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Ahlan Wa Sahlan  / Welcome

Hello and welcome to April's Zameena. Gosh! We really are wishing you well wherever you may be in the world right now. We hope you are safe and that in someway having a read of this month's Zameena will give you a little break and relief from the crazyness that is the world right now. 

We have a funfilled issue for you this month! 

Every cloud has a silver lining and although the Shahrzad London workshops have been necessarily postponed (details below) because of the horrilbe happenings in the world, it has lead to the wonderful Shahrzad offering to WRITE FOR US this month and she has also made us an
Plus, we announce details of an online hafla that will get you so EXCITED! 

Also this month we ask Shahrzad, Vanessa Raqs and Zara Dance for their recommendations of online resources that can get you through these times....

Not forgetting Music Corner and updates so please, sit back and enjoy!

If reading from an external link SUBSCRIBE to Zameena Free HERE

5 Tips for Keeping Your Dance Alive in Isolation
By Shahrzad

I think it's fair to say that by now all of us have been affected by the sudden appearance of the pandemic of COVID-19. Businesses have closed, events have been canceled, and our lives have shifted into quarantine-mode for the foreseeable future. Anxiety and stress are running high and a lot of us are dealing with the disappointment of our shows, classes, and workshops being canceled.

As we all face the prospect of big life changes for the next few months one question is looming in the minds of most dancers: how will dance factor into my new isolated life?

I have been contemplating this question a lot over the past few weeks as I watch my plans for the foreseeable future disappear before my eyes. As a full time dancer who splits my time between nightly performances in Cairo and international teaching trips I am accustomed to changing gears at the drop of a hat but this is an entirely new situation. For me, as I'm sure for a lot of us, the community and connection aspects are a huge part of what I enjoy about dance. I love being able to connect directly with the people around me and share the joy of what I do, be it in class or on stage. This is probably the most difficult part of the situation for me personally not to mention the complete physical change from regularly dancing hours a day to having literally months without a solid schedule. 

So, during all this upheaval I have been brainstorming about what to focus on for the next month or two and here are some of the steps I'm taking to make the most of my time. These ideas are purely centered around dance and movement but I think it is important to point out that this is a hard time for everyone and we all need to do what is best for our bodies and minds while also caring for those around us. That should be top priority before all else. That being said, if dance can factor in, great! So let's start!


Almost everyone is having to make lifestyle changes right now and it's only natural to get stressed about the idea of quarantine and isolation but directing your focus to positive takeaways from being at home can greatly help your outlook and can help you to find new ideas for using your space and time. Instead of focusing on what you are missing out on start considering all of the things you can transition into your personal space and the things you now have time to do that you didn’t before. You have the opportunity to re-build your relationship with dance and customize it to your needs; take advantage of it!


There is a lot of talk in popular culture about ‘self care’ these days but it's not just about laying around in PJs with a face mask on (although that’s a pretty great idea). Self care is about choosing to spend time on things that help us to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Self care can manifest in a lot of different ways for dancers as we have a very specific set of physical and mental strains and rarely have time to consider them, let alone take steps to address them.

When you take a good long think about what you want to do with your new isolated dance life, self care is a good first step. Address the aches and pains your body has been feeling, replace some of your practices with gentle physical therapy routines, give your skin a break from makeup, get the rest you need, stretch and meditate. Take the time out to do everything you need to get back to a healthy baseline so you can build your new dance schedule with a happy and energized body. 


I am a person who thrives on having structure and goals in my life so naturally one of the first things I started doing, when I realized I would have to leave behind my Cairo vampire, routine was how I was going to restructure my time. I started to draw up some kind of schedule that I want to hold myself to so I can keep some kind of normalcy in my life. I decided which days I wanted to teach, which days I would continue remotely with the Arabic classes I usually take, and setting goals for my regular exercise and practice. I have also decided to take at least a few hours a day away from TV and social media to keep anxiety levels down. I can't recommend this enough. Of course everyone is going to be different and we also shouldn’t hold ourselves to perfection in these crazy times but setting any kind of schedule and some short term goals, no matter how small they may seem, is a good way to manage time and having things to look forward to when your time starts to get monotonous is great for boosting morale. 


Speaking of morale boosting, a huge positive aspect of everyone being at home has been the transition many dancers have made to the online world. Lots of teachers, who most of us usually only have access to at festivals here and there, not to mention hundreds of studio owners and local teachers, are now available in our living rooms offering everything from technique to choreography to lectures and more. The ingenuity and dedication to community that I have seen manifested online the past few weeks has given me a lot of hope and inspiration. So much new content has been popping up from teachers all over the world, I highly suggest searching some of your favorite names to see what they have or using the opportunity to sample some new teachers and/or styles. Many dancers are also donating their time and efforts to make community content for those who want to keep dancing but might not be able to afford the costs at the moment.  


