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Archive for April, 2012

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Spring has got to be the busiest time of year for bellydancers. The gigs, the workshops, and the shows can begin to take their toll on you physically and mentally if you’re not careful. Fortunately, with this arsenal of superfoods under your coined belt you have nothing to fear. Here’s my suggestions for 5 snacks that can keep up with you!

Chocolate: The before class pick-me-up

Let’s start things off right with chocolate. Dark chocolate, to be exact. Chocolate is packed with flavonoids, which can help lower blood pressure and also act as antioxidants. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which trigger feelings of pleasure. It contains serotonin, an anti-depressant, and mild stimulants as well. It’s the perfect pick-me-up after a long day when you still gotta get to the studio!

The Snack: Try one or two squares of dark chocolate with five to eight almonds. The addition of heart-healthy nuts will provide long-lasting protein energy. Just be sure to only eat a little as both foods are high in calories. The point is to get big bang for your buck, since nobody wants to come to class and shimmy on a full stomach.

Mint Leaves: The stomach soother

Everyone’s experienced that queasy feeling in your stomach when you’ve gone a little too far with you veil spin drills. Or maybe you made the mistake of eating too soon before class. Chewing on mint promotes digestion, soothes indigestion, and reduces nausea and headache. Plus, it makes your breath minty fresh!

The Snack: You can now buy fresh mint leaves in the produce section of most grocery stores.  If you don’t want to chew on leaves, gum or breath mints with real mentha oil will work just as well. Don’t like the taste of mint? Try candied ginger for some of the same benefits.

Bananas: The post-shimmying replenishing fuel

Besides packing a healthy dose of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, bananas contain about 400 mg of potassium. Potassium is one of those important electrolytes that are often lost in workouts. It also helps prevent muscle cramping and soreness. And if that’s not enough, bananas are good for brain and bone health, too.

The Snack: Blend a banana with a cup of soy milk and one tablespoon of almond butter in a blender for a fruity nutty protein-packed treat! You can sweeten the drink with a tablespoon of honey, too.

Trail Mix: The classic in between gigs snack

So trail mix is probably not new to you, but it’s worth mentioning here because it does it’s job so well. Easy to store and take to shows and workshops, it’s also packed with antioxidants, heart healthy fats, and protein. Just be sure to eat only a little- it’s high in calories.

The Snack: I like to make my own trail mix to keep things new and exciting. There’s lots of great recipes on the internet with fresh combinations. You can go sweet, spicy, or tangy to suit your palette. Just be careful of salty, as you don’t want to dehydrate before going on stage. And watch out for sulfites and other preservatives in dried fruit.

Blueberries: Healthy daily living food

Blueberries are packed with anti-oxidants that help prevent cancer. They have also recently been linked to brain health and improved memory functioning. Plus, they retain a lot of their nutritional value even when frozen. As such, they are available for healthy snacking year round.

The Snack: I like blueberries with one of my other favorite foods- Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has about twice as much protein as regular yogurt for just a small increase in calories. I mix blueberries into naturally sweetened (no sugar or corn syrup!) Greek yogurt and sprinkle chia seeds on top for an extra protein and anti-oxidant boost.

Happy snacking!

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In honor of Earth Day I wanted to focus this week on scary toxic chemicals… and I’m not talking about the ones that spew from cars and factories. I’m talking about the ones in your cosmetics.

The average woman uses about 10 personal products daily. This includes things like shampoo, toothpaste, lotions, and deodorant. Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate the majority of the ingredients that go into these personal products, and many contain trace amounts of carcinogens, mutagens, and neurotoxins.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 60% of lipsticks contain lead. Yeah, that stuff they removed from paint because it was too toxic to be in our walls- you’re probably putting it on your lips!

How is this possible? Well, the cosmetic companies would argue that these ingredients are added in such small amounts that a user’s exposure is quite limited. That may be true, but what are the cumulative effects of using these products daily for a lifetime? The studies are quite limited and I personally would rather play it safe than sorry.

Here’s the good news

There is a growing movement towards safer, more environmentally friendly cosmetics. People are working to get lawmakers to impose stricter regulations. New green businesses are beginning to offer cleaner alternatives. So here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Look for fragrance-free options. Added fragrance to shampoos, lotions, and creams is one of the worst sources of these harmful chemicals. A lotion that doesn’t smell like cucumber melon can be just as lotion-y without the artificial additives.
  2. Avoid chemical dyes and colorants, including hair dye and especially skin lighteners. Hydroquinone, which is often found in skin lighteners, is considered to be one of the most toxic of all cosmetic ingredients.
  3. Keep a short list of the worst offenders. You can keep a list in your purse of common yet harmful chemical additives. But be warned- the FDA does not require that all these be listed on the label. If it’s not listed, it doesn’t means it’s not there.
  4. Check products before you buy. You can search your favorite brands on EWG’s skin deep database for a full breakdown of ingredients and any warnings associated with them.
  5. Shop the green cosmetic market. A lot of companies (especially small, family-owned ones) are making an effort to provide personal products free of harmful, synthetic chemicals.

Bellydancers use a lot of personal products in preparation for a performance. We might be getting more exposure than the average woman, especially on the nights we have gigs!

Be safe and be healthy!

