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 news from Cairo and more 
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Get into the swing of things this May

Welcome to our May edition. We have plenty of fun things to get you back into the swing of bellydance so dust off the cobwebs and
shimmy your way into summer! 

 

Our resident writer, Sophia, (in pic above) talks about what we can do when we hit a plateau in our dance. It's an inspirational and encouraging read, peppered with Sophia's personal anecdotes and experiences, which we can so relate to! .

Also, we look at some Zara's Zouk goodies which will make you want to shimmy and shake plus news from Cairo and the fun events you can find us at. So, please sit back and enjoy!

An Abundance of Assuit!
This beautiful, hand crafted fabric, made to a method dating back to Pharaonic times, is prized by dancers of all styles.

We are happy to offer: Assuit Coin Belts, Assuit Quieter Belts,  Assuit Panel Skirts  and an Assuit Dress
We invite you to take a peek!
Getting unstuck and back to your fabulous bellydance self:

what to do when you hit a
plateau


By Sophia Furber

Do you remember how great it felt when you first started bellydancing? If you are anything like me, you might have fallen in love with the graceful movements, felt empowered by moving your body in a way that felt freeing and natural when compared with Western forms of dance like ballet, and become addicted to Turkish and Egyptian pop music. In short, bellydance was love at first meeting, and I went about life with a glow in my cheeks and a bit of a swagger in my step in the early days.
 
But the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever – at least not in my case! 
There may be a time when the steep learning curve you experience in the beginning turns into a plateau.

Or when your body and mind simply aren’t connecting in the way you want them to. 
Perhaps you have a discouraging performance experience. Or sickness, work stress or family responsibilities derail your practice and create a space for that niggling self-doubt to creep in.
Whatever the reason, many bellydancers, from hobbyists to professionals, will have days when they feel as though they have hit a wall, that they don’t believe in themselves and just getting enough motivation to go to class or practice is a battle.
If this is sounding familiar, do not despair – you are not alone! The path to doing anything worthwhile in life is often punctuated with moments of self-doubt and low motivation. If you are feeling that your dance has been moving one step forward and two steps back, it’s a horrible feeling.

But take heart. It doesn’t last forever. You can break through the plateau!

 
And there are things that you can do to help get you back to feeling like your fabulous bellydance self again.

Here are a few which worked for me:


1. Take it back to basics
 
Whether you are turning your attention back to developing a stronger shimmy or working on achieving really juicy yet un-fussy isolations, revisiting the basics is never time wasted.On occasions where I’ve felt really stuck in a rut, I’ve found it helpful to go to a drop-in class that is a level or two below where I currently am at in my bellydance studies. Dionne Sanura’s drop-in classes on a Saturday with Fleur Estelle Dance School is a personal favourite of mine if I need a bellydance pick-me-up, as I really admire the way she can string a sequence of the simplest movements together to make something really magical.

 
2. Be kind to yourself
 
A lovely piece of advice I received recently (from my sister Olivia, who is a director and drama teacher) was simply: don’t be mad at your body. If you have a bad day, thank it for the information and continue.

We are not robots. Some  days body and mind simply don’t connect as well as you want them to, or you will find that balance, shimmies and isolations are just not coming to you as naturally as they did even a week or two before. Our bodies are dynamic rather than static, and there are bound to be variations in the way that we move, both good and bad, as we progress through bellydance. 
 
 
3. Take stock of eating and sleeping habits
 
Which leads me to food and sleep, if you feel that your dancing is stagnating, maybe it’s time to consider if you are getting the nutrition and the rest that you need? There are some instances where just curling up and going to sleep really is the best thing that you can do for your bellydance.
 

Hitting a plateau with dance can sometimes be your body’s way of letting you know that you need to make some changes in nutrition. I am a cautionary tale in this regard. After having a very discouraging period with my dancing a while back, I came to the realisation that a diet in which black coffee, Bird’s Eye potato waffles and Jaffa Cakes all featured heavily was probably part of the problem.
Now I’ve become a lot more sensible with food, and make sure I get more protein and fresh veg and less sugar.

