AHLAN! WELCOME! KARIBU!  to dancers and dance lovers everywhere!

This May we are delighted to welcome back Kay Dance (here on the right) who shares her 40 benefits of bellydance!
There’s a dance challenge from Sue Baker so please take a look and maybe even give it a go!
Zara tells us about dancing 
with the Maasai
 and there’s news of where to see Zara’s Zouk.

There’s a lot to look at so pleasepull up a chair, grab a cup of your favourite brew, sit back and enjoy!  Kay Dance’s
40 Reasons you should BELLYDANCE
This month’s article will break down the vast number of reasons Bellydancing is great for you. We all do it because we love it, but there are so many natural, physiological, cultural, lifestyle, physical and technical benefits that many may not be aware of. Please note, I am not a medical consultant so if in doubt about anything regarding your own health, please consult your a doctor or medical professional.
If my 40 reasons are enough to convince you of how great Bellydancing is, I hope to see you at my Exclusive Bellydancing Masterclass on Saturday 21st May 2016. Happy Reading! xxLIFESTYLE BENEFITS
1. The different types, variations and origins of the dance encourage an awareness of different cultures and countries
2. Can be practiced in the comfort of your own home
3. Can be learned at any stage of your life – you’re never too old!
4. It appeals to learners and performers of all ethnicites
5. It is a low impact exercise which means it is not strenuous on the body’s joints. This means, if you practice it regularly and safely it can aid long-term health and well-being
6. You can meet like-minded enthusiasts
8. It is an ancient dance form which embraces all body shapes and sizes9. It nurtures inner feelings rather than outer appearance10. Promotes body awareness11. Can assist personal insight into one’s spiritual side12. Is very expressive13. Makes a dancer’s feel happy14. Can improve a dancer’s overall confidence15. Has the ability to make one feel sensual and feminine16. As a result it can improve your sex lifePHYSICAL BENEFITS
17. Improves flexibility18. Increases stamina19. Tones and strengthens the body20. Uses all major muscle groups21. Suitable for pre and post natal22. Can result in weight loss23. Can help improve one’s posture24. Can help relieve back pain25. It is a good abdominal workoutPHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS
26. Great for relieving joint pains and arthritis27. Brilliant for reducing menstrual cramps and PMS28. The weight loss element can help prevent osteoporosis29. As with any exercise, it boosts the body’s immunity because it helps regulate hormone and blood circulation which results in a healthy heart30. The movements and techniques aid digestion which is imperative for healthy bowels31. Which can lead to an improvement in skin complexion as more oxygen will reach the skin cells32. It improves coordination and balance33. Improves memory34. Reduces stress35. Can relieve depressionTECHNICAL BENEFITS
36. Enables dancer to control and isolate muscle groups37. Is as slow or fast as you want it to be (your pace)38. Can be different all the time – different styles and techniques39. Performing is a great challenge and boost40. Clothing – fun to get dressed up but comfortable clothing for practicing We loved all these benefits 


 ****** An EXCITING challenge for MAY!
Why not give it a go?
Sue Baker (here on the left) a belly dancer from Cambridge, has set YOU, and the belly dance community a CHALLENGE for May. Are you up for it ???
The motivation and aim is to work towards improved improvisation,  understanding of Baladi (both techniques and feeling) plus it’s a good way of sharing tips and getting to know different tracks/artists to use for the style!!!! THE MAY BALADI CHALLENGE: 
 To do 10 minutes of improvisational dance a day during the month of May.
To record it on the FB event page as minutes per day/total minutes over the month.  Don’t worry if you missed 1st May – start ANY DAY and go from there!!!
If you do 10 minutes a day, your daily dance minutes and the running total will be recorded like this:day 1 – 10/10day 2 – 10/20
day 3 – 10/30
If you do more or less – still record it – it all counts! 
Feel free on Facebook to share the name of the tracks which you have used. Also, feel free to film yourself – it might be nice to have a clip at the start of the month and end of the month to compare.
Sue will collate a YouTube playlist of the films which are posted.
This looks to be a doable and fun way to improve our dance!Click Here to Find Out More And Get InvolvedMany thanks to Sue for this fun, helpful challenge!NEWS FROM ZARA IN ZANZIBAR:
Here is a little snippet of Zara Dance’s most recent blog telling the story of how she met a Maasai dancer
for the full blog read hereBeautiful beaches of ZanzibarI am feeling blessed. I am on the Paradise Island of Zanzibar. It is dance which has brought me here; a gig in the mainland Tanzanian beach town of Dar Es Salaam had the added benefit of a free stay in Zanzibar! 

Now, I am walking along the beautiful beach, the water glistening aqua blue and the white sand soft between my toes.

The beach goes on for miles but I have come to a standstill as a rocky prominence means I need to wade out into the sea to get around it. This isn’t a problem as I have my bikini on under my clothes but I am considering just hitching up my skirt when a voice behind, “Mambo,” makes me spin round.
Standing there is a Maasai, his very presence so pronounced and strong. I try to contain my intrigue, my excitement, but inside I am undeniably full of the desire to know more about him.  He is tall. He holds a long rungu (stick) in his hand which is dug into the sand. Wrapped around his dark, silky body is his Kanga, a red checked cloth. His sandals are black and obviously made from car tyres. On one of his arms he has a long, thick, white, beaded cuff which goes from his wrist to his elbow.

