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Welcome to May's Zameena!

We hope you are coping well in the present situation: know that you can
contact us at any time and for any reason.

We are here, doing our best to offer companionship, opportunities 
and bellydance community love!

Last month we asked Zara's Zouk customers to dust of the lock-down blues, and in their Zara's Zouk costumes, to do a video CHALLENGE to Mahmood Ramadan's Song: Bum Bum, so many were up for it. WATCH IT HERE, the: 
We hope this video put a smile on your face! If you are bored at home and would like to do the #ZarasZoukChallenge in your Zara's Zouk costume/outfit email us, if we get enough people we will make another for next month. 

This issue we are delighted to welcome the return of our resident writer for 2020, Serena!
After her first article in February, Serena (in picture above) answers some of the questions you raised and talks about the:
past, present and future of bellydance!

Plus we have guest articles from Nizana El Rassan, talking of the importance of knowing the difference of bellydance styles and from Yasmina of Cairo talking about a new bellydance documentary she worked on.  

As always there are Zara's Zouk event ups-dates, including another ONLINE HAFLA and Music Corner bringing you the latest hits from Egypt. 

Now grab a cuppa, sit back, relax and enjoy as we have the pleasure of handing over to

Hello dear reader!

“Makes much more sense to live in the present tense.” ( Eddie Vedder)

Strange times we are living at present... I take this opportunity to say that I hope you are doing well and will continue to do so when life changes again!

So after your wonderful suggestions and my own thoughts on what to write for this Issue of Zameena, I decided to talk about the past and the future. 
Such wonderful things came to pass and will come to pass, so remembering and dreaming are major gifts we have in this life. Without it, the present would perhaps not be as pleasurable. Certainly, most pleasure in life is in living the present moment fully, having the past to guide you and the thought of future to drive you.

Ok so here we go…

As you all know the Golden Era of Belly Dance is one of my passions of life; I always identified with the style of dance and with the era. So, I took upon myself the challenge of understanding, learning and teaching it (as in to pass it on and keep it alive) as best I could.

I can happily say that it has been a wonderful personal experience - both professionally and artistically, benefitting me and those with whom I share my findings.

My studies have formed new points of view on technique, musicality, presentation, dancer personality and cultural understanding. All this from a full immersion on what our predecessors in the dance did:
The fabulous Golden Era Dancers!

The Past: Amazing dancers and their contribution

I could mention so many wonderful dancers that were a part of my studies, but today I will stick with those that have impacted most on my own dance.
  1. Naima Akef - The Queen of Understated Class and Technique. Amongst her many superb qualities, Naima mixed tradition with innovation and managed to make things look much easier than they were!
2.  Mona Said - The Queen of Elegance and Funkiness (as in grooveiness 😊. Mona demonstrated the most powerful and clean hip work that I have ever set eyes on and a rhythm sense that was simply “wow”!
3.  Fifi Abdul - The Queen of Danceiness! I could just mention her shimmies, but that is not what impresses me most about her. What impresses me the most is her ability to do the same thing and make it look new every time! Fifi makes you feel like dancing with her and that, I believe, is because she is not worried about how much she is doing but how she makes it feel - a genius quality.
4.  Samia Gamal - The Queen of Charm and Personality.     

Who cares what she is doing, as long as she flashes that amazing smile at you - no one!
Samia is charisma personified.

We cannot underestimate the dance quality that can be incredibly challenging to say the least, but her presence was so powerful that it pulls your attention even if she was just standing still.
Although you might say two of them are not usually considered golden era, they are to me in my concept of golden era: An Era where creativity and individuality were at its highest levels, and art was presented and perceived as art.

Yes, in general it was during the 30s 40s 50s when dancers were movies stars, but it is so much more than a time period. It is a state of mind and artistry.
Going back to the dancers…

Having observed these qualities, I was inspired and, to the best of my ability, tried to implement them within my own dance and encourage students to see how they could implement them too. (Samia’s charisma is unduplicatable, but we can bring on the smile!!!)

The aim was to be classy, earthy, funky, clean, playful, technical but making sure not to take away the dance whilst being both innovative and traditional, all the while translating the music, keeping the cultural aspects intact and always, always being myself!

I can tell you that it took some years, and in fact I personally still do not feel I am “there”.

I think “there” keeps moving up a notch as time goes by and continues to give me the motivation to grow in that direction.

You know the feeling of when you are so in love with something that you want to be it? Yes, that is the one… I have it. Not as in to be the same person but to have the same capability and be that dance!

