I attended last week's camp with Epizo Bangoura at Bent's Basin.
This was the first (and probably only) time the camp was held there. Normally, it happens at the Bundagen eco community near Coffs Harbour, but that venue wasn't available this year. Bent's Basin is a state conservation area with a large park, camp sites, and an education centre (basically a large hall) where we did our drumming and dancing.
Because Bent's Basin is twelve hour's drive from Brisbane, I wasn't planning to attend—too far to drive and, because of the camping-only accommodation, pretty much impossible to do by flying. Fortunately, Matt, a drumming mate of mine, rang a few days before the camp and offered to pick me up from Sydney airport and let me sleep in his van, so I decided to attend on short notice.
The camp ran from Monday to Thursday. Only four days this time instead of the usual seven, mostly due to the change of venue. (Quite a number of people had already bought tickets to the Bellingen Carnival, which was the weekend before the camp, anticipating that the camp would be held at Bundagen as usual. By the time they found out about the change of venue, they'd already paid their $250 for the (non-refundable) carnival tickets and therefore didn't attend the camp.) We ended up with about 17 dancers and 20 drummers, so attendance was still good. (On the first day, we had over 40 people attending.)
The camp went well, with Epizo teaching in his usual fun and challenging style. There were some hard-core warm-ups in particular that had quite a few people sweating. Epizo taught Sinte, Sofa, Fula Fare, Sorsonet, and Kuku, all with nice arrangements and breaks. The dancers learned Sofa, Fula Fare, Kuku, and Soko.
It was quite cold during the four days, so we kept the doors and windows of the hall shut during dance class. With nearly forty people dancing and a drumming in the room, the atmosphere quickly got a bit like a steam bath, with the windows fogging up. Unfortunately, at least one person in the room had arrived sick and managed to spread their particular brand of bronchitis to over half the people at the camp. Talk about sharing the love…
Despite this, we had a really good time. We did a performance at the end of the camp (mostly for ourselves, seeing that our audience was about fifteen people ) Overall, the camp was a success, although the venue wasn't ideal. The hall was about a 500m walk from the camping and eating area, and we did not have any real place to congregate where it was warm. Especially the first two nights, our socialising was curtailed by the cold. (Many people went to bed early to avoid getting even colder.) Next year, back at Bundagen, our social life should improve again because we have a proper community hall there to hang out, and it's warmer as well, being further north and at the coast.
Epizo's drumming, as always, was jaw-dropping. I consider him one of the best djembe players alive (never mind all the other instruments he plays). There are very few players in the world who can match his creativity and inventiveness as well as his technique and speed on the djembe.
By the way, Epizo will be running a camp in Guinea next year. There is a two-week option from 15-28 February 2012, and a four-week option from 15 February to 13 March 2012. My bet is that this camp will be truly awesome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further info, or call Rebekah on +61 4 1366 3315.
Last edited by michi on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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