Circle Dancers Support our Charitable Work
Overlapping Circles

 The story of the Circle Dance Network’s influence on Jane, Director of Holidays With Heart, and the projects which evolved out of it. This is an updated version of an article first published in the quarterly magazine of the Circle Dance Network in 2014.

Overlapping Circles

On my first visit to Taroudant I loved the haven of these gardens by the town walls, with resident tortoises and terrapins

A series of co-incidences has shaped my life, linking together my passions for dancing, permaculture, wildlife conservation, Morocco and sustainability. Key people have emerged from the Circle Dance network, supporting and inspiring me along the way.

Beginnings 

It started in 1986, when I came to lecture in West Wales at what is now know as Trinity St Davids. I developed a research interest in Morocco and subsequently developed a new module entitled ‘Morocco: prospects for sustainability’. But the field trip based in Agadir was hardly the model for the type of tourism I envisaged.  So I decided to ‘walk the talk’ and took out a second mortgage to buy a house in the traditional walled town of Taroudant, Morocco, to use as a sustainably-run guest house, with a focus on charitable work.

Music, dancing and permaculture In the 1990s I joined the local permaculture group which consisted almost entirely of circle dancers and well-known circle dance musicians Tony Wrench and Jane Faith of Rasalila, who, along with Bob Minney, have generously supported our projects by playing at fundraising circle dance events.

 

Other permaculture group members, Anthony Hobson and Susanne Winser (who’d been introduced to circle dance in West Wales by Anna Barton in the 1980s), run a local circle dance group.

Another group member introduced me to Mary Ludgate, whose local group I attend.

And my own training in permaculture was undertaken in West Wales with Stephen Nutt – at the time I didn’t even realise he was also a dance teacher!

Beekeeping seminar with Lynne Ingram assisted by Esbjorn Aneer
Circle Dancers help plant trees in the orchard for bees

Dancing in Morocco

One of our early guests in the 1990’s was dance musician Kim McGavin. Some 20 years later, when we found ourselves by chance in adjacent tents at Dance Camp Wales (well known for its focus on circle dance) the idea was born – to take a group of circle dancers to Morocco the following January. From our circle at Dance Camp Wales two dance teachers, Angela Lockwood and Pat Adams, have been instrumental in the project and Angela led the first official Maison Anglaise circle dance holiday in 2013, followed by Laura Shannon in 2014 and we have had no less than 16 Circle Dance teachers involved.

The Community Projects In 2011 Kim introduced me to beekeeper Lynne Ingram, (former circle dance teacher) who has visited annually since 2012, training and advising beekeepers. In turn Lynne introduced me to Esbjorn Aneer. I had danced with his partner June Watts, whose circle dance book “Circle Dancing” and a day workshop long ago had inspired me – another overlapping circle. Esbjorn provided huge support in the design of a ‘bee orchard’ using water-saving permaculture principles, so that plants feed bees, people and livestock without need for fertilisers.

Laura Shannon was instrumental in sowing the seed for our Women’s Embroidery Project, producing traditional designs which are linked to circle dance in many other regions. See more about the embroidery project – see here.

The Ripples Continue Dancers participate in the holidays and support the community in a variety of ways including raising funds to repair the roof of a family suffering after serious rainfall, buying bee products from the Busy Bee Centre that we created & taking lunch with the beekeepers’ families.  Promotion of cultural understanding has created further interlinking circles as the central focus of this SDC community in Morocco. Thank you to all who continue to support our work.

In 2017 Jeanette Whitford made a huge contribution by raising about £5000 for the Moroccan Children’s Trust, a highly successful charity who provide both much needed support for local children and are involved with national policy change in the field of child protection.

In 2019 there was a breakthrough in the breeding programme and reintroduction of the endangered Yellow Saharan Bee, a direct result of Lynne’s work with Youssef. You can learn more on our charities page. The work goes on!

Rasalila play for a fundraising Circle Dance