I hope I am making sense…
I can get very philosophical about it all as well as make up words 😊
An important point to add is that once I decided to take this road, I realised the responsibility of it.

That it is not only about 'just doing my thing'. No, I realised that if I draw from their art, even if as an inspiration not a duplication, I had to do it justice.

Not only because the dancers deserved it, of course they do, but the future of the art form demanded.
The Future
I read once that it's only with the knowledge, understanding and acceptance of what the past was, can we create a productive present and a pleasurable and successful future, (ok I think I added my
own thing to the original thought, but hey!)

So, with keeping this in mind, I always, always, always go back to the golden era dancers as reference no matter what dance style I am doing, honestly!
I do not mean that staying stuck in the past is a good thing. Far from it! But we can only move away from something after having that something with or near us. Otherwise we are moving away from nothing. That, in my view, is not a stable foundation from which to grow.

Nature teaches us that from a good quality ground wonderful things can flourish.

Too philosophical again?
Maybe, but that does not change the fact that it is true.

This is also key to longevity; things last much better when connected to its source of life.
But I will write another article on longevity as suggested 😊
So, what is the future of Belly Dance? (as another reader suggested as a topic)
My answer is: I do not know!

This depends on each and every dancer and what the community validates and supports.

Artists need audiences, and even if a dancer does what she feels like doing, she will need an
audience to admire and appreciate her creation; or there will be no inspiration to create anymore.

“Art is the quality of communication.” (Book: ART by LRH)
Photo above: Book cover, Photo Below: Dedication
We are here to communicate, and as artists we want to do that in the highest quality.
Dance is  “POETRY BY MOVEMENT”. (Aha, that is a quote of my own! SR)

We need others to communicate to. That is what life is all about!

I don’t know what the future of belly dance is, but I can say that the future I am creating for myself and my art is one where the value of past creations is always present and cherished. No matter how far I move from it, the “cord” is never cut. I can come back home to what grounds me and start moving on again - that is so comforting and stabilising for me as an artist.

Now, credit where credit is due:
Another dear dance friend suggested as a topic: my journey as the wife and partner of a highly renowned artist in our community and that made me think a book would be needed for that!   Haha.   But maybe I can do a short version.

Having said that, I would like to say that Hossam, as a partner in life and Art, has contributed immensely to my studies and access to his wonderful culture. His music, always so inspirational and innovative, was inspired by this era too and he helped and encouraged me to delve deeper on the subject.
Photo: Concert tribute to Naima Akef With Serena and the Hossam Ramzy Emsemble
We shared the same love for the art and were able to create together on it intensely. That art was a huge inspiration for me and for so many others and will continue to be so, is a fact.

Again, beautiful example of longevity through art.

He lived during the Golden Era and experienced its beauty first-hand and knew so much about it. I do feel privileged to be the only one who he shared his insight in this much depth for 2 decades, in which, together we made our mission to share our passion and knowledge with others.

Separately we did the same.
He did that to the very end, and I shall continue it for as long as I can.

So here is a salute to the past, that inspired so many of us during so many present times lived and will hopefully inspire many others in the future.
Now, more than ever, we are looking forward to a future where love, beauty and communication  prevails. Once again I am reminded of the words of a wise man: the Future is only there if you create it, and it will be nothing but what you create. (paraphrased again I think 😊)

Now, go on and dance, get inspired and create your future!
Enough sitting!
I am off to dance some more and create on my new online classes and workshops.
Hope you see you in one of them 😊
May I just add that I never thought to be teaching these many weekly classes and online!
It goes to show what a challenging time and a bit of creation can do… it creates your future!
Thanks for reading, I hope it was an enjoyable time you spent in my world.
I welcome you to stay connected with me via social media (Serena Dances) and keep sending your
 suggestions of topics. I would love to know what your interests are!
Lots of love always,
Serena Ramzy x
Connect with Serena!
Click here for more info on online classes and events with Serena

Join Serena's mailing list here  
Write to Serena at:

Oh, and there is a Facebook group you can join in for her
Free Fun Friday class:
There are 2 events this month being co-hosted by Zara's Zouk that you just can't miss! Details bellow.
Plus if you are doing a little retail therapy during these times don't forget to check out Zara's Zouk for some bellydance goodies to cheer you up!
Zara's Zouk online shop is still operating as normal 
Check out the website HERE
Zara Dance presents her 
Megency Workshop
This workshop will be LIVE & ONLINE: on the application Zoom.
Sunday May 17th - 7pm BST London time, 2pm EDT New York time
This workshop will teach you all the tools, tips and mindset for making an amazing bellydance entrance - known as a Megency.

