Bellydance For Joy!

Can you imagine what it’s like to be in fear of your life from your partner? To be hit, burned, punched and told you’re ugly and worthless on a regular basis.

Can you even begin to imagine how it must be to have been sold into slavery as a child, brought to the UK as a domestic slave and never to have had a day off work in your life? Can you imagine never having had a moment of fun for yourself, to have only slept on the kitchen floor, and to be beaten if you raise your eyes when spoken to by your ‘owner’?

Maybe you can imagine the trauma of being told you have terminal cancer, and how it might feel to lose your breasts, your hair and your dignity as you’re poked and prodded and put into machines.

Now imagine you can help to give women who have suffered such trauma some fun in their lives – dancing to lively music, shaking their shoulders, swinging their hips and laughing as they shimmy and sway in the company of other women just like them.

We are truly thrilled to announce that in July 2017 Company of Dreams began taking free bellydance classes into women’s refuges, hospices, and organisations supporting victims of slavery, trafficking and sexual violence.

The response has been amazing!

The women are so excited and so happy to be bellydancing. And the managers have told us that what we’re doing is totally unique – that they’ve been looking for something like this for years, but there’s nothing out there. They say that just to bring even an hour’s joy to women who have suffered so much will make an enormous difference to their lives.

But we need your help!

We desperately need funds to help us do this vital work. In June we held our first fundraiser – a gala dinner in Charlotte’s home village in Kent. We raised £2,000 to help us start the work, but if we are to continue we have a major fundraising job to do! This is why, in September we will be joining a global fundraising challenge with charities around the world to raise funds for our work through international charity platform Global Giving. And, during August and September, bellydancers will be doing some wonderful things to raise money for our fundraising challenge.

  • On 23 September, London bellydancers Saffron and Sophia will climb Mount Snowdon in bellydance outfits to raise sponsorship for our fund! (sponsor them here)
  • On 16th September (tbc) we’re planning a sponsored shimmy relay in Trafalgar Square
  • On 24th September (tbc) we’re holding a glamourous Cocktails and Rhinestones event at a cocktail bar in central London. We will be asking bellydancers to donate costumes and props to be auctioned in aid of the charity. Come along, meet your friends and pick up a designer bargain!
  • watch out for our hashtag #bellydanceforjoy on social media

We’re going to have fun and we’d love you to join us!

Please support these fabulous challenges and events, or why not hold a fundraising event of your own? If would like to help, please email charlotte@companyofdreams.net or leave a comment below.

Check out all the info on our Bellydance For Joy page

#bellydanceforjoy

And in memory of the wonderful Yvette Cowells, today we are also launching a very special fund, specifically to take bellydancing classes into hospices. This was a project that was very dear to Yvette’s heart and she was really looking forward to being involved. Please read more here

A new beginning

We’re launching our new website at a really exciting time for Company of Dreams and, we hope, for British belly dance. Here in London the belly dance scene is thriving again after a very difficult and unhappy time a few years ago. Teachers are seeing more new students coming to classes and our regular showcases like Arabesque Nights and the Arab Quarterly are attracting exciting new performers and enthusiastic audiences. Best of all there is a truly marvellous spirit of collaboration among the leaders in our community and a real desire to make belly dance the very best it can be.

Making history
And here at Company of Dreams we’re making history. We’ve just premiered our new theatrical dance production of Scheherazade, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that in a few months time we’re taking it to Sadlers Wells, the home of British ballet and the most prestigious dance venue in the country.

That’s the public face of our work, but behind the scenes things are even more exciting. Firstly I’m proud to say that the company paid its professional dancers, not only for the performance, but for the full development process – over several months of rehearsals. This meant that we were able to create work of a far higher standard than is usually possible. We have nine professional dancers and it cost a lot of money, but that’s the way it should be – if dancers are to work to the highest professional standards they need to be paid!

company rehearsal

It was made possible by a lot of very hard work fundraising and through the generosity of the Arts Council and over 70 people who generously gave to our successful Kickstarter campaign. The fundraising took more than six months out of my life but it was worth every moment of that time to see the standard of the result. If you haven’t seen Scheherazade yet, you must. My aim was to create something that I would be proud to put alongside professional productions from the mainstream dance sectors and I believe we did just that.

Taking bellydance out into the world
But it’s not just in our productions that we’re breaking new ground, we are in the process of creating a proper, formal company to take British bellydance into completely new territory – beyond the bellydance niche and out into the wider world.

Company of Dreams is now a Company Limited by Guarantee, with a Board of Directors. Our directors are senior figures in the world of the arts, education, the law and business. In a couple of weeks time we will have our first AGM where we will resolve to approve our memorandum and articles of association and then submit them to the Charities Commission. If our application is approved then Company of Dreams will become a registered charity and our directors will become our trustees, responsible for supporting me in my work, ensuring we keep to the highest standards of probity, keeping us to our vision (see About Us page) and helping us make our way in the big wide world of the arts.

We’re on a very exciting journey and one which we hope will make a real difference to the dance we all love so much. We look forward to sharing our journey with you along the way.