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Tips & Tales

How-To’s and Lessons Learned

All about becoming a better belly dancer, vegan food guide, smart traveller, unstoppable woman and grateful soul

11 Quick Belly Dance Hairdos You Can Try

Antique assuit headbands, head ornaments and coins sewn to headbands, decorated side clips, flapper headbands, boho updos with porcupine quills, and simple crowns make easy hairdos for belly dancers.

A Great Book for Dancers and Music Lovers: “The Fall of Athens”

Every once in a while, reading a book is like sitting down and drinking wine with an old friend. The Fall of Athens makes the reader feel as though they are face to face with the author Gail Holst-Warhaft sharing glass after glass of sweet pink wine on a warm summer night.

5 Reasons Why You Have a Hard Time Meditating

I have heard many people say “I really should meditate”. I totally get it. I have said that many times in my life, even after completing a silent 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat in India, and a 30-day meditation challenge years later. When I finally articulated the five reasons why many of us avoid taking 10 minutes a day to meditate, I began to feel clarity, gratitude and peace in daily life. Forgive me for being the Saint of Truth here, but my intention is to help you become your highest self. Consider this: Reason #1: You are attached to perfection.  If you decide […]

The Top 4 Places to Meditate. They are Closer Than You Think…

You might think the Top 7 Best Places to Meditate are austere Zen Centers or yoga retreats far away from your daily life. Don’t get me wrong, it is much easier to meditate in some places than others. However, you have amazing places to practice meditation all around you right now, and they are everywhere you go. If you don’t believe me, read 5 Reasons Why You Have a Hard Time Meditating and then read the article below. I think you’ll see that you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to meditating. Without further ado, here are The Top 4 Best Places […]

Brown Rice 101

This is a work in progress 🙂 Myth: You must refrigerate rice after you cook it Fact: Even in tropical climates like Thailand and Indonesia, cooked rice is left out and unrefrigerated over night. It’s just covered or put in a food safe so that pests don’t get in.

Pushkar Poetry

The Kalbelia Queen Looks Bored Her child shuffles on the roof He slides around on the seat of his pants She says he doesn’t walk unless someone is helping him She is pregnant. She stomps the marble floor like she is slapping a man’s face with her foot Her hands are flowers She reaches in and out. Inviting and denying entry to her gypsy world She tickles the sky and sweeps the ground with her face I want to go to the tents. I want to see where music is born. A Trip to the Tents on the Edge of Pushkar It looks […]

His Name was Wind – A 20 Year Old Trapped in India

His name was wind. He stood by the lake in the dark, regretting everything. He is 20. He has been married for 3 years, and his father is ill. Wind is becoming an old man at 20 years old He talks of no freedom. He says I am especially lucky Being a woman born outside of caste Whole castes of women are forbidden to have cell phones. College girls are not allowed to take selfies on campus If he leaves, his family will bear shame. If he stays, he is trapped. What to do? -Written in Pushkar in February 2017

8 Things I Learned From Dancing With Gypsies

I traveled to Rajasthan to study dance in a place where gypsy wagon wheels have been rolling for centuries. Where Rom families awoke in the dawn of their unwritten history and carried music from India to Persia and Egypt to Spain. I wanted see women spinning, floating and stomping beneath desert stars like the Kalbelia dancer s in the opening scene of the film Latcho Drom. I set out for the holy city of Pushkar. Wherever I travel, I dance. The small Indian city on a lake welcomed me with wedding season streets of chaos. I sidestepped circles of diamond-studded women sweating and […]

Rickie and the Black Wave: A Sumatra Tsunami Story

“When you go to Banda Aceh, you should visit my village. Lambuuk. Right on the sea,” he said. I asked him if there are museums I should visit in the city. “There is a Tsunami Museum. I never go there. It is for tourists,” he said. “I was 15 the year of the tsunami. At that time there were four of us in the house.”

Rumi Dance Quotes For Belly Dancers

Click play to watch this video of the seasons passing outside my windows paired with Rumi’s Poems and the haunting 15th century song “Lamma Bada”.   And here are some dance poems by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the insightful 13th century Persian Poet, Sufi Mystic, & Islamic Scholar The Dancing Cry Of The Soul Come to me, and I shall dance with you In the temples, on the beaches, through the crowded streets

What you Need Start Making Your Own Videos and Podcasts on the Cheap

There is only one person in the world who can create the content you are about to create: You. Get your equipment and content creation process set up so your creativity can flow and people can find what you have to offer.

