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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

10 Lessons Learned from Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Star Jill Parker

Find out why Jill Parker is one of the world’s best belly dance teachers. She can teach you how to zip up in the middle, make both big and small movements clear, and start with the footwork. Great belly dance tips for all levels.

Belly Dancing to Live Music Tips from Elizabeth Strong & Accordion Player Dan Cantrell

Afraid to perform with a live band? Liz Strong of Belly Dance Superstars and Beats Antique and Emmy award winning musician Dan Cantrell share their best practices for dancing to live music.

10 Ways Belly Dance Can Make You Happier and Beautiful

Like Zumba, belly dancing is great exercise for people who don’t like to exercise. It’s amazing!  Zumba is awesome, but belly dance is even better. Here’s why

8 Things I Learned From Dancing With Gypsies / Roma / Kalbelia

Colleena Shakti’s friends Raki and Sunita Sapera show us how to dance like the Rajasthani Kalbelia dancers in the opening scene of Latcho Drom. Rehearse like your audience is always there with you and if you see something you like in another dance, make it your own.

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

A belly dancer in flamenco dance classes in Southern Spain feels the passion, learns dramatic spins, and bring homes flamenco hands.

Belly Dance Veil Tricks and More from the Amazing Ruby Beh

Portland’s Ruby Beh is a hair tossing, veil throwing belly dance powerhouse. Learn some of her unique veil moves as well as tips for choreographing and learning drum rhythms for belly dance.

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.

5 Reasons Why You Have a Hard Time Meditating

Do excuses and distractions keep you from meditating regularly? You are not alone. Here are some solutions.

Short Choreo Belly Dance Duets to Live Music

Choreographing belly dance for a group or improvising belly dance with others does not have to be hard! Choose moves that are easy to sync, repeat moves, and learn how to follow your friends.

Chi Gong Belly Dance Fusion How-to

Increase your positive energy while you practice belly dancing to this Chi Gong belly dance routine video and audio clip

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

You can figure out how to meditate consistently! You do not need to be in a retreat center or super quiet place. Choose the most quiet place near you, put it on your calendar, and enjoy.

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

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.

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 […]

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.

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 […]

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

You will love these healthy and scary vegan food recipes for Halloween parties. Tofu eyeballs, disgusting labels, worm salad, salty gonads… 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.   […]

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  

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Why Cancer and Father’s Day Don’t Need to Go Together

Father’s Day just passed, and I feel like it is my responsibility to get real honest with you real quick here. I still feel like I could have saved my father’s life, but it didn’t work. And that one of the reasons why I am so motivated to share my love for good food with you. That is why I have paired dance with plants. Because I think it’s powerful, and it saves lives. My dad was diagnosed with cancer when he was 53. Fifty-three. Death sentence. We blamed a chemical that he used to spray on the apple trees when he was […]

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 […]

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.”

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 […]

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 […]

How to Start Meditating in 4 Fun Steps

Creating a meditation practice can be a lot of fun. Choose an inspiring thought leader who meditates like Oprah Winfrey or Thich Naht Hanh and use these tools to start experiencing the benefits of meditation. 

11 Arabic Words Every Belly Dancer Should Know

Abigail Keyes of the Salimpour School teaches us 11 words from popular Arabic dance songs that will help us understand our favorite belly dance songs. Learn more on the belly dance podcast A Little Lighter episode 46

Dance Lessons Learned from Pema Chödrön

Tired of feeling tight and stressed? One of the world’s most down to earth Buddhist teachers shows us how to soften, relax, create space, and find meaning in our dance lives and daily lives. 

How to Build a Big Portable Dance Studio Mirror

These instructions for making a dance studio mirror can help you create your own dance studio, even if it’s in a weird basement or barn or somewhere without walls where you want them! This mirror is great for moms with small children because it is stable, portable and reversible. Every dancer deserves a place to dance. To experiment and grow and see what that looks like. Using power tools will save you a lot of time. If you don’t have a jigsaw, drill gun and screw gun, borrow them or invite your friend who has them over and feed them dinner. A palm […]