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Welcome Dear Dancers and Dance Lovers 
 It's February - the Month of Love  

We hope you are feeling the Bellydance LOVE in your life!

Our contributors are certainly ready to share their passion with you!

Our resident writer for 2020, the amazing Serena (in photo above),

is a self confessed lover of the Golden Age Egyptian Style.
Find out more about her in her introductory article below! 

Info Spot: the lovely Vanessa Raqs talks about her love and the love many of us have for the great composer,
Baleigh Hamdi 


We hear about bellydance in Belfast and the birth of
Dum Tak Festival with the incredible Sara Sarinha 

Red is the colour of love and Zara's Zouk are happy to offer many choices in this vibrant colour so don't be shy - BUY! 

Music Corner features a song causing A LOT of controversy
in Egypt right now! 


There's lots more too, so sit back, relax and enjoy as we hand
over to,

My Journey so Far
By Serena Ramzy aka Serena Dances

I am Serena Ramzy and I will be your resident writer for this year!

I am very excited to be sharing some of my thoughts with you on dancing and everything that surrounds this art form.

But first I will give you a glimpse of my journey, so you get to know me a bit more. It has been an amazing journey so far and it continues to be! I hope you enjoy knowing a bit of it and in doing so, a bit of me.

I want to start with the very beginning, always a good point to start, right?

The story between me and the dance started a long time ago… I was a little girl, 3 or 4 maybe and already in love with movement and music. I got my sister, who shared the same love, to take me to ballet and Jazz classes with her (yep, 80’s jazz classes…still the best!), and I tell you, once she got me started I was there every day!
I would wear dance shoes even in the streets, so I never stopped feeling like a dancer.  I have so many fond memories of my teacher Luiza, who looked like Tina Turner and got us to dance to Lionel Richie and George Benson …  just so you get the picture 😊


I want say right at the beginning… just in case you don’t get to the end….

The best part of my dancing experience this lifetime has been meeting and sharing moments with the amazing people I have met along the way. Teachers, dancers, students, friends, artists that inspired me, producers, musicians…ok… so now I carry on:

I was so hooked that it was not enough to just dance on my own; I needed to get others dancing with me. That's when I started to make choreographies and teach my friends so we could dance at parties together around the neighbourhood.

We danced at so many parties that people got to know us and it became my first business! We got paid in cake and sweets, of course 😊


Photo below: Serena and Karima, 1987

When I was 9, my sister Karima (a ballet trained dancer at the time)  who I was always dancing with, started taking belly dance classes.
These classes were not for kids, but I could watch them - and I did, every single one!

A year later Karima was a professional dancer, performing around the country and I was her roadie 😊; picking up her veils and dance sticks to sorting out the music for her. I learned so much from her in those early years.

Around that time, I got a scholarship in the Sao Paulo City Ballet and that would have been the path I would follow for the next 8 years, but life had different plans for me.
A few years later I had an injury that would prevent me from taking my Ballet training to a professional level. But I knew that it would not be the end of my dancing career. I was determined to continue dancing in any way I could, and although I practised other dance styles, Belly Dance was a natural direction as it was already so integrated in my life.

By the age of 14 my sister said:
“You are ready, you are coming to perform with me!’

I did not have that certainty myself, but I had been observant and practising in hiding (I used to be extremely shy…),  I had learned all the group dances as I used to stand in when someone missed rehearsals… so what was the worst that could happen, I thought.

And from that day in 1990 until today dancing has been my life.

Photo below: Serena and Karima, 1990

Early Belly Dance Years:

I had, for the first 6 years, been watching videos of dancers like Fifi Abdou, Mona El Said, Hannan, Nelly, Nagwa Fouad and many others and having them as my dance education; studying their motion, their feel and their musicality. That was food for the soul! They have taught me so much through their art and even today,
I learn from watching them - they are my go to for inspiration.

All my training at that time was done by soaking in all I had observed from my sister, her gentle guidance, always encouraging me to find my ways to develop and my almost 24/7 of watching the golden dancers mentioned above.


I was lucky enough to have my sister always by my side; as a sister and as a dance partner. We performed all over Brazil in Hotels, weddings, parties, night clubs, cultural festivals, with Arabic music bands, rock bands… Appeared in TV adverts and programs including MTV Brazil (haha).