If you haven’t already, make sure you download and get well acquainted with ZOOM because it will become your new best friend in this online dance world! ZOOM has quickly become the most popular platform for live classes and due to its easy-to-use design people have been getting super creative in using it to re-create their belly dance social lives. So, want to continue having fun with your dance friends? Take a class together! Get online and share practice time! Get dressed up and throw a hafla! Being at home doesn’t mean you can't still be connected and enjoy the feeling of community through dance. 


With so much time and so many resources available to us this is a perfect opportunity to improve our technique and deepen our dance knowledge!

So, here are a few ideas for directing your self-imposed dance makeover…

Get back to basics!
I notice that in the belly dance world most dancers move through beginner to advanced level classes and then transition to mostly doing workshops or maybe private lessons from then on. It's pretty common for more advanced dancers to just want to learn cool choreography and flashy new moves. A new dancer showcases their signature moves in a viral video, a choreographer teaches an amazing piece, and everyone is dying to learn these cool new trends. But in reality there should be more focus on strengthening and maintaining foundational movements. Whether it's jumping into an advanced choreography class and struggling with basic grooves, or being able to do a piece on stage but feeling uncomfortable improvising… a lot of dancers should take the time to go back to the beginning. That, or revisit their basics to have a sturdier foundation to build their moves on top of. This is a great time to do just that! A good first step is identifying your base movements and posture and making a habit of using them to drill as a warm up before building into your more difficult movements. While drilling the basics take time to be mindful of your technique so you can train good muscle memory and control into your body from step one.


Get nerdy!
As we know, belly dance is much more that just some fun hip shaking. A huge part of studying this dance is exploring the history, music, and cultures behind it. So, grab a cup of tea, pull out your notebook, and get ready to become a dance researcher! I have seen some really awesome developments on the research side of belly dance in the past several years, there are more resources than ever to check out surrounding dance history and culture including online books, articles, documentaries, lectures, and more. It's also a great time to dig deep on your musical knowledge since many musicians have transitioned online as well. I highly suggest taking some music classes to get the basics and then taking a deep dive on YouTube, listen to all you can to train your ear to pick apart the details in the music. Study the nuances of rhythms, maqamat, and even dip your toes in a little Arabic. You might even stumble across some brand new inspiration for your movement practice!


Expand your repertoire!
This is a good tip specifically for those who teach and/or perform on a regular basis or full time. As someone who dances for a living, I find that I tend to fall into a routine and focus mostly on the dances I'm known for or feel most comfortable with. A busy schedule leaves us with little time or energy to develop new dances. Not having to go out for classes and shows gives us a great opportunity to try out those ideas/songs/styles that we’ve been putting to the side! Pick a song that's going to require new technique practice and extra study and go for it! Pushing your body and mind in new ways is always a great way to improve your over-all dance skills and increase your versatility which is incredibly valuable for professionals. 

So, I hope that I was able to share some positive thoughts and new ideas with you in this article. It's going to be a hard time for people in artistic careers and as someone who falls into that category I can say that I am thankful for the support of dancers all around the world and the opportunity to continue my work online.
I am sending my love to everyone and am looking forward to dancing together when all of this is over but until then stay safe, stay strong, and stay creative!
Yours Shahrzad x x 


Shahrzad has been sooooo kind to make us this FREE, EXCLUSIVE
mini Golden Age Workshop to keep us all going until the new arranged dates of her London Workshops. 

If you enjoyed this then
check out her other online resources: 

Shahrzad’s YouTube channel with lots of fun, free, educational videos as well as cool music, dance videos, and documentary playlists:

For Shahrzad’s online class schedule visit:




 there will also be performances by
Update on Shahrzad London Workshops 

I want to say a BIG BIG thank you to Shahrzad for writing this article and providing us with this exclusive video, her kindness is amazing. As many of you may know, this special edition of Zameena has come about because we are having to postpone the Shahrzad London Workshops. 

The workshops have now been re-scheduled from the 25-26th April
to the 12-13th September when I PRAY that everything will have returned to some sort of normality! Everyone who bought tickets to the workshops/Hafla should have received an email explaining the change of date in more detail, contact us if you haven't. I ask for your patience and understanding in the necessary reorganization of these workshops. 

BUT.... we have some additional GOOD NEWS
We will be throwing an ONLINE HAFLA on the 25th April
(the Shahrzad original hafla date) on ZOOM!

And Shahrzad will be making a special appearance and PERFORMING LIVE from her home in USA

The amazing Anna Chandler will be co-hosting the Hafla with us (Zara and Sandra). She will be doing some fun follow along dances for us all to join in with and making sure everything flows! 

