Why I Hate Beets


One of these faults has already been publicly attacked and in many ways, rectified over the years and that is in regards to body image and body ideals in classical dance. My school was old school, as I said before, and along with old school ways came old school ideals, namely very very thin ideals. Now it is my personal belief that we all develop in puberty in different ways. My theory is some of us get our meat before our height while others get our height and fill in later. I was of the former variety and my ninth year was… pudgy. I don’t even have photos to prove it cause over the years I have systematically destroyed all evidence, save for maybe one year of dance videos that are under deep protection with my mother. Looking at these videos it was not awful, but for classical dancer measures it was becoming unacceptable. Of course I was not completely unaware of the situation but I didn’t quite understand the severity the effects of being pudgy this year can cause. See at around 9 is when young ballerinas (who have been training since 2 or so) start being weeded out for their talent and physical look to become company ready. There are even roles on the stage with professional companies at this time for scenes that need young children, such as Nutcracker. This was not the ideal time to pork up and my teachers and family were not so quietly concerned about it.


Of course how do you tell a child their weight is a concern? Perhaps some people would find it hard but the French (my grandma) and the Russians (my teachers) have it down, which is to say they simply say you are fat and start withholding sweets to you. It all started after one recital when my grandma was driving me home. I was in an acrobatic trio with two positively skeletal girls, they were the height first sorts, but this only enhanced my less than skeletal frame. My grandma commented that I was the fattest one out of the group, which I was unphased by and asked if we could get a milkshake on the way home. “No.” She said simply, “you’re too fat for a milkshake” At home the same treatment continued, at the dance studio too, which was always devoid of sweets and filled with light hearted teasing from the paternal older receptionist. “I hear you’re watching your weight” he said “Watching yourself grow wider it looks like!” I have to stop here, cause I am sure a lot of people think this is just awful but it was all done out of love and concern. Personally, I think it is more cruel to say nothing and let a child develop bad habits but I digress.


It was around this time that the diet appeared. I still don’t know who created this diet or if it was even a real thing or if it came from the dance studio or my family. It was typed up on several yellowing index cards. And yes I mean typed as in on a typewriter, this thing had to be 30 some odd years old. It looked like it could have been smuggled out of the USSR in a dancer’s pointe shoe. On these cards were special foods you were allowed each day to be eaten in a specific order in an attempt to make you lose more weight. The foods on these cards were awful, mostly canned chicken, black coffee or tea, hard boiled eggs, saltine crackers and pickled beets. It only lasted 5-7 days I think and it was meant as a detox or jump start I think. Either way the amount of alkaline, salty, devoid of flavor food was intense. But I was an obedient child and followed the diet. There was no sugar in this diet, not even fake sugar, which was deeply upsetting for mini me. A typical meal would be 12 saltine crackers, can of chicken in water drained, cucumber and all the black coffee or tea a 9 year old could drink!  By the third day or so I was allowed certain foods in unlimited supply because they were “free” foods. One of these was pickled beets. I had never eaten or seen a beet up until this point but after no sugar for 3 days they tasted like heaven, at least at first. Then that awful dirt aftertaste beets have (if you can’t taste it you’re a liar) would come up.


Another thing I have to mention about this diet is that you had to eat everything for the day, no skipping calories and while you could eat unlimited amounts of certain foods you had to finish everything on your list, no substitutions. So after my one bite love affair with beets I realized I still had to finish my ½ a cup. It was torture. Also, by this time of the diet I was allowed ½  a cup of vanilla ice cream at end of the day which I wanted more than anything and I couldn’t have it till I ate all these stupid beets. (Seriously, I have no idea where this diet comes from or why ice cream suddenly gets added half way through. My theory is to make the diet more miserable since ice cream was probably the only thing on there you had ever chose to eat before this 7 days escapade.) Up until this point, everything else was fine I could eat it and it’s lack of flavor was not fulfilling but not vomit inducing either but the stupid pickled beets, whose flavor seemed only enhanced from the flavorless day, were too much to bear. Soon everything tasted like beets to me, even my vanilla ice cream. The flavor lingered in my mouth even for days after the diet was over making me have little to no appetite (maybe part of the diet’s master plan?).


