Aladdin- the story told through bellydance DISPLAY IMAGES
Welcome to Zameena!
This month we are talking to Delia 'Delilah' Lewis, the director and founder of Aladdin - The Classic Tale Told Through Dance which will be touring the country in May and June. This show tells the famous story through belly dance - oriental, tribal, fusion you name it - it's in there!

We also have some great announcements of a new website
and point out some goodies to check out from 
Workshops to attend with Zara Dance and a little about what happened at JoY - so please - enjoy!!
(It's full of pics so you may need to click at the end to view its entirety.) 
x Zara & Sandra x 

Delilah Dance producer and director of AladdinAladdin

The Classical Tale Told Through Dance....
by Director Delia 'Delilah' Lewis


Put a group of award winning and international performers in a production of the classic tale of ALADDIN; let them choreograph and what do you get? 

A super, exciting show like no other!

The idea: I had the idea swirling around for about three years. I wanted to create something that was beneficial for the dancer and audience. Something that allowed a dancer to showcase themselves while the audience could appreciate their individuality and connect to them. I was inspired by a documentary called The Axe Fight – an anthropological classic. It shows a fight that in the Amazon forest, in its raw format, is undecipherable, and then shows two alternative edited versions that explain what is going on. In a way, I think the general western public don't always understand the performance format of Bellydance and therefore makes it difficult for them to fully appreciate the performer on stage. UK audiences understand characters and stories and so I wanted to put belly dance in a well known story so that the audience don't have to think about what is going on. Therefore they could fully connect to the beautiful performer on stage.

So far so good, many people are intrigued by how belly dancers can perform Aladdin. Those on the team have been pleasantly surprised and impressed by the show's flow and how entertaining it is. We have as many belly dancers as we do non dancers buying tickets for the show and we even have guests from Denmark coming to see it.

tevec the sorcerer's assistant

Picking the Cast: I wanted to be as objective as possible when choosing the cast, which is why I auditioned dancers. As a performer myself, I know how easy it is for people to make an assumption of your abilities based on anything but your dancing. I wanted a fair process and to find lesser known talent.

It was a double-blind audition for the panel and the performers. I had a panel of dancers and non dancers and the dancers who auditioned did not know about this. The panel were not informed who was auditioning and weren't even prepared in advance with what the audition method was and were only confirmed they were coming the day before. No one could over prepare!

One of the criteria was to perform a piece of music they chose one the day and had only 20 minutes to prepare for. Dancers were really put on the spot for this. You can find out a lot from this process. We're not looking at technique at this point, but a dancer's capacity to perform and the audience to feel something from them. It needs a different mindset entirely and 20 minutes was sufficient time to see someone's potential!

Most notably, and a surprise to the whole panel was: Darkstar blowing all the men out of the water! We had 5 guys audition, but none of them were a patch on Darkstar (a female tribal fusion dancer). One of our panel noted that she had  to remind herself for a moment that Aladdin was being played by a woman.

As a result Aladdin - The Classical Tale Told Through Dance has an esteemed cast of professional performers and rising stars. And is an all empowering female cast..... 

The Cast:
>The rough round the edges Aladdin - played by Darkstar
>The inherently evil Sorcerer - played by Sofeya
>The playful Genie - played by Miss Bellydance UK: Roxane.
>The sweet yet slightly rebellious Princess - played by Rosy.
>The sorcerer's assistant - Tevec
>The memorising keeper of the lamp - played by Demelza
>The stern and concerned princess's sister- played by Laura 
>And the caring yet regal Sultana - played by Kassandra 

Innovative Format:
The show uses a format inspired by the book Performance Mastery by Delia, the director (available at Zara's Zouk).

The main cast take creative control of themselves throughout the show. That is everything from the choreography and music, costume design and character and even directing others in their scenes. It's their own creation. On top of this they have the rather unusual task of thinking multi-dimensionally.

