I teach a fusion of North African and Flamenco dance. We learn a vocabulary of moves, used to respond to the music and to each other. Each dance, each performance is unique.
I don’t remember when I first started to dance but I attended my first ballet class at the age of two. I only went to keep my older cousin company but she soon gave up and I was hooked.
I carried on learning ballet through my school years, adding Tap, Scottish and some Ballroom to my repertoire. I studied Classical Ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance.
I trained in Bristol and qualified as a Registered General Nurse. During this time I tried out several other dance styles including: Afro-Caribbean, jazz and American jazz tap.
I continued to attend ballet workshops at The Jacobs Wells Dance Centre in Hotwells, Bristol, where I learned from a variety of dance teachers, including a former member of the Moscow Ballet.
I spent some months traveling in Iran and became very interested in the culture and music of that part of the world.
While in in Osnabruck Germany I trained with Lexie Griffiths (Reebok Master Trainer) and qualified on her course as a Fitness and Exercise Teacher with the International Aerobic Championship Organisation (RSA equivalent). I taught classes and workshops in Army bases.
Soon after my introduction to Middle Eastern Dance (MED) I began twice weekly classes with additional workshops in various styles including folk, Turkish, Egyptian and North African. I have attended workshops run by internationally renowned teachers, including Paulette Rees-Denis, of Gypsy Caravan, Oregon, USA, Leila Haddad of Paris, Hossam and Serena Ramzy and Juliana Brustik ( Raks Shaki Society UK).
ATS & World Fusion
After a year with a community Tribal Fusion Troupe, based in Walsall, performing at various events throughout the Midlands, I found the choreographed aspect of tribal fusion too restrictive and left in 2003 in order to develop in the improvised style, American Tribal Style (ATS), pioneered by Carolena Nericcio and FatChance BellyDance.
I have studied ATS, a fusion of Kathak, Flamenco and Arabian forms with Wendy Marlatt of FatChance BellyDance and was a member of Rashani International Tribal Bellydance Troupe, an international collaboration of Fatchance and Gypsy Caravan trained dancers.
In 2005 I travelled to San Francisco for intensive training with Carolena Nericcio founder/director of FatChance BellyDance, the first UK dance teacher to have done this. I hope to pass on the skills and knowledge gained while there. I continue to strive to improve my dance and update my skills and knowledge, attending various workshops and training throughout the UK and abroad. I took weekly classes in Flamenco with Rosa Serrano of Madrid.
Pedralta World Fusion® is a unique format, using the improvisational basics of ATS but with strong Flamenco influences and adding Saaidi stick dance to the mix. See here for Tuition
“I’m here to sing the praises of Ms. Duende herself, Donna Gardner. She is a beautiful dancer with a vision and precision in style that is awe inspiring. To me she is THE UK teacher for Tribal Spanish styling and her hands/arms/posture are to die for! Her generosity of spirit and tribal vision pulled together a beautiful world fusion show. Thank you Donna.“
“Remember that the nature of Tribal, the thing that sets it apart from other styles, is the ability of the dancers to use their individual skill with the movements and their collective knowledge of the music to create art on the spot. It should feel like a spontaneous conversation as opposed to a scripted dialogue.”
Kajira Djoumahna (director BlackSheepBellyDance)Author Tribal Bible 2003
Below are some of the organisations I have been worked with, providing classes, workshops or performances:
- Home Education Staffordshire
- Meole Brace School Shrewsbury
- National Childbirth Trust, Staffordshire
- Surestart Tamworth
- Lichfield and Tamworth College
- Staffordshire University
- Lichfield Health and Fitness Club
- Lichfield Festival
- Carers Association South Staffordshire
- Angels In Arts Stoke-On-Trent
- Rashani International, Dublin
- Hips With Attitude, Glasgow
- No Fit State Circus
- Old Joint Stock Theatre