My 7 day sentence came and went and the diet worked by the way, in case you were keeping track. I started up on a more traditional eating regime which all did little good till that summer when I shot up 7 inches and resumed being skinny. What also worked is a lifetime aversion to beets. Even when I try to be a grown up and eat beets in a salad or a juice I just want to die. I probably would willing eat just about anything else over a beet willingly. Right now if the choice was I don’t know chimpanzee brains with a tapenade made of roaches and sheep eyes I would probably chose that over a single beet.


Growing up in the dance studio as well as an entertainer family is perhaps one of my favorite things about my life. It no doubt planted the seeds to a life long passion and has shaped many things about me that I pride myself in, mainly discipline, respect and the benefits of seriously working and sacrificing for a goal. Don’t get me started on a number of “trophies to participate” dance studios for adults and children alike nowadays unless you want to watch me verbally transform into an old lady. “In my day we didn’t have trophies!” That being said, no system is flawless and while I deeply love and respect the old ways of training in dance it is not to say it didn’t have faults.

Technique Thursdays: Vertical Chest Circles

For this weeks installment of Technique Thursdays we will be covering vertical chest circles. Again, sorry for sound on video, it sucks, I know. To do the vertical chest circle start the same way you did for your horizontal only instead of going front and back go up and down. To lift and drop your chest you can use your breath to help you get the feeling at first. Once you know what you are looking for, try to do it with just your muscles. Make a diamond on the wall in front of you doing lift side drop side and smooth it out to make a circle. Try this going left and right and layering other moved over it.

Interested in classes? I am currently teaching Adult Beginner Bellydance Wednesdays 7:15-8:15 and Sundays 11:15-12:15 and Teen Bellydance Saturdays 11:15-12:15 and Children's Bellydance Saturdays 10:15-11:15


Technique Thursdays: Shoulder Shimmy

For the shoulder shimmy the moves are very simple it is speed and stamina and later on layering that proves to be more difficult.  The move is simple pushing one shoulder forward while pushing the other back and reversing. The larger you make the movement the slower it will be and the smaller the quicker.  The goal is to create a uniform movement whether it is a vibration or a jiggle. Practice the move in place until you can hold a speed consistently. Next start to layer the movement of chest circles, walking, figure 8s etc.


Interested in classes? I am currently teaching at Sabala Yoga Beginner Belly dance lessons Sundays 11:15-12:15 and Wednesdays 7:15-8:15 and Children's Bellydance Saturdays 10:15-11:15 and Teenager Belly dancer 11:15-12:15

Technique Thursdays! Hip Twists!

In celebration of my new belly dance classes in Boynton Beach and soon throughout South Florida. I have devided to start a weekly series on break downs of beginner steps. This is a great way for students to review at home as well if they felt stuck on a particular move.

This weeks step is Hip Twists

First start in a neutral standing position. Pelvis tilted forward slightly and knees bent. Put one leg in front with pointed toe, make sure thighs are touching! No start twisting the hip and letting the front leg respond to it. A good way to think of it is snuffing out a cigarette with your foot. Keep the move isolated and have fun!

Like this tip? Want more moves? Join me Wednesdays at 7:15, Sundays at 11:15 and Saturdays (Kids and Teens) 11:15 for a fun and beneficial belly dance class. Located at Sabala Yoga 1232 Hypoluxo Road Boynton Beach South Florida. Or contact me for information on private classes in the comfort of your own home! Cheeky.bellydance@gmail.com


Makeover Mondays! Find The Perfect Shade of Red Lipstick

Makeover Mondays! Find The Perfect Shade of Red Lipstick

Fall is coming! And while that doesn't mean much in South Florida, bold colors and lips are always fall fashionable. Classic red lips are in but picking the right shade can be daunting, use this guide to determine the perfect shade and application of red lips

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Technique Tuesdays! Hip Lifts

 In celebration of my new belly dance classes in Boynton Beach and soon throughout South Florida. I have devided to start a weekly series on break downs of beginner steps. This is a great way for students to review at home as well if they felt stuck on a particular move.

This weeks step is Hip Lifts

First start in a neutral standing position. Pelvis tilted forward slightly and knees bent. Put one leg in front with pointed toe, make sure thighs are touching! Shift your weight to the back leg and lift your front hip and accent the lift. This is almost identical to the drop only you are putting the accent on the lift so it is smaller and faster. Be sure that the move is isolated and if desired you could balance a book on your head.

