Tag Archives: confidence

Quaking in your boots about performing in public? Here are 23 reassuring tips

Belly Queen 2015


 Presenting SMBA student, Sammi, with her Bronze Award certificate. Congratulations to all the students who recently received their Awards!

There’s a strange trajectory that happens to us bellydance students.

1. We witness bellydancing and get curious to know what it would be like learn for ourselves.

2. We consider attending a class and do a little research on local classes (plus hunt down some youtube clips).

3. We think about the possibility of joining a class.

4. After weeks, months or even years of thinking about it we join a class (and think “why didn’t I do this years ago?”)

5. We love the classes and get wind of end of term shows and public performances that the class are doing.

6. Then think “crickey, I’ve not even told my workmates I’m taking classes, how can I possibly perform in public?”

7. Next, we decide that we quite like the idea of joining in with the performance … except we feel super nervous and worry about screwing it up.


This is exactly the point where you need a crew of wonderfully warm and caring cheerleaders who’ve been in exactly the same place. What would somebody who’s been through the same thing wish she’d known before? What could go wrong?


So for this week’s blog, I called on the wisest, most lovely, caring ladies I know to help us out: Santa Maria Bellydance Academy students!

Here are the top 24 pearls of wisdom you need to call on when you’re nervous about the prospect of performing:

  • “Be comfortable with your choreography and know it inside out so you don’t need to worry about “forgetting” the steps. Practise, practise, practise and remember that you are doing it for the joy of dancing, keep that smile, no matter what!!!”  Sandy
  • “Practice in your outfit several times to make sure bits don’t fall off, come undone or are too loose.” Vicky Lumby
  • “Know the music, and breathe!” Trish Champion
  • “Enjoy yourself.” Freya
  • “Remember that everyone in the audience is rooting for you. Everyone wants you to succeed! And like I tell my students – if you are worried about making mistakes learn how to ” fall with style” – practice fixing mistakes and come up with some nifty troubleshooting moves that you can fall back on should a veil get stuck etc. Everyone makes mistakes, its how you handle them that makes you a star!!!” Louise Brooks
  • “Practice smiling as well as your choreography! It’s important that you know your steps, but your performance will look so much better if you look like you’re enjoying performing.” Cari Weston
  • “Two things that work for me: practice the choreography till you can do it without thinking; once on stage, lose yourself in the music. If you are 100% absorbed in the emotion of the moment there will be no brain space left for nerves.” Katerina
  •  “Before I undertook my first performance, I wish I’d known …that one of my students was going to be in the front row.” Rhi Smith
  • “Make sure you wear something you are comfortable dancing in. And if your outfit isn’t comfortable, wear it around the house until it becomes comfortable (but don’t forget to change again before doing the school run)!” Gwen Berry
  • “Before I undertook my first performance I wish I’d known… How quickly it flashes by! Enjoy every second!!” Natasha Bradley
  • “Before I undertook my first performance I wish I’d know how much fun it is!” Rossella Kench
  • “SMILE!!” Emily Ingram
  • “First – relax – remember to breathe – smile and have fun. (knowing that you have checked in advance that your costume has been FULLY fastened up properly)! then enjoy your performance and the audience appreciation at the end.” Tifanie Wentzell
  • “Before I undertook my first performance, I wish I’d known that glamour rocks and invested in a good costume.” Feyza
  • “Don’t worry what everyone else is thinking – they will be thinking you are brilliant just for having a go and it matters not a jot if you go a bit wrong.” Mandy Ryland-Langley
  • “Learn the music inside out, keep smiling even if you make a mistake because your smile will be what everyone remembered. Also, I wish I had known to pin my belt on when I did my very first solo, oops.”” Rosina Boden
  • “Before I undertook my first performance, I wish I’d known how much fun it would be and how much I’d love it so I’d have taken the plunge to perform much sooner than I did! And for someone undertaking their first bellydance performance my advice would be:
    (1) wear what you feel comfortable in and what makes you feel good,
    (2) it’s ok to make mistakes so don’t worry if you do – it’s all a learning experience,

    (3) bring a friend to cheer you along – a friendly face that you recognise in the audience can really help to relax you and
    (4) remember it’s all about having fun so just enjoy it!
    ” Ayten
  • “No matter how you think you look, or how you feel, everyone watching thinks you’re amazing .” Katie Lugg
  • “Make sure you love the first 30 seconds and know it backwards – that is how long it takes my brain to register that there is an audience. And remember, it takes longer to drink a cup of tea.” Gail Wilkinson
  • “Smile and enjoy the dance.” Carol Gey Van Pittius
  • “LOVE the music you choose.” Nita Grant
  •  “Look at the lights rather than the audience. Looking at the lights doesn’t panic you, you can’t see the people and then the muscle memory of your performance will just take over.” Katherine Williams
  • I was told to smile, sparkle, enjoy it and not to worry if I went wrong. It worked!” Mary Wilson
  • And one final bonus tip: “Make sure your hair piece, should you choose to wear one, is securely fastened to your head. A flying ponytail makes a fun anecdote but I can assure you it’s somewhat mortifying at the time.” Helen Santa Maria


If you’re nervous about undertaking your first public bellydance performance, take heart from those who have made this journey before you. You CAN be bold, step up and dance in front of an audience just like we all did.

