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Welcome to October's Zameena!

Whoever would have thought, come October, we would still be struggling with Corona Virus?  Certainly not us! 

Still, it has brought forth some innovative responses from the Bellydance Community which have also helped many a good cause over the months.
We hear about Bwitchs, the World's Biggest Bellydance Online Festival to date, which took place in June. 
$6000 was raised for Indian Migrant Workers!!!   Go Leena!!!
Now they have had time to recover from, and reflect on their experiences, the organiser, Leena, and two of the competition winners, Shedriel and Pratima share their thoughts and feelings with us.

Also, Sandra, (co-editor of Zameena and boss of Zara's Zouk) is BACK in the UK! We take a look at the new stock she has, and in Info Spot we look at Sokhna on the Red Sea that she visited for a few days whilst in Egypt

As always we have Music Corner with fun, Egyptian sounds and information on some really exciting events.

Without further ado, let's hear from LEENA!! 

Leena Viie

International Teacher, Performer and Festival Organiser


I'm very happy and excited to be featured in Zameena by super Zara who also collaborated with us for the
Bwitchs International Online Bellydance Festival
that took place 
June 1st -21st  2020.
The Festival in a Nutshell

It was the World’s First, Largest and Longest Online Bellydance Festival curated to support migrant workers of India
30 Celebrity International and Indian bellydance master teachers offered a first of its kind holistic set of workshops encompassing technique, talk and well being in a bid to connect us artists and empower our communities.

The pay by donation meant that no one was left out of this learning and sharing.

We were fortunate to also have 20 bellydance brands and collaborators on board who sponsored prizes for our participants:
Zameena, BDBA (Bellydance Business Academy), RaqsOnline, Bellydance Academy and Datura Online, Zara's Zouk to name a few.
The festival concluded with two Online International Bellydance Shows with a Celebrity line-up and guest artists. 

Funds collected were channeled to Goonj,org – one of the leading NGOs in India to support the Indian migrant labourers.

The concept, the workshops, the shows were received very well by the global audience which comprised primarily bellydancers, dancers and artists from other areas as well as a mainstream audience. The theme and thought was to unite as a global community using an artistic platform.

We raised $6000 for the cause, had participation from over 20 countries and 10,000+ attendees over the event.

Obstacles and Challenges

Initially the lockdown was to last only a few weeks which meant I really had to rush to launch the festival before the lock-down lifted. 
So in about 4 weeks it went from an idea in my mind to the opening registration on World Bellydance Day to what I may say was the largest event I ever organised and the world’s largest bellydance online event till date. 

I worked with a very slim, tight team of 4—5 members. And yes it was a LOT of work, very little sleep and a big dose of love and passion.

There was plenty of new learning along the way, though very little room for experimentation and error given the huge time pressure.

I'd say the scale of the festival itself was mind boggling!!!

I really wanted it be wholesome and I couldn’t stop myself from adding amazing topics into its fold! Scheduling 34 live workshops – figuring technology and platforms to be used, coordinating with teachers across multiple time zones, dealing with copyright issues, technological glitches, plenty of sheets and data given the volume of work was definitely super challenging!

The Inspiration to Create This
Well, it began with the pandemic which ushered in a new reality. On one hand the social distancing is almost like a tearing of the social fabric as we know it. There is isolation and turmoil at various levels - within and around with no clear sense of how long this would last, 
Given this time is uncertain and dis-empowering in many ways, I felt perhaps there is a need for us to connect even more and in newer ways.
Hence, I conceptualised an event for the bellydance and artist community at large.

It would include all genres of bellydance and provide a 360 degree view in terms of offering so as to inspire and connect us in times like these.

I have always been drawn to art and activism as reflected in my past events.
The plight of the migrant workers distressed me. They were forced to leave the cities they worked in with just a few hours’ notice. Sadly enough this was caused mostly by bad leadership by our prime minister.
While all forms of public transport were stopped, several workers began their arduous journey by foot. With inter-state borders blocked, they were stranded in between. For those who made it, it wasn't a pleasant welcome. They were asked to be quarantined for at least two weeks
Using art was the only way I could think of to help!

