There were so many interesting people out and about at the recent Townsville Cultural Festival we had to find out more about their back stories.
Wowing the Townsville Cultural Festival audience with her awe-inspiring bellydancing moves, Jordan Galliott discovered her passion for this style of dance when looking for a way to get fit.
“When I saw a bellydancing class I nearly cried because the dancing was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Jordan says. “I moved to Townsville two years ago on a whim and the deciding factor was that there’s a fantastic bellydancing teacher here – Cara from Scimitar Moon.”
Many bellydancing classes later, Jordan now runs a performance troupe called Balladah, who do a style of dance called ‘tribal fusion’.
“In the 80s in America they came up with what’s called American tribal bellydance, which is a group improvisation style and a blend of flamenco and North African and ritualistic folk dances. Tribal fusion takes that idea and choreographs it.”
He’s only 32 years old but Townsville’s own James Loveday has already lived a colourful life as a professional actor from a young age.
“I worked with the Bell Shakespeare Company performing around Australia and was always ‘the kid’ travelling with a bunch of adults,” James says.
“Now I teach circus and run a performing arts company called Cajam and I’m the adult working with kids.”
Cajam performs at festivals, shopping centres and corporate events as well as offering classes in puppeteering, physical theatre and circus in the education curriculum.
“My specialities are double trapeze, juggling and sports acro (think balancing and flipping),” James says.
MUM & SHOP OWNER
Originally from Uganda, Judith Kemigisa has been living in Australia since 2005. She came to study (accomplishing a Masters in Social Work), met her German husband in Brisbane and moved with him to Townsville when he got a job as a contractor for the Army. The couple now have two children – son Amarii (4) and daughter Aisha (2).
“Uganda has a tropical climate like Townsville but it’s a dry heat, not a humid heat,” Judith says.
“Nature and wildlife are Uganda’s main attractions and the food!”
Ingredients to make African, Papua New Guinean and Fijian dishes are available at Judith’s shop, called Karibu Africa, on Ross River Road.
“There’s a little something for everyone with African clothes and beauty products as well,” she says.
“African culture is all about music, laughter, family and sharing. Whether I’m happy or sad I always sing and dance. That’s the African way.”
Of Hungary Romani descent, Sarah Bedak and her band Lolo Lovina were one of the stand-out stage acts at The Townsville Cultural Festival. Celebrating their heritage by playing in the style of their ancestors, Lolo Lovina had the crowd up and dancing.
“I’m in love with Rom music and passionate about educating audiences about our culture,” Sarah says. “We have a very rich culture and history. Our race has thrived despite attempted genocide and persecution from the 11th century. Apart from Jewish people, Romani people were the only other race targeted by the Nazis for elimination. Did you know that 1.5 million of our ancestors perished in concentration camps? Little is known of this.”
Another little known fact is that the term ‘Gypsy’ is actually a derogatory name for people of Hungary Romani descent and is used as a hurtful insult in Eastern Europe.
“It comes from people thinking we came from Egypt (Gypsy/Egypt… get it?) but in truth our language origins are Sanskrit-based and we’re more likely to have travelled from India,” Sarah says.
Sarah is also proudly Aussie and brings to her music all the contemporary influences of her hometown in Sydney, along with some Argentinian tango, a little metal and some swing jazz. The combination is hard to imagine but, as the delighted crowd listening to Lolo Lovina at the Townsville Cultural Festival discovered, it makes for a toe-tapping good time. Begging for an encore, the crowd was thrilled to hear that Lolo Lovina’s new album, titled RromAntics, will be released on iTunes this month (September 9).
“It’s our most mature and diverse album yet,” Sarah says. “We’re also excited about taking RromAntics on our very first European album launch tour soon. We’re heading to Berlin, Prague, Slovenia, Budapest, Novi Sad, Paracin, Sarejevo, Barcelona, Southern France and Amsterdam and everyone’s invited!”
One of the many intriguing stall holders at the Townsville Cultural Fest, Andrew and his wife had a line-up of festival-goers keen to have henna applied.
“Because I’ve trained as an artist I was able to pick up henna pretty easily,” Andrew says. “We live in Cairns and visit Townsville a few times a year for festivals.”
Andrew completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at the National Art School in Sydney, then studied privately for six years with teachers in Sydney and New York, where he lived for three years. “I’m drawn to the work of the European old masters and sought out people who knew how to do that,” Andrew says. “My work is realistic. I draw to start with then paint in oils.”
Andrew met his Indian wife in Sydney when they were both attending a meditation retreat. “She was living in Dubai at the time and I ended up going and living over there for a couple of years,” he says.
A huge fan of Rembrandt for the “depth of humanity” in his work, Andrew says that although the digital world is making a big impact on art there is an underground resurgence in traditional painting.