We had a great synergy and familiarity that made it so easy and natural for us to perform together and the public loved it. It was a special time for both of us.

It was extra special because our mum would accompany us until I became 18 (as a minor I needed chaperoning 😉) it was indeed a family thing and I treasure those moments with all my heart.

The New Chapter:

Funny how things go, I am writing this to you today, 19 January 2020.
This is the very day I met Hossam in Brazil, 19 January 1996.

I was doing my regular performance on a Friday night; he was in the audience.  He decided to play a drum solo for me, and we clicked artistically right there and later that year we would do our first official collaboration.

We performed together on Brazilian TV and I became the cover of his album Gamal Rawhany, where the music he composed for me “Serena” is featured. This album now is called, From Cairo to Sao Paulo.

The following year we got married, I moved to England and we became music, dance and life partners for the next 2 decades.

I became a dance teacher in 1998 and started to share what worked for me as a dancer technically speaking. Hossam taught about music. It was a complete package of music and dance.  It was then I discovered my passion for teaching. I then started to develop my practical methodology of teaching how to dance to the music.

During this collaboration I learned so much about music, dance and the Egyptian culture through being in close contact with family and friends, musicians and dancers in Egypt. This experience gave me an incredible insight on Egyptian Dance as an art form.

When I discovered the Golden Era dancers in 1996, I was not able to fully see the scale of their artistry until I went to Egypt a year later and experienced Egypt with my own soul. It was then that I fell in love with the Golden Era and made it my goal to learn all I can about it and make sure I contribute to their everlasting in any way I can.
I will tell you more about this Golden Era journey and how it changed my dance in a future article.

Photo below: Serena and Hossam, Hungary, 2008

From the late 90’s, 2000’s to 2015 we, as a duet, had travelled all over the 5 continents performing and teaching dancers of all levels. 

I co-founded the Drumzy School of Music and Dance and graduated numerous dancers to a professional level as well as foundation level in the method of the School. I created, choreographed and directed performances which presented the Egyptian culture in a high artistic rendition. I've collaborated with amazing dance artists and musicians, not only of Egyptian style, but of other forms and cultures too. I have developed my practical method for translating the music into motion and acquired an insider’s knowledge of Egyptian Belly Dance Music and Rhythms, learning how music is composed and the ins and outs of it and learned how to play it a bit too 😊

I have worked closely with a great Egyptian band,  presenting Egyptian art at some of the most prestigious music and dance venues and festivals such as the Petronas Twin Towers Philharmonic in Malaysia, the Beijing Conservatory and Edmonton - Canada Conservatory to name a few and have recorded 2 Dance DVDs : Visual Melodies and Bedouin Tribal Dance.

There are so many other things that I am proud of but will share another time as this is getting to be a book!

During all this, I created a family; became a mother to an amazing son My Amir and tried to keep up with my childhood dream … …
I carry on with ballet classes as much as I can till now 😊 despite some body parts protesting, haha

Going Solo:

For the last 4 year I have developed my dance career as a solo artist, and it has been an amazing period of discovery for me. I continue to tour the world teaching and performing, whilst also teaching certified courses and private classes on home ground and expanding my reach to what creativity attracts me.

Grounding and defining further my methods of teaching to better assist the students and make them able dancers for themselves and developing their individuality as dancers. That is what I like to do as a teacher.

As a dancer I keep working on developing myself according to my essence and what I aesthetically appreciate.

Photo below: Workshop, London

I have just recently collaborated with the East West Orchestra at the Philarmonie in Essen, Germany and will continue my “Music in Motion" tour this year with workshops and performances in the UK and abroad. I will be running my 4 workshop dates in London, performing and teaching at the Majma Festival, JoY, Drum Camp and at Belly Dance Spa alongside our dear Magazine Creator, Zara as well as other workshops soon to be announced.

Now on a personal level:
Even though I have lived here in the UK for most of my life, I am Brazilian through and through and I don’t like to take myself too seriously.

I keep it all very simple as life is a game that should be fun to play.
I love to go disco dancing, singing in the car with my friends, make dance parties where you can dress up as you want, be that one  that wants  to stay at the party for one more song… and dance so much that I can’t move the next day (some friends call me the Duracell bunny, no idea why!)