We exchange pleasantries in my minimal Swahili and his broken English. It transpires that he is also considering the journey ahead as he isn’t a strong swimmer. “How can you live here and not swim?” I ask, astounded. He laughs and explains that he grew up on mainland Tanzania and has only been living here a few months. We continue talking and joking. His name is Moses; a name I like a lot so I compliment it, which he really appreciates.

“Come on Moses we can do this. We can get to the other side!” I tell him how good I am at swimming; that I will hold his hand and if anything happens that I’ll save him. He finally agrees to walk round with me holding one hand and his rungu firmly held in the other, using it to guide himself through the water. It makes me giggle so much.The Maasai DancesOnce on the other side, he tells me that in the evenings, at 8pm, he dances in a show in one of the big hotels. He writes 8pm in the sand to be sure that I know the time!Of course my ears prick up – he’s a dancer! He’s here on the island to perform – making a living and escaping a more predictable way of life! Our stories are not so different. I explain that I am here doing basically the same thing and that I love to dance.He demands that I come to see the show; it will be free and I can’t miss it!  I demand back that he shows/teaches me some dance moves. “Here?” he asks.  â€œYES!” I reply. He looks a little apprehensive. I continue to plead and offer a bargain, “You teach me how to dance and I’ll teach you how to swim!” I could tell that he really wanted to show me his moves anyway, so he agreed and then suddenly he starts leaping up and down in the air, rungu in hand!Traditional Maasai dancing involves a LOT of jumping up and down, with a lot of pride in how high one can jump. He also shows me a very fast shoulder shimmy which I am ashamed to say I have no clue as to how it is executed. It is so fast and contained and appears to start between the shoulder blades.Now it is my turn. He hands me his rungu. And there we are, a muzungu (white/western person) and a Maasai jumping on the beach. I was having fun and I loved handling the rungu. It was very sturdy and surprisingly heavy. It gave an immediate feeling of assertion and power.It could only go on for so long, partly because I was getting tired and partly because I was in fits of laughter. We both were!A Swim In The Sea“Shall we swim now!?!” he says. “Let’s go!” He is full of excitement. He starts eagerly unwrapping his kanga and I am shocked to see what is revealed! He is carrying a massive, well honed, bush knife! It is about the size of my arm – massive! From one extreme to the other as alongside the traditional tribal weapon he is wearing a very modern Adidas watch; has a pair of super cool sunglasses and a bum bag for his wallet. He puts his earrings, in the shape of giraffes, in the bum bag. And then BAM there he is, standing in his boxers!The water is so warm, so calm – ecstasy. Moses isn’t as bad as he made out. I give him a few swimming technique tips which he takes on well.The Maasai ShowWe laugh and dry in the sun. We visit the Maasai market and I meet his friend Michael. When it is time for me to get back to my hotel he walks me back along the beach and reiterates that I come, at 8pm, to see the show.  “Yes, of course I’ll come!”Thankfully Azin (my friend and dance partner) agrees to accompany me to the hotel where the show takes place. It is very grand. Moses and Michael manage to get us in and Azin and I sit at a spare table in the dining hall. The diners are very upper class, mostly westerners, all very well dressed. The dancing begins. There is no music. The Maasai start making humming and growling noises with an occasional squeal. One of the Maasai I met earlier, Tom, is the main squealer and singer. Pairs of, or single Maasai walk out, from the semi-circle, in what seems a random order, their rungus held out strongly in front of them and stare straight ahead, aggressively growling. Then the jumping starts. It appears random as to who is jumping and when but then there is a massive big jump together and the structure, pattern, and communication is apparent.As the show goes on, I am drawn in, more and more fascinated by the dance. The chanting is hypnotizing, the jumping so enthralling and the shoulder shimmies exciting. The aggressive walk forward really takes you aback.
Moses and Michel seem to be the star dancers. Moses jumps the highest and for the longest. Michael is the second best and the rest as nothing in comparison. Moses often comes out alone into the semi-circle leading the beginning of each dance. His shoulder shimmers are even better than on the beach.It ends with a Maasai fight. Moses grabs another rungu and with the two sticks, in a warrior like dance, he battles two other Maasai by clashing rungus – all very exciting!After the show I shower them all with compliments. They are all buzzing and love it. I know how great it is to get a compliment after a show. Moses is dripping with sweat more than all the others. I am not surprised – he did most of the work!Some of the Maasai go back out, led by a waiter carrying a birthday cake. They sing and chant around a table of 4 western girls. At first I think, “How humiliating,” but then I remind myself that I do exactly the same with belly dance but actually find it amusing and fun to get paid for such a novelty. I think the Maasai feel the same.  Really, it is a privilege to be paid to do something you love, to share a little of your culture, to share your love of dance, to show your skills and hopefully to give some happiness to others.  I am so thankful to have this opportunity and believe the Maasai I met are too.
Moses and Michael jumping! If you would like to read a fuller version of my magical day with Moses, including what makes Moses jump so high, how to kill a lion and why the Maasai don’t eat fish, please CLICK HERE!Come and meet Zara’s Zouk  in Kent at
Innocent Unplugged Festival 28-30 MayCome and meet Zara’s Zouk  in Oxfordshire at the Hathor Hafla on 11 June  Many thanks for taking a look at this month’s Zameena.

My three month contract dancing in Kenya is sadly coming to an end.  It’s been an absolutely amazing time but I’m looking forward to coming home and hopefully seeing you around soon!

Till then wishing you sizzling shimmies and wonderful dances
Zara (in Nairobi) and Sandra (Mum, in London) xx

Credits: https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?u=3f81fe7b79fd90180421002db&id=f26b658d87

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