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Photo: Cassandra Fox on her horse, Shadow

Welcome to February's Zameena
💖  Valentine's Day is on the horizon  💖
It may be frosty outside but we aim to warm you up with
lots of bellydance love 

We are very happy to welcome Cassandra Fox, Internet/You Tube sensation, as our resident writer for 2019.

Cassandra kicks off by opening up to us on all aspects of her life and how they inform her dance. It's a WOW of a read!

We have our usual music corner and info spot 
plus a round up of where you can meet Zara Dance and Zara's Zouk 

So, please sit back, be sure to open up the full length of the email and enjoy .........
Cassandra Fox 
Dancing for Myselves
etings from Canada!
Don't forget to display images
Hello everyone!

My name is Cassandra Fox (photo on left) and I am thrilled to be the resident writer in 2019 for Zameena

I’m excited for the year ahead and I hope you enjoy reading my contributions throughout the year.

As I type this we are coming out of a cold snap here in Canada (Minus 30 Celsius) and I have the flu/sinus infection, because Canadian winters don’t come to play. 
This is written in a state induced by a cocktail of too many over the counter meds. I am telling you because I believe in transparency; I’m not a woman of mystery. I am also telling you so that you can piece together that a notable trait about my personality is that I, all too often, leave things until the last minute.
The beautiful Zara, the brains and effort behind Zameena, told me the first article can be “an introduction to who you are”.  And cue my existential crisis into defining who I am. Who am I? What information will they want to know?  What is relevant? Why yes, I am prone to overthinking things, thank you for noticing.

After stressing about how to go about this, I am here now actually going about it. It’s easier once you get started. Amazing how we often forget that sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

So without further ado, I present to you a blend of the most frequently asked questions and questions that I wish were asked more frequently in an effort to help share with you who I am.
34 years old (The My Little Pony TV series debuted the year I was born … coincidence? I think not)

5’6” (Same as my Momma Bear)

1st Generation Canadian. Like many Canadians my parents came and settled here from elsewhere. My family moved here from Jamaica. Yes you read that right.
Yes I am pale. Yes, they are actually Jamaican.

Current living status:
I live on a small family hobby farm in a small town in Ontario (about 2 hours North of Toronto for some relative geography).The irony and oddity of a bellydancer residing in rural Canada is not lost on me, but I have to say for me it just feels right. *Greens Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me*
Relationship Status:
I have a wonderful boyfriend.
People said, “You’ll never get a boyfriend if you broadcast what a crazy cat lady you are.”
Me, “Challenge Accepted.”

Ladies, they want you to believe you can’t have it all, but you can.

💖 💖 Believe in magic 💖 💖
Photo: Cassandra and her love

Started Belly Dancing:
I started in 2008, although I was trying to impersonate Shakira in my bathroom since I was about 16 or 17. Well it wasn’t just in the bathroom. Whenever, wherever…

Favourite Colour:
All the colours. Seriously don’t make me choose.  Maybe it’s pink. Maybe it’s blue. Did I mention I am indecisive?

Random fact:
I am very introverted.  True story.*My bed, my cats, my Netflix,and my snacks*

Undesirable trait: 
While musing about how to write this I decided to outsource to my mother and boyfriend. “If you had to describe me to someone, like what my defining personality traits are, what would you say?” 
Without hearing each other’s answers they both said “Messy” first, followed by “scatterbrained” (Boyfriend) and “disorganized” (Mother) . 
They said nice things after too of course, but seeing yourself as you are includes acknowledging your areas that need work. You have to own your truths and that includes owning your own BS so there you have it. I am messy. So messy. Soooooo messy.
Of course I respond with, “Well I‘m an artist. Creativity is chaotic”.
They’re not buying it. I should probably clean up my mess.
I should definitely clean up my mess.

Something I like to brag about:
Last year my king size crochet afghan won the adult one piece afghan category at a local fall fair. I tell everyone who sees the blanket and I bask in their confused/fake enthusiasm. I won a red ribbon and $10. The blanket cost me 26 hours and $160 worth of yarn to make.  
I have already started my next afghan. The moral of this story is, I am competitive. I also won the baby afghan category at another fair. I don’t have a baby, so I gave the blanket away to someone who does.   Sharing is caring.
Photo: Cassandra's winning afghan blanket
Education background:
I went to University for Nutritional and Nutraceutical Science.  People often ask if I feel like my education was a “waste” since I work in a different field now. How can an education be a waste? No I don’t and funny enough I don’t know if I would have been able to dive into dancing and get my first performance opportunities had it not have been for being at University in a multicultural environment. 
Learning anything be it in a formal education environment, or on your own, or apprenticing etc. is never a waste.
Live your life.
Learn the things that interest you.
Sometimes, it’s even worthwhile to learn the things that don’t.
Something I think is helpful to learn:
Despite being competitive, you can lose and still be happy with your effort. You can come dead last and be happy that you pushed yourself, be proud that you tried, and be pleased with your effort.

