janai of Hipdrop for her outstandingly beautiful double veil number,  all the high standard workshops taught by an exceptional line-up of instructors and the fabulous performances in Saturday’s Gala Show, it was a truly wonderful experience that John & I will never forget.

Our thanks go to all our wonderful instructors:

Guest Stars – Hilde Cannoodt, Khalida, Queenie and Tara

Supporting Artists – Candi Bell, Rachel Bennett, Theresa & Mystical Fusion, Wendy Hughes & Topaz Tribal, Emma Pyke & Covert Bling and Vashti

Behind the scenes:

Our fabulous team of helpers who worked so tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure everything went smoothly:

Mary & Mike Daniels, Kathryn Goddard of Capture This Moment, Andrea & Alex Steeden-Crane, Nikki Livermore & John Sleiman.

Our traders – Brighton Orient, Whirling Dervish & Hipdrop for all the laughs as well as the incredible array of costumes and accessories they bring to tempt us with every year.

All our guest percussionists on both Friday and Saturday evenings.

The management and staff of the Toorak Hotel, who do a fantastic job looking after us every year.

and most importantly of all:
our wonderful delegates as we couldn’t do it without you!

I would also like to say a special thank you for the generosity of everyone who purchased some of Jan’s Jams, made by Rachel North’s very talented father in memory of Rachel’s mother. Your purchases and donations raised over £200 for Cancer Research!

We are already making plans for 2016 and hope to announce the names of our Guest Stars and some of our Supporting Artists very shortly. Watch this space for updates!


Thank you everyone!

John and Afra would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in this year’s festival:

  • Our inspiring instructors who taught excellent workshops and gave us a truly magnificent Gala Show.
  • Our delegates who provided us with a wonderful Showcase on Friday night and were such great people to party with!
  • Our team of helpers without whom the event would not run half as smoothly as it did this year.

It was a fantastic weekend and I think it’s fair to say that all of us had a brilliant time!

Save the date – 23rd October to 25th October 2015!

Celebrating Dance 2015 will be our 15th Birthday and we are planning some super
things to make it a very special event – watch this space for more details!

Tickets are on sale now!

Click here to go to the booking page!

The countdown starts here!

It’s just 26 days until the festival and things are starting to hot up behind the scenes. John and I have both had a very difficult time of things health-wise this year so we have got behind with some important tasks, but don’t worry we are catching up very quickly . As the old saying goes ~ “it’ll be alright on the night!” 🙂

Tickets are currently being prepared and will be posted out in batches as soon as they are ready, so watch out for yours to pop through your letterbox very soon. Don’t want to wait for the post? Remember that you can always request an e-Ticket to be emailed to you. Just drop us a line on Facebook or send a request by email to

As tickets are being processed we have noticed that a few of you have not yet submitted your workshop booking form. We will be posting out forms this week but again, if you don’t wish to wait, you can download the forms from our website – or ask us to email them to you.

Please note that all booking forms and showcase applications
must be posted to us.

We’ve had a lot of technical issues this year so if you submitted booking forms via email, it is extremely unlikely that we received it. If you are concerned that we have not received your forms please get in touch as soon as possible so that we can check our records.

Delegate Showcase – Tickets take priority but during the week Afra will begin publishing the list of performers who have a spot in the Showcase. The list will be updated regularly as Afra processes the forms. Don’t panic if your name isn’t among the first published – there are a lot of applications! 😉  Judging by what Afra has seen so far, it looks like we have an exciting and entertaining showcase to look forward to! 🙂

Not booked yet?  We still have a few rooms available for late bookings, so you can still buy a ticket if you want to but you need to book as soon as possible. We are also still taking bookings for local dancers.

As the festival draws near, we are starting to get excited as we look forward to catching up with regular delegates and also getting to know those of you who are attending for the first time. We pride ourselves on the friendly, non-competitive atmosphere and we are always available over the weekend if you have any questions or if you want to have a chat. Don’t be shy, come and say hello! 🙂

See you next month!

Afra & John


 PS – you may the information in this post useful:


2014 Teacher Line up announced!

We are delighted to announce our full line up for this year’s festival – it’s a wonderful combination of returning favourites and some new faces. All of them will be bringing their own very special brand of teaching and performing magic to the festival.

Afra is currently working on this year’s Workshop Programme, the details of which will be available very shortly.

So who will be teaching at this year’s event?

Our Guest Stars are:

Our Supporting Artists are:

Click on any name to find out more about each individual teacher.

Thank you!

John and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in this year’s festival:

  • Our inspiring instructors who taught excellent workshops and gave us a truly  magnificent Gala Show.
  • Our delegates who provided us with a wonderful Showcase on Friday night and were such great people to party with.
  • Our team of helpers without whom the event would not run half as smoothly as it did this year.

