Saturday, June 23, 2012

Funky Kids

I'm going to write about all the stuff that's being on with school. We've been a part of some pretty snazzy projects throughout the year which are all coming to an end. You can expect to read about street parties, boxing to soul music (commonly known at Carle Vernet as 'boxe and soul'), 4 year olds dutty wining, country dancing like a rabbit and the usual walks past prostitutes on any daytime school outing. 

For a while we've been working on a dance project, aimed at helping the kids with movement and developing the use of their bodies, as well as promoting individual expression through the arts. As a part of this, my colleague arranged an event with his good chum, who is the head of an organisation in Bordeaux called 'allez les filles', who do loads of free concerts around town in all the trendy wendy hip hop happening places. The head of the organisation, Francis, is also a keen boxer, and a big name on the bordeaux boxing scene, so I'm guessing it's because of this that we decided to merge music and boxing, to have 'boxe and soul', where you are supposed to fight to the music. I can't say the kids managed this as the gloves went as high as their elbows so they were just trying to handle the weight of them and hit anything, anywhere, but still a fun concept for people above the age of four.
everyone loves a conga

The event was held at a park just next to the school, and after lunch we took all the kids over, met Francis with his dj booth and big speakers set up, and had a party! It was all soul and funk music as thats also blending into one of the weird themes we had going on. We made soul trains and generally just had a boogie for a while. I convinced some friends to join the fun, and of course they were impressed, we had a bar, a boxing ring, a DJ pumping out classic tunes through the night, and a big dinner where everyone brought something along and shared. How could you not be impressed?! It was a bit strange to be out drinking and busting a move with not only my colleagues but the parents of my pupils, but it was so so lovely and they're all (obviously) devastated that I'm not returning next year. After a brief awkward conversation with a colleague about french men, we abandoned our uneaten contribution of some kind of pear cake and anyone I shouldn't really drink around, and headed for safer quarters.
Celia and I enjoying the Carle Vernet vibes

We've also had another recent outing to perform traditional French country dancing in public for anyone to come and watch (my friends again looked really weird being the only non-parents watching young children they don't know dance). Of course I felt French country dancing was my calling, so got right in there and showed them how it was done. It's a bit of pain trying to 'swing your partner' when they are about 4 centimetres tall, so i got rid of my kid and performed a perfect rendition 'attention, attention' with a colleague to a seemingly never ending song, courtesy of a live band. Undoubtedly, my favourite is 'le saut du lapin' (the rabbit jump), which embarrassingly enough I've taken out on the town with me and taught all my friends when we're at house parties/in a bar/in a club. It's appropriate in most circumstances really.
showing up the other schools with our killer moves
If anyone is interested just let me know, I'm a really good teacher...
This event wasn't actually in my work hours so I was able to take little mini breaks between dances and enjoy some wine with amigos, then get back to the gritty world of country dancing, which is now my main focus in life. Also, interestingly, they danced the same country dance that I used to do when I was younger and cuter, at the Brentham May Day, and it even had the same name, so someone, somewhere is lying about it being specific to England / Aquitaine region.... It's ok though, it just allowed me to shine even more being such a pro.

Last week we had yet ANOTHER trip about dancing, to a local theatre to perform the dances each class has been working on, which they ended up performing last friday evening (I was in England, heartbreak), in one of Bordeaux's biggest venues, Le Rocher de Palmer, which is impressive. The little one we went on a trip to was just a standard little hall with a stage, but it was a show with other schools from the area as well. They've been slaving away on these for months, and each class has worked around a different theme such as sport or playtime. Of course, en route to the venue, at about 1 30pm, we passed the usual clan of Begles prostitutes out 'working'. Things got a bit awkward when one of the kids touched one of their bags, but we just speeded on past, they are faarr to young to understand what they do. It's soo strange that it's so obvious in broad daylight and no one thinks it's odd in the slightest, my colleagues never seem to get uncomfortable whereas I'm having a mini freakout every time we walk right past them with tons of 3 and 4 year olds. So so so weird, oh France! I recorded one of my fave dances, please take note of the girls in class 5 whipping their hair/dutty wouldn't upload onto the blog,  but here is the link to it, enjoy..