I made an apron for the first time to enter in the fall fairs last year. So did my two friends.
One friend’s apron won at both fairs because she is amazing. The other friend placed at both fairs because she is also amazing.

My apron never placed.
I was sad, for me, and my overly ruffled apron. I went through the 5 stages;  denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Photo:Cassandra's apron with frilly, pink tutus on some of the animals
In the end I realized I still like my apron.

I still like my friends.

I’m proud of my apron and I am very proud of my friends.

Still going to try and beat them this year though.

I should probably start my apron sooner than the day before the fair.

Photo:Cassandra and her friend, Daniella, wearing their aprons

I have 3 cats, Butters, Bunny Muffins and Carlene. In my imagination they love me so much they eventually will learn to help me sew, like Cinderella’s mice. In reality they just get their long hair on everything and demand attention, which I suppose is what my boyfriend would say about me so I can’t judge.  They are amazing cats though.
Seriously.  If you meet me, ask me about my cats.
Photo: Cassandra with 2 of her cats, Butters and Bunny Muffins
I also have 4 horses. My eldest, Shadow, I have had since I was 10 years old. He is a best friend, a teacher, a humbler of ego, an athlete, a ladies man, and kind of a chuckle head.
My Neewa is the sensible one, imagine a golden retriever the size of a horse, that’s Neewa. 
Photo: Cassandra and her horse, Neewa.
Cougar I have because long story short, a woman I had met was going through life changes and was unable to keep him and was heart broken to part with him and asked if I would take him. I could not imagine the pain of being in that situation myself and we had room on the farm so Cougar was welcomed into the family. He has the stoic nature you would expect of a young man in a similar situation.
And then there is Camille, my youngest. Imagine a rebellious, free spirited, high strung teenage daughter as a horse. That’s Camille. We just try to peacefully coexist around Camille.
Notable Moment of Impulse:
I mean there are a lot of these moments.  But one in particular is when I decided my horse, Shadow, and I should move up a division (higher jumps) not because we were winning at the current level but because I wanted to know if we could do it. I wanted to challenge us. And I just really wanted to jump higher. We went into a field with some 4 foot round bales and I said to myself, "If we can do this we can move up to 3’6” hunters." We didn’t die in the field that day (albeit we might have brushed death ever so gently)  and so we moved on up. Our first day at 3’6’’ we had some hiccups but we were not discouraged and better yet once again we didn’t die. We spent the entire season at 3’6” and ended up doing better at that level than the previous one.  Go figure.
We were not winners.
We were not the best, but we were trying OUR best and we were having fun doing so.
Looking back I think it was because I genuinely believed we could do it why it ended up working out. Horses are sensitive and intuitive animals. They can sense your joy and they can sense your doubt.  They can tell if you are confident or not. Whether or not you are willing to admit something to yourself, rest assured your horse already knows the truth. This has been an invaluable lesson for me. Just admit “it” to yourself; chances are someone close to you already knows anyway. Once you admit “it”, you can actually deal with it, and grow through it.

Do you make your own costumes? 
Mmm hmm. I sure as sugar do. If I am honest, sometimes I feel like I enjoy hoarding fabric and wearing a newly made costume more than I enjoy the sewing itself. 
Photo: Cassandra's third cat, Carlene, helping/hindering her .

Costume making tests my patience, and has completely expanded my curse word vocabulary and use. It humbles me, inspires me, aggravates me, exhausts me, and delights me.
It’s complicated. 
I could never stop though, not now, I’m in too deep.
When I first started dancing I could not afford to buy a costume right away so I showed my grandma pictures. My grandma had worked as a seamstress in Jamaica for a while with her auntie and she would sometimes make her own clothes, because if you can’t find exactly what you want or need, you can make it. So, I asked her if she could make a belly dance costume.
She said, “Sure WE can!” 
From the get go she refused to do any of the “fiddly likkle hand sewing foolishness” but said she would help with the machine sewing so long as I learned how to do it too. It was so much trial and error, so much work.So worthwhile though.
Look at me now Grams!! 
I get great satisfaction from making my own costumes.
How much fabric do you have?
Forget what I said earlier about not being mysterious, because a lady never reveals the depths of her fabric stash.I can say though that I have great “material” wealth.  Get it?!?!?! I do have collecting (*cough*hoarding*cough*) tendencies. Whatever, there are worse habits to have. It’s fine. I’m fine.

