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,