References and Further Reading:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

The Story of Cosmetics

EWG’s Skin Deep Database

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Thanks to all who participated in my Spring Challenge and submitted or voted on their favorite belly dance hip hop fusion video. The winning video, with just over half the votes, featured Ebony of Washington D.C.

All DVD winners have been notified and their prizes will be shipped tomorrow! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the instructional program.

I’ll be posting a Summer Challenge this July. In the meantime please look for a new blog post every Monday. Next week I’ll be featuring something special for Earth Day. I’ve also got more giveaways, video tutorials, and guest bloggers planned for the next few weeks. It should be fun! If you haven’t already, please subscribe or follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.

Thanks also to World Dance New York for supplying such fabulous instructional material!

And as a bonus, my personal favorite fusion artist for belly dance and hip hop, Luna Rouge:

 

 

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Thank you to everyone who submitted a video this week. There were a lot of interesting choices- making my selection tough! I have decided upon the final three videos and have embedded them here.

Voting is now open!

The video with the most votes by Sunday, April 15th wins. Anyone may vote a total of one time. Yes, you may solicit friends and family to vote for your favorite. The person who submitted the winning video will be shipped Anasma’s Bellydance Hip Hop Liquid Fusion and Wave Explosion DVDs, courtesy of World Dance New York. These are truly wonderful DVDs. You can read my review of them here. Or buy them online from World Dance New York here.

Don’t forget the BONUS GIVEAWAY! Anyone who votes this week is eligible to win Android Goddess, also from World Dance New York!

Video 1: Amani’s Hip Hop Leylat Hob

Says Emilie… It was one of the first fusion videos I stumbled across several years ago. I like that she has a hip hop flavor, but it’s still mainly belly dancing. I also like that it’s not a tribal fusion-y, robot dance-y version of hip hop fusion. Says Ananke… I love the old school hip hop! This was a great submission because it exemplifies a true blending of style, costuming, expression, and attitude. The intro is a little long, but the dance technique is superb. Thank you, Emilie.

Video 2: Ebony Quall’s Hip Hop Tribal Fusion

Says Tiziri… Love, love, love this dance! There’s an ease and playfulness to it that is just flat-out fun. She seems totally comfortable with both bellydance and hiphop, so it really works as fusion. Says Ananke… Ebony is one of those amazing ‘multilingual’ dancers that speaks several styles fluently. If you saw her traditional Egyptian number, you’d never know she was capable of something like hip hop fusion. An entertainer in every sense of the word. Great pick, Tiziri.

Video 3: Kami Liddle and Zoe Jakes Tribal Fusion to Dubstep

Says Kelly… I loved how in synch they were and the musicality…the fluid movements and the look and feel of the performance is very powerful! Says Ananke… I agree completely. The hip hop influence here (beyond what is generally found in tribal fusion) is subtle, but well blended with the other movements. Also I very much appreciated the dubstep music! This is a great remix of a Natacha Atlas song, performed by Beats Antique. Thank you, Kelly!

So which video is the best fusion of Bellydance and Hip Hop? You decide!

Thank you for voting! If you’d like to be entered into the Bonus DVD GIVEAWAY please enter the field below, and hit submit!

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Did you read my review for World Dance New York’s DVD, “Bellydance Hip Hop Liquid Fusion with Anasma?” Are you interested in getting a copy? Here’s your chance!

I’m giving away both DVDs in the series to one lucky winner:

Here’s what you have to do:

1. Find an awesome example of a dancer fusing hip hop and belly dance (any styles thereof) on YouTube. Fill out the form below and include a link to the video. Submissions are due Sunday, April 8th 2012 at noon.

2. I’ll choose my favorite three submissions based on the criteria below and post them next week (Monday, April 9th). Readers will then watch and vote for their favorite. All votes will be due by Sunday, April 15th 2012 at noon. I’ll announce the winner of the DVDS on April 16th.

What are the video submission rules?

The video must be uploaded to YouTube publicly. It should be 3-6 minutes in length. You may submit footage of yourself as the dancer. One submission per household, please. You want to get your favorite in FAST, since I will only accept the first link to a video. If you submit a link to a video that’s already been submitted, I’ll notify you and you can try again (within the give time period). Open to residents of the U.S. only.

What criteria will you use to select the final three videos?

I’ll export the links to an external document so that I may review videos independent of your contact information to avoid any personal bias. I’m looking for dancers with great technique, appropriate expression and stage presence, as well as creative costuming. S/he should fluently blend styles in a way that is innovative while maintaining a genuine connection to both art forms. Finally, you all know that I love dubstep, so I’ll award extra points if its their music choice. The quality of the video does not matter, but keep in mind that lower quality does not often pick up the subtleties of isolation present in either style.

What are the voting rules?

Anyone may vote a total of one time. Yes, you may solicit friends and family to vote for your submission. You can encourage them to vote by telling them about the bonus giveaway…

Bonus GIVEAWAY!

Anyone who votes for any one of the three final videos during the week of April 9th to 15th is eligible to win this DVD (Android Goddess: Tribal Fusion Bellydance), also from World Dance New York!

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Submit your favorite video:

*I won’t use your email address for anything else, promise!*

Thank you for participating, and good luck!

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