Hardest thing ever done:
At the start of 2013 My Grandmother, one of my best friends and the pillar of our family, had a stroke which evolved into her over 3 year long battle with vascular dementia. My mom and I cared for her at home. Caring for a loved one and seeing them lose them-self is hands down one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Seeing it happen, you realize that your sense of self is one of the most valuable things you have and that you probably don’t even realize it.
You in a way lose yourself in the process of it all but it comes full circle eventually and by the end you know yourself better than ever because you appreciate how strong you are and how much having yourself matters. Her suffering ended in July 2016. Even in her death I find I continue to learn reflectively from my experiences I had with her.
Through her love and memory she continues to make me stronger.
So what do these random facts have to do with anything, especially dancing?
Dance is a language of our collective humanity. In my humble opinion who I am as a person and the experiences that have shaped me, inevitably shape my art, my dancing and my creativity. And conversely who I develop into as a dancer diffuses back to continue to shape me as a person.  We are fluid as artists.
Our art shapes us as much as we shape our art. They are in an infinite feedback loop.
Photo: Cassandra at a gig

How people see you or imagine you as a person can also shape how they see and interpret your dancing.
I can be myself when I dance, but I can also get away from myself when I dance.
That overthinking I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t happen when I dance. I’m granted temporary relief from the freight train of thoughts in my head. When I dance I am in the moment, naturally without effort to be which is something I struggle with being in my day to day life. But after years of dancing, I have gotten so much better at being in the moment outside of dance.

That science “nerd” background, ended up being very helpful in giving me a base for educating myself on how the body works in terms of movement and understanding how movements are generated.
Learning is never a waste.

Cassandra Fox dances to drum solo
"Nour Balady" by Amir Sofi

Dress made by Cassandra
The farm girl in me does not mind getting dirty or sweaty. I don’t care about looking perfect .When I dance, I dance until I sweat out every ounce of myself into my show. I want you to be entertained. I want you to be struck by what you saw not literally, obviously, but if it’s summer you might get struck with some sweat droplets during a spin. I want that regardless of whether you liked what you saw, you felt something from it, even if it was just fear of a bare midriff.

It was the impulsive need to compete and push myself and the confidence that I gained from taking my horse, Shadow, to a nationally rated show to compete in a higher division that gave me the confidence to submit a video when I was early for a physics lecture and saw a flier for a student event looking for performers. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it anyway because I really just wanted to do it. I wanted to know if I could do it. I knew I had to try. And once again, I didn’t die so, I definitely call that a success.

Photo:Cassandra on her horse, Shadow

Once, I was told,
“You dance like a wild horse, too much power; you need to be tamed/trained”.

I know it wasn’t meant as a compliment but I took it as one.
 Liberty, our autonomy, that freedom to feel yourself and express it is such a valuable thing and it’s something that is all too easy to take for granted.
May you find your “wild horse” and when you do, may you have the courage to just let it run.

Before I go, I want to ask you to ask yourself, who are you?
Who are you as a person?
Who are you as a dancer?
And how do they feed into one another?
Get to know yourself. Get to know your dancing.
Enjoy the ride along the way 💖 
Connect with Cassandra
Cassandra's  bellydance tutorial videos and more are on Patreon, starting at just $10 a month - go take a look: 

Facebook Fan page:

Facebook main page:

Instagram @cassandrafoxdance 
Click on pics below to find out where/when Cassandra is performing
Syracuse: 25-26 May                                    Maryland: 5-6 July

Brazil: 30 Aug - 1 Sept
A big Zameena THANK YOU to Cassandra for sharing so much love with us all.

As resident writer, Cassandra will back in May, August and November, can't wait!
Thanks again! xx
Your Body, 
Your Rules, 
Your Online Bellydance Shop

(We also go mobile and you can make an appointment to visit us in London Tel or text: 07854023948)
With International Women's Day, 8th March and Mother's Day, 31st March, now is a good time to stock up with some fun gifts for your dance sisters and dance mamas with our 3 for 2 offer on earrings:
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Shop Earrings Here
Music Corner
With Zara Dance

Boom! - a fun pop bellydance song
to get you shaking off the winter chills!

