Read an Arabian story not to be missed! 
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Welcome to Zameena's summer edition in which we start off by bringing you a taste of Arabic culture through something different - the story of Antar! Then a look at some lovely lacy costumes and news workshops. We hope you enjoy!

Best Wishes and Love from Zara and Sandra xxx

So to start, please let me introduce you to a very interesting, but little known in the West, poet and warrior from Arabian history, Antar, also known as Antara ibn Shaddad (Antara, son of Shaddad) and his beloved, Abla!
Cairo Anthropological Museum - Antar and Abla from a 19th Century tattooing pattern
Stories about Antar, in book form, film or tv series, are still popular throughout the Middle East for many reasons. Firstly, Antar epitomises the character traits admired by Arabs. He was a great warrior: brave and fearless. He became a great leader: generous, hospitable and honourable but above all he was a great poet and that meant he was held in the absolute highest esteem in the eyes of the Arabs.

Interestingly, he was half African (Ethiopian) and half Arab (Bedouin). He was born a slave and struggled to raise himself up to become the hero and leader of his tribe.  His story is a great example of the success of personal virtue over circumstances of birth. 

Plus there is a love angle!
Still from the the film: Antar the Black Prince (Egypt, 1961)
The sun beats down on the Arabian desert.  The wind blows, the sand stings the faces of everyone. It is the sixth century - pre Islamic time. Bedouin tribes call the desert theirs. The prince of one Bedouin tribe, the Abs, has a child by his Ethiopian slave.  The boy is named Antar. The boy is dark and deemed a slave, like his mother. He is sent to tend livestock in the desert.  Day after day whilst alone in the heat he exercises and practises and practises horse riding and spear throwing.  He becomes stronger than any other slave. He wants to become a great warrior to impress his father and be recognised as his son. 

He loves and only has eyes only for his pale and noble born cousin, Abla, but due to the circumstances of his birth and the fact that he is black the match is deemed impossible. Abla adores Antar but Abla’s father (Antar’s uncle) doesn’t want his daughter to marry Antar. Antar has his work cut out to fulfil task after seemingly impossible task dreamt up by his uncle to prove his worth and the uncle promises the hand of Abla on successful completion - of just one more task!

After he saves Abla from a gang of bandits (she is persued by bandits and some awful noblemen because of her great beauty) his father allows Antar to stop tending the livestock and makes him a knight in his army. There is constant warring between the desert tribes at this time. Antar is needed to fight and protect the tribe. There are many adventures and treachery but Antar is a brave, honourable and committed warrior for his father, the tribe and Abla.  He is successful and chivalrous in combat.  He is honourable and charismatic and becomes the tribe’s hero.  Antar and Abla celebrate together and it seems that all is well.

BUT it is not the end of the story. Still Antar and Abla are unable to marry. The uncle goes back on his word to allow Antar to marry his daughter and marries her to an Arabian nobleman.

Antar loves Abla until his death.  He writes the most beautiful poems about Abla. He also writes poems about war and valour. He writes epic poems about his life.  His poetry is admired and enjoyed. He is loved for his poetry, a highly regarded skill in Arabic culture.  

A great honour was bestowed on our hero when one of his greatest poems was selected to be in the Mu’allaqat ( seven poems from pre-Islamic Arabia) which are also known as The Hanging Poems because they were hang in the Ka’ba at Mecca!
This is the 1948 film: The Adventures of Antar and Abla.
The Egyptian writer and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Naguib Mahfouz, his friend Fouad Nouwiera and the filmmaker Salah Abu-Seif, worked on/wrote the script for this interpretation of the story.  Worth watching, even if you don't understand Arabic,  for the costuming and some lovely dancing and singing.
Antar’s stories had a bearing on the rise of valour, chivalry and brave Knights’ tales here in the West.

His poetry and story also influenced composers .........
This is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's  Symphony No. 2,  which is based on the stories of Antar.
We have reached the end of our Antar and Abla story.
Hope you enjoyed! 
Let's Take a Look at Lovely Lacy Costumes!
Exciting News!!  I'll be teaching at Jewel of Yorkshire belly dance festival on April 3rd and 4th October! For more info about my workshops, and all the other workshops on offer, please click here. The workshops are being sold quickly so it's advisable to book in advance to guarantee your place. Hope to see you there! 

Zara's Zouk will also be at JoY on 2nd, 3rd & 4th October so do come along, browse and have a chat! 

Here is a bit more info about my three workshops at JoY:
Saturday 3rd October 2015     9.30 - 11.30

Whatever their age or size have you noticed how feminine Egyptian women look when they dance?
In this workshop we will explore the femininity of bellydance and the queen-like qualities that are at the heart of the dance. Come and embrace yourself through the dance!

Saturday 3rd October 2015     4.15 - 6.15
Have you seen this video below? Over 115,000 views! Zara is best known for her Shaabi style

Zara grew up in a Cairo working class area and now you can learn from the source by taking this workshop - get to grips with this style and really feel, understand it and dance it !! 
Sunday 4th October 2015     12.15 - 2.15

 This is a tasty technique workshop! We will look at turns, fancy footwork, layering and how to create dramatic lines with arms all whilst travelling around the stage and in between static moves. This will help smooth out your transitions, creating a seamless and dynamic performance. 
Thank you for reading and supporting Zara's Zouk and Zara Dance. 
If you would like to sponsor  Zara to give workshops/dance in your area please get in touch. Bookings being taken for 2015 - get in touch !

Best wishes and Love
Zara and Sandra xxx
Copyright © 2015 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.

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