Having extensively travelled, studied, performed and networked across various global events, I realised that dancers don’t have all the tools they need in one place to take them to the next level.

Successful dancers go beyond drilling and performing.

There are grey areas of knowledge that make the difference between being a good dancer and a mediocre dancer, an amateur and a pro.

Most bellydance festivals and forums for learning focus on dance technique.
However there is a need for mind-body-soul connection to nourish us. We need not treat dancers as a physical body alone but include her mind, her health, her heart.

Also, most artists lack the ability to create a brand, to develop their business skills in order to survive and thrive.
Hence, the festival took into account a 360 degree view of bellydancers’ needs in order to take them to the next level.
Hence we had:
  • TECHNIQUE WORKSHOPS to enrich the dance vocabulary,
  • TALKS to stimulate and enrich our mind 
  • WELL BEING to nourish our souls
In addition we had:
  • Panel Discussions on interesting subjects such as the Glimpse of the Working Bellydancer’s Life across USA, UK, Egypt, Dubai and India with Zara, Shahrzad, Bianca, Farah and myself on board
  • Contests and Challenges to engage, encourage and reward our participants.
I felt blessed to receive a lot of love and appreciation from so many dancers around the globe. It's always my dream and ideology – of uniting and creating magic.

Even in the political scene we know change happens when people organise, unite and mobilise. One of the keys to resolving the poor state of the world right now I think lies in claiming people power.

And art is a great platform to unite to create magic!
A big Zameena THANK YOU to Leena for sharing insights about her festival.

on a great job and for or raising such a substantial sum for a worthwhile cause.

Connect  with Leena
FaceBook        Bwitchs FaceBook
Website           Email


Let's hear from two festival winners:
Pratima Nagaraj!

Author, Holistic Health Coach & Bellydancer

1st prize
Bwitchs Festival 

Shimmy Contest
I’m excited to feature in Zameena that celebrates the trans-formative power of this beautiful art form of bellydance.

I started to learn belly dance towards the end of 2016 and it’s been a long and rewarding journey, learning from teachers from around the world. I chose belly dance among all dance forms because I wanted to tap into the feminine, goddess energy within me and what better way to do it than learn this technique that was designed by and for women?!

Belly dance not only helped me with self-expression but as I continued my journey with it I became more comfortable with my body and more confident in my life. It has become an integral part of my life, a meditative process, a sacred space of healing and expression, connecting me to deeper parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. 
And I dance, not just for the audience but for myself, for the joy of it and to celebrate being woman.

I am happy to be feeling whole again and be a better version of myself.

I loved being part of the Bwitchs Online Festival organized by Leena. It was a lovely platform to learn from some of the best dancers/teachers around the world.
The holistic workshops were very informative and the dance related talks enhanced my knowledge about the history and culture behind of belly dance.

Taking part in the Shimmy Challenge was an exciting process. I had never tried layering so many moves on a shimmy before and it challenged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Winning the competition was an icing on the cake and I am thrilled and grateful to have been a part of this entire journey.
A big Zameena THANK YOU to
It was lovely to hear about your dance journey and festival experiences!

Connect with Pratima:

multi-cultural artist, dance teacher and
teacher trainer  

1st prize
Bwitchs Festival 

Indian Fusion Contest
Colleena Shakti
My name is Celeste – and my artistic name is Shedriel. I’ve been dancing since I was 9 years old.
At the age of 17 I decided that I wanted to become a professional oriental dancer. So I studied with Saida Helou and a lot of teachers from Argentina and other countries too. By that time, I discovered a lot of different fusion styles and through the years, I got into the study of Romany dances and Persian dance.

Nowadays, I have more than 80 students from different countries that are studying with me – some of them are doing the Teacher Training career in Argentinian Bellydance Style and my Fusion Shedriel® Style Format which is a trademark from 2019.

My experience attending Bwitches Festival was a fabulous one. It was almost a month with classes and teachers offering their knowledge from all over the world.

The best thing of this festival was that it was held on a private FB group so it was really easy to join and learn in that way. Besides, the fact that it was online really makes me happy since I am not able to travel outside my country, Argentina, because we are still in lockdown.
I entered the competition after I had taken Colleena Shakti's workshops in Bwitches Festival. I had previously joined her Theory and Indian Fusion online classes so I received the news about the Festival thanks to her.
It was really a truly surprise and honour to have won the 1st prize of the Indian Fusion Contest by Colleena Shakti – it was a dream come true!