I laugh loud and make others laugh loud, be a fun - though sometimes embarrassing mum and refuse to grow old mentally but grow spiritually.

It’s always hard to speak about yourself, but I hope you got to know me a bit more through this introduction. It’s also hard to squeeze in all these 30 years of working as a professional dancer and more than that as a student of dance in a single article. But I am sure we will get more and more acquainted as we go along this year with the articles to come.

 Feel free to get in touch if you would like me to talk about anything in particular in the coming issues of Zameena Magazine.

So, for now I hope we can meet somewhere, sometime soon, and share happy dancing moments.

Much Love,


Enjoy Serena Dancing to Tamra Henna

Live Music by Hossam Ramzy  
WOW -  That was an amazing introduction!
Thank you Serena for sharing it with us. 
I feel I have got to know you and I am sure our readers have too. We will all be looking forward excitedly to your coming articles. As our resident writer for 2020, Serena will be back in May, August and November  
 Thank you again Serena!!

Connect with Serena:

London 2020 Workshops  in May and June at 
Dance Attic Studios
You can find out more on Serena Dances Website

Follow Serena  on: FaceBook, and YouTube.

For more info on courses, classes and online tuition

SHAHRZAD WORKSHOPS HAVE SOLD OUT - however you can still see this spectacular dancer perform on Saturday 25th April, AT THE HAFLA: doors open at 7pm, a few nibbles will be provided. The main emphasis will be on Shahrzad who will be performing twice, other dancers will be confirmed soon. Venue: The American Musical Theater Academy London E9 5LH. 
Tickets are £18 each or 4 for £52 
Cassandra Fox
is coming to LONDON 
31st Oct - 1st Nov 
4 workshops (8hrs of teaching) + Hafla 
Zara's Zouk is very excited to announce that we will be hosting WORLD SUPERSTAR: CASSANDRA FOX for an intensive weekend of workshops and performance
31st Oct-1st Nov 2020 
We are telling YOU, our Zameena readers FIRST before anyone else, giving you the opportunity to buy the 1st Release EARLYBIRD TICKETS which are amazingly priced:

ONLY TWO 1st Release Passes Left 

This is a crazy discount! It includes 8hrs of training with Cassandra plus a hafla pass to see the star perform two sets that will take your breath away!
2nd Release Passes (only 10) are £165
Full price weekend passes are £185!  

We will not be advertising these workshops/1st release tickets on social media till April. DON'T WASTE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BOOK BEFORE anyone else and get the Earlybird Price!
And, be a good dance mate, tell your friends! 
Book Your Cassandra Fox Weekend Passes HERE
Info Spot
"Sert El Hob" Play,
Baleigh Hamdi and The Balloon Theater 

by Vanessa Raqs

Last year, (spring 2019) when I was asked to perform as a soloist in “Sert El Hob” ("Biography of Love") at Balloon Theatre, I had to take a moment and realize what a true honor this was....looking back, I must say it has been one of the
biggest highlights of my time dancing in Egypt.

“Sert El Hob” is an award-winning, star studded Musical Theatre Review about the music and life of the beloved Egyptian Composer Baleigh Hamdi.

About Baleigh Hamdi
For those of you who love Egyptian dance and music, you probably recognize and
love his songs (even if you didnʼt know who the composer was before.)
This was exactly what happened to me in the first rehearsal. Sure, I knew he had
composed many of the great classics, and knew and worked with Oum Kalthoum,
Adbel Wahab, amongst many other great artists of that time....
but it was song after song — hit after hit!
I was dancing in my seat while the singers and orchestra were rehearsing their
If you are unsure of who Baleigh is, here are some of his hits:
Sert el Hob sung by Oum Kalthoum
Alf Leila Wa Leila sung by Oum Kalthoum
Esmaouni  sung by Warda
Sawah  sung by Abdel Halim Hafez

A Cast of **STARS**
Our cast of artists include many famous actors and singers:
Baleigh Hamdi played by Ehab Fahmy,
Oum Kalthoum by Nahala Khalil,
Warda by Heba Mohammed,
Abdel Wahib by Magdi Sophi,
Rehab Metawi from Cairo Opera, and
shaʼabi singer Shiko, to name a few...
Directed & Choreographed by:
Dr. Adel Abdo, Chief of the Balloon Theatre
Mohamed Abo Elyazed

A Recognized and Much Love Show By ALL 
By popular demand, “Sert El Hob” has returned to the Balloon Theatre stage again in 2020, and has received numerous accolades. Even though we will be closing in a few days, it is likely that we will be asked to bring the play back again, as it has been so well received.

