SALE & Why did you start to bellydance?
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Hope it's been amazing so far!
Welcome to the first Zameena of 2017!
Zameena is a monthly e-zine / newsletter celebrating our community and our love of all things bellydance, brought to you by Zara's Zouk - that's my mum, Sandra, and me, Zara, here in the photos!! 

We try to incorporate all aspects covered by that huge umbrella term 'Bellydance' and love having YOU, our readers, involved in Zameena. We have lots of ideas for 2017 and look forward to sharing the bellydance love. You can check out past editions here.  

Back to this month and we have news of what's happening at Zara's Zouk but it really is over to our readers as we hear their many reasons for taking up bellydance,  please enjoy!

(photos by Evie)
The Zara's Zouk SALE is now on and we are having a MASSIVE CLEARANCE like never before of professional costumes starting at £60 
It's a great opportunity to choose a new costume for your spring performances!
Why did you start to bellydance?
I love bellydance! There is no denying that, but often I go through stages of resenting it. I think many of us do. We get disheartened with it for whatever reason. Many a time I have seen on Facebook an announcement from a dancer: "I’M GIVING UP BELLYDANCE…."  I mean why? 

I think the reason is because unfortunately in bellydance we too often forget what bellydance actually is. Bellydance is the moves, the expression of oneself and the music, with your female form and sharing all of that with others, if you so wish. But all too often this is not what we think of as bellydance. We forget that. We start to associate bellydance with bellydance politics. How many gigs we do or don’t get. How we are doing in class compared to our fellow students, if we can do a certain move, if we are as good as other dancers. And, if you teach: how many people come to your class / workshop? How many likes your photo or video gets. How loud the audience clapped, …. And loads of other things. Things that pull our attention away from dancing for ourselves and for our own happiness. Things that make us forget that bellydance is just so much fun and feels so good to dance…..

When I find myself getting disheartened I go back to what first made me start bellydance. That innocent want, passion and desire to dance - before all the other stuff crept in.

Why did I start to bellydance? I just wanted to bond with my family more, to connect with the half of me that is Egyptian. Nothing more, nothing less and now, when I find myself wanting to give it up because I am upset with X, Y or Z, I go back to that. I go back to reminding myself why I loved this dance; why I just had to start. It wasn’t because I wanted a career, to be famous, to make money, to be better than others, to fill workshops etc ….    I just wanted to dance around the living room in Cairo, with all my cousins, to fun tunes and have a laugh!  

AND I LOVE TO HEAR WHY OTHERS STARTED BELLYDANCE which is why I asked Zameena readers and Facebook friends to send in their stories. What better way for us all to start the New Year than to remind ourselves of that first thing which drew us to this art?!  I hope you enjoy reading these reasons as much as I have. They may remind you of what first drew you to dance and take you back to a place of dancing for yourself. A big THANK YOU to everyone who wrote in and shared their story….     

Here are your stories:

"In an Egyptian restaurant a bellydancer got me up dancing and said I should take classes as I was a natural." Anett, London 

"I wanted to do something sociable and I love dancing. Everyone was so lovely and friendly and I loved (and still do love) the music and dance. I was instantly hooked." Larissa, York

"I went to an aerobics class after the birth of my second baby. I hated how they counted through the music and there was no "real" dancing. At the local NCT group I was complaining about how boring it had been, and someone said they had heard about a local belly dance class. About 8 of us were planning to go together - in the end it was two of us, and the other lady only went twice but I was hooked for life ! - My baby is now 25!"  Sara Shrapnell, California

"I had just moved to the UK, and wanted to get out of the house and make new friends." Sarah Elizabeth, Durham

"I went to a friend's bellydance show and loved the performances and wanted to try it myself. I got hooked. That was over 5 years ago and now I am teaching bellydance" Sandy Maya, Reading

"Because it frees the soul," Anonymous, Leeds

"I signed up for a thousand new activities when I started university, but belly dance is the only one that stuck. Probably thanks to all the wonderfully addictive rhythms!" Jen Blundell, Coventry

"Bellydance is the dance which suits me the best and expresses my inner emotions more than any other dance. I tried many dances to come to this conclusion! In my teens I attended a dance academy. One day, in contemporary class, each person had to show their own improvisation and that's when I saw a girl showing some Bellydance moves. I felt nostalgic as it reminded me of the times I watched Egyptian movies with bellydancers when I was small with my mom. The girl's movements were beautiful and she was so passionate about it. Later, we learnt a choreography, a fusion of contemporary and oriental movements on Oum Kalthoum's song, Alf Leyla W Leyla remix by DJ Said Mrad. The costumes were Arabic harem style. I enjoyed this choreography more than any other. I could feel the movements like I was alive. That's when bellydance entered my life." Chacha Dance, London

"I started at the age of 53. I wanted to be fitter so my boss took me along to a class one night and I became hooked. It made me use muscles that I never knew I had. I love belly dancing!" Maureen Morton, Derbyshire.