Like this tip? Want more moves? Join me Wednesdays at 7:15, Sundays at 11:15 and Saturdays (Kids and Teens) 11:15 for a fun and beneficial belly dance class. Located at Sabala Yoga 1232 Hypoluxo Road Boynton Beach South Florida. Or contact me for information on private classes in the comfort of your own home! Cheeky.bellydance@gmail.com


Anthropology of Bellydance: Hora Loca and Bellydancers?

Hi there! To continue in the Wedding theme, this week I will be discussing another wedding trend in another culture, hora loca. Hora loca is common in many Latin American weddings, specifically Venezuela and Columbia. Literally meaning crazy hour, it is a time to revive the party and mark a transition from the traditional aspects of a wedding to the after party/ reception time. This has become especially popular in Miami and South Florida weddings amongst those from Latin American countries as well as brides looking to spice up their wedding reception.

 During the crazy hour, which can range from 45 minutes to a full hour, guests are encouraged to dress up with silly party accessories that are brought out like noise makers, hats, masquerade masks, and dance or otherwise act silly. Think of it like the whole wedding reception just turned into a Harlem Shake video.

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 Depending on preferences and budget, hora loca can be made by just putting on some exciting party music, a popular choice Samba and carnival music or it can include live entertainment, bands, samba dancers, circus performers etc.

So what does this all have to do with belly dance and weddings?

A great and popular way to transition your wedding from tradition to party is to have a belly dancer come in and entertain at the beginning of hora loca or just after dinner (when the crazy hour would traditionally begin). A belly dancer entertaining and encouraging guests to get up for the first half of the crazy hour is almost a fool proof method to make your reception a success. The belly dancer also provides enough distraction for the bride and groom or wedding planner to escape and collect the party props for their guests to enjoy.

If you’re a belly dancer and you got hired for the crazy hour don’t worry! In my experience your normal show is just the type of “crazy” they are looking for but if you are wanting to add a little spice to your show, feel free to add masks or feather headdresses to your entrance or just grab some of the accessories the guests are using and join in the fun!


Featured on Gigmasters Blog!: Tips for Hiring a belly dancer

It can be overwhelming to try to hire a belly dancer, or any live entertainment for an event. This is perhaps even more true in south Florida. This past week, I was honored, as well as several other talented belly dancers, to be featured in a gigmasters blog on some tips for hiring a belly dancer. Follow the link below to see the gigmasters blog, and scroll down to see my full article.

1.   What should a client consider when looking to hire a belly dancer?

Always look their profile and personal websites over carefully and ask all the questions you want, even the uncomfortable ones. When hiring exclusively online you can never be too careful. Photos can be old, or photoshopped or out right stolen from other sites! Don't hesitate to ask to meet in person beforehand. Double check with liability insurance especially if the dancer is using fire. Not only does this protect you if something were to happen during the show (God forbid!) but it also shows that the dancer has made a professional commitment to their dance by taking the time and money to purchase their insurance and learn how to perform safely. Also, don't just go for cheapest. On lead generating sites such as Gigmasters, it is easy to see a line of bids and just click the cheapest but even with a great company like Gigmasters you can be burned by this. You get what you pay for and if a dancer is pricing themselves under the competition there is a reason. She may be new, or an "undercutter" and she also isn't going to take you party seriously. If something better comes up she will not hesitate in leaving you high and dry the night of your event! Or if she shows up she might be less than what you were hoping in skill, punctuality and ethics. I have heard horror stories from clients, everything from the girl not being the same as pictured to dancing in non family friendly ways, the list goes on. It is not worth the gamble!

2.   What questions should a client ask a belly dancer that they are considering booking?

Again, check for liability insurance, photos, reviews, videos, website. If the dancer doesn't have any of these it can be a red flag. It isn't just having these things but these are evidence that they take their dance career seriously and have invested time, money and energy into it. Of course this could mean the dancer is just starting out or hasn't had the luck of getting good video so ask to see a live show. Almost all professional bellydancers perform at weekly shows at local restaurants and this is a great way to see them in action! You will not only get to see their dancing but how they deal with the crowd and their demeanor. This is a quick and fun way to ensure you are getting the right fit for your party!

3.   Once a client books you for a performance, what details should be discussed prior to the event?

In order to ensure a smooth show be sure to discuss spacing required for show, music format and time of performance. Depending on the props being used and the personal preferences of the dancer will depend how much space she will need. Try to be as accurate and realistic as possible. We can accommodate nearly any requirement but we have to know what we are working with! After space, music is probably the next most important factor. The dancer will bring music on multiple formats usually but it is good to check over beforehand with your DJ. Some DJs are not equipped to play CDs or even iPods and if this is the case it could prove to be a disaster if the dancer is not prepared! If you have no DJ but are planning to use a home stereo system you should do a check to make sure it is playing properly. Some home stereos will not play burned CDs so it is a good idea to try to play a burned CD just in case. A professional dancer usually will also have her own sound equipment so if you're stereo is being strange, ask her to bring her sound equipment. Finally, respect the time frame you and the dancer discussed, she likely has several engagements throughout the night and you delaying the show for 30 minutes could cause her all sorts of trouble. If you suspect this might happen let her know as soon as possible so you can work out arrangements.

4.   Please tell us - when did your act get started, and why do you do perform?

I actually started in ballet at 22 months. I come from a dancer family on my mother's side. Everyone on her side is involved in dance or performance in some way so it was barely a choice, I was enrolled into ballet class just 4 months after I started walking. Lucky for me I loved it. I quickly added on several other classical dances and went on to perform with Ballet Florida and Palm Beach Opera. During this period, my much older brother took up belly dancing (men dance it too!) and it made quite an impression on me. Though I was absorbed in the classical world for most of my life I found myself being more attracted to belly dance. When I started college, the ballet schedule was simply too demanding with school and I left the dance. During this period I used to have horrible nightmares about being late to dance class and running up the stairs to the studio but the stairs sucking me in. I had to have dance in my life! I started attending belly dance classes and instantly fell in love. With my classical training I progressed very quickly and before long I found myself a full time belly dancer. In belly dance I found myself even more than ballet, I had the freedom to express myself outside of a ballet narrative or choreographers instructions.

My act though I wouldn't say was complete till I added the fire sword. The sword dance was always what attracted me to belly dance before I started and having the strength, balance and flexibility from classical dance it was a natural dance for me. But I found the audience to be so untrusting and they automatically assumed the sword was not real or it was some sort of parlor trick so I thought I needed to add an extra element of danger to the act. So I sewed some wick to my sword and set it on fire. My goal was to do all my same tricks, including body and head balances with the sword on fire, other dancers thought I was nuts! But I did it anyways and now it is one of my most requested acts. Of course, I'm not the first or the last and other dancers have followed suit, but I have yet to see anyone do it quite like me.

5.   What kind of gigs do you usually book?

Everything from birthdays and weddings to half time entertainment and baby showers. Pretty much every event benefits from having a belly dancer. You don't have to be Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent to appreciate it! Besides offering different and memorable entertainment we are also party starters! We get everyone up on the dance floor having a good time so that your party is a success not just the show at your party.

6.   What is the most interesting/unique event you have ever worked?

There have been so many! What sticks out most in my mind is a yacht show I did. The guest of honor was retiring and his friends wanted to send him off in style, so naturally they went to Gigmasters and started searching different entertainment options. They decided on me as a belly dancer and as a complete surprise. Only problem is, how do you sneak a belly dancer onto a yacht? It's hard enough sometimes into a house but a yacht you're even more limited. I offered I should disguise as a server or caterer of some sort so I dressed in all black, like a server and boarded the boat inconspicuously with a suitcase filled with all my goodies. From there I was ushered into a private room in the bottom of the yacht where I changed. Once we were on the open sea the guest of honor thought he knew who everyone was on the boat so he was beyond surprised when I came up the stairs!

7.   What other advice do you have for clients booking a belly dancer?

Have fun with it! Ultimately we are here to make your party unique and unforgettable. Work with your dancer to make the performance an extension of your personality. It doesn't have to be huge, just little details from a costume color or a certain song you like. But these details can make an impact and make your party and show stand out amongst others.

8.   Anything else you’d like to share?

Dancers love photos and videos of shows! If you ever get some from your event please send it to us. Even cell phone clips, we love it and it helps us remember your party as well, cause usually we are having just as much fun as you are!