“Sert El Hob” has become recognized as a very important play because it brings this beautiful music to audiences both young and mature, and is giving the younger generation a taste of what this brilliant music has to offer. The songs are
just as relevant in 2020 as they were 50+ years ago!
In addition to telling an important story, this play also shows an era which was a very rich time for the arts in Egypt.
We can only hope that it helps to inspire more artists, as well as encourage those who are able to support the efforts of the emerging artists
(who are doing their best to thrive in todayʼs Egypt.)
The Balloon Theater 
As it turns out, the Balloon Theatre, which is a Government operated theatre,
provides hundreds of jobs per year for many Egyptian artists and workers.
This particular production supports many Egyptians—giving work to many
ensemble dancers, musicians, singers, actors, technicians, crew, assistants,
costume designers, and theatre staff.
Next time you are in Cairo, feel free to see what is playing at the Balloon Theatre.
You might find there is a Reda Troupe or Kaomeya Troupe performance, or
another play or musical theatre production which you can enjoy!

 About the author 
Vanessa is an international performing artist, instructor & choreographer.
She has been living and dancing full-time in Egypt since 2008.

Find out more about Vanessa and connect with her:

Email at:

Vanessa's Facebook

A big Zameena THANK YOU to Vanessa for sharing her experiences and reminding us of a truly great Golden Era Composer
Check Out Costumes at Zara's Zouk
What's On and where to
find Zara's Zouk
(click on pics for more info)
We will be in Belfast for this amazing Festival.  Will you?

This month and
next month 
Sara Sarinha
shares her
Belly Dance journey and tells us about 

Belly Dance
Northern Ireland

and the
birth  of

Dum Tak Festival
over to Sara:
I started teaching Belly Dancing in Belfast about nine years ago with two students in my spare room. Slowly,that grew into a lovely sisterhood circle which has became the only accredited Belly Dance School in Northern Ireland that specialises in Arabic Dances.

Belly Dancing in Northern Ireland works as a slow burner, due to various factors such as the troubles, the misunderstanding about Arabic culture and also because culturally women in here can be more reserved and self conscious. It is very rewarding when they come to class wanting more than only shaking the hips. Belly Dance can heal us on so many levels!

We still find it hard to share what Belly Dance really is in Northern Ireland as people still tend to think that Belly Dancing is some sort of strip dance and nowadays many people start teaching Belly Dancing without any sort of deeper practice, cultural research or enough backed up studies which, as a result, only perpetuates the incorrect idea that Belly Dancing is only about shaking the hips and the boobs and moving without a context or musical interpretation.
There is also a lack of understanding about the benefits of learning from Master Teachers, of watching live performances or of attending or entering a Belly Dance contest.

And that’s how Dum Tak Festival was born. I wanted to create something that would break the barriers and build new bridges between our community with other communities around the world. 
This year we have our second Dum Tak Festival 
from 3rd to 5th April 2020 

Our timetable is just WOW! 
Check it out - Click Here!

For more info. email us at:

A big Zameena THANK YOU to Sara for sharing with us
Sara will be back next month to tell us more!!
Dum Tak is a fab and friendly festival -
 - we hope to see you there!
Click on pics for more info on these events:
Music Corner
by Zara Dance
If you read my Music Corner regularly you will know that Egyptian music is more than just entertainment. It's politics and changing times that are often discussed. That is why, personally, I love writing Music Corner soo so much. It isn't just about music. It's about life in Egypt

And, well, here is a song to spark debate, as it has been doing, here in Egypt.

Singer Tameem Youness has been causing a stir. A BIG ONE. He released a new song called "Salmonella". YES, as in the salmonella that you get from chickens! CONFUSED? Wait until you find out why and what it is, about this song, that caused AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT BY EGYPT'S NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN! 