When choreographing they must create a routine that showcases themselves as individuals, as well as the character and their emotions in line with the context of the story AND interact with other characters. Not something that can be blagged! All of the cast have done exceptionally well working with this highly unusual and innovative format.Some were not sure how it was going to work without one main vision or style. But the rehearsals have proved that the format not only works, but is very dynamic. The characters come to life and the audience is taken on a journey.

Trying something new: Every member of the team is trying something new. The main cast have challenged themselves with learning and doing things that they may not usually do in a normal showcase/hafla. 

In addition, the fabulous group performers (affectionately known as the muses and minions) have had to master new things as well. It has been interesting for the group to learn and perform multiple styles of belly dance including props, tribal, oriental and shaabi. Three of the group performers are from the the Darkettes (Michelle, Renja and Brenny), while Catherine Taylor is a Umata certified instructor, Roni is an ATS performer and Maria is a multi-style oriental performer. They are a fantastically diverse bunch who have bonded and work together magically. The majority of their routines are choreographed by Zara who has a strong Egyptian foundation. They have shown that no matter what your main style is, your skills will transfer and look equally beautiful.

back stage

The Finale Piece Of The Show:

Zara, as group choreographer and in many ways an assistant director to the Aladdin Team has helped out with some of the cast's individual pieces just to bring out the best in their choreographies but NEVER choreographing for them. She has also choreographed several of the amazing group scenes, which add a burst of energy to an already high standard show. She is fast becoming well known for her choreographic skills teaching this nationally!

What show would be complete without a finale piece? Zara and I have devised an exciting fight scene to end. We are using a niche Japanese orchestral piece from the nineties (oh yes, the show's music is certainly varied). This is my only personal stamp in the whole show, a song that says something about me. It is very exciting and there is nothing like it around!

My top tips from the director's chair:

  1. Dance and performance should never be one dimensional

  2. Pick Music to suit you

  3. Don't take yourself too seriously

  4. Step out of your comfort zone

1) Dance and performance should never be one dimensional

One of the things I wanted to highlight for the cast is to think multi-dimensionally. Don't just think does this look good!! What are you trying to achieve with this performance? What are you trying to communicate? How does this performance help with your dance goals? What does my audience like? Etc etc....

Dance does not happen for the sake of dance unless it's in your bedroom and Kate Bush happens to come on the radio! And even then it has a purpose (fulfill childhood 80's dream).

2) Pick Music to suit you

Pick music that enhances you as a performer. You don't need to dance to the new most popular hit just because everyone else is dancing to it. Dance is not about fashion. I always recommend picking music that supports you! 

In this show there are some music choices, such as Demelza's  that are unusual in a bellydance setting but perfect for the performer and the particular scene.

Performers such as Roxane and Laura have chosen songs that are tricky to dance to and have worked with them exceptionally well.

3) Don't take yourself too seriously

Sometimes we obstruct our development as performers because we don't want to make a fool of ourselves. Then the very thing we were trying to prevent becomes a reality because we don't step out of our shell. Most people who have seen me before know that I look like I'm having a good time... because I really am! I don't take myself too seriously not to try something unusual and out of the box if I feel my audience will enjoy. Darkstar is performing as a male character, while Tevec's character flows between crafty and ditzy and you can't take yourself too seriously if you want to perform those roles well!

Who doesn't want to see a bellydancer do Bohemian Rhapsody? Or the Robot? Or dance as a Wookie monster? Or burst out of a box! Sometimes the crazy stuff.


4) Step out of you comfort zone 

Remember how uncomfortable or awkward it was when you first began learning belly dance? When those hips wouldn't isolate for love nor money!  In fact, just about anything you've tried to learn chances are you didn't fly out the womb a master. Including eating party rings at break neck speed!

If you want to excel at anything you have to step out of your comfort zone periodically.  That is the only way you're going to excel as a dancer or human being, period. Sticking with what you know means you will stagnate and in the meantime you'll watch other dancers keep growing and excelling.  You may even wonder how they got so good; how they got so lucky and who they know. When really the dancer probably invested in themselves by pushing themselves and stepping outside their comfort zone.  

