Jan 28, 2014

Fitness: Top nutrition tips for dancers

1) SNACKS! (100 or less calories snacks)

- 1 apple
- 1/2 banana (with peanut butter)
- 1/2 cantaloupe
- 1 cup of berries + 2 tablespoons of yogurt with honey
- 1/4 avocado
- 25 grapes 
- 1 cup of pineapple
- Sliced tomato with olive oil (I add a bit of black pepper on top)
- 1 cup of carrots (you can add a healthy dressing) 

- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup apple juice

- 1 slice of wheat bread + 2 egg whites
- Granola bar (I prefer the ones with almond and peanut butter)
- 1/2 English muffin 

Other snacks: 
- 1 cheese string + 5 crackers
- Starbucks Tall Skinny Latte
- 12 almonds
- 20 peanuts
- Graham crackers (4 squares)
- 1 1/2 cups of microwave popcorn (no butter added)
- 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt or ice cream
- 5 Hersheys Dark Chocolate kisses
- 20 mini pretzels
- 1 baked potato

When?     Before dancing/rehearsal/working out

Why?       Nutrition status can have a heavy influence on our energy levels. When dancing (or doing any type of workout) for a long of time, our nutrition levels will decrease. We need to make sure we replace any losses in our body. Going too long without eating decreases our metabolism and burns muscle for fuel (you feel weaker and are at greater risk for injury)

Recommendations?        I prefer to try two of these snacks, and get 200 calories from them in my dancing days. When you are burning a lot of energy, starving not only decreases your performance, but has been proven to actually increase body fat %. Your body composition will improve!

2) Berry Smoothie
- Handful of strawberries
- Handful of blackberries
- Handful of blueberries
- Handful of raspberries (optional)
- 1/2 water cup
- Mint leaves (optional - I add 1 or 2 leaves)
- Chia seeds/Flax seeds (optional - I add one spoon of each) 

Blend them all together and enjoy.

When?     Mornings 

Why?       The phytonutrients in berries are full of antioxidants, antiflammatory, anticancer and cleansing properties. They boost your immunity system, improves your digestive tract and they are a great source of energizant. Blackberries alone contain up to 30% of the daily recommended amount of fiber.

Recommendations?    Play a bit with the amount of each berry you include, you may like better the flavor of one over the other. I highly suggest including the chia/flax seeds because you don't even feel them in the smoothie, and they are a GREAT source for fiber and energy. This is by far my favorite smoothie - it fills me up with energy, especially during my dancing days.

3) Bananas

When?   An hour BEFORE working out

Why?     Bananas are not only filled with digestible carbohydrates (considered to be fuel for our bodies), but are also rich in potassium, which helps to maintain and improve our muscle and nerve function. 

Recommendations?     I suffered from chronic tendinitis in both my ankles for a long time, and after receiving proper treatment, the hardest part was getting back in track - and eating bananas before any workout (in my case, dancing) helped improve my performance. I highly recommend to at least give it a shot.

4) Greek yogurt (with berries and/or granola)

When?    Within one hour AFTER working out (during this time, your body is at its peak for nutrient absorption).
Why?      Greek yogurt has double the protein than regular yogurt (protein helps build lean muscle).  It is also a great source for carbohydrates (fills you up with energy). Berries have proven to fight muscle soreness (they break down nutrients so they can be delivered to the sore muscles), and granola is rich in fiber and protein (which reloads the muscle with energy).

 Recommendations?      The protein/carbohydrate combination is an amazing one. They both work together helping in keeping your energy levels up for longer and preventing you from feeling hungry too quickly (as a team, they slow down the rate at which your blood rises and falls). Staying fit and in shape is not only about cutting down fast foods and toxins, but also learning how to restore energy in your body after a workout. I dance and do other type of fitness activities such as yoga and pilates everyday, and hence, can't afford to mistreat my body by not reloading it with the proper nutrients. Plus, Greek yogurt is the best.

