In 2009 I jumped into the deep without knowing if I could stay afloat (let alone swim). I quit my job and steady income as a primary school teacher and became self employed in what I then loved to do most: Music and Theatre with children. I established my business at the Chamber of Commerce, had my business cards printed with a logo designed by one of my sons, had a website made by this same son, found an accountant office to help me organize my administration and tax returns and yes, off I went, Yemanja was a fact!
In the years of working Yemanja both in the Netherlands and in Greece, I had tons of experiences, worked with many many children, lived loads of beautiful happenings, took new roads and turns, and yes, also had my share of disappointments, difficulties and worries.
I like to tell you about some of my experiences, because some stand out as colorful tokens of my life. You can read this story as my portfolio.
SINGING AND MAKING MUSIC
The first thing that comes to mind for me to do with a group of people as an icebreaker or energizer or introduction is to sing a song together or make some music together. Such a powerful tool! I cannot imagine my life without it anymore. But during a long time I went through life without it.
PLAYING AND MAKING UP YOUR OWN PLAY, STORYTELLING
Which child doesn’t like to dress up? To play a role, wear silly hats, practice different walks and talks? But playing theatre is more than that. In drama games and exercises children learn so much about themselves! How behavior, gesture, posture, use of your voice define oneself. How you can practice expressing your emotions and observe what happens within others. How through roleplaying you can experiment and start to understand more about relationships. But first of all how much fun it is to play and act!
THEATRE PRODUCTIONS AND PROJECTS
From small plays and productions I got interested in bigger productions. The special dynamics of making one performance in which a whole school takes part are especially challenging but I love it!
I used to work as a Music and Drama teacher at a Montessori school in Almere (2009-2015) where once a year we would make a big production where all children could play a part. The actual performance was in the local theatre hired for the day.
WORKING WITH THREADS AND FIBERS
When I was a child we still learned ‘handicraft’ in primary school. The boys learned to hammer and saw and skills associated with men, and the girls learned to knit, crochet, embroider and stitch. I loved it (although I also would have loved to learn the things the boys did) and I was very good at it. I was allowed to help the teacher help the other girls whenever they lost a stitch or didn’t know how to proceed. I made cloths for my dolls and as I grew bigger, knitted my own sweaters and shawls. During my years on Kefalonia, before I had my children, I even had my own knitting-business in the basement of granny’s house. Then, as I had my children, I stopped doing yarn-and stitchcraft. Only to rediscover it in 2012.
SUMMER ART SCHOOL ON KEFALONIA
In July and August of 2011-2015 I initiated a kind of Summer Art School in cooperation with two cultural societies for the children of Fiskardo and the villages around, on Kefalonia.
Every week had a different theme, around which activities took place: stories, music, singing, drawing, painting, working with clay, paper, wood, shells, wool, cloth, games. Once we had a pirates’ treasure hunt in the forest near the village. A painting workshop from a local artist. A mosaic workshop from another local artist. Oh we did many things and had lots of fun!
INSPIRATIE INC, MY FAMILY
In a sense I found my family in my work with the community of Inspiratie Inc.
Inspiratie Inc is an Almere-based foundation working mainly with refugees and migrants from all over the world, offering a hand with problems of all sort but first of all a place where everybody is appreciated for the talents he/she brings and humanity counts above all.
In 2015, when Europe was trying to cope with so many people driven away from their homes and lives by war and devastation, I was asking myself what I could do.
POMPOSO IN DE POLDER
It just happened one day: I was assigned to a project at a school with two other musicians- teachers. We designed the project along our respective skills. Our skills were many but most important of all: we had so much fun working together! Without planning all details we just knew who was going to do what and when, also on stage, and that without nerves or tempers. So we decided to get into a serious cooperation together. “Pomposo in de Polder” was born!
COUNTLESS LESSONS AND WORKSHOPS
In these period of 2009-2018 I gave countless lessons and workshops on countless schools in countless classes with so many children. I was hired by different organizations and schools, like the ‘Zoete Inval’ in Amsterdam, the ‘Kunstlinie’ and later ‘Kleur in Cultuur’ and ‘Collage’ in Almere, by ‘Muziekcentrum ZuidOost’ in Amsterdam and many smaller foundations and organizations.