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48hr Film Festival

The Enchanted Bellydancer by Antonia Newlands

A cold wind blew through Bannockburn House, rousing both the stoor and ancient memories from the last 300 years. Caught in an unearthly moment, a young man with the second sight is drawn towards a doorway on the opposite side of the hall. He senses the rising tide of energy coursing through the house yet attempts to act normally in front of his oblivious associates.

The portentious atmosphere builds to a crescendo when suddenly the door opens and flowing in with the energy of a desert storm comes the mesmerising beauty of a bejewelled Egyptian belly dancer. Her eyes flash, her hair cascades across her shoulders like falling silk and the flickering candlelight shines through her flowing veil, casting ghostly shadows across the wall as she dances towards him.

He is captivated by the being who is invisible to the others. Enraptured, his heart drops as she passes him by and his gaze follows her as she leaves the room. He is suddenly wrenched back from his reverie by the sound of 'cut!' and a brief round of applause.

We are on the set of the Director William Samson's entry for the Glasgow 48 hour film project and the ghostly dancing Goddess is none other than Erskine dancer Suraya Ahmed. Every year the challenge is raised to produce a 7 minute film based on certain criteria. These requirements were drawn out of the hat on the evening of Friday 13th October and all films were to be submitted 48 hours later on the Sunday evening.

Samson's task was to create a detective cop or family film including a character known as Leith Abernathy the tailor; a photograph album prop; and the line, 'it's good for you'. William and cast were delighted when their film subsequently won Best Choreography at the awards ceremony in Glasgow on Saturday 21 October 2017.

You would expect a belly dancer in Bannockburn as little as you would expect an Egyptian Dancer in Erskine but neither Samson nor Suraya have ever been ones to comply with convention.

'I was very excited when William first proposed the idea of a dancing ghost in a haunted house', said Suraya. We have worked together on several occasions and it is amazing to see what ideas he creates, even from the most unlikely combinations'.

With Samson's concept of combining drab with glamourous running throughout the film, this was clearly a succesful mixture for the film judges.

Suraya teaches workshops and classes across Scotland and has been the Artistic Director for various charities where she has designed storylines, sets and costumes and of course, choreographing the dancing. But more than that, for her, Egyptian dance is all about fun and community which is seen most when she dances in Residential Care Homes and for young adults with disabilities.

'There is something in Egyptian Dance for everyone, regarding of age or ability. For anyone who would is interested but feels they lack the co-ordination or confidence, please just come along and give it a try. Egyptian Dance is good for your soul'.

Suraya has long championed Egyptian Dance as a way to 'release your Inner Goddess' and Samson's aim is to take viewers away from their every day lives for a short to entertain them. perhaps the resulting film, 'Abernathy House' could be a way to release our inner ghosts?

If you are interested in learning Egyptian dance or simply coming along to a performance, please contact Suraya through her website

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