What On Earth Is A Hafla?

You may well ask. Indeed you may also wonder how I even know and therein hangs a tale.

It starts a while ago when I first attended the Loxwood Joust where one group of performers were a troupe of belly dancers who I thoroughly enjoyed watching. This might have led to nothing had someone not decided to give me a hip scarf for my birthday. Now a scarf covered in jangling coins is hardly something you can wear around the house so I took the hint and investigated belly dancing lessons.

I found a class on an evening I wasn’t busy less than half a mile from my house, so I went along to give it a go.

Now you’ll know I’m not a complete novice to dancing in general and indeed I even have badges to prove it but this was a completely new genre for me.

Luckily the other ladies were incredibly friendly and supportive even when I was wallying about* at the back feeling like I had two left arms (the feet are far easier than the arms I tell you).

Yet somehow after only a few lessons I was learning the steps to the dance that they were learning for the Hafla. No, I had no idea what that was and still less idea that they would turn round and encourage me to perform with them there.

It turns out a Hafla is an evening when lots of troupes of belly dancers get together to eat,  drink and most importantly dance for each other.

As part of the beginners class it was a chance to dress up and show off basically everything I’d learned up to that point and a chance to watch a lot of very talented ladies perform a surprisingly varied array of dances.

It really was an awful lot of fun. If you get the chance, you should go to one, you’d enjoy it.

*A technical term I assure you.

Learning How I Learn

So our pantomime has finished. I have already talked about how I learn my lines for a play but for the panto I had also to learn several songs and accompanying dances.

Of course learning a song largely involves listening but as I struggled to learn the lyrics (you try memorising “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong”) I spent time poring over a lyric sheet, learning them as if they were lines.

When it came to the dancing I had more trouble. I watched out choreographer, copied her movements, practised what I could remember but still it struggled to stick. Beginning to fear I would never master the steps, I turned to online advice on how to learn and was reminded that there are three main learning preferences:

  1.  Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Tactile (Kinesthetic)

I already know I’m a visual person. I am the reviewer of any document most likely to say “Can you add a diagram to that”. I learn lines from how they look on the page. Suddenly, I had a revelation. I sat down and wrote out the choreography (in note form at least) and laid it out alongside the lyrics I had already worked on. Now I had a way of identifying the gaps in my memory (which our choreographer could fill in for me), a way of learning and practising by myself and a crib sheet before the performance.

Quite honestly, I’m kicking myself I didn’t think of it sooner.
So the most important thing I learned from this was, no matter what you are learning you need to learn it in the way you learn best. Whatever that is. And for me writing this down is the best way for me to remember that lesson!