One of our members has a daughter in a Zazu tribal dance group, so it was suggested that, for a slightly different meeting, we could invite them to entertain us one evening.
We were advised to wear loose clothing as we would be expected to join in. Of course this did not faze us as we are a pretty outgoing bunch and were most willing to give it a go.
For our Zazu evening we arrived prepared in loose garments with plenty of cake and biscuits! Lesley Foulkes who is the leader of the dance group bestowed us with some note-worthy background information as we had our faces decorated with their individual tribal markings – used to denote which particular tribe one belongs to.
‘Zazu Tribal is a dance group of feisty women including mothers and daughters. We are a ‘tribe’ in the true sense of the word sharing values and supporting each other as we express our creativity through dance. We celebrate other cultures by including their dance styles and music in our tribal dancing. We wear traditional layered costumes in beautiful colours and textures. As with the past before banks and building societies, we sew onto our costume items such as coins which are valuable to us.
We also wear facial decoration including our own tribal markings. Traditionally this was done to be able to easily recognise warriors from each tribe during battle and gives a sense of belonging. These days this tradition can be seen as ‘logos’ which represent a modern ‘tribe’ such as a business. We love the dance that we do together and the time we share.’
A bindi was then placed on our foreheads. Bindi comes from Sanskrit bindu, meaning point or dot. It is placed in the centre of the forehead where it is said the third eye resides. It is used very widely now as a fashion accessory but has religious significance.
The group performed a number of beautiful dances for us using quite a range of music including African and modern. We were shown how to use small finger cymbals called zills. These are also used in belly dancing. We then joined them in performing a dance using the zills – to the best of our ability of course.
We had a very enjoyable evening and everyone joined in with great vigour and spirit.
Some members of the Wolstanton group joined us and conveyed having relished the experience as well. The dancers were very pleased that we were so eager to join in and it made their night much more interesting and gratifying.
Valerie Ford | Newcastle under Lyme NWR
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