Roxane and the hand of hamsa 
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to  dancers and dance lovers everywhere!
We are very honoured and thrilled to welcome Miss Bellydance UK 2013, Roxane Grant, (here on the left) to chat with us. This wonderfully expressive dancer will be telling us what she's been doing since winning her title, giving her opinion on bellydance competitions and  sharing the story behind her tattoo!  

Also, we wish to invite you to our exciting Open House Event. Alongside Zara's Zouk stock there will be many professional costumes from Cairo dancer, Farah Nasri, for you to peruse and bag a bargain! 

There's also a jewellery feature and more, so please sit back and enjoy!!
An Interview with Roxane Grant
(Miss Bellydance UK 2013)      

by Zara Dance
Welcome Roxane!
Thank you so much for coming and talking to us today. 

It's been quite a time since those heady days when we were both competing in Bellydance Trophies. Good memories! So, naturally, I'd like to start by asking you about bellydance competitions. Do you think you would recommend a dancer to enter a Bellydance competition? What do you see as the positives of the experience and what are some of the negatives?

Hello! Thanks for having me.
In my personal experience, for me competitions were essential to my growth as a dancer. They are a really good way of getting feedback and having a reality check about your level as a dancer. Competitions also make you focus on strengthening areas where you’re not as strong and you learn new things.

When you perform at a hafla, everyone tells you that your performance was wonderful but at a competition, a judge will give you detailed feedback which is like holding up a mirror to your dancing. I started my dance journey with Kaledioscope of Stars (5th place), Bellydance Trophies (3rd place) and Miss Bellydance UK 2013 (1st place). I’ve been told by other dancers that I am like a completely different dancer if one compares my dance styles before and after Bellydance Trophies. The Trophies was good because we were forced to learn different dance styles and improvise to live music. This was also the criteria of Miss Bellydance UK as we had to improvise but we couldn’t be sure of how the Baladi Blues Band would play the music. Competitions force you to up your game.
The negative aspects are that it can be difficult to accept constructive feedback about your dancing. Competitions are stressful environments and stress is contagious which can affect your dancing. When I first started entering competitions, I was told by a lot of people that I wouldn’t do very well because of my size. Obviously those people are now quiet but it really hurt at the time and dented my confidence.

Oh Roxane, thanks for sharing your experiences and how sad that you were subjected to such hurt. Even more kudos to you for winning!
So, do tell, what have you been doing since winning your title?

I’ve been having lots of fun performing around the UK either in haflas, festivals or theatre productions. I’ve also performed abroad and recently have been invited to perform at  Bellyfusions Gala Show in Assisi, Italy which I’m looking forward to. Randa Kamel and Tito are the headline stars.

Oh WOW! how exciting!!

Yes, and this month I am dancing at the Jewel of Yorkshsire Fetival.
I’m also a member of Melanie Norman’s Arab Quarterly Dance Group which is great. Everyone is really lovely and I’m learning a lot about modern oriental.  I also wanted the challenge of performing group choreographies because I am so used to improvising solo.

I’ve also taught a few workshops and have an exciting announcement next year that I can’t wait to share.
Ooohh! an announcement, how exciting!  Please keep us in the loop!!
Stories about dance journeys are so inspiring - thanks for sharing yours with us. I love your earthy Baladi style. Also, I will FOREVER remember your wonderful Baba Karam dance (Click here for a peek). That was a surprise! Do you have a favourite dance style?

I absolutely love baladi. It’s the style that I first trained in under the tuition of my first teacher, Baladi Queen, Anne White.  I love the way that baladi can be anything that you want it to be – it can be cheeky, fun, serious, fast or slow. My family are Jamaican so I grew up listening and dancing to reggae. There is something about how one moves to baladi that resonates with how I dance to reggae. Though lately I’ve been really getting into Shaabi and have been exploring  Mahraganat.
Baladi Improvisation - enjoy the video!
 Ahhh, styles close to my heart too! As well as dancing, we often see you taking photos at haflas and Bellydance shows. Tell us how this came about.

Photography is the other great passion in my life. I first got involved with photography back in 2006 when I put on a joint exhibition in Kensington with a friend. It was about images I took in the Galapagos Islands. My art photography has been shown in group exhibitions across the UK and a couple of group exhibitions in the States. I’ve also been featured as a semi-finalist on the BBC art reality TV programme, Show Me The Monet and I was also selected by Samsung to be the social media photographer for the UK launch of the laptop, Series 9.

I can’t remember exactly how I started photographing dance events but a couple of years ago I wanted to get experience of photographing movement. Sarah Malik kindly allowed me to bring my camera to Arabic Night and I’ve been photographing it since!  I have also been asked to photograph competitions and theatre shows.

Outside of dancing, I’ve been focusing on fashion photography as a way of exploring artistic photography and am trying to think of ways to combine dance with photography. My website is

That's amazing! Your love of art also shows itself in your amazing tattoo. I love it!  Is this your only tattoo?

