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Belly Dance

Zambra Mora or Flamenco Fusion

In addition to the various styles of Arabic dance or Middle Eastern dance (or what by many is called belly dance), there are also fusions of bellydance with different dance forms. One of these is the fusion of belly dance with flamenco, also called Zambra Mora or Danza Mora.

Zambra Mora is a form of flamenco music with Middle Eastern melodies and rhythm, which is sung or played on guitar. Master guitarist Sabicas (1912-1990) is the one who gave its name to this form of flamenco music (from ancient Moors celebration) and made it popular and developed it.

The fusion of belly dance and flamenco that we know today is called Zambra Mora, after the flamenco music developed by Sabicas. Zambra Mora has the same proud posture of flamenco; floreos (isolated wrists rotations) but with softer hands and arms comparing to flamenco; heavy travel steps and some characteristic turns. There is no taconeo (which is instead an essential feature in flamenco), and it can be danced barefooted. From Arabic dance, Zambra Mora borrows undulations, shimmies and hip and chest circles. In general though there are no sharp or fast hip movements, but rather undulating and soft movements of the hips, with a hip drop every now and again.

According to some, zambra mora is a myth and it never existed as a dance. However, Morocco, in her book “You asked Auntie Rocky: Answers and Advice About Raqs Sharqi & Raqs Shaabi” states that she danced zambra mora in Spain in the 1950s (she was originally trained as a flamenco dancer before discovering Middle Eastern dances). However, she says that zambra mora went out of fashion from the 1950s and it gradually disappeared. Morocco also says that there is another type of dance, simply called zambra, which is a bit different as it is done with taconeo and the use of castanets, although they both have Moorish origins.

The costume used for Zambra Mora includes an ample skirt with frills around the edges (with many underskirt layers),  which can be manipulated as a cape; a blouse tied under the bust baring the midriff and a hip scarf with or without coins. Also, the dancer can play zills (finger cymbals) whilst performing Zambra Mora.

Gypsy fire

A belly dancer who has developed this style is Amaya, who has created 2 DVDs, called Gypsy Fire, with part one containing a documentary on this art form and part two containing dance technique and routines. Zambra Mora, as a new form of fusion belly dance, is not to be confused with Zambra, which are ancient Moorish celebrations in Spain (zambra mora means moorish party). If you would like to find out more about the ancient dance forms and culture of Andalusia, a good source of information is ‘Vibrant Andalusia: The spice of life in Southern Spain’ by Ana Ruiz, which can be found on Amazon. Ana Ruiz spent a long time in Spain researching local dances.

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