Jan 24, 2014

Dance: Drum Solo in Belly Dance


“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
― Thomas A. Edisoncir

Drum Solo (Belly Dance):

                The gorgeous and wonderful Sadie performing one of her “Wait… how did that just…what?” (I bet I am not the only one that has had that expression while watching her!). This is the very first belly dance performance I ever saw, many years ago.  

                I am in love with the sounds of drums, especially coming from the darbukka. I find truly hypnotizing how the body imitates and follows so closely the music... the connection a dancer must have to the beat is unique. When dancing, whether you are just starting or have been doing it for a long time, you are in a constant “re-discovery” state; I believe you get to rediscover not only your own body, but your rawness inside as well, your reactions, your instincts. In my opinion, a drum solo in belly dance perfectly represents that state of rediscovery. For the length of the song, you devote yourself to the music, to your intuition, and let the joy flow out of your body, just in time to catch the upcoming "Dum" or "Tak". 


Also known as doumbek, dombak, tablah (from the Arabic word “tabl” which means drum), among others. This Arabic hourglass-shaped drum is the instrument used for a drum solo in belly dance. 

Back in the day, they were made up of ceramic, while the head of the drum was made up of either fish skin or goatskin. Nowadays, however, the heads tend to be synthetic, and the body is sometimes metallic.

The “Dum” sound is produced when striking the center of the drum, while the “Tak” sound (high-pitched) comes out of knocking the edge of the drum.

Dancing to a Drum Solo:

Pops, locks and shimmies tend to predominate in a drum solo performance. The layering moves (isolating the body) attempts to reflect the rhythms played on the drum. It is considered very challenging given that the dancer needs to have a great control of her technique in order to achieve sharp movements. The dance tends to be very energetic, and tends to be playful as well.

Originally, the drummer will perform a song never heard before by the dancer. It is why some people refer to it as an “Ask-Answer” interaction, given that the drummer is initiating the “conversation” by introducing a certain rhythm, and the dancer dances to it, hence “answering” to his call. Over the years, drum solo songs have been recorded, edited and dancers now also choreograph to them.

In 2013, I went to the worldwide recognized festival "Belly Dancer of the Universe" in Long Beach, California. It was such an inspiring weekend, full of emotions and beautiful talent from all over the world! I was honored by having the opportunity of dancing at the Opening Ceremony, next to Sadie and other four beautiful artists from different parts of the world. It was also a true gift to have danced that piece with live music by the one and only Amir Sofi! Although it was a choreographed piece (by Sadie), we were all asked to improvise for a while at the middle of the song. When dancing to live music, even though the dancer and the musician may have agreed on a song beforehand, the song will never be exactly the same. You have to be ready to improvise, go with your guts, and give your best at all times - and that includes not only a clean beautiful technique, but a great smile to the audience. Sadie made us feel so comfortable we hardly felt nervous by the improvisation part. We all let our bodies follow the beat of the drums.

Amir Sofi, Rosa and Sadie.

This drum solo was my first winning performance. First Place "Ultimate Belly Dancer" (2012)

Latest drum solo piece, performed in Peru, Dec 2013.

Videos :

I want to share with you some drum solo performances (from all styles) I personally find very beautiful.

JILLINA (USA): Her dedication to this art form is inspiring. And so is her talent.

AMANI (Lebanon): I fell in love with Lebanese Style through this amazing bellyd ancer.

SADIE (USA): The Queen of Drum solos; Can’t miss watching her.

AALIAH y SHAHDANA (Argentina): This is a wonderful piece. I had the chance to meet and dance next to Aaliah in 2011. Her creativity is outstanding, and I feel this video shows it clearly.

SHAHDANA (Argentina): I watched this Tap Derbake a while ago and truly think is amazing.

DARIYA MITSKEVICH (Ukraine): Beautiful piece.
AIDA (Russia): Aida's style is amusing to me. Such delicacy!

