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Ross-Shire Journal, 9th February 2007
 
Greenland girl has whale of a time
Tanyella brings dance delight to Greenland.

Greenland girl has whale of a time
 
INHABITANTS of a small village in the south of Greenland are taking to the dance floor to show off their Highland fling and salsa moves — all thanks to a Black Isle student.
    In return for her efforts,19-year-old Tanyella Allison was treated to the culinary delights of seal meat and got to experience life in icy conditions of -20C, temperatures for which not even being brought up in the Highlands could prepare her.
    The former Fortrose Academy student has just returned from a month spent in the south Greenland village of Qaqortoa, where she found herself in the unusual position of teaching the local indigenous population everything from traditional Scottish country dancing to the hip-swivelling action of Salsa.
    However, it was Tanyella herself who was to face the biggest surprise on arriving in the village of 3,000 people.
    "The first day I arrived some local girls had worked out an amazing hip hop routine which completely took me aback." she recalled.
    "It immediately changed all the preconceptions that I had of thinking I was going to a small village where they would never even have heard modern salsa music, let alone hip hop." she recalled.
    Indeed the Inuit population proved some of her best students ever, putting the self-conscious Scots to shame.
    "Greenlanders are very open and have a great sense of rhythm. I was quite amazed they were even better students that some of those I have in Scotland." she said.
    "They picked it up really quickly, partly because they are very free people and aren't held back by the self-consciousness people in Scotland tend to suffer from."
    As the daughter of Cromarty dance teacher Jermaine McCracken, she is no stranger to taking the lead in classes.
    The opportunity to take some Latin spice and Scottish jig to Greenland came through a friendship struck with a native Greenlander she met while undertaking a scholarship in the Canada.
    During her visit she held a dance school five days a week for schoolchildren and taught the adults salsa.
    After acclimatising to the chilly conditions, her next challenge came from the obvious language barrier, but there was no need for crash courses in Greenlandic or Danish, for they found a language they all had in common.
    "At first it was quite difficult to communicate with the kids but as time progressed it didn't really matter," she explained. "Dance is like an international language and for most of the time I would start to move and they would simply join in."
    "All communication was physical and I managed to interact with them without talking — it was an incredible experience."
Tanyella Allison (back row) joins some of her Greenlandic dance pupils as they proudly show off their home-made diplomas following a commuinity performance
    Fortunately for Tanyella she isn't a vegetarian, or her month in the meat-eating country could have been quite a different experience — but even she drew the line at sampling whale meal.
    She explained. "They eat a lot of meat straight off the bone.
    "Seal is probably the weirdest thing I tried — the blubber was horrible.
    "They also eat whale but this is taken raw and to be honest I didn't fancy trying that. I also learned to chew really well, as sometimes you would come across the pellets used by the hunter to kill the animal."
    Back at Cambridge University and her studies in Social and Political Sciences, things move at a much faster pace than she became accustomed to in Greenland and thoughts of her time there have already led her to think about a return visit in the summer.
    "The Atmosphere is fantastic, it’s such a peaceful and calming place, I miss it every day and am thinking about going back in the summer.
    Closer to home, Tanyella's mum Jermaine is doing her bit to inject some rhythm into the lives of Ross-shire folks. Over the next couple of months she will be going into primary and secondary schools offering sessions to pupils and plans two day teacher training initiative to help teachers get into rhythm.
    She also holds a class in Ardross on a Tuesday and other regular lessons.
    For more on classes see www.salsanorth.co.uk
 
By Shirley Hastings
 
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