Brazilian Diary - Saturday 5th June 2010

Saturday greeted us with more sunshine but the mood was still decidedly cloudy. At breakfast Rory said that he'd met one of the organisers and that a meeting had been arranged for 12:45 that afternoon - not ideal for me as I didn't want to have lunch just before teaching but I guessed that the organisers' schedules would be even fuller than mine. We were also told that the proposal for this evening was that we play three tunes, a gajda (bagpipe) piece in the centre and two more songs from the stage.

We returned to the pool area for our rehearsal but spent most of the time talking about how we were doing and reviewing the events of the previous evening. Everyone was feeling pretty low (to varying degrees) and there wasn't much enthusiasm for preparation for the gig, especially as we weren't sure what would emerge (or be revealed to us) at the meeting. We decided that we'd ask to do three numbers on stage rather than start with the gajde piece (that way we'd all be playing on each of the songs) and came up with a selection that we thought would both please the dancers and display our collective musical skills.

Just as we were ready to start running through our little set list one of the seminar groups decided that the weather was too good to be trapped indoors and decamped to the other side of the pool. Rather than risk an Incident over disturbing them (although we were tempted to use the We were here first defence) we moved again, even further away. But the sun was still shining and we rustled up some chairs so we could still play outdoors. The rehearsal was somewhat muted and downbeat but we went through everything and felt reasonably prepared, assuming there were no Big Surprises waiting for us at the meeting.

I made sure I was first in line for lunch and had a good sized salad under my belt by the time we met up for our meeting. The mood was sombre and serious as we took it in turns to say how we'd seen the events of the previous evening and how that had left us feeling, each person having the chance to give their own personal view rather than getting into a 'them' and 'us' confrontation. In a lot of ways this helped but there was an obvious division between the two groups that couldn't be disguised. The organisers' position was that they were sorry that things had been changed at the last minute but they were responding to what they saw as the needs of the group and that was their prime responsibility. The band's main complaint was that nobody had taken the time to tell us what was happening and when we were told something it didn't happen anyway. I added my unhappiness about having to take on the teaching despite being assured that it wouldn't be necessary. There were some tears but the strong emotions were kept in check and didn't build into displays of anger, which was something of a tribute to the self-control being exercised.

The end result was that the organisers apologised for the lack of communication, the band reaffirmed their joy at being here in Brazil, and we (eventually) agreed that we would play three songs on stage rather than having a gajde piece in the round. So everyone was happy again.

Actually I left the meeting without feeling that anything had been properly resolved. The organisers' apologies had sounded somewhat hollow to me and there was a definite sense of "We've said sorry so that's all fixed" without an indication that they would act any differently next time. It was as if they were sorry that we had been upset rather than for what they had done. And my comments about the dance teaching were gently but firmly rebuffed, it was made very clear that I was the one who had made the wrong judgements despite my attempts to (as I saw it) be realistic about what had occurred. From my perspective there was nothing more that was likely to change so I held my peace, gave thanks for what had been achieved, and started my mental preparation for the afternoon workshop.

The workshop went well - by now I could roll out a well-oiled programme and concentrate on responding to questions and keeping things rolling smoothly. At least there we no more surprises to come here. Until the break, when I was told that the group I was teaching today would be doing a performance of one of the workshop dances as part of the evening's final programme. Eek! I moved things along a bit more swiftly so we had some spare time at the end of the session, organised a vote for which dance they wanted to do (luckily it was a landslide and only one recount was required), made sure that the participants knew that this was optional and that they weren't being forced to put on a performance, checked that they wanted me to dance with them, and finally ran through the dance again. Then it was just five minutes of picture taking, a quick wash & brush up, and over to the hall for the final sound check with the newly repaired sound system.