SONIA OCHOA (USA): This piece by Sonia, one of the Belly Dance Superstars is just gorgeous.

And what is your favorite drum solo performance?

Jan 16, 2014

Beauty: 3 MUST HAVE Organic Products

You will want to try at least one of them.

1)  Vicks Vaporub
My grandmother just turned 78 few days ago, and guess what? She looks like she’s in her 60s. Her skin, despite the wrinkles expected from her age, looks radiant, smoother than other women that age, and delicate. When asked how she does it, what’s her secret, she only answers: Vicks Vaporub.

It’s a mentholated oil-based cream usually used for cough suppression (decongest your chest) and joint pain. Its components include camphor, eucalyptol, menthol, among others. However, it has been proven to have way more properties. These are some uses that I have personally experienced or directly know of someone that has.

Uses of Vicks Vaporub:

- Stretch marks (Works beautifully. Give it about 2 weeks)

- Acne (Reduces inflammation thanks to the camphor)

- Wrinkles

- Cuts (Its components encourages fast healing, and prevents infection)

- Nail fungus (The camphor acts as an antimicrobial killing the bacteria and preventing infection)

- Insects repellent (Mosquitoes will fly away! The camphor and eucalyptol are toxic for them.)

- Sinus headache (The menthol scent releases pressure off your head – by provoking a cooling sensation - relieving the pain)

- Muscle pain (Increases circulation, reduces inflammation. The menthol and camphor act as a local anesthesia. Warm up after applying!)

2) Vitamin E
A while ago, I saw an interview made to beautiful Shakira, where she gave away one of her secret beauty tips. She mentioned how she cuts open a pill of pure vitamin E, and applies it directly to her face. Doing more research about it, I decided to try it out myself. Results? Fantastic!
Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant, that your body doesn’t naturally produce, and repairs skin. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes the molecular that damages collagen, helping with skin dryness and wrinkles. Therefore, prevents early aging of the skin.

Uses of Vitamin E:

- Moisturizer (helps retain natural moisture keeping the skin well-hydrated)

- Younger/Glowing look

- Reduces acne         

- Prevents early aging of skin

- Scars (helps reduce them)

- Wrinkles (helps with existing wrinkles, and prevents new lines from forming)

- Cleansing

- Tones skin (increases firmness and elasticity)

How to apply it:

BUY Vitamin E (If you live in the U.S., Walgreens is the place)

CUT it in half (I simply use scissors)

APPLY forming a thin layer (I do it directly with my hands, but you could also use some cotton or hyssops)

SPREAD (It is oily, but not very liquid-ish, so make sure you spread it evenly)

3) Coconut oil
Why is all this fuzz about coconut oil going on? Simple. It’s one of the best organic products out there.

I use it in both my skin and my hair. I personally prefer using the virgin coconut oil, but any other refined ones will do the work when used externally.

Coconut oil contains large amounts of saturated fats such as lauric acid. Saturated fats are usually less positive for your organism in comparison to unsaturated fats. HOWEVER, coconut oil is predominantly MCFA (medium-chain fatty acid) rather than LCFA (long-chain fatty acid), which means it doesn’t have a negative effect on cholesterol.  It actually helps increase the metabolism and reduce the risk of heart diseases, to mention only two of its benefits.

Uses of Coconut Oil for Skin:
-       Softs skin
-       Reduces appearance of scars
-       Reduces itchiness
-       Moisturizes (I prefer to use it on my face overnight)
-       Acts as eye-makeup remover
-       Prevents stretch marks
-       Helps reduce appearance of varicose veins
-       Natural chap stick
-       Alleviates allergy symptoms
-       After shave lotion (feels great!)

Uses of Coconut Oil for Hair:
-       Increases silkiness
-       Reduces frizz

How to apply it? 
To increase silkiness
Pour on bowl and warm up to oil state. Allow it to cool. Then, apply on scalp and hair massaging and tie your hair up. I prefer to do it at nights, and then wash my hair in the morning. It looks great!

