Sunday 19 September 2010 – Clogging at Floriade

Before Floriade, I had breakfast at the Rex with Fiona, and we spent the morning at the National Arboretum.

One of the views from the National Arboretum, Canberra

Looking towards Woden

Larger version of this panorama (and subsequent photos) are in my photostream on Flickr.

“The overall goal for the development of the National Arboretum Canberra is to create a place of breathtaking beauty, of international renown and enduring public interest that welcomes locals and visitors alike.”

National Arboretum website

I’d heard from my swimming mate, Sue, that the Arboretum was to be open on Sundays throughout Floriade. Doug, her husband, is a member of Friends of the National Arboretum Canberra and would be acting as a guide on bus tours leaving from Floriade. At first I thought Fiona and I would go on a bus tour, but the timing didn’t fit with my appointment at the Floriade Community Stage. Doug issued me with a booklet and assured me that we could drive in and do our own tour, so that’s what we did.

Civic from the National Arboretum, Canberra

Civic from the National Arboretum, Canberra

The enthusiastic volunteers from the Friends were well in evidence. This land used to hold a pine forest, but it was destroyed by the 2001 and 2003 Canberra bushfires. The local government’s decision to use the land for an arboretum was part of the bushfire recovery program. It seems to me a generous choice to become a volunteer in this endeavour, planting trees so that people in 50 years’ time will have a beautiful place to go.

View of Parliament House from the National Arboretum, Canberra

View of Parliament House from the National Arboretum, Canberra

Any non-utilitarian spending in Canberra is controversial – see views expressed on The Riot ACT – but there can never be agreement about such things. Fiona and I were impressed by the layout and concept and wished we’d be around to see the Arboretum in its maturity. Meanwhile, we were very taken with the views.

View towards Russell from the National Arboretum, Canberra

View towards Russell from the National Arboretum, Canberra

All the photos I took are in my Canberra Arboretum 2010 set on Flickr. In the one above, you can see the orange loop of the National Museum (slightly off-centre left), cranes along Constitution Avenue (further left), Russell Offices with the American War Memorial (middle, above the lake) and the National Library (to the right of and down from Russell Offices).

Wide Brown Land sculpture, with Black Mountain Tower

Wide Brown Land sculpture, with Black Mountain Tower

The Wide Brown Land sculpture is (like all public art in Canberra) controversial. I think it’s great. As I’m driving along the Tuggeranong Parkway, suffering awful Canberra drivers, it lifts my heart. O’course when the trees grow, it won’t be visible from the road – all the more reason to visit the Arboretum.

Panoramic (back) view of the Wide Brown Land sculpture

Panoramic (back) view of the Wide Brown Land sculpture

Time was getting away so we left the Arboretum (after a word to Doug, who was by that time on the gate) and made our way to the bunfight that was Floriade parking. I had my disabled sticker and a Floriade pass, but the special parking area was completely full. As we drove round it, other cars came in behind us and took any spaces that opened up. After about 20 minutes of that, Fiona said I should set off for the Community Stage. She’d keep looking for a parking spot and when she found one, she’d bring all my stuff – my waistcoat on its hanger, my tapshoes and shoehorn in their bag.

It turned out to be almost impossible for me to make my way through the crowds. If I’d had to carry my stuff, I don’t know how I would have managed. Floriade is always teeming with people taking photos of their friends/family, and it’s difficult to get past them, but on Sunday it was so crowded that hardly anyone was moving. It was awful!

By the time I reached the stage and found the other cloggers (and saw the bellydancers) considerable time had passed. I decided I needed a drink and staggered off to queue for a bottle of water. Fiona turned up as I was going back to the stage, where a wind band was playing. Looking up the PDF which I downloaded from the Floriade website (and which seems to have been the only publicity given to community performances) I learn that it was the Weston Winds.

I also learn from the PDF that the stage I’ve been referring to as the community stage is in fact the carnival stage. I’m sure in the past there’s at least been a running sheet out the front of the stage where community performances took place. Not this time! In the absence of publicity, the audience was likely to be limited to friends and family of the performers. In a way, that helped to make me feel less nervous about dancing. I’d practiced my one and only dance quite hard, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t stuff it up.

There are agreed hand movements to go with many clogging steps, and Louise had asked us particularly to add them. When the audience is on a flat surface, as at the carnival stage, most of them can’t see your feet. Well, I tried – and, at the final rehearsal, I gave up. My clogging is still at the stage where my feet stop if I try to do anything with my hands.

The time came to assemble out the back with our shoes and costumes on. The band seemed to go on well past the appointed time, and backstage nerves were running rampant. Finally the Silver Soles Cloggers began their performance. The four of us too chicken to dance anything fast were in the third item. The other three had been telling me for weeks, “We’re only doing this for you, Val,” so I trust they and the club are suitably grateful now that it’s over!

Me clogging at Floriade

Me clogging at Floriade

As well as flying down, driving me about, parking my car, and carrying all my stuff, Fiona took these pictures of me, and of the waistcoat that has occupied many of my waking hours for the past two months. Sewing is not my forte, let alone embroidery and ornamentation, and there was a lot of area to cover. The appliqué on the back was only achieved with the help of fabric glue, followed by repeated applications of WD-40 to stop the fabric glue from clogging up the sewing machine needle. When I proudly took my completed waistcoat to clogging last week, Louise said “You’ll be able to add to that!” Hmmm.

Fiona’s comment on taking these pictures: “It was hard. You moved!” I was glad to hear it. Also glad she didn’t get a picture of me tripping after I caught my right front tap in one of the multitude of cables taped to the stage. I was airborne for what seemed like quite a while. Thank goodness I didn’t actually fall. Louise says my balance must be improving.

My swimming mate Sue was there as well, beaming from the back of the audience and almost dancing along. I beamed back. Neither member of my claque noticed my trip. I’ve only just stopped feeling it, though. :-/

All of us stuffed up the ending. Louise had been telling us for weeks what we had to do, but not one of us took it in: we were supposed to get back on stage before the end of the last item so that we could take a bow during the music. We went up after the item was finished, and were unceremoniously bundled off. A pity to end a good performance with a less-than-polished exit.

Afterwards Sue, Fiona and I had afternoon tea with friends from my clogging class, then fought our way out of Floriade. It was still so crowded we decided there was no point in attempting to look at the flowers. Perhaps Fiona and I will be able to go back early in the day when she’s passing through Canberra at the end of next week. This will depend however on whether we can persuade Daniel (8) to attend. Last time he was at Floriade, when he was 5, he was asked which flowers he liked. His reply was “I hate them all!”

It’s always hard to say goodbye to my sister. I saw her off on the 7pm flight, feeling a little less desolated than usual as I’d see her again in under a fortnight.

No weekend walk, but plenty of walking. This (long) weekend, I hope Dac and I will do the Gordon walk, which goes around the Point Hut Pond.

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One Response to Sunday 19 September 2010 – Clogging at Floriade

  1. albertine says:

    thank you. Now I have a really good picture of what was going on. Ahh – five year olds – that never-to-be-reclaimed honesty.

    And I really like the arboretum entry as well.

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