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All Things Start at Square One

Cory Zamora When one starts to study anything there is a starting point, a square 1. If you are starting Piano, you learn posture, proper hand position, scales . Do you start with Mozart? No! You start with exercises for your hands with scales! So, lets decide to paint! You will learn what brush is for what, how to blend colors, and basic shapes. We do not sit before the easel and become Picasso . When I started Ballet, it was 1953.Most kids were started in a split class back then, Tap & Ballet . It was usually for basic coordination and how to learn physical skills for life . I know very few that still dance in any form. We did not start with " Swan Lake"...we started with barre, port de bras, and learning terminology, combinations. Now lets talk about Voice ! Do we learn an opera first day? NO! We learn proper breathing and how we form a good sound chamber with our mouth in our skull , the sounding chamber . I remember my first song was "El Bachio"...then a simple song by Mozart, "Hallelujah." Speaking with others on the same path, we all seemed to learn these 2 songs as our first. So now we are into the multicultural art of Middle Eastern dance, " Belly Dance"...but there seems to be a disconnect in some styles with what is square one, or if there is one. Personally, I feel no matter the style you pursue, you must have the real history for proper respect and performance . Even if there are parts you do not care for, I suggest not running to a style that does not use those skills, PLEASE learn what came first! Even if not your cup of tea, make sure you have enough to have an intelligent conversation , "I do not care for 9/8 , but know some basic steps , the zill pattern, the history". "I know how to zill, just not my thing" It is a good thing to know where the steps come from, perhaps why and how they came about. Awesome to know how the costuming evolved, and what to wear when performing a specific dance or style ! My best story is the time I saw a show that had a Arabic cane done to Turkish 9/8 ....yes! I chose my words and tone of voice, wanted to make sure I was nice, not appalled. I was told they were just having fun ! Wow, really? In a town with both cultures , I viewed it as a slap in ones face! Same with pointing fingers ! Many cultures have their own meaning for simple gestures . A dancer who was with us had a young son who was half Arab. Out came a troupe with a drum solo, that seems to involve a hip movement that included pointing an index finger at the audience. Her son asked why they were " flipping us off ?".....this dance ended with another pointed finger being used as a gun They did a turn, aimed at us ,yelled bang, and blew off the finger. REALLY? YES there are times we want to have fun...mix it up! But would you ever do it as a performance piece ? Lets go back a bit and learn why we are doing what we do at each point of our dance. Lets make sure we know who we are dancing for and make sure it fits their culture. You would not send a dark fusion group to an Armenian family reunion any more than you would take Turkish music to that event ! East Indians love sword, but will scratch their heads over a cane .Persians sometimes will not be receptive to a floor section have to know this! Personally, I love building a set for each gig. I want all to have fun and sing along !! You want smiles...not that "WTH" look! So, no matter what moves you to a certain style, take a walk on the Silk Road of the big picture of this dance!

Cory Zamora started formal dance training in Culver City Ca. 1953 with Miss Ruth Kettle. She did not take students until age 5 but took Cory at age 3. This was the start of years of Ballet, Tap, Flamenco and interpretive dance. There was some work with the brother ,sister dance team, Joan & Bill Swore. At age 11 she started her 10 years of classical voice training with Bernice Mathison. Putting years of method acting, choral , painting and writing into the mix, she devoted all she knew to Middle Eastern dance in 1971 after a birthday trip to THE FEZ , in Hollywood Ca. All 3 of her future belly dance teachers appeared there. Laura Best taught at Dance Center West, Janaeni Rathor & Feruiz Aram had a studio and also taught privates out of home. In 1973 Cory relocated to Fresno Ca. The only person teaching belly dance at that time had never had a lesson. She taught from notes she had gathered watching Helena at "the Arabian Nights " club that had closed in 1968. Cory opened her studio in the Central Valley. It remains the only studio in the area that teaches traditional AMCAB, zills, veil ties and floor work She also designs and builds Bedlah for this style of dance. Over the years few have stayed with a style that includes these elements, making her very sought after for the complete education this vast style encompasses.

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I won a Cory Zamora instructional video when I attended my first belly dance show. I wanted to do it since I was 16 and she gave me a toolbox—and courage to do it! I love Cory! She’ll always be my image of Belly Dancing!

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