To reduce frizz
Simply grab some coconut oil, rub it on your hands, and apply it over your hair


Aristotle strongly believed we should look at the mind (soul) and body as two entities that intertwine and work together, rather than two separate ones. We should do our best to feel beautiful inside, and our bodies will translate those emotions. And just as we attempt to feel at our best inside, we should take great care of our bodies to feel at our best outside as well.
There are so many little changes you can start following that will help you improve your quality of life. Start with the ones that give you visual results and you will come to understand how something so little can make such a huge difference.

Jan 7, 2014

L'amore della mia vita.

“Dancing is surely the most basic and relevant of all forms of expression. Nothing else can so effectively give outward form to an inner experience. Poetry and music exist in time. Painting and architecture are a part of space. But only the dance lives at once in both space and time. In it the creator and the thing created, the artist and the expression, are one. Each participates completely in the other. There could be no better metaphor for an understanding of the mechanics of the cosmos.” ― Lyall Watson, Gifts of Unknown Things: A True Story of Nature, Healing, and Initiation from Indonesia’s Dancing Island

I hope you all have started this New Year full with gratefulness and passion!

Some of you may already know me; some may not. So I will go ahead and introduce myself. 

My name is Rosa Vasquez and I was born in Peru. I currently study Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar. 

I decided to start a blog about dancing, healthy life style/fitness tips, travel experiences, and inspirational ideas – and chose January as my starting month.

Art has always been one of my greatest passions. I believe it fuels our souls. 

I am a dancer, and have been since I can recall. I did Ballet for more than 8 years as a child/teenager – continued with modern dance, hip-hop, Latin dance, Peruvian folklore, jazz - and also gained some experience in theater. When I was 15 years old, inspired by my everlasting admiration for Shakira (I bet I am not the only one in here!), I decided to try out belly dancing for the first time. Little I knew it would become my future

"Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams we never even knew we had." - Alice Sebold

I believe all passions in life start in a similar way. You start in the “rose clouds” states – all so beautiful, unique, flawless! Yet your commitment and passion is only truly revealed when the situation you are in is far away from perfect. That is when you realize you either want to fight and embrace your love for it every day – dedicate your life to it; or you decide you are “good enough”, no need to try harder, and just stop the music and move on. 

I sincerely hope that is not your case, whether dancing is your passion too or not. 

I have met so many beautiful people through my dancing so far, and have learned a bit from all of them. They all continue to constantly inspire me; hopefully, I will inspire you as well

Special shout out to Luna (Peru) who was my first teacher and mentor. She is unique and truly wonderful! Her love, dedication and passion is reflected not only on her dancing but on her students. Te quiero Milu!!

And to the one and only Sadie! She has always been one of my greatest dancing inspirations. I feel so grateful to have been invited by her to meet her and learn much more from her in beautiful Switzerland. Inspiring dancer and teacher, and amazing person!

In this blog, I will be sharing with you dancing (especially belly dancing) information I find unique and useful for every dancer out there. I am in the process of enriching my own knowledge and have come across so much amazing information I want to share.

I will also be including tips for a healthy life style – such as nutrition tips (especially if you are a dancer) and fitness tips. My two majors allow me to study the details underlying the chemistry of our bodies and appreciate how nutrition and fitness influence our health. 

At the same time I will include some traveling experiences (and advices!) as well as inspirational ideas/stories I come across with. In the last two years, I have visited countless cities in the U.S., Italy, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland – a lot of them by myself. I have had the chance to meet people from all backgrounds, with all types of dreams, ideas, perspectives! I have been collecting so many advices for all travel junkies (like me) out there, as well as so many inspirational stories I want to share with you.

I dearly hope to inspire all of you and nurture your minds as well.

Love and kisses,