Barefoot Flamenco Por Favor: A Belly Dancer Studying Flamenco in Seville

“One hour of the flamenco class costs 60 Euros,” the nice Sevilliana at the hotel desk reports. The Seville Flamenco Museum brochure has a photo of students with lazy hands and awkward arms. They are not dancers.     “The other classes are for long-term students,” she says. Tomorrow is Monday, and we leave Seville on Tuesday.     Just one weekend before in my hometown of Ithaca NY, the bartenders in our Mexican restaurant told me that the man sitting a couple seats down at the bar was a flamenco singer from Seville. What a world. His name was Cristian de Moret, and he looked so young. He told me that his troupe from Seville was performing in Ithaca the next night. I wanted to know them, but was […]

Want to Know How to Eat Vegan in India? Read This First.

India is paradise for vegetarians, because vegetarian food is widely available and even tends to be the default option. And people get it. There must be more pure veg restaurants in India than any other country in the world. Most Indian veg food is fragrant, flavorful and cheap on the street and in typical restaurants. If you are looking for vegan food in India however, you may lose to the sacred dairy cow more than you like. I started learning the magic of Indian vegetarian cuisine when I studied abroad at Lady Irwin College in New Delhi. We had a cooking lab where […]

How to Be Unstoppable

Years ago… I learned how to scream. I was in a circle of trees, staring into the scorching summer sun. Someone was beating a drum. My teacher kept shouting. I didn’t even know I was resisting until he asked, “How can you get the benefits of this if you don’t really scream?” I realized I had never screamed before. I was limiting myself for no fucking reason. It made me angry.   I screamed uncontrollably. I screamed from my gut, doubling over until all of my fear rode tears down my cheeks and disappeared in the dust. For a moment there was no […]

The Ultimate Power of Femininity (Durga) Always Wins

The divine feminine in us always recovers. We cannot be stopped Tongue hanging Eyes wild with anger Suddenly returning to the wisdom of and old soul with beeswax on her lips. Breath sweetened by anise. Coal accentuating the unique shape of her eyes. Vermillion in her hair. Gold and silver circling her skin. A woman who damn well knows what she is talking about. How do we get what we want? We must be clever at all times.I came to this part of India To see the Bishnoi Temple. I tell the driver I will not leave until I do. He tells me […]

What to Bring to Festivals to Avoid Eating Fatty Energy-Sucking Food

If there’s anything that my gypsy soul loves, it is wearing big skirts and spinning beneath the moon at the Pennsic Medieval Festival. I am so happy sleeping on the ground after hours of dancing. I smell campfire smoke in my hair and I dream as drum beats filter through my tent walls. Pennsic is not just a two-week festival with 10,000 DnD nerds armed with medieval weapons bludgeoning each other on the battlefield. It is also drum circles of people belly dancing around fires until the break of dawn. There are artisans and artists everywhere. Live music pours out of camps. There […]

10 Lessons Learned from Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Star Jill Parker

Jill Parker is by far one of the clearest belly dance teachers I have ever met. When students ask questions, Jill leads with the answer rather than getting there eventually. It’s so refreshing. Everyone in her class is valued, her choreographies are brilliant, and somehow her hair always looks amazing. You might laugh, but I think even her hair style helps me learn! Jill was one of the original members of Fat Chance Belly Dance and founded Ultra Gypsy. These troupes changed the way America thinks about belly dance and inspired a deluge of Western interpretations of Middle Eastern Dance. Jill founded the […]

10 Ways Belly Dance Can Make You Happier and Beautiful

Belly dancing is not about burning calories, counting steps, or zoning out while you do it because you find it so boring. Like Zumba, belly dancing is exercise for people who don’t like to exercise. It’s amazing!  Zumba is awesome, but belly dance is even better. Once you start, you will understand why millions of women have belly danced through the ages. Here are the benefits for you: 1. You will be even more inspired to lose weight and feel good in your body And you will know how to do it. Eat plants, dance and shake off the addictive processed food and […]

How to Belly Dance With a Live Band: What I Wish I Knew Years Ago

Belly dancing to live music for an audience is the ultimate belly dance experience. It is nothing like dancing to recorded music, and when you can dance confidently and respectfully with a live band your understanding of belly dance will rise to another level. It is surprising how many dancers study American Tribal Style, Tribal Fusion, classical Egyptian belly dance, folkloric and American Cabaret Style and then sit down when it is time to improvise to live music. Dancing to live musicians is my favorite part of belly dancing!  Years ago I started learning percussion in order to deepen my understanding of the […]