I’m forever grateful to Leena for creating this amazing international event. Taking Colleena’s  classes really helped me a lot, physically and emotionally, to overcome the quarantine period, and also I feel that my posture is even stronger than before, and my dance has become more elegant and refined.

I strongly believe that the best way, not only to win a competition but also to learn as a forever-curious student, is to keep the focus on what you’re doing, practice the technique over and over again and doing it with all your heart and soul. Respect the culture, your teachers and yourself.
Art is necessary for the humanity, keep it going!!
Thank you so much Zara,
With much love all the way from the end of the world,
Celeste Acuña (Shedriel)
A big Zameena THANK YOU to Shedriel

It was wonderful to hear about your dance journey and how you enjoyed the festival. 
Great tips too!

Connect with Shedriel:

Facebook: Cele Acuña
Fan Page Facebook: Shedriel
Instagram    YouTube
We are happy to announce that the next Online Zoom Hafla
will be on: Saturday - 14th November - 7.30pm GMT

You know it's going to be AMAZING!
We will celebrate spooky traditions - Get your ticket now!
Confirmed acts so far:
Leena Viie from India!
Sunny Singh from London UK!
Shedriel from Argentina!
Anna and the Arabellas from UK!
And Live Acts from Cairo!

Our Online Zoom 
Haflas - THE FIRST to come live from Cairo -
provide much needed 
PAID work for artists in Cairo affected by the Covid lock-downs and are supported by International dancers who generously give freely of their time.  ❤️
Buy Now
Egyptian dance is magical!
This is a 2.5hr workshop to which I invite EVERYONE in the Bellydance community.  This is my favourite workshop to teach and I am excited to be bringing it to a broader audience online.

If you have done this workshop before this is a good recap and there is a lot of new material too. 

A concepts workshop playing with ideas and mind sets that will not only explore the empowering elements of bellydance but give you tools on how to execute them when performing. 

Bellydance is an empowering art but to be done right, it also calls for the one dancing to be empowered.  
Buy Now
❤️  #weloveourcustomers ❤️
The gorgeous Gemma looking hot in her lace embellished costume and
the stunning Sammi Rose happily balancing her new shamadan!.
A great big THANK YOU to both of you for being good sports and for sharing
these photos of you enjoying your  
Zara's Zouk goodies!  
Check out/buy costumes, bedlahs and dresses here
and shamadans here
Music Corner
Zara Dance

Last month I could have featured soooo many songs as there was a "post" Corona flurry and it was hard to pick which songs to feature! Of course Corona isn't over but a lot of singers decided to stop the postponing and released their summer tunes. Since that flurry however, there has been a bit of a slow down, so I am going to mention two songs that I didn't feature last month and one NEW Video!

Ok, so the first two songs are both by singers I have featured A LOT in music corner (which is why I chose not to feature them last month). The first is by Mahragranat singers Hassna Shankosh and Omery Kmal. They were involved in getting live Mahragrnat performances banned with the scandal they caused by singing their biggest hit, "Bint el Gran"  (The Neighbours 
Daughter)  live at a big festival -
I wrote about in a past
music corner.

I LOVE their new song (
link above) it's very easy to dance along to! I even did a little video to it for my social media. The song is called "En emeil Lukbuttita" which translates as "We Are Going to Make a Stir"  which is a cheeky way of saying we are going to make trouble. It is a cheeky song to say the least. One of the lines talks of how they got a BMW x6 and is going to drive around carefree. He also talks about two other cheeky things - taking his girlfriend and going abroad! 


The second song is by Mohamed Ramadan - yes a big music corner regular! His newest song is with a French rapper, Gims,  I don't know Gims, and well, nobody here really knows him but it doesn't matter because he's automatically deemed cool and a hit with everyone in Egypt. How can he not be cool as he's filming a flashy Egyptian rap song with Mohamed Ramadan in Dubai?
The name of the song is
"Ya Habbibi" which means "Oi/You Darling/Babe" and basically the main line of the song - it's repeated A LOT! (link to music video below). It features a tank, helicopter-pad and bellydancers - all in the cheesiest sense!   Enjoy!