Thank you! Yes it’s my only tattoo. I’ve always wanted a tattoo and it took me a long while to decide on which one to get. I am currently playing with the idea of having the hamsa hand in reversed position on my other arm.
What a great idea!
How did you come to choose this symbol? Is there a story behind it?

A few years ago I was having a difficult time with some challenges and wanted to do something to celebrate how I had overcome them.
 I ignored the naysayers who told me that I wouldn’t do well in competitions and worked hard to win Miss Bellydance UK 2013. I was also going through a difficult time at work with a colleague and managed to swap to a great job within the same company, working with photography.
That year, you Zara, gave me a lovely Christmas card with a cute hamsa hand bracelet. This bracelet inspired me to get my tattoo which I’ve loosely based on the bracelet design.
The hamsa has two main meanings depending on its positioning. Hands up, the hamsa symbolises protection and warding off evil. Hands down, it means to accept good luck and blessings. I decided to get it on my wrist so that as I am moving my arm, the tattoo will constantly either be up or down. I thought it would be a good symbol of how things turned the better for me.

Roxane, that's such a lovely story and it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our Zameena readers? 

Thank you! Yes, from my experience, I'd just like to say:  
  •  Always dance for yourself.
  • Never let anyone’s negativity affect you.
  • If you have a dance goal and you don’t achieve it at your first attempt, don’t give up and keep on trying.
  • Crucially, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. :)

It's been fun chatting - thank you!
Thank you Roxane and good luck in all your future endeavours!

You can see Roxane dance in the Showcase at JoY Festival 

You can follow her on Facebook  or  Twitter

And check out her webpage too!
Zara's Zouk

Zara's Zouk is having an event you cannot miss: You are invited by me (Zara) and mum (Sandra) to our home in London, We are opening the doors to you all as an opportunity to come, catch up, network and browse our stock. We will also have costumes from Farah Nasri in Cairo which she is selling. Don't miss this opportunity to grab a bargain!  
October 8th - October 9th 2016
62 Belgrave Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 8QE

Open House for browsing Farah's fab costumes and Zara's Zouk goodies:
Sat 8th and Sun 9th   11 am - Midnight

Other times by appointment: 0785 402 3948

Shopping - Networking - Socialising -  Food & Drink
and lots of Arabic music for you to boogie to....

Parking is free after 6.30 pm and all day Sunday
Tube & National Rail to Walthamstow Central

Hope to see you there!!
Click here for more infomation

The Hamsa Hand

Read about this ancient symbol and check out the beautiful examples of this wonderful amulet available at Zara's Zouk 

From the earliest prehistoric rock and cave paintings, to today's art and jewellery we continue to find the hand an alluring image which has become a universally shared talisman for protection and well-being.

The hand image can be traced throughout history and is associated with the female, the five senses and the five elements. It can symbolise the hand of God and is also believed to bring its wearer good fortune and happiness.  It is often called the Hamsa or Hamza Hand because Hamsa is  Arabic for the number five. 
It has links to:
the goddesses Tanit and Ishtar.
Venus and Aphrodite. 
the hasta mudras (Hinduism, Buddhism, Indian religions)

It can be called:
The Hand of Mary (Christian)
The Hand of Miriam (Jewish)
The Hand of Fatima (Muslim)

Hamsa Necklaces From £7.50 
The hand motif can be naturalistic. It can be very compact in shape with all digits the same length or there can be one thumb sticking out.  It can be stylised as five squares variously joined together. There can be a central circle surrounded by four equally placed circles. It can also be portrayed as a hand with two symmetrical "thumbs" and can be worn, or hung as decoration either way up. Roxane, see above, gave a great explanation on up/down positioning.
Hamsa Earings From Only £4.99
(Shhhh - bargain price  - grab a pair - great for you and as  a gift)
Some use the palm area for religious texts or symbols. Others fill the space with the evil eye, giving extra protection. Sometimes the palm has exquisite designs or it can be left quite plain. 

However it looks, it continues to reach into our collective psyche and proves to be a popular motif for our adornment.  
So, if you are looking for a protective amulet we invite you to take a look at our Hamsa jewellery:    
Necklaces   -   Earrings   -   Rings
Two events you can't miss...  we'll be there with the Zara's Zouk Stall: 
Sunday 2nd October

Live Music
Fab Dancers

Please come and meet us all

at Hoxton Hall, London N1

The Arab Quarterly!

Saturday 15 October

Lampeter World Dance Festival Show
with Katie Holland (Last month's interview with Katie's here)

Victoria Hall, Lampeter
Hope to see you there!

We hope you enjoyed October's Zameena and that we'll see some of you at our Open House event or out and about with the souk.  
Till then we wish you lots of wonderful dancing!
Yours with shimmies
Zara and Sandra

Copyright © 2016 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.

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