12 Steps to Enjoying Long Flights (Hint: Vegetarian Food and Belly Dance Stretches Help!)

I love flying. Really. I get so excited to get on an airplane and enjoy all the time I have to myself. Other people talk about flying like it’s not fun. Are you kidding? It’s a goddamn miracle to fly across the ocean! We’re wined and dined and entertained, and no one asks anything from us if we’re flying without kids. And then we emerge from a glorious bird-like machine into a place that would have taken years of bumpy roads and rocky ships to see without launching into the sky for half a day. Like the best backpacker beaches in Thailand, winding […]

The Ultimate Vegan Halloween Party Guide

When the veil between the living and the dead is lifted each year in October, we celebrate with an epic Vegan Halloween Party. My Halloween parties are famous. I am a damn good vegan cook, I belly dance and drum, I know how to sew costumes, and – lucky me – Halloween is my birthday. This is everything you need to know to create a terrifyingly healthy Halloween party. This will also help you figure out the best vegan food to bring to a Halloween potluck. (Please share and link to this if you like it! I came up with all of these […]

How to Eat Vegetarian in Thailand: FREE APP & Tips from Peace Corps Volunteers

More info coming soon! In the meantime, check this out:  Get a tour of the FREE APP to translate vegetarian and vegan food requests into Thai. I made a hard copy of this Guide to Being Vegetarian in Thailand with my Peace Corps Thailand buddies Shawn Green and Peter O’Brian.  The amazing Thai Vegan Chef and restaurant owner May Kaidee turned it into an app for everyone and it has thousands of downloads.  Go straight to the free app download Cook vegan Thai food at home with these 7 Vegan Thai Cooking Tips From Famous Chef May Kaidee  

Belly Dancing to Live Music Tips from Emmy Awarding Winning Accordion Player Dan Cantrell

Performing with musicians can be tricky and intimidating for many of us dancers. In many Middle Eastern music genres, songs are rarely played the same way twice, a musician could be inspired to take a solo, or the vocalist could decide to sing less or more verses. You really don’t know what will happen. So it helps to hear from Emmy award winning musician like Dan Cantrell what has worked for him as an accordionist accompanying belly dancers. He has also collaborated with Beats Antique, Tom Waits and many others. And he’s married to amazing belly dancer Elizabeth Strong. Together they have figured […]

Belly Dance Veil Tricks and More from the Amazing Ruby Beh

Ruby Beh is a hair tossing, veil throwing belly dance powerhouse. She is so much fun to watch. I was honored to hang out backstage and perform in a show with Ruby. We also spent the day in the studio together, and these 7 tips from Ruby may make you a better dancer as well. And you’ll probably be surprised by #8 on this list…   #1 There are infinite ways to tuck and unfurl a veil This is my favorite Ruby superpower. Her veil is truly an extension of her body. Before I met Ruby, I thought that tucking my veil in […]

Qele Qele Translation from Armenian to English

Qele, Qele    (Come, Come) Armenian Folk Song Translation by Mane Mehrabyan with assistance from Alicia Free Easy-to-print Qele Qele lyric translation Keh-leh keh-leh         Come, come kehl-kid mer nem   That walk of yours, for which I would die                                       Meaning: I adore your walk   Koh goh vah kahn khel kid mer nem      That admirable mind of yours, for                                                […]

Should You Henna Your Hair? Hell Yeah! Use These 7 Tips

Read these 7 practical tips on how to henna your hair and make it shine. I have been using henna and indigo to cover my gray hair for years, and it’s a ritual I look forward to each month. You can too.

Before You Put on That Belly Dance Skirt, Read This…

Just like wedding dresses, there is a universe of gorgeous costumes that can get applause all on their own even without a dancer in them. But design is also about the way a costume moves with a dancer. The way it frames us. How it makes us feel. If you’d rather listen to this than read it, check out this podcast on belly dance skirts… When we worry about something popping out or coming undone or getting tangled, we are not immersed in the dance and the music. We are distracted or nervous dancers, and the audience can see it. Uncomfortable costumes don’t […]