my Old MacDonald superstars

Yesterday was 'La fĂȘte de la Musique' in Bordeaux, which was incredibly cool. A ton of free concerts all over the city, all through the day, and night. They had every genre possible covered, from Pocahontas-esque music, to bagpipe bands, Brazilian drummers, indie bands, metal rock, electro, choirs and many many more. In the evening my self and some pals walked all over town checking out the various musicians/singers/djs, and benefiting from the relaxed drinking in public laws. Although there was a very strong police presence, EVERYONE was drinking, and the police never blinded and eye so I'm sure there was some kind of exception because they are normally very militant about it. Yesterday afternoon, we had our own 'fete de la musique' at school, where my kids in elementaire sang 'Old McDonald had a farm', professionally conducted by me, which we have literally been working on for a good 2 months to get it PERFECT. The parents and staff were ranting and raving about it though, so I'm not sure they understand that all we did was a make a few animal noises... Here's a clip of the maternelle and elementaire school doing their joint number, it's rather catchy

hanging out with a white tiger
The last trip/event I'll talk about is the trip to Bordeaux zoo we went on a few weeks ago. It was quite impressive, lacked sea lions and penguins, but you can't win them all. I was a bit worried as it was with the youngest children in the school, and once we got there I was given some kids and was told to go off with them alone, which I've never done on a trip before, there's always been at least one other adult in my group. I didn't manage to lose anyone for longer than 30 seconds though, and the zoo had two red pandas, my absolute favourites so it was a pretty successful day. 

I hope you enjoyed the tales about my often bizarre job,

Thanks for reading,



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Highlights from the last few months...

It's been a while since my last post, and now I finally have the time to write as I'm avoiding packing up my french life to start bringing stuff back to England.

It's been a busy few months, so I'm thinking that I'll just pick a few highlights, whack in some pretty pics and wow you with some clips even.

1) France has a new President!
 I should hope that everyone knows this, but I was fortunate enough to be here during the very very close election. Francois Hollande only won with 51.62%...

We went to the socialist party's celebrations at Place de la Victoire, which was all pimped out with big wide screens, music and lots of happy people dancing into the night. It was so lovely, such a nice ambience. Sean Paul was played so I was very content.

However once the official party had ended, lots of the local hooligans came out, and set fire to pretty much anything, boxes, bins etc, and were just generally being disgusting, throwing glass bottles into the crowd, thowing fireworks into the fire..

Typically, I got a bit into it and started screaming at them in my still awful broken french. Im not sure it did much good, but I did help break up a fight. Always on the front line of a bit of political action!

2) Biarritz / St Jean de Luz / La Rhune

At the top!
In April myself and a few pals went on a day of adventure, reminiscent of my beloved Duke of Edinburgh days. Everyone loves a good hike!
It took a few hours to get to the top of the mountain, then we took the little train thing back down the mountain. Lazy people can get the train up too, but keen outdoorsmen like ourselves were having none of that.

After conquering the mountain in my much missed hiking boots, we hopped back in the car and spent the rest of the afternoon in St Jean de Luz, being May, I thought it was high time I wasn't the only one braving the Atlantic, so Rachel and I went in together, not actually thaaat cold compared to San Seb in March...

We then got back in the car and headed to Biarritz for dinner, which after hunting for a restaurant for about twelve thousand years, we managed to find the most incredible place on earth. I was so devastated to leave. I don't exactly remember what we ate, I just remember being really really happy.

Finally it was time to leave and blast out some Sean Paul for the drive back to Bordeaux.

3) Mum's visit

Dune du Pyla
Last month my mama came to visit for her birthday. Ellis gals on tour 2k12. We spent her birthday on the beach at Arcachon, then visited the Dune du Pyla. I had been given the day off work as I was making up hours on other days, but we were lucky, (or unlucky) enough to be on the same train as the entire upper section of my school, who were also going to Arcachon for a dance performance. Its a good hour train, and I got many looks from locals wondering why I kept waving at these kids in the next carriage / playing games with them through the glass doors. However it did mean my mum got to meet my colleagues and some of my kids.

On the wednesday we went to St Emilion to become wine boffs. We went on a tour of the town in one of those snazzy white tourist train things, which was packed out with a group of retired french elderly people. Cute but annoying, I couldn't hear any of the fun historical facts over the men discussing the pro's and con's of any tractor of farm vehicle we passed on route to the vineyards. Thankfully we ditched them at the vineyard, where we got a tour of the grounds, the cellars, and of course a bit of tasting at the end.

 It was lovely to have her here as she hadn't visited yet, although she always manages to benefit from wherever I am on her birthday. Last year was Washington DC, this year Bordeaux, and we're already discussing Montreal next year... What a lucky lady!

I'll leave you with a sneak peek of the next blog... this is one of the kids at school at one of our recent events 'Dancing in the Street'. He is 5 years old and already a little MJ, such a proud parent.

Thanks for reading, another one is on the way soon!