I found out about this song on the day it was released. I was sitting in the studio editing my latest YouTube videos and one of my good friends told me that I had to watch this new music video.
It is "revolutionary" from an editing perspective - Youness (and his team) have decided to film and release the music video on a portrait/ more square setting instead of a horizontal setting thus showing, how with the times the singer is, opting for a better view of social media on a mobile as opposed to TV or Desktop Computer.

It was a good choice on their part because this video went CRAZY viral on soical media. At the time of writing this article, the clip has over 19 MILLION VIEWS in less than one month! These are numbers that give the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna a run for their money. It is no joke. This flurry was followed by a social out cry from many in Egypt including an official statement and complaint from the National Council of Women. And it's resulted in a warning of offensive material being shown when the clip is shared on FaceBook....

Why the outcry? Why the complaints?
It has been criticised for PROMOTING harassment towards women!

Let's have a look at the lyrics and see why. 
Basically the story goes: 
I saw you at a place buying a latte, and you caught my eye
I am going to come to the same place everyday until I see you again and get your number

He then goes on to tell the hypothetical story of if he does meet this woman again .... 

.....and I really, really hope we end up getting married
I'll make you pizza
and get you amazing gold for the wedding
           ( When I ask you for your number ) I will go mad
Rip up everything I've got ready for you and throw the pizza on someone
and if u say no, I hope

...……... the list goes on   ….......

Youness insists that the song isn't promoting harassment and it's a tongue in cheek song ridiculing men too fragile to handle rejection. His view:
“I was joking and I will continue to joke.”

What's my opinion?.... 
I won't comment on whether I like the song, nor whether I think it's promoting harassment to women vs ridiculing men.

But I will say this, THIS SONG IS CLEVER - VERY, VERY CLEVER and nothing about this song is by accident or coincidence.
From the way this song was filmed, the tone and styling of the video, the wording of the lyrics, the delivery of it and everything in-between, it has obviously been thought through VERY, VERY carefully and produced very, very well

Youness is SMART .... and a very, very smart artist.
This, with YouTube makes him very powerful and INFLUENTIAL... 

I also have no doubt in my mind that Youness is misogynistic.

Ironically, I haven't derived that from this song, which I don't find anywhere near as worrying as his last hit,  "Inti Aya Klam", a MASSIVE, MASSIVE HIT  that has been playing since last summer which translates literally to, "You're any Talk"  which basically means "You're Nothing Special" (you being feminine and referring to a female), it's a phrase often used in a joke/banter way to put big headed people in their place.
This is THE ONLY LINE OF THE SONG (again a very smart concept) nothing else is said. Youness sings it in an ironically romantic, non-threatening way. Easily justifing that again, the song is a reflection of male insecurities.
How this song didn't have any backlash I don't know.
At one point in this music video he sings this line to a small girl dancing!
Also in this video an appearance is made by Dr Alfons .... ….An openly perverted, old man PUPPET(!!!!) who has a string of Arabic house/tecno hits
(he is rumoured to be Youness' alter ego).
You may want to check out Dr Alfons's massive underground hit
"Ana Mish Benger" (link below).
It's an exceptionally geniusly produced song and  music video.
Its production easily challenges the top/best electronic music hits coming out of the West right now...... Please NEVER say to me all that comes out of Egypt now days is Shabbi music! 
In general music in the West tends to be far more openly sexist and pro harassment and rape. Talk, as explicitly as some rappers do, and you could be arrested by the moral police in Egypt... But Youness seems to have found a loophole. Being so smart, he's arguably more cause for concern than even openly sexist Western rappers such as  Eminem, Kayne and Lil Wayne.

The catchy cuteness of Youness and his songs have got even me, a proud feminist, singing along WITH EVERYONE in the club....    Arrrrrgh!

Send me your feedback! 
What do u think of the songs? The video? 
Are u liking Music Corner? 
feel free to tag me 
"Inti Aya Klam" by Youness
"Ana Mish Benger" by Dr Alfons
Thank you for reading
Your support is much appreciated!

A big Zameena
Serena, Vanessa and Sara

Till next month 
Best wishes
and Valentine's Love
xx Zara and Sandra xx
Photo: Zara and Sandra (the team behind Zara's Zouk)
Pic taken in October when Sandra visited Zara in Cairo

PS. Feel Free to Share the Love 
Copyright © 2020 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.

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