Today I want to point out a new website to you that has, at first glance, nothing to do with Islay but looks can be deceiving. The new website belongs to Paula Davidson, a well known Ileach heavily involved in Belly-Dancing on Islay. Paula stands for dance, passion and motion and she has found a way to embrace the sand dunes of the Middle East with the Highlands of Scotland. Paula moved to Islay from Glasgow and has made Belly-Dancing very popular on both Islay and Jura. There is a good chance that you have seen her perform on Islay, perhaps at the Islay Festival or somewhere else, or perhaps you even have attended one of her classes or workshops. I found a wee video of a few belly-dancers at the Islay Show a few years ago but I wasn't able to spot Paula in it. On her new website you can read more about the reasons why she moved to Islay:
Hello, I am Paula Davidson, Dance Artist, Performer, Actor, Teacher and Choreographer I am a classically trained dancer with experience in the performance and choreography of many dance forms, as well as having experience of performing in Film, Television and in Theatre. My love and passion for Islay, the wilderness unspoiled and free, the vast and endlessly entertaining sea, the history and the culture, the people and the Gaelic language, runs concurrent with my love and passion for belly dance due to the expressive, emotive and therapeutic aspects inherent in these middle eastern and oriental dance forms. The sea, landscape and weather of Islay ignites my heart and fills me with an inspiration to fuse these ancient cultural forms into a new whole, a sum that is very much greater than the value of its parts. Continue reading...
Something the website doesn't mention (yet) is Scottish Step Dancing. Paula discovered that a few years ago largely due to living on Islay and being surrounded by such wealth in Gaelic song. Paula: "This is an ancient form of scottish dance which is very percussive ie in the feet. Tap dancing seems to have evolved from this almost extinct form of old scottish dance which blends harmonisously with gaelic mouth music and also trad music ie reels, jigs and strathspeys. You can currently find me (sharing a wee taste of) Scottish step dancing at the Port Charlotte Hotel during their trad music nights (Sunday and Wednesday).
"I have travelled to 2 other scottish islands in search of scottish step dancing because it is not readily available. It seems that people may have stopped passing it on with the advent of the scottish country dance society and highland dancing as both of these forms of dance became classed as proper dancing (ie they belonged to associations) and the more spontanious and infectious step dancing suffered from a lack of confidence and also the fact that people emigrated and migrated. I continue trying to research as much as possible about the history, the steps and so on and so forth. I will also be teaching a Scottish step dancing workshop at the Jura Music Festival at the end of the month."
For more information, a gallery of images and contact information please visit www.pauladavidson.co.uk.