It is hot off the press and if you had taken my advice, in my last blog, you would have already seen it because it's from the Mazzika channel.
It is by singer Hamza El Sagher and is called "Ya Naker Kheiry"  "Denying My Love/Good Deeds". A re-make of a folkloric song. The video also features both singing and dancing by, arguably, Egypt's current most famous dancer, Sofinar.

Take a leaf out of Sofinar's book and learn some Arabic. It's helped her in her rise to fame and you can start with our info section below... 

The beginning of this music video, where Sofinar is doing her washing, is a really fun clip.... I can't help but mention how much it reminds me of Yasmina of Cairo's Roof Top Baladi video. Never seen it? Have a watch below. It's one of my favorite pro bellydance clips of all time.

Find out more about
Yasmina and her Bellydance B&B in Cairo Here  


   ❤️  ❤️  ❤️   Info. Spot  ❤️  ❤️  ❤️
with Sandra
With Valentine's Day fast approaching we share a video on how to say romantic things in Colloquial Egyptian Arabic.
We hope you enjoy! 😉
Follow up from last month....
Last month in Zameena we had an exclusive with Zaina Brown. She shared extracts, ahead of  the release, from her new book: Fire in The Belly!  

The book has now been published and can be purchaced on Amazon HERE

If you would like to know more about the book and read some extracts check out last month's Zameena 
Where to meet Zara's Zouk Mobile Shop
with Sandra and/or
Zara Dance for performances / workshops
(You can tell when it's Ramadan and Zara's not dancing in Egypt lol) 

Feb 9th
Workshops and Hafla with Maria D'Silva

Hosted by Alma in Huntingdon 
Sandra will be there with Zara's Zouk   - Can't wait!
Click here for Info. 

Zara Dance
Teaching FOUR workshops

March 2nd/3rd
Radionica trbušnog (orijentalnog) plesa

 · Hosted by: 
Sahara Skola Trbusnog Plesa
 in Sarajevo, Bosnia/Herzegovina
More Info Here
5th - 6th - 7th

The Zara's Zouk Stall will be in 
Northern Ireland
what a

Festival Line up!

Hope to see you there!

Click Here for the Face Book Page
Click Here for Website
May 11th
AyZee Spring Hafla
Ledbury Community Hall
Ledbury Herefordshire HR8 2AE

Zara's Zouk will be there

Tel: 07962 161081


May 18th
 Harem On The Hills Workshops and Hafla, Bromsgrove, Birmingham

Hosted by the lovely Luisa Taylor
Zara is performing and the
Zara's Zouk Stall will be there!
May 26th, 
Norwich, Norfolk
Workshops with Zara Dance 
Hosted by beautiful  Rosemary LeFevre
Call: 07949 850322 

Back to Basics Baladi
and Bellydance Empowerment !
June 1st
 In Kidlington, Oxford

Once again Zara and Zara's Zouk will be hosted by the amazing Hannah Newton 
See you there for a day of
Zara Workshops,
Shopping and partying 
Hannah's Events sell out FAST so get booking NOW 

Friday 25th October to Sunday 27th October 2019
The Toorak Hotel, Torquay, Devon

Zara will be teaching and performing and the Zara's Zouk Stall will be there with Sandra. 
All the single rooms have been booked so only limited spaces left
❤️  ❤️  Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️ ❤️
Dance lovers like you are the HEART of Zameena!
It's a joy and privilege to be able to connect with you here 

❤️ Thank you for reading ❤️

Also, thanks again to Cassandra for sharing her experiences, a fab read! 

Till next month  
Valentines Love
xx Zara and Sandra xx
Photo: Sandra (mum) and Zara in a Giza cafe with a mural of Oum Kalthoum 
PS. If you are stuck indoors due to extreme weather conditions why not browse these past editions of Zameena?

On the left we have our 2016 interview with Cassandra

Then there are the February editions from our previous resident writers:
2016 - Kay, 2017 - Sophia, 2018 - Farah,

So lots to enjoy!

Happy Reading!
Reading from an outside link? Then why not subscribe to Zameena - it's free, emailed to you once a month and we NEVER share your email address with other parties. 
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