I’d love to know: what inspired you to take the plunge and embark on a public bellydance performance? Did you get inspired by other students? Did your teacher gently nudge you? Leave us a message in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, see you next time 🙂

Hugs and shimmies,

Helen x

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Ready for your first bellydance performance? 9 tips to help you take the plunge

There comes a point in learning bellydance where the inevitable happens: your teacher or School holds an end of term show or hafla and offers a class the chance to perform the class routine. Many of us can’t get enough of performing and are eager to make the most of any opportunity to feel the buzz and excitement of the whole process: rehearsals, anticipation, excitement, nerves, make up, deep breathing, performance, thrill, adrenaline, living in the moment, applause, praise, attention (let’s be honest 😉 ), photos, congratulations, satisfaction, confidence, “when’s the next one?” The whole kit and caboodle.

When most students attend their first bellydance class, performing it in public is the very last thing they are thinking of. Performing certainly isn’t for everyone and my students frequently hear my mantra in class “performing is not compulsory, I have no personal investment in getting you to perform, only that you enjoy learning bellydance and get the most out of it”. However, over the years I have seen countless students go from not entertaining the idea of ever performing, to happily dancing in end of term shows experiencing all the fun that goes along with it.  In today’s post I want to get down to the nitty gritty of what happens in-between these two mindsets.

If you are progressing nicely in class and feel like you are starting to really ‘get the hang’ of bellydancing, why not think about developing yourself further and performing? Perhaps you have entertained the idea for a moment but you’re still not sure if performing is your thing. I mean, isn’t it taking this hobby a bit too far?

My action points for this Ezine are all about bringing yourself to the point where you are ready to perform. Or, if you have performed with your class, how to take yourself to the next level and do a solo.  If you have been toying with the idea and need that extra ‘push’ or permission to let yourself go for it – consider this it! Here are some practical ways to get your head around the idea of taking action and performing.

  • Go along and watch a student showcase so have a good idea what it’s all about before you take the plunge and join in. You may find yourself wishing you were up there dancing too!
  • Ask yourself why you are so resistant to performing with the group. Is there somebody/something holding you back?  Are you worried about being judged, criticised, feeling embarrassed? You aren’t alone. We all have to push through this stuff in order to put ourselves up there and perform. Take a look and chat to your classmates who have already performed in shows – they lived to tell the tale and have been back for more!
  • Do you enjoy seeing the side of yourself that you encounter and develop in class? Do you enjoy the company of your classmates who also do so? Performing gives you a chance to take this positive experience even further and deeper and is one of the quickest ways to bond with a group of like-minded people.
  • Think how you will feel after the show if you don’t perform: relaxed, relieved, safe, in your comfort zone, or just simply the same as before. Then think how you will feel after the show if you do perform: exhilarated, proud, satisfied, surprised, like you’ve added another facet to yourself, different. If you keep doing the same thing then you will feel the same. If you do something you’ve never done then you will feel like you’ve never felt.
  • Perform a class routine at the end of term show before you consider undertaking a solo to give you an idea of how it feels to dance in front of an audience. Get somebody to film it so you can look it over (and even ask your teacher to look at it and give feedback) and see how you can improve on what you did and move forward for a solo presentation.
  • Bring your fan club to come and watch you. Whether it’s your first group performance or your first solo, having your ‘crew’ there to support and witness you makes a huge difference (plus, they can do the drive home so you can have a glass of wine after). Your friends and family will love the opportunity to cheer you on.
  • Try dancing a class routine, that you’ve performed as a group, as a solo or duet before you embark on choreographing your own. All you need to do is repeat what you did before.
  • If you are a whiz with a sewing machine or simply can’t get enough of all things bling, then student shows are the ultimate way to push your creativity to the limits and make your own performance costume!
  • If you still can’t decide whether you should take the next step in your self-development as a bellydance student, try this classic mantra (it works for me every time I feel resistant to pushing myself further): ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

I’d love to know what, if anything, held YOU back from performing bellydance publicly and what helped you decide to take the plunge and go for it. Leave a comment below and let us know! (it might be just the thing to inspire somebody to go for it).

Thanks for reading 🙂

Hugs and hipdrops,

Helen x