It was a fantastic weekend and I think it’s fair to say that all of us had a brilliant time! I can hardly wait until next year and if you want to be there, put the date in your diary now – 24th to 26th October 2014. Deposits will be on sale very shortly!

Again, thank you so much everyone!

Afra xx



The final countdown!

I can’t believe we are almost there! John and I are now surrounded by piles of items waiting to be packed and I am doing the final round of paperwork. It seems like the year has just whizzed by and I am getting excited at meeting up with my extended ‘Celebrating Dance Family.’ Old friends to catch up with and new friends to make, all part of what makes the festival the absolute highlight of our year!

So with all that in mind here are some hints and tips to help you get the best out of your Celebrating Dance Experience.

What, where, when.

  • What time should I arrive at the hotel? Check in is from 3pm onward. There are a lot of us to check in so please be patient – the hotel staff will process everyone as quickly as they can. If there is a long queue you can always browse the souk, enjoy tea in the lovely Buckingham Lounge or visit the spa. Don’t forget that there is a 15% discount on spa treatment if you book in advance – details about the spa can be found at
  • The Information Desk and the Souk are open from lunch time on Friday afternoon. Either before or after you have checked into your room, please come and register with us so we know you’ve arrived. The Information Desk is situated outside the Greenway Room just past the bay-windowed restaurant area and the souk is opposite in the Greenway Room. You will receive a copy of the weekend Event Guide when you register which will have details of where each workshop will take place and key information like meal times and starting times.
  • What if I’m not staying at the hotel? Local dancers can register during the evening on Friday or first thing Saturday morning, if they are unable to do so on Friday afternoon.
  • Doors open to Chatsworth for the Delegate Showcase on Friday and the Gala Show on Saturday at 7.45pm, but things do not get under way until approximately 8.15pm and usually run to around midnight.
  • Delegate Showcase performers – please be ready to hand in your clearly labelled music at the Information Desk when you register. The running order will be on display here and in the Chatsworth Suite so that you can check when you are performing.

When do things take place?

  • Breakfast is served from 7.45 am to 10 am on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Dinner is served from 6.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday

Workshops sessions are as follows (the same each day)

Session 1
– 9 am to 11 am.
Session 2 – 11.30 am to 1 pm.
Session 3 – 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm.

Refreshment Breaks

Saturday Morning – 11 am to 11.30 am. Lunch – 1 pm to 2.30 pm

Sunday Morning – 11 am to 11.30 am.  Lunch – 1 pm to 2.30 pm. Afternoon – 4.30 pm to 5 pm.

What to wear to workshops?

  • Lots of loose, comfortable layers that can be put on or taken off as required. Always have an extra layer to put on after a workshop is over to help protect those well-used muscles.
  • Think about your feet. The Chatsworth and Arlington ballrooms both have wooden dance floors but the Garden and Rougemont rooms are carpeted. It’s worth wearing either a low-heeled dance shoe or soft ballet shoes for at least some of the time just to give your feet a break. Take a few moments each day to give your feet a gentle massage with a foot balm – you’ll be glad you did!
  • We all like our jingly, sparkly hip belts don’t we? They do however tend to shed beads and sequins, so if you notice that there are beads or sequins on the floor please pick them up or brush them to the side of the dance space so that they don’t get stuck in yours or anyone else’s feet. Bring a spare to the workshop so that you can swap yours out if it starts to misbehave.

Workshop Etiquette.

  • Please try to arrive on time for workshops and if you are late, slip in as unobtrusively as possible.
  • It’s important to stay hydrated but we would appreciate it if you could avoid eating or drinking anything on or near the dance space and take all your wrappings/empty bottles with you at the end of the session.
  • Only take photos and videos with the express permission of the instructor. Most instructors won’t mind a small amount of this at the end of a workshop but always ask for permission first.
  • Turn your phone either off or to silent/vibrate and if you absolutely have to take a call, please go outside of the workshop room to do so.
  • Be prepared to rotate rows so that everyone who wants to can have the opportunity to be at the very front.
  • If you are unsure of something or need it explained/demonstrated again – don’t be shy, ask! 🙂

Party Time!

Friday and Saturday nights are boogie nights, dress up as much as you like and be prepared to bop the night away after the formal parts of the evening are over!

  • What to wear. The hotel dress code is Smart Casual – no jeans please but other than than you can dress up as much or as little as you want, just remember to come prepared to dance!
  • Performing in the Delegate Showcase? Make sure you are costumed and ready at the start of the segment you are in.
  • Cheer the performers on by clapping where appropriate.
  • Got a favourite song you all enjoy dancing to? Bring it with you and we’ll play it during the party!