Performing in this show has made the cast step out of their comfort zone. And although it hasn't been comfortable both physically and mentally, it has benefited both the cast and myself as a director to really see what we are capable of and what we can improve.

How can you step out your comfort zone?
Perform at a new venue, city or even country. If you're a soloist try working with a group; learn another style within belly dance or outside belly dance; perform to music that you wouldn't normally dance to; if you choreograph yourself let someone else look at or choreograph something for you and if you don't choreograph try it out! 

These are just a few tips that I feel will be useful for dancers that I have learnt while directing this fantastic show.

From the cast of Aladdin and the director's chair I look forward to entertaining you at Aladdin - The Classical Tale Told Through Dance ... But hurry as the tickets are selling fast!  Dates below:
The queen
KENT: Saturday 24th May at Westerham Hall, Quebec Avenue TN16 1BG. Doors 6pm Show 7 - 9pm including interval

OXFORD: Sunday 25th May at the Old Fire Station, 40 George St, OX1 2AQ Doors: 5.30pm  6 - 8pm including interval

MANCHESTER:  Saturday 31st May at Edge Theatre, Manchester Road, M21 9JG. Doors 7pm Show 7.30 - 9.30pm

LONDON: Sunday 1st June at the Cockpit, Gateforth St, NW8 8EH. Doors: 5.30 pm Show 6pm - 8pm, including interval (HALF SOLD ALREADY)
Book Your Tickets for Aladdin (Only £15)
We, at Zara's Zouk, are delighted to be supporting this exciting show! The Zara's Zouk Stall will be at each event ! 
zara's zouk logo
for our newsreaders
Buy ANY of our Kuchi items and get a KUCHI PENDANT FREE!!!! 

Go to our Tribal section and buy any item with "Kuchi" in the title and we will pop a Kuchi pendant in with the order - for the duration of April.  Shhhhh!!! We are only telling you lucky newsletter readers about this fantastic offer so get in there and treat yourself to some KUCHI LOVE!! 
Announcement: New Website for Zara Dance
Since its launch the Zara's Zouk website has been fast growing in popularity as a great belly dance shop. It has also become known for its articles and also where to find out what  (I am)  Zara Dance is up to. Now as we are growing, we are splitting the Shop and Zara Dance into two websites. Zara's Zouk will continue to be an online belly dance shop - making it easier for your to find belly dance bargains and treasures fast and stress free. The new Zara Dance website will make it easier for you to find out about workshops and also to book Zara for events, private classes and coaching session
So check out the new website: 
and do send feedback - I would love to know what you think....  
Workshops with Zara Dance in Oxford on the 3rd of May
The Zara's Zouk Stall will also be there! 

For details and how to book click here
A Fantastic Weekend at
The Jewel Of Yorkshire Festival
Phew what a whirlwind of a weekend! WERE YOU AT JOY? (4th - 6th April 2014) If you didn't come you missed out on a fantastic weekend packed full of  brilliant dancers from around the globe (over 49 workshops ran over the weekend). 

The atmosphere was fantastic - so welcoming and relaxed. 
Want to know more about what happened over the weekend? ... Then click here and have a read of my JoY Blog

A big thank you to Mandy and Chris for organizing the event. Also, thank you to Sarah for catching some great shots of me performing in the show! 

The next JoY festival is in October.  It's their 10th Birthday and Dandash from Cairo will be there, book now - I know I am :D 
Have a read of Zara Dance's Blog about what went on at JoY
Feedback from one of the workshops I taught at JoY:
"Hi Zara, I just wanted to say your 'Inner Egyptian' workshop was wonderful. After 7 years of dancing I have never felt so inspired. Your workshop was exactly what I needed to fall in love with the dance all over again. I wish I had booked on more classes of yours now! I hope to have another workshop with you in the future xxxx" - Sofire
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