We don’t all have to live off Instagram-perfect meals of green juice and quinoa, but at the same time it’s so important to respect your body and give it the right fuel for dancing.
4. Introduce (or re-introduce) a friend to bellydance!
 
A great way to rediscover the joy of bellydancing is to see it through new eyes. I absolutely love introducing friends to bellydance and there is something so fabulous about seeing someone experience the magic of it for the first time.

 
5. Find inspiration elsewhere
 
A lot of dancers I look up to swear by cross-training, be it with yoga, hitting the gym or learning another dance form. Jazz, ballet, samba, Bollywood and African dance can introduce you to new ways of moving and new perspectives on dance, while helping with strength and musicality.  (See last month's Zameena where Catherine talked cross training) 
 

6. Reframe your approach to criticism
 
 You will feel lighter for it.Unasked-for criticism or tactless comments by a fellow student or someone at a hafla can easily set you off on a spiral of self-doubt and demotivation – if you let it. I went to a strict Catholic school when I was a kid, and we were frequently told “criticism is a gift” and that we should always receive it in a joyful way.

Later in life it dawned on me that not all gifts are equal. If someone gifted you an absolutely hideous jumper, would you hang on to it and wear it every day, or discretely give it away to the charity shop?

The same applies with bellydance criticism.

It’s one thing to accept tough but constructive feedback from your teacher or another dancer you trust, but if you are struggling to find anything positive, actionable or helpful to take away from a piece of unsolicited criticism you have received, then guess what? You don’t have to hold on to that particular “gift”. Just let it go! You will feel lighter for doing so!

Hope this has been of some help especially if you are feeling a bit stuck and that you quickly get back to your
fabulous bellydance self!
A BIG Zameena THANK YOU to Sophia for such a helpful article and for the personal anecdotes which had us smiling in empathy!

Sophia is a financial journalist as well as an enthusiastic bellydance student so, with all that going on we feel truly privileged to have her write for us!

You can connect with Sophia on Facebook 
BIG NEWS from Zara Dance
As you may or may not have heard, Zara Dance has been working as a full time bellydancer in Cairo for the past two months. She has a NEW FACEBOOK PAGE which she would love you to like. It keeps you up to date with her exciting adventures in Cairo's dance scene, including working on FILMS, TV DRAMAS, in Night Clubs and more. She has also written some blogs on her experiences including: NEARLY BEING KIDNAPPED ... FEAR OF BEING EATEN BY RATS and WORKING WITH MAHMOOD EL LITHEY !!!

Want to know the realities of working as a dancer in Cairo?
Check out her blogs here: 

Zara's Blog on Working with MAHMOOD EL LITHEY

Zara's Blog on the top hazards of being a bellydancer.. including NEARLY BEING KIDNAPPED and the FEAR OF BEING EATEN BY RATS... 

Zara's Blog on getting to know and working along side the CABARET DANCERS OF CAIRO 
 
ENJOY!
Where to catch up with Zara's Zouk:
Sunday 14th May
We will be at The Arab QuarterlyHoxton, London 
 With, Melanie, Hassan, The AQ Band, Bina Danse and more! Don't Miss Out!
Click on the picture for ticket info. etc:

Saturday Afternoon 3rd June
Zara Dance and Zara's Zouk will be at 
Jawahir Bellydance's SUMMER SPECTACULAR

 Reading University

Come and celebrate 
Click on the picture for  info and tickets:

 17th June
Hathor Hafla, Kidlington, Oxford

Great fun so please come!
Zara's Zouk will be there
Click on the picture for more info
Thank you for taking time to read Zameena,
the ezine/newsletter from Zara's Zouk


Next month we are excited to welcome Jen Fung as our guest writer.

Meantime, here is info on a fan veil intensive you might like.

And, if Chinese Fusion Dance sparks your interest, click on the pic below:
We hope you enjoyed this edition
Till next time
Best wishes from
Zara (in Cairo) and Sandra (in London)
Copyright © 2017 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.


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