 Shams El Shemous - another great Cairo based dancer, who is a fantastic dancer and a good friend (she works on the same boat as me as well as on the Cairo clubbing and cabaret scene). She will be coming live from Egypt.
Mark Balahadia - a much loved male bellydancer who has featured here in Zameena before - famed for his Gulf dancing. He will be coming live from USA.
Pegah - One of London's most famous top dancers will be coming live to us with her Goddessness  
there will will be a few other acts including me, Zara Dance - live from Cairo!  

The online hafla will be on Saturday
25th April 7.30-10pm BST

Those you who are attending the re-scheduled Shahrzad workshops should have received a separate email about this hafla - please check you inboxes

No matter where you are in the world if you would like to join this EPIC hafla please do!!

Tickets are only £7.50 and you can buy them on the link below:
Buy Online Hafla Tickets HERE
Zara's Zouk is still in action.
Sandra is currently in lockdown in London BUT she is still running the
Zara's Zouk Online Shop.
Packages are collected by Brian (Zara's Brother/Sandra's Son - you may have met him at hafla in the past) and taken to the post office.
Nothing quite like a bit of BELLYDANCE RETAIL THERAPY to brighten up the dull days of insolation!
Click Here to Shop Kaftans
Click Here to Shop Props
The Sandra Show!
Zara's Zouk is with you throughout these difficult times.
We have Zara's Zouk Live (otherwise known as the Sandra Show lol) on our FaceBook page, a friendly, welcoming spot to keep you entertained and connected.  
Tune in and get involved or just sit back and watch! 

Live every Monday 7.30pm for one hour (sales, what's in stock, tips, hints, demonstrations, discussions or sometimes a crazy party night with games etc)
Thursday at 1pm for 15 mins (friendly chat and a bit of culture too)
Info Spot
A selection of online resources suggested and recommended by 
Shahrzad - Vanessa Raqs - Zara Dance
One really cool thing that has come about from this crazy Corona Virus time is the sudden influx of bellydance (and other) resources that have now been moved online. It means so much is now available to us, that just wasn't there before and all accessible from your very own livng room.

We ask Shahrzad, Vanessa Raqs and Zara Dance to give their recommendations for some cool online resources to get you through these weird times! 
Shahrzad's Top Recommendations: 

Aziza is teaching online! (was also suggested by Vanessa)
Learn Egyptian Arabic with Mimo - I love this fun youtube channel
Valerick Molinary and her studio (lots of teachers and classes and they are also doing live interviews every day Monday with famous dancers)
MENAT Dance Geeks is offering special offers on their archives of dance lectures
Vanessa Raqs' Recommendations: 
So my choices for online classes: 
Melissa Gamal (Toronto)
Mercedes Nieto (Budapest) - (was also suggested by Shahrzad)
Sa'diyya (Dallas)
Amanda Rose (Barcelona/USA)
Zara Dance's Recommendations:
I of course want to recommend and thank:

Shahrzad who has set up online classes
Vanessa Raqs who if you follow on  FaceBook is doing a daily gratitude diary
instgram: @vanessa_raqs

and also I reccomend:

Tara Lee-Oakley, (London) doing not just bellydance, but Barre, Yoga, Zumba, Pilates and dance conditioning
Lacy Chenault  is giving free bellydance pictures (they are BEAUTIFUL)  that you can print out and COLOUR IN, great for you or if you have kids
The Egyptian Ministry of Culture is streaming live concerts of amazing Egyptian music all for free on YouTube whilst Egypt is in lockdown. Watch here:
I, Zara Dance, also have a pretty cool website with blogs to read and learn bellydance videos which are in Arabic but with English subtitles, starting from the very basics moves.

We hope this resource directory brings you some joy during your lock down! 
Shahrzad, Vanessa and Zara 
x x x 
Music Corner
with Zara Dance

Usually, when I write Music Corner, I am pushed to make difficult choices between which new releses to bring you. I am in the clubs partying to all the latest tunes and longing to share what is hot on the Cairo/Egypt scene with you.
What can I say I haven't been to any clubs for a while!

Egypt has been in lockdown since mid March. We had a storm and floods all over the country and boats were docked. The government used it as a transitional stage for keeping everything closed and starting the Corona Virus lockdown. 

There have been very few new releases since. All the music companies and entertainment offices/studios are closed or running with a limited amount of staff. Artists are choosing to hold off releasing anything new until better times. 

The big worry on the street is WE ARE APPROACHING RAMADAN and EID! 
All filming has been stopped and everyone is anxious! Ramadan is when LOADS of Ramadan special soaps come out (usually featuring famous dancers) and people are stuck to the TV during Ramadan. Also at EID, every top singer has a new release but loads of filming has been stopped and we are all worried if the filming of these soaps and recordings of new music will actually be finished in time!

