Cornering youth market

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dance

Dance, theatre, yoga, music and making your own bedroom decorations are among the fun activities for young people at Cornerstone’s Youth Festival.

The week-long extravaganza which runs during half term, 16th to 23rd February begins on Sunday with The Elves and the Shoemakers. Meet Sam who is big on imagination but short on business knowhow until one night, two small green visitors climb in and start stitching, cutting and gluing… Suitable for ages 3 upwards, tickets £9.50, concs £7.50, family £30.

Get active with a series of classes focussing on movement with fun from 18th to 21st starting with a children’s art and yoga class, £15, for school years 1-6 and unleash your inner dancer on Wednesday with beginner’s Latin and ballroom dancing, £25, school years 1-6 – perfect for those with an eye on being a Strictly star in the future.

Thursday and Friday it’s the turn of those in years 7-13 with break dancing for beginners, £15, where you’ll learn the basics and then develop the confidence to explore your own style. Friday sees a physical theatre workshop, £20, in which you’ll learn techniques for creating a narrative through movement and storytelling which will be performed at the end of the session.

Award-winning comedy musicians Bowjangles will be putting on a magical show taking you through myths, legends and folklore through a portal in a cello case – where else? – to find a priceless relic, a magical violin bow known as Excalibow. Suitable for all ages, £14, and may contain a few well-known ABBA hits!

Join Yana on Sunday 23rd as she journeys through a strange land, all alone and far from home, unable to understand anything other children are saying and then she encounters a Yeti… This cast of extraordinary puppets  are out to show friends come in the most unexpected shapes and sizes in Yana and the Yeti, £9.50, concs £7.50.

If craft is your thing there’s also the opportunity to spruce up your bedroom for years 1-6 by making your own bedroom decorations on Saturday 22nd, £25, with collage, paint, printing and mark making.

Cornerstone also offers a range of courses for children and young people including theatre, photography, dance and young reviewers.

More info

For more details about these and the Youth Festival and to book any of the events visit cornerstone-arts.org or call 01235 515144

Downland Dance open day

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dance

Have you or your little ones ever wanted to be a ballet dancer? Downland Dance are giving you the opportunity to try out a ballet class for FREE during their open day on Saturday, 2nd November.

During the half-term open day, prospective students are invited to attend a FREE ballet class at one of the studios in Abingdon or Didcot. Meet the teachers to learn more about the different classes offered, and ask any questions you may have. You can sign up for sessions for girls and boys aged 3 to 6 or for the Adult Beginners class (Didcot only).

The free open day classes for boys and girls aged 3-6 are at West Wing Studio, Coxeter House, Abingdon and Didcot Girls School, Manor Crescent from 9am to 9.45am. There is also an adult beginners class (ages 14 upwards) from 10am to 11am in Didcot.

Downland Dance was founded in 1977 and offers a range of ballet classes for children and adults and whether you want to take it for fun and exercise or with a view to taking Royal Academy of Dance ballet and character exams, it’s a great way to improve your body and mind.

Dance can have a positive lasting effect on your co-ordination, fitness and flexibility; enhance your energy levels, confidence and self-confidence; improve posture to help reduce aches and pains; build strength, stamina nad agility and increase general physical and mental wellness.

Open day places are limited so don’t delay, if you are interested go the website www.downland-dance.co.uk/open-days and complete the register form. If you have any questions email

And if you miss out on this chance to dance, there is another open day planned for Saturday, 22nd February.

Windsor Fringe 2019

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dance

Theatre, comedy, music, dance, family shows, a pop up record stall and music around a fire pit are among some of the many amazing attractions at this year’s Windsor Fringe. 

There are more than 130 performers and artists, showcasing local and national talent at the event from 20th September to 6th October, the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. 

The launch party kicks off the festival with music from DJ Steve Nash and guests playing everything from reggae and jazz to funk and disco with drinks and food from street vendors to make it a great way to start. 

Among the many musical highlights of the festival are jazz singers Claire Martin and Ian Shaw with A Century of Song (21st); traditional music from Spain with The Maiden & The Thief (25th); The Magic of Motown (27th) and An Afternoon of Music & Colour brings R&B and funk on the 29th. 

There’s theatre in the form of The Red Balloon (21st) and a trip through Shakespeare in The battle of Love and Power (29th) before you go on Journey’s End on 1st and 2nd October. 

Join a Victorian Windsor walking tour, discover Queen Anne’s Windsor and enjoy some of the work put on display by more than 30 artists at open house events around the town.  

The family is well catered for entertainment to suit all ages from dance to an arts festival day and join The Last Puppet with an adventure aboard ship. 

The festival also features the 16th international Kenneth Branagh Award for new drama writing. The three finalists’ plays will be performed nightly on 3rd, 4th, and 5th October before a panel of judges chooses the overall winner – why not watch one a night at The Old Court and decide for yourself? 

Windsor Fringe

To find out more about all the events at Windsor Fringe and to book tickets

Bollywood bliss

Round & About

dance

Shalini Bhalla, a well-known Cranleigh resident and director of local Bollywood dance-fitness company Just Jhoom!, has just published a revealingly honest book about her mental health and relationship with late husband Jeremy Lucas.

Shalini dancing Indian classical style
Shalini dancing Indian classical style

Shalini Bhalla, finds solace in traditional Indian dancing and focusing on mindful practice, as a coping mechanism when life gets tough and her mental health suffers. She says: “I used dance, mindfulness and meditation, nutrition and healing to bring (and keep) my mind, body and spirit into alignment.”

She founded Just Jhoom! based upon the joy principal and engaging others in the fun of Bollywood style dancing. Shalini is also an accredited mindfulness teacher and developed an online four-week introductory course into mindful practice -Mindfulness for Beginners.

She feels that this training in mind, body and spirit helped her cope and deal with the impact of losing her husband Jeremy Lucas in 2016, due to cancer. Dancing and focusing didn’t lessen the grief, just helped her to cope, and Shalini took to writing about her feelings in a self-published book, Always With You.

Shalini's lifeThis book is about Shalini’s personal battles with mental illness, the coping strategies she relied upon to regain a positive mental state after severe depression and the loss of Jeremy to cancer. In this emotive memoir, Shalini writes about her experiences of depression, attempted suicide as well as family estrangement, and struggles with religion and national identity.

Shalini wrote the book so she could share her story with others, offering an inspiring message of recovery and renewal as she looks to face the future with strength, hope and anticipation.

Shalini’s positive message has led her to be chosen as a “Voice of MIND” – campaigning for better mental health provision in the UK. She has spoken in the Houses of Parliament to MPs about wellbeing and mental health resilience.

Shalini has lived in Cranleigh for 18 years and been involved in village life, with Just Jhoom! and Mindfulness classes, over that time. Her late husband had lived in the area all his life and his untimely passing, aged 59, left a gaping hole in the community.

Jeremy and Shalini in Samburu
Jeremy and Shalini in Samburu

The pair also had a shared love of Kenya and its people, culture and wildlife, Shalini established an education fund: The Jeremy Lucas Education Fund, initiated in 2017, it has raised just over £42,000 and is sponsoring 12 children to attend secondary and tertiary education in Kenya.

Always With You is available on Shalini Bhalla website www.justjhoom.co.uk or Amazon.