Lamma Bada English Translation, Pronounciation for Singers, and Samai Rhythm

Lamma Bada Yatathana is a beautiful old song to belly dance to. Lamma Bada is also The Danceable Song for the 9th episode of my belly dance podcast A Little Lighter If you want to sing Lamma Bada, print these: Lamma Bada phonetic lyrics and translation – Aquabella version Lamma Bada Lyric Pronounciation and Translation – Taksim Ithaca Version Lamma Bada is a “muwashsha”, meaning a secular poem which grew out of al-Andalus. This often refers to Southern Spain before Christian invaders came in the late 1400s and kicked out a hell of a lot of great musicians and architects. Muslims and Jews were […]

How to Make Great Dance Videos All By Yourself

Check out A Little Lighter podcast #012 for a whole show on how to film yourself dancing. Don’t get me wrong, for dance performances it’s ideal to hire a videographer or engage someone who enjoys filming. Our videographer Alfred Grunwell has been recording live music performances since the 1970s, and he truly enjoys capturing the spirit of a performance. He shoots video as a bonus for our band while recording audio and then syncs the video with the professionally recorded audio. These recordings are a great tool for improving and promoting future shows. And they are a gift I can give to all […]

Interview with Belly Dance Quickies Queen Mahin – ALLAF 016

Find out why chatting in the dressing room is a good habit to quit, get yourself a gold or silver bra and belt, and discover what’s so confusing about Foq Elna Khel.

Short Choreo Belly Dance Duets to Live Music

This has been a much loved belly dance class at Pennsic War, where we improvise around fire to live music every night! 5 Ways to Dance Better With Others: Face, stack, or mirror (avoid standing back-to-back or side-by-side) Repeat moves 4+ times in a row. Vary speed, circumference and level. Let another dancer move you. Follow their lead. Connect with your eyes. See the beauty in the other dancer. Swim in it. Pause and undulate or pose Some moves are naturally easier to match with others. Up and over hips and down mayas Front middle back middle Hip slides and chest slides Shoulder […]

Autumn Belly Dance Class Series 2019

This will be an inspiring 6 week belly dance series with live music for $60 paid up front via Paypal to Alicia’s gmail address. Classes will be capped at 5 students, so sign up and pay to reserve your spot before the class is full! Classes will be from 7-8pm on Giles St Ithaca Wednesdays Oct 16, 23, 30 and Wednesdays Nov 6, 13, 20 Sign up here Highlights from the Summer of Belly Dance Class Series 2019 This is a special class. We dance to live music. We focus on the essence of key Middle Eastern rhythms and some movement vocabulary that […]

Thai Cooking Tips Learned from Vegan Heaven Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is heaven for vegetarians and vegans. My in-laws are the authors of The Great Life Cookbook, as well as macrobiotic vegan chefs in Ithaca New York. We knew they would love a vegan Thai cooking class from Vegan Heaven while traveling with us in Thailand. I served in the Peace Corps in Northeastern “Issan” Thailand from 2003-2005. That was before I gave up eggs and dairy and started eating mostly vegan. Eating out as a vegetarian in a small town did have its limits. Eating paht pahk roo-ahm (friend mixed vegetable) got old that first year before I […]

How Dance Enhances Our Essence, Feminine Energy & Happiness – ALLAF 032

Dance feeds our feminine, and the child inside of us longs for the freedom to play dress up and dance. But problems can stop us from dancing. Hear from Tony Robbins and his wife Sage how we can turn problems into gifts and create habits that make us happier.  

19 Vietnamese Vegan Cooking Secrets from the Village

The freshness Vietnamese food is astounding. For some cuisines a salad is simply lettuce. In Vietnam salad is a mix of fresh sprouts, vibrant herbs, leaves of many shapes with purple stems and varied aromas all crunching gently in your mouth beside crushed peanuts and soft rice noodles. It’s a version of heaven. And these mixed greens are served with many dishes, along with a slice of lime. So fresh. When I travel, I give myself the gift of vegan cooking classes. Then I internalize the tastes and smells of another land and bring it home to my kitchen to enjoy and share […]

Chi Gong Belly Dance Fusion How-to

You are going to love this fusion of Chi Gong and belly dance. I feature Danceable Rituals like this in each episode of my belly dance podcast A Little Lighter. Have a listen if you haven’t already!  Take a sip of water and feel your breath going in and out of your nose. In and out like waves in the sea.  You can download this sound file so you can do this Chi Gong Belly Dance Routine any time without access to youtube: Chi gong and belly dance postures are very similar. Remain aware of your breath as you slip into great posture. […]