This is one online workshop you CAN'T MISS! 
Find out more and book workshop tickets HERE
Don't miss this Online Hafla!
Co-hosted by Zara and Anna Chandler it's gonna be a night not to forget! The last Online Hafla SOLD OUT and was a Massive success so don't hesitate and get your tickets ASAP!

Don't take our word for it - here is just some of the feedback from last time:

"The whole Hafla was really great and I so needed that for my soul. Thanks for providing us much needed dance connection at this time." FA 

"That show was 🔥🔥🔥 Thanks to Zara and Anna and all the performers!🤩🤩 And the extra touch of being able to hear each other cheer on the performers is such great way to feel connected ❤️"HS

"I experienced my first online hafla today and I would highly recommend it! Great night " KD

"Got all dressed up and went to a Zoom party! I miss having fun so much!! Thanks for the beautiful performances! ❤💪" JM

So ...... What are you waiting for?   .......
Get Your Hafla Tickets Here
Retail Therapy: Treat yourself to a new bellydance belt
Doing online classes or just the washing up...
Dress up! Get a new coin belt and shimmy away the isolation blues! 
Shop Belts
Info Spot
With Nizana El Rassan 
The Importance of Learning About the Different Middle Eastern Dance Styles

I was privy to a discussion between two instructors that turned into an educational session and inspiration for this article. A local dancer was preparing her intro card to perform and was planning on dancing what she knows as “Shaabi” and asked others what she should say about the dance. The guest instructor asked what type of Shaabi was she talking about, old Shaabi, new, Mahraganat? The “Shaabi dancer” paused and decided “old.”

Another instructor suggested she play a bit of the music she was planning to dance to in order to provide better feedback. The song was a modern version of a famous folkloric song that is not suited for “Shaabi.” The guest instructor provided a learning moment for all in earshot about the song and how it was definitely not Shaabi material, and delivered it in a non-judgmental way. The dancer accepted it as a learning moment and should be commended for inquiring about the right thing to say about it.

The dancer went out and while she looked as hot as always and did a respectable job of dancing to the song, it was an example of the importance of knowing your music and ensuring it is congruent with the technique, costuming and style. It is a disservice, especially as an instructor, to mislead students or an audience as to what is being performed. It is important from an educational standpoint as well as to ensure respect for the cultures and the dance forms.

It is important to spend time studying the different styles, calling the dances what they really are, and ensuring you are maintaining the integrity of the art form. There is so much material out there in books, magazines, online classes, workshops, classes, and videos, ongoing study is a must, especially for teachers. If you want to learn and perform Moroccan Shikkhat for example, or anything else, study from those who really know that style of dance, listen to the music that goes with it, read up on it, find authentic video recordings of it, and look for costumes that reflect what is worn.

Then put something together that represents that genre. Practice, “perfect it,” dress rehearse and perform! Let your audience know what you are doing, especially if it is a type of dance that isn’t seen often or if the audience is new to Middle Eastern and fusion dance styles. It is invaluable to the audience when you help them understand something unfamiliar and helps them have a greater appreciation for what you are performing.

Instructors have an extra responsibility to provide students with as culturally and historically accurate information as possible. Class should never be just about learning choreographies and running some drills. Instructors should provide context, resource information, and other important pieces such as stage presence, performance tips, etiquette, costuming, rhythms, makeup and so much more. As a teacher, you need to be the “full package.”

Understanding the different ME rhythms, dance movements, history, and what to wear all contributes to a more professional presentation. It helps you interpret the music with your body when you perform. It allows you to insert parts of these genres into your routine when the music calls for it. It allows you to correctly educate others and maintain integrity for the cultures and art form. It attests to the character and reputation of a serious and reputable instructor.

While you don’t have to become proficient in each type, strive to become familiar with the various styles, where they originate from and how they contribute to the dance community today. You will be a better teacher and dancer for it!
Lockdown Viewing
‘In Our Own Words’:
A documentary for dance lovers.

by Yasmina of Cairo

‘In Our Own Words, The Cairo Dance Scene Explained’
has been one of those projects (and not the first time for me!) where you jump in with an idea, and two years later find yourself with an enormous amount of valuable information you then have to fashion into something that makes sense.

Initially it was really to look at the various ways that the dance scene in Cairo is changing, while simultaneously retaining that special essence that keeps the dance essentially Egyptian. The director Sara Farouk and I have made a film before on this subject, Journey of Desire, where the focus was on the lure of Cairo for foreign dancers, and what mine and others’ experience was like while taking that journey.

