Tamsin is a lifelong dancer. She formally started studying dance at age 3 with RAD and ISTD ballet, tap and modern theatre, progressing through examinations and all kinds of performances until age 18, with digressions into English folk dance and morris/molly at school and in the local community. At university, morris dance was life (Yare Valley Morris). She was a member of and substitute teacher for the Contemporary Dance Society alongside ongoing ballet classes.
Who knew Germany was a hub for hula dance? Not Tamsin, until 2001 when she stumbled on a Hawaiian hula workshop at an adult education centre. Still picking up whatever dance classes were available (ballet, jazz, contact improvisation with the amazing Keriac, early European dance, contemporary), that first experience of hula kahiko and hula auana soon turned into an immersive study beyond choreography. Mainly through the occasional workshop, imported video tapes and books, Tamsin continued to explore hula and Hawaiʻi by way of its language, music and culture, particularly the art of lei making.
On her return to the UK in 2005, there were no hula teachers so she headed in the direction of bellydance with its similarly strong and supportive community. Although she started with raqs sharqi, locally and travelling to workshops and festivals with national and international experts, Tamsin’s broad dance experience and musical geekery nudged her in the direction of fusion bellydance, and dark/gothic bellydance in particular.
She is still in love with all things dum-tek and ran her own troupe (Black Lotus Fusion), and has represented Hawaiian hula at JWAAD’s Fantasia bellydance festival, Arabesque Nights, and more informal events such as Ahnémon’s hafla.
In late 2005, she missed hula too much and formed Hawaiian Hula UK to start teaching and performing around the UK and Europe. She has entertained at international corporate events, including for the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority in Europe. Offering both workshops and regular hula classes, she has danced with and taught hula to KS1/KS2 primary school pupils, Girl Guides, at school summer fairs and after-school groups, senior care facilities, local community events and charity fundraisers, and a diverse array of tropical- and Hawaiʻi-themed private parties and shows.
Tamsin’s hula learning has been primarily with or adjacent to Kumu Rich Pedrina of Hālau Hula O Nāpunaheleonāpua since 2006, with a brief but wonderful period dancing in a hālau in Munich affiliated with Kumu Nalani Keale. Workshops with Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole, Kumu Mark Hoʻomalu, Kumu Kaulu Amaral, Kuana Torres and other generous experts provide additional inspiration and guidance as she continues along this hula journey.
To keep up her own training, Tamsin travels frequently to mainland Europe to study with visiting kumu hula and their affiliated groups. She is proud to be part of a small but growing community of teachers and students in Europe under Kumu Rich Pedrina, and very much hopes to visit Hawaiʻi in the near future. In 2019, Tamsin was honoured to host Kumu’s first ever workshop in London and is excited for his next visit to Europe in 2020/21.
When COVID-19 struck, Hawaiian Hula UK moved online, offering a mix of free and pay-as-you-go open practice sessions and full hula classes for new and existing students. Workshops, classes and private lessons will continue in a hybrid format of in-person and online learning for the foreseeable future.
Tamsin is forever grateful to the kumu, teachers, dancers, hula sisters and brothers and students who have shared their hula, manaʻo, moʻolelo, time, support and love. Me ka mahalo piha