Ramadan starts at the end of April and you can't film in Ramadan as everyone is fasting. 
I should have filmed a music clip last week, for EID release, but it has been postponed! Who knows if it will even happen! 

Mohamed Ramadan has already released the song,   "The Prince"  to go with his Ramadan Drama Series.... but word on the street is the series still has a few scenes that haven't been completed. The really strange thing is, although Mohamed Ramadan released the song  HE DOESN'T SING IT. He just acts in the drama!! Reda el Bahrawy sings it. A GREAT shaabi singer who I love and I have seen live many times whilst out clubbing and working. It's a nice mowail song check it out below.

I have also included below two other a songs:
1) "ma teeig an ishar" "Lets go get drunk" better known as "BUM BUM" that is actually sung by Mohamed Ramadan and released a few month's ago. It was an instant hit in the disco scene and was being used by many dancers (when we were working!!). The music video has English Subtitles. I didn't opt for featuring it earlier in Music Corner because I am ALWAYS talking about Mohamed Ramadan and now, most of you dancers know him so discovered the song yourselves BOOM!!!  But if you haven't heard it, have a look below, you have the time I am sure. 

2) The second is a song I LOVE and is also by Reda el Bahrawy (one of his biggest hits). It is truly a brilliant - beautiful in my eyes -  example of shabbi TARAB GET YOU HIGH ON MUSIC kind of song.  Sitting at home having a dink of wine during lock down??  Trust me, play this song and LOOSE YOURSELF. The song is called "Samt Kalamko Andi" "I heard you were talking about me" a song that talks about getting sick of people being two faced, gossip and having enough. 
 This is my favourite of all the songs i am featuring this month

Though there haven't been that many new official releases,  there have been a lot of crazy non official songs going around (especially on Facebook) singing about yep - CORONA. of course. Egyptians, whatever their problems be it: love, politics or a pandemic they like to sing about it. One of the most popular Corona songs is by Dr Alfons, that singing, DJing, cult puppet that I wrote about 2 Zameena issues ago. He has made a remix of his song "Ana mish Banger", which I featured in the past issue.   The link to the remix song is above. As you can see he is getting high in isolation drinking bleach and detol! Is it bad taste or funny?  I will let you decide but regardless it ends with a good message of him telling everyone to stay safe! 

Hope you enjoyed this month's Music Corner. Want more new music? Check out the Zameena archive, every month has a Music Corner suggesting different songs. 
Reda el Bahrawy  (released by Mohamed Ramadan) - "The Prince"
Mohamed Ramadan - "Teggy in ishar" (BUM BUM)
Reda el Bahrawy - "Samt Kalamko Andi"
 This is my favourite of all the songs i am featuring this month
Updates from, Zara, Sandra and Zara's Zouk
(The producers of Zameena)
Dancing Through Corona 
an article by Zara Dance

Hey everyone just to let you know Zara has written an article "Dancing Through Corona" (the title was changed by the editor - the pictures were also chosen by the editor). The article was featured and published on the popular Egyptian news service SCOOP EMPIRE. 

It's a fun short article talking about the benefits of dancing whilst in isolation!  
Have a read of the ARTICLE check it out here

But this article represents much more: It means an Egyptian Bellydancer was published on a large Egyptian news platform telling and advising Egyptians to dance... Not just dance but bellydance... 

Considering how looked down upon dancers and bellydance can be in Egypt this is pretty cool! 
An Interview with Zara Dance by Kay
Check out this interview of Zara Dance by Kay (previous resident writer) on Zara's Journey to becoming the dancer she is today.
Zara tells her story of getting through
bullying, sexism, body issues, leaving a career in Physics, dealing with abuse, facing Epilepsy, being mixed race, her Egyptian family's reaction to her dancing
Watch, Enjoy, Share....
Want to know what it is like to dance in Egypt? Check out this documentary: 
'In Their Own Words, The Cairo Dance Scene Explained'.

Two years in the making by Yasmina Cairo, Sara Sherif Farouk Ahmed and Marshall Bodiker this is the first of a four part documentary series exploring the world of professional belly dancers in Cairo.

Twenty-two dancers INCLUDING ZARA DANCE talk about their lives, their journey and the ups and downs of the dance business in Cairo....This is part one....look out for part 2 coming soon!

Got to Vimeo on Demand NOW to stream!
Cassandra Fox is Coming to London
For more details and to book Click Here
Zara will be teaching and The Zara's Zouk Stall will be at the BellySpa weekend …... See you there!
Bored at home? 
Never has there been a better time to re-read or catch up on past issues of Zameena 
DELVE INTO THE ARCHIVES and read some of these AMAZING editions
Find the Zameena Archive HERE
See you next month! Till then stay safe...
Lots of love and Shimmies, Zara and Sandra

(the mother daughter team behind Zameena)
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