Picture This!

Our fabulous house photographer Kathryn Goddard of Capture This Moment will be on hand to take photos on both evenings. She will photograph all the performances in the Delegate Showcase and will also have her booth set up where you can have individual portraits taken by appointment. Kathryn also offers a calendar of her favourite images from the Gala Show which you can order in advance with a percentage of the profits going to charity.

Some final words.

We want you to enjoy your time at Celebrating Dance and will do our utmost to ensure that you have a great time. If you have any questions at all during the weekend please let us know and we will do our very best to sort it out.

We look forward to seeing you all in just a few days time and it’s now time for me to get back to the packing – see you all on Friday!

Afra xx

Friday Night is Delegate Night!

For me personally, our Delegate Showcase at the start of the festival weekend on Friday night, is one of the highlights of the event and something I eagerly look forward to every year. The process starts when we open booking for performance spots and the excitement builds as I begin to receive applications and see what lovely things are in store for us to watch and enjoy.

I am quite passionate about this aspect of our festival because I know just how wonderful it is for dancers of all levels and experience to have the opportunity to perform in a friendly, supportive and non-judgmental environment. The aim of the Showcase is to be all-inclusive and welcomes dancers at all levels of experience. In fact, with the atmosphere being so friendly, many dancers use the Delegate Showcase as the venue to perform their very first solo, safe in the knowledge that their performance will be in front of an audience who is 100% behind them.

What we end up with is a wonderful mix of those who are just starting out through to those with lots more experience. It is my job to ensure that we have a healthy balance of styles Vs solos/duets/groups and experience. I understand how important it is for those with less experience to  perform as early as possible in order to cope with pre-performance nerves and also how important it is not to put on a very experienced dancer immediately before those who are just starting out. No one wants to be faced with the prospect of “how the hell do I top that!?” Daunting at the best of times but even more so if you are new to performing!

In fact performing could be described as daunting for most of us at one point or another during our dance adventures and therefore I see it as doubly important to reduce the impact of that as much as possible for all those taking part in the Showcase. Dancing should be fun not the equivalent of a trial by fire.  🙂

So with all that in mind, here are some friendly pointers on how to make the most of your Delegate Showcase experience (you can read the full guidelines on the website –

  • Choose carefully. Make sure that you choose a song that fits within the time limits (no more than 4m30s) and in a style that is suitable for a family-friendly audience. If you are not sure it’s right, please ask us early enough that you can rehearse something else if necessary. We reject all applications for longer numbers, so the sooner you ask the more time you will have to prepare.
  • Think carefully about your staging – whilst the dance space is not huge, you do need to consider that you will be facing an audience on three sides. Try to find a balance between using the space effectively whilst not dancing too close or too far away from the audience.
  • Dancers in small groups (2s, 3s or 4s) need to plan so that they don’t have large gaps between the performers or they end up looking like a group of soloists or two competing teams! 🙂 Tighten things up so that you have two thirds of your performance dancing as a cohesive whole. The end result is that you will have some lovely group photos rather than a string of individual dancers.
  • Using a prop? The ceiling is relatively low so ensure that your prop will clear a low ceiling comfortably. Note that props using fire or smoke are not permitted.
  • Costuming can be tricky to get right so make sure that firstly you wear something appropriate to both the venue and what you are performing and secondly that it is up to the job. Check that everything fits securely (safety pins are a dancer’s best friend!), won’t get caught on jewellery, veils etc and actually suits your build, colour and height. If in doubt, ask your teacher or a friend for advice. Something that looks fine in daylight maybe transparent under performance lighting, it’s best not to find that out once you are on stage! 🙂
  • Make up and hair are as important as your costume, in fact you should see them as being part of the same thing. Leave yourself enough time to apply make up and style your hair and remember that you need to wear a lot more make up when performing. Not sure how to create the right performance look? Try visiting the cosmetics counters in the big stores and ask for a very glam makeover. Pick a brand you like and trust but don’t feel obliged to buy all the products that are used.
  • You can’t do anything without your music! Hand in your music at registration (CD or Mp3) and bring a back up to the ballroom in the evening.
  • Be ready on time! We recommend having an early dinner so that you have plenty of time to get ready without rushing. You can find out what segment you are in at registration and running orders are well displayed.
  • Have fun, the last and really the most important point! Take a deep breath, put on your best smile and give it your all. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, I can guarantee the audience will love you because we love everyone who takes part.

I am looking forward to seeing all the exciting things this year’s Showcase will be filled with. It’s different every year but it’s also brilliant every year!

See you there!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: