Friday, December 31, 2010



Originally, I was going to do a list of my favorite beauty products of 2010, but then I realized that I've used most of these products for years- they are my "go-to" Beauty Staples, I'm never without any of them! So here they are, in no particular order:

This cream, for me is Nectar Of The Gods… it moisturizes and hydrates while adding a lovely pearlescent sheen to your skin, making it seem to glow from within. Well worth it’s price… hell, worth its weight in gold!

I love this foundation because it’s light, has great coverage without looking cakey, comes in a range of colors – I like to mix two or three shades to match my skin-tone at any given time of the year. I alway mix this with Strobe Cream because used together, it gives my face a fresh, dewy finish.

Great if you are doing a touch-up at home…or on the road! Good coverage leaves your hair silky and shiny (it comes with conditioner, too) and who can beat the ten-minute timing? Glamour on the go!

Hands down, the best eyelash glue EVER!!!! This is non irritating, it comes in clear and black tones, and peels off the lashes easily so you can re-use them. Throw away that dumb crappy glue that comes with your lashes and use this! You can also use Duo for applying bindies and facial jewels, and in a pinch even use it instead of fashion tape!

Both wipes take off your face without irritating your skin, even stage-makeup and glitter comes off with one swipe. Of course, I prefer MAC, but the Neutrogena wipes are about twenty bucks less!

Amazing matte lipstick in a blue-red tone that makes your teeth appear snow white. This color works on EVERYONE, trust me. Also has incredible staying power, pops onstage, and looks fantastic in person. YESSSSSS!!!!!

The best drug-store brand eye shadows in my opinion. Heavily pigmented, they come in matte, satin and metallic finishes, and there's no creasing, the price is right, and the duo-compacts save space in your make-up bag.


Both lines of brushes are terrific, and both come in a wide range of sizes and shapes…pick your price range.

The soft , natural-looking coral color flatters most skin tones and will add a pretty, peachy glow to your skin.

You know, the classic pink tube with the lime-green cap? Still great after all these years- a winner!

I love these cheap (usually about a dollar!) lip-pencils. They come in a huge range of colors, and are soft but not greasy. Ya can’t beat the price, and they seem to last for ever. My favorite color is “Cabaret” a deep, rich red.

Everything I said about Jordana lip pencils applies here….except that the red color only applies to the packaging!

This affordable line of polish has great coverage (even one coat would usually do the trick) and comes in fantastic colors, with really cute names. Also, it's very easy to remove, with no lingering stains.

This unbelievable gorgeous coal-black eye shadow has sparkly flecks of silver glitter in it…it also stays on well, works dry or wet, gives great coverage, and a little goes a long way. Try it- you’ll get addicted!

I saved my favorite thing for last! Don’t even get me started on this amazing product or I won’t shut up about it! This fine, cosmetic grade glitter is like fairy dust from another universe: ethereal, amazing and otherworldly. Use it on your body, on your face…the best scientific discovery since penicillin, in my opinion!
It’s not an exaggeration to say that I feel the same way about Reflects Pearl as Tony Montana in the movie “Scarface” did about his “yayo”… I want to fill my house with it, horde kilos of it, risk going to jail for it, risk my life for it, and I’d protect it with “my lil’ friend” - an AK47!

Monday, December 27, 2010


As the year draws to a close, it gives me great pleasure to bring you the last "Fun With Keywords" of 2010.

For those of you who don't know, Key Words are the words or phrases people type into search engines that direct them to various websites. Aside from the obvious ones (“belly dance”, “costumes”, “Egyptian Style”, etc.) I always get a kick at the random, downright ridiculous and often surreal things people from all over the world search that directs them to my blog! Hope you get as many giggles out of this as I do!

So here's the last crop of 2010, printed here exactly as typed:











Illustration: Why, it's a CUCKOO Clock, of course! : )

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Professional dancers work for years to perfect their art, but though dancing is definitely an art, essentially, dancers are athletes. Even if you are just dancing for fun, you are still making demands on your body, far above and beyond what the average person would consider exercise. Drilling in class or even at home takes physical strength, stamina, and co-ordination. For a professional, rehearsing and performing takes more of the same, but is also amplified by the intense repetition of movement and with the individual dancers stage adrenalin.

When a dancer is training, the movements inherent in her unique style of dance ( no matter what it is) constantly use particular muscle groups, in the same way, over and over. So, for reasons having to do with physical health and muscle development, it would behoove you to cross train, the same way athletes do.

The main thrust behind cross training is that it will enhance your performance by diversifying your training in a variety of ways, such as improving co-ordination or working different muscle groups. This expanded training compliments the effectiveness of your primary skill by combining it with other physical activities that will advance your abilities in general. Learning another discipline and taking advantage of the theories and benefits that come with it will help your entire body to become stronger, as well as improve your endurance and mental acumen.

For example, an Olympic caliber swimmer may run to increase endurance; a boxer will practice his fighting technique, but he might also train with weights for strength and run or skip rope for cardio. There are also many other examples of cross training techniques that are not sports-based. In the military, the elite squads are generally those who are proficient in many types of combat strategies. They are well versed in multiple specialties, such as weaponry; wilderness survival, martial arts, parachuting, disabling explosives and can also perform the duties of a medic. Visual artists often work in many different mediums simultaneously for the same reason. A painter who primarily works with oil may also work with many other mediums, like watercolors, ceramics, pen and ink, and found objects.

To make sure you are building muscles and strength in a healthy way, you may choose to cross train with something physical that compliments your dance practice, like Yoga, Pilates, or swimming laps. Aerobic activities like tennis, spinning, running or even fast-paced walking will all improve endurance and stamina as well as work different muscle groups on your body. Strength training, such as working out with weights or resistance bands will benefit your dancing as well as stave off osteoporosis. Taking a leisurely hike out in nature a few times a week may be enough for one person, while another may want to try trapeze or pole dancing- it’s your choice, because only you know what your body is capable of physically, and what you will enjoy.

And of course, learning new types of dance that are different than your primary style will not only move various muscle groups, but also enhance your art!

Remember, stretching in itself is not a warm-up and may actually cause injury, so make sure you warm your body up with a few minutes of cardio or some light dancing before you stretch. And before and after you practice, rehearse or perform, take some time to warm up-and cool down- thoroughly, IT’S THE LAW!

Monday, December 6, 2010


The holiday season is wonderful and amazing; with all the beautiful holiday decorations sparkling everywhere, we dancers can’t help but feel as though we are totally in our element.

But as we all know, the holidays can also be stressful time, and not just because of the frantic pace at the malls. As usual, many of us are juggling our gigs, classes and rehearsal schedules with day jobs and family obligations…but in some cases the family situation itself may not be optimal, and during the holidays especially, this adds into the mix and creates stress.

During the holidays, more than at any other time, temptation abounds- scrumptious food and alcoholic beverages are everywhere, enticing us to fall of whatever wagon we may be on with a resounding thud. The urge to make unhealthy choices is always heightened by a hectic schedule, lack of sleep, underlying anxiety and keeping late hours.

Over the years, I experimented with a number of ways to keep my holidays “safe and sane”... and one of them is re-thinking my holiday gigs.

For many dancers, the holiday season is a usually huge moneymaker. There are oodles of private gigs for Christmas, Hannukah and New Year’s Eve parties. There are also many corporate gigs, office Christmas parties, and charity events going on. Clubs and restaurants are more crowded and want more live entertainment that during other times of the year, and patrons customarily tips more generously, too.

I don’t have to tell you that the bad economy has affected everybody- we can all feel it. This is probably having an influence on the amount of holiday gigs-and rate of pay- you are being offered this year. The standard rate for New Year’s Eve gigs used to be triple what you’d normally receive, but with money being tight everywhere, this sadly isn’t the case so much anymore.

Still, though there is an opportunity to make bank, this year, especially may be an opportunity to think of what you are forfeiting by doing those shows. Since we dance so often on holidays no matter what time of year, they usually don’t seem like a day off for dancers.

Basically, because of gigs, you are spending your holiday away from loved ones, to begin with. You dance at other people’s holiday celebrations ( not to mention birthday parties, weddings, graduation ceremonies, etc.) year-round, but don’t celebrate those occasions yourself, because you are working! Also, during Christmastime through New Year’s Eve, in order to work, you’re braving bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic, long lines at police sobriety check-points, and even if you don’t imbibe at all,risking the potential hazards of others who are driving while under the influence.

I have always had a steadfast rule about my holiday gigs- especially New Year’s Eve: JUST SAY NO. It doesn’t mean that I don’t accept holiday gigs- I do, frequently. It’s just that I am ultra-choosy about which ones I accept, as well as how I schedule them.

Though it might seem crazy, throughout the years, the “Just Say No” policy has served me well. Unless I am absolutely certain I can get to and from a show (or multiple shows) on time and get paid what I am worth, I’d rather stay home. That means I won’t be spending the New Years Countdown stuck in traffic, stressing cause I’m late for a show; or shivering in a drafty backstage or lonely hallway waiting through endless techno renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” and lengthy toasts to perform a set for a bunch of revelers who are more focused on where their next glass of champers or spiked egg-nog is coming from! Choose your holiday gigs wisely, and decide for yourself it it’s worth the sacrifices you will inevitably make.

Another thing to think about is your own safety- and I don’t mean the common-sense rules that usually apply, like bringing an escort to a private gig or making sure you get a deposit in advance.

Holiday gigs present a variety of “hazards” that may not be present at other times of the year. Specifically, I’m talking about things like open flames from candles, spiky evergreen boughs, breakable glass ornaments, and clusters of snaking extension cords for holiday lighting. While these all make a home or restaurant pretty and enticing, they could be dangerous for YOU…so scope your performance space out carefully, don’t get too close to anything that could break and cut you or snag your costume – or set it on fire! And seriously, while you are performing in a smaller space, really try to get a bead on the drunks in the audience (they’re always there, but even more so at this time of year!) and practice your crowd-control skills…because you’ll need them!

If you are an animal loving dancer like me, you’ll protect your pets, too. While you’re out running around, they could potentially be in danger in your own house. Mistletoe and Poinsettias are extremely toxic to cats, and chocolate –in any form- is horrendous for cats and especially dogs. Don’t leave any of these things around where your pets can reach them. Tinsel and metallic elastic gift-wraps are like catnip for the kitties – so shiny and pretty and interesting! But they can be ingested and cause massive internal problems that require surgery, as well as being a choking hazard. Glass and glitter-covered ornaments should never be hung low on your tree for the same reason, and your electrical cords should be taped down securely or housed in a box (secured at the spot where they plug into the wall) so they don’t get chewed on, causing a short and possibly electrocuting your pet. Need I mention that you should turn all your Christmas lights off when you leave for a gig?

On a less-cautionary note, just after Christmas has passed is always a fantastic time to go shopping for your year-round costume needs. Everything you need to make fantastic costumes and accessories will be on sale, from beaded garlands to luscious fabrics and metallic ribbons, from fantasy feathers to fabric paints, sequin trim and crafting supplies…stock up while it’s cheap, and use them later in the New Year!

Though many people find it hard to stick to their New Year’s Resolutions, making resolutions you KNOW you’ll be able to keep easily is a good idea. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose plan, it could be something as small as vowing to take an extra class per month, or learning some new songs, or experimenting with a new style of dance. I always make a ritual of spending the first couple of days of the New Year going through my costumes and accessories, making sure that everything is in working order, to start things off right. I check to see if hooks need to be sewn on to costumes, or if skirts need to be hemmed, shoes re-soled, crystals replaced, that sort of thing. I also toss a lot of old make-up (especially liquids and creams) that could be contaminated with bacteria, and sew new elastic onto all my finger cymbals… and believe me, that’s a damn chore!

One last thought: give yourself a holiday gift. As dancers we spend most of the year giving: we give our time and energy all year round to students and to audiences. We are always “on”, whether we are actually onstage or not. Though we may try to rest and prepare for this, we always seem to put ourselves last on the list of recipients. It’s a wonderful thing to do, that whole external out-pouring of energy… but by the end of the year, you may develop a deficit that can sap you emotionally and mentally as well as physically.

During hectic holiday season, make sure to take some much-needed “quality time” to recharge your batteries and give back to yourself… even if it’s just a few moments of quiet each day! A massage, mani-pedi or a nice hot bath with Epsom salts are great year-round, but a necessity at this time of year, so treat yourself, because you deserve it!

Happy Holidays!