Ten years later an update was needed, but this time we wanted to look at the experience of Egyptian dancers too. The simple idea was to ask the same questions to as many professional working dancers as possible, from all backgrounds, and compare their answers, thereby providing documentation on the scene from different perspectives. There are so many questions, and the answers are so interesting, that rather than strip down the film to a typical hour and a half, we decided to divide the project into four parts.

Part one looks at the dancers’ personal stories and how they got into the business, the reaction of their families and attitudes generally towards the dance, both in Egypt and outside.

Part two concentrates on what it’s like to be a working dancer in Cairo, including problems they’ve faced, and the demands of the marketplace. Also how this compares to the dance outside Egypt.

Part three will look at the international dance scene: festivals, the whole aspect of how the dance is taught and what is being offered.

And part four expands the discourse away from the performers themselves, to ask questions of dance managers, employers, musicians, and crucially the belly dance audience in Egypt, including the impact of social media. There will also be an update on what’s been going on since we first began filming!

Egypt was once described to me as a place where the frenetic activity on the surface hides a deep and unchanging truth that remains its bedrock. And perhaps this is a good metaphor for the dance we love.

I hope the films will become a valuable resource for teachers and students of belly dance, painting a picture of the recent and current dance scene, while acknowledging its constantly changing status.
Music Corner
with Zara Dance

Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well!
As mentioned in last month's Zameena things on the music scene in Egypt, are slow, due to current events, with very little coming out, certainly in terms of bellydance music. This is still the case and the fact that it's Ramadan only adds to this - a lot of singers release pray songs...... Though, EID is just around the corner, so let's hope for some new hits then!

As I also mentioned in the last Music Corner, Egyptians during Ramadan are all about the televised drama series! A new song from the series "El Prince" has been release by Ahmed Saad (The second song from the series: I featured one last month) a link is below.  But Egyptians at Ramadan are equally crazy about prank shows. Yes prank shows. The most famous being by Ramez Galal. Every year he stages a different prank and each night of Ramadan you see the prank played out with a different star. Most of the stars are Egyptian/Arabs but not always. Some of his pranks have been so outrageous that they have reached international news.

One of his most famous pranks included 
Paris Hiltion in a stunt where she thought she was in a crashing plane. She actually sued him for the prank.

Bellydancers have also been the victims of his pranks. The same year as the Paris Hilton prank, he nearly killed famous dancer Lucy in the same plane crash stunt.
I really thought she was going to have a heart attack. She passes out at the end. And he has pranked Fifi Abdou MANY TIMES once with a gorilla attack and once with a giant lizard attack (she was also one year the victim of a Lion attack by a different show/presenter) . This year Ramez's victims partake in a rigged game show strapped to a chair ... and yes the victim list includes Fifi. 

However, I think Fifi has decided that she is sick of being the butt of the joke and has this year launched her OWN PRANK SHOW - The show is called "Hkalibalick min Fifi" which translates to "Watch Out from Fifi". I am sad to say it is AWFUL, like really, really awful. She invited stars to her house for a fake interview and they are attacked by a possessed maid. The link above shows an episode ... and I know what you are thinking, this is Music Corner... well like with most Egyptian shows they start with a cheesy song - in this case: the best thing about the show. So ENJOY! 
Ahmed Saad's Song (release by Mohamed Ramadan) for TV series "El Prince"
Check out up and coming events you can see Zara, Sandra and the Zara's Zouk Stall 
The Biggest Bellydance Online Festival with 25+ Celebrity Teachers,  including Zara Dance, hosted by Leena Viie coming up in May with the vision of connecting dancers and empowering our communities. This is a donation based event with funds being channeled to support starving migrant workers in India!

Make sure you attend and support this amazing event:

Zara Dance will be performing and teaching at Jan's BellySpa as will Serena
You can also catch up with Sandra and shop at the Zara's Zouk Stall. 

If that isn't reason enough it is the event's 10th Anniversary and there is a SPA. Don't miss it. 

Contact Jan.....
Superstar Cassandra Fox wil be headlining, Plus Zara will be teaching and the Zara's Zouk stall will be there!
Click here for more info and tickets
Thank you reading 
See you next month! Till then stay safe...
Lots of love and Shimmies,
Zara and Sandra
(the mother daughter team behind Zameena)
P.S its now your turn to spread the love, please share <3 
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Sad you have come to the end? .....Don't forget to check out the archive: 
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