And the final song is a new release, "Khawaty", which translates to "My Sibblings / Brothers" by young mahragan duo: El Sawarekh but also features Zuksh and famous singer Shehata Karik. 
It was an instant hit!
The first few days it was released all my friends were adding me in their stories in group pictures with the song.
You can call your friends
"Khawaty" it is a loving endearment.
I love this mahragran tune. It's fun to jump along to in the clubs!
Hope you enjoy it too!
Ya Habibi - Mohamed Ramadan & Gims 
Khawaty - El Sawarekh
Ft Zuksh & Shehata Karika
Info Section
Ain El Sokhna - the nearest beach to Cairo

by Sandra (Mum)
Well, last month we talked about Sahel (The North Coast) and the Mediterranean party resorts.  As summer comes to an end Sahel closes down and actually gets quite cold..... It is then that Egyptians go to SOKHNA! The Red Sea area that is 30 miles south of the Suez Canal and less than 2 hrs drive (75 miles) from Cairo
Sokhna means HOT!! And yesss Sokhna is VERY, VERY, HOT even throughout winter. Ain Sokhna means Hot Spring.

It isn't as much of a party destination as the North Coast. It is a relaxing, breath of fresh air and escape from busy Cairo.  There are plenty of sea sports and other activities offered by the hotels, should you wish some excitement, but we stayed in an apartment complex with swimming pools and just relaxed.

The beach is pebbly but the sea is warm and sandy underfoot, no waves. Also, there is the beauty of the Red Sea. There are coral reefs; you can snorkel and see tropical fish. There are also lots of little whirlpools full of interesting sea creatures.
Below are pictures of two sea creatures we found which we couldn't identify. Take a look and see what you think they are.

There are always lots of big ships on their way to or from the 
Suez Canal. There are also lots of fishing boats. You can buy freshly caught fish along the road sides. We bought some and had an amazing seafood meal! Our FB Video here   We really can't thank the friends who took us enough, it was so good!

There are many hotels and holiday resorts in the area, all with a relaxed chill-out attitude. The biggest hotel is Porto Sokhna. It is a massive hotel. You don't have to be a guest to use the cable cars there, which take you up to the top of the mountains. The fun of the ride and sitting, sipping a drink from a mountain top cafe, as you take in the views, is an impressive experience. The landscape of the Eastern Desert is Biblical in its magnificence! 

A little bit of history to end with: The Old Kingdom, 2686–2181 BC, (Age of the Pyramids) apparently had an encampment and seafaring expeditions from Port Sokhna. Archaeological excavations of the area hope to find more about life in Sokhna at that time.
What do you think these Red Sea creatures below are? Let us know:
More FUN Events for You:
Learn a Vintage Vamp Belly Dance Choreography
with Anna, our hafla co-host, to perform at the next Hafla.

Inspired by 1920s actress Theda Bara. Her name is an anagram of  "Arab Death". What could be more fitting for a spooky Hafla!?

In this course we’ll be tackling the killer stare, powerful stage presence and Golden era flow from one pose to the next.

Monday evenings on Zoom 8:00-9:00pm, to book message Anna on her
Arabella Belly Dance Facebook page
or email:

Classical Egyptian Golden Vibes
Our wonderful 2020 resident writer, Serena, has a Zoom workshop on how to interpret a beautiful classical composition using the techniques and feel of the golden era of belly dance.

With Serena, in this class, you will address techniques and musicality, all in a routine that will bring the music alive!

Thank you for reading this month's Zameena. We hope you enjoyed!

Also, many thanks to our guest writers, Leena, Shedriel and Pratima. It was amazing to hear your stories - big THANKS!

Til next month,
Best wishes and bellydance love
xx Zara and Sandra xx
(the mum & daughter team at Zara's Zouk and Zameena, pic at Sokhna)
PS. Can't wait until next month?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month  (we are remembering Yvette with much love) and Black History Month.  Why not read these past issues from the archives?
If you enjoyed - please share the bellydance love:
Copyright © 2020 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.

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