"My mum saw an advert in the local adult education brochure and thought it sounded fun so she took me along with her. Because I was under 16 and therefore not really allowed to attend an adult education course, I had to get special permission from the class and my school to confirm that it wouldn't interfere with my daytime studies. It was well worth the hassle though, as I loved it from day one, as did my Mum. We never looked back! It's been 23 years now and we're both still dancing and showing no signs of giving up!!!" Hannah Newton, Oxfordshire

"I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh bronze award and needed to complete the 'skill' section - dance appreciation was an option and by chance I spotted belly dance classes in my estate newspaper. That was over 10 years ago!" Natasha Clark, Andover, Hants

"It seemed exotic and I loved the costumes." Wendy Blair, Gloucester

"To reconnect with my soul." Jackie, Berkshire

"I saw Bal Anat perform at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in San Rafael, California. I was a designer with my own shop and was wearing an Elizabethan dress. The troupe of dancers were all wearing coin costumes, asuite, amazing Turkmen jewellery; they were playing instruments, doing zagareets, and were spell binding! They danced balancing trays on their heads, pots, sword dancing, and the finale dancer, Galia danced with a veil, did a Turkish Drop and played sagats! I approached the leader of the troupe, who turned out to be Jamila Salimpour, and told her that her dancing and show was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She took my hand and said, 'You look like an Ancient Egyptian. Come Dance With Me'." Asmahan, London
"I was invited to a show that Kay Dance hosted. I absolutely loved the way the dancers moved their bodies to the music. The costumes. The music. The different styles. I was mesmerized and I thought, 'Wow!!! I want to learn this!' Luckily, a lovely lady was starting classes in Hendon, close to me. So I made a conscious effort to attend the classes. And I am still in love with this beautiful ancient art. I go to 2 bellydance groups and they are the highlights of my week. I just wish I had my own belly dance costume....That's my next venture. I try to watch as many performances as I can. xxxx" Ansu Matabudul, London

"I saw a class advertisement at Dance Works in London. I'd tried most dance forms so thought, 'Why not!'" Laura, Hertfordshire

"Because it didn't require a partner! I was between ballroom dance partners at the time." Helen Santa Maria, Reading
"Because I loved the bellydancers I used to watch: beautiful big hair and those white or gold dresses with beaded fringe, the music and magic, the good shows in the 80's with candles, trays etc. I still love to see a great show with an energetic dancer who makes me smile, happy and jump from my chair!" Eugenia, London (but I'm Argentine)

"I saw it from a young age, at weddings and on Turkish TV and always wanted to learn." Sureya, London

"Growing up I listened to a lot of Greek and Turkish music and quite a few albums my parents owned featured belly dancers on the covers. Many years later I wanted to find something to stimulate my brain and keep me fit so I thought I'd take up a dance class but with my curvy figure I felt a bit self-conscious until I found bellydancing. Why hadn't I thought of it before? As soon as I started, I knew I had found the missing link in my life. The combination of beautiful music, hypnotic rhythms, gorgeous moves that allowed my figure to be free and to feel that my curves were to be celebrated. Belly dance has given me the confidence to embrace my figure and I now finally feel that I have a physical way of expressing my love of Middle Eastern music." Penny Bellydanser, Gloucester

"The music attracted me - It just made me want to move!" Di Shaw, Sussex

"The music video to '7' by Prince featuring American belly dancer Mayte Garcia - saw it and went, 'I want to do that!' I was just 14 :)" Jennie Marshall, London

"Looked fun!" Diane, Dorset

"I wanted to camel!" Rachel Bennett, Berkshire

"I was on a backpacking trip to Egypt and saw some amazing dancers. I mentioned to the tour guide that I would love to learn how to dance and he found it funny because I'm very clumsy. So I became determined to prove him wrong and that I would be an amazing dancer, even though I knew that I would never see him again to show him how well I can dance!!"  Roxane Grant, London

"I started bellydancing because a colleague of mine had been in Turkey and had seen it. She told me that she knew I would be able to bellydance because I was "the type" but, at that time,  I didnt even know that you could learn to bellydance, or that it was a profession for some. She bought me a pink (favourite colour then) hipscarf on her next Turkey-trip, and I tried bellydancing and I joined a class :) and I have just kept doing it!" Madeleine Dans, Oslo, Norway

"Always wanted to do it - never had time until my sixties. Love the moves!" Angela, Black Country

"Drawn to the costumes and music - Took me 2 years to pluck up courage to go to first class." Sue Powell, Gloucester

"I'm a people person and leapt at the chance to bellydance, introduced to me by a friend. It's exhilarating, inspirational, fun and there's great camaraderie. Putting a smile on the audience's faces lifts my spirits. I could dance everyday and cannot imagine life without bellydance. Learning the history of the genres is an added bonus." Jennie Miles, Midsomer Norton

A friend of mine kept trying to persuade me to go along to bellydance classes with her. I resisted as much as I could as I really didn't think it was for me, for so many reasons, from the outfits to the fact that my body had never done what I wanted it to. I convinced myself that I would be a disaster so there was no point in trying. Then, one day I watched her group perform and I was totally mesmerised by these beautiful ladies of all shapes and sizes dancing together and enjoying themselves. After that I was begging my friend to take me along to class, but with the proviso that I wouldn't be getting my belly out! I just wanted to come and try it out. Well that didn't last very long at all! Going along to the classes with such lovely women and discovering this beautiful way of dancing started to give me a body confidence which I'd never known before. I'm not perfect, but I'm not ashamed anymore of how I look. Now, 5 years later, belly dance is part of my soul and is a big part of who I am. I often wonder what I used to do before I discovered it. My only regret is that I let my insecurities and lack of confidence rule me for so long, but as they say, 'better late than never'......" Claire Roche, Isle of Wight

Saturday 28th Jan
 Fan Veil Workshop with Jen Jen, Norwich  
Learn from this authentic fan veil dancer and meet Zara's Zouk too!
Sunday 5th Feb
The Arab Quarterly with Melanie and Hassan, London
Great Show, Live Musc and Zara's Zouk will be there too!
Saturday 11th March
Come to Zara's Egyptian dance workshops, Gloucester
Authentic learning, have fun at the hafla and see Zara's Zouk!
Till Next Month
It's Best Wishes

(in Cairo from 13th) and Sandra (here in London) xxx
Copyright © 2017 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.

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