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Thread: Stage fright

  1. #41
    Senior Member Eshta's Avatar
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    As a natural-born, life-long extrovert and attention seeker, I feel really sad to hear my dance pals suffering such performance anxiety and sometimes forget that it can take a lot of courage just to stand up in front of a room full of people, let alone dance and perform well!

    Since I was little I've always loved to get up on a stage and be the centre of attention and although that wasn't what drew me to belly dancing (strangely enough!) it did make the transition to performing much easier!

    I was wondering what is the little voice in your head saying to you before you perform, and does it go away when you start dancing? I just wonder what aspect it is that scares people, and if that helps to find the key to conquering the fear?

  2. #42
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Stage fright

    Quote Originally Posted by Eshta View Post
    As a natural-born, life-long extrovert and attention seeker, I feel really sad to hear my dance pals suffering such performance anxiety and sometimes forget that it can take a lot of courage just to stand up in front of a room full of people, let alone dance and perform well!

    Since I was little I've always loved to get up on a stage and be the centre of attention and although that wasn't what drew me to belly dancing (strangely enough!) it did make the transition to performing much easier!

    I was wondering what is the little voice in your head saying to you before you perform, and does it go away when you start dancing? I just wonder what aspect it is that scares people, and if that helps to find the key to conquering the fear?

    Dear Eshta,
    For me, a lot of the fear is just based on doing things as if I am an extrovert when in actuality I am an introvert. I like to spend lots of time by myself and I have to dig deep to get in front of people to teach or perform. After many years of teaching in the same location, I am now completely comfortable teaching my weekly classes. When I teach workshops, or in other locations besides my own place, then it takes a few minutes for me to get over being afraid that I brought material beneath the skills of the dancers (though I always have a plan B so I am not sure why the anxiety about that). What if I appear to the class to be too fat and old to learn stuff from? What if I just can't express the dance well enough for them? I mean, the intellectual side of my brain knows all that is nonsense, but the emotional part of my brain seems to take time to adjust to the new situation. I want so much for people to leave the class with a sense that they, personally, got something important for themselves while they were there; something that will help them do justice to the dance and become the dancers they want to be.
    There is also the fear that I will not do the dance justice. What if I am just not good enough tonight? What if my body and soul fail me and I can not create the intricate, intimate, warmth of the dance for some reason? What if I let the dance down on some level?
    Oddly enough, once I have been dancing or teaching for a few minutes, then this feeling goes away and it just becomes all about the dance and my training kicks in and I get my self together and do the best I can by the dance. There is little else that I can do at that point, really, is there?
    Regards,
    A'isha

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    Dear Eshta,
    For me, a lot of the fear is just based on doing things as if I am an extrovert when in actuality I am an introvert. I like to spend lots of time by myself and I have to dig deep to get in front of people to teach or perform. After many years of teaching in the same location, I am now completely comfortable teaching my weekly classes. When I teach workshops, or in other locations besides my own place, then it takes a few minutes for me to get over being afraid that I brought material beneath the skills of the dancers (though I always have a plan B so I am not sure why the anxiety about that). What if I appear to the class to be too fat and old to learn stuff from? What if I just can't express the dance well enough for them? I mean, the intellectual side of my brain knows all that is nonsense, but the emotional part of my brain seems to take time to adjust to the new situation. I want so much for people to leave the class with a sense that they, personally, got something important for themselves while they were there; something that will help them do justice to the dance and become the dancers they want to be.
    There is also the fear that I will not do the dance justice. What if I am just not good enough tonight? What if my body and soul fail me and I can not create the intricate, intimate, warmth of the dance for some reason? What if I let the dance down on some level?
    Oddly enough, once I have been dancing or teaching for a few minutes, then this feeling goes away and it just becomes all about the dance and my training kicks in and I get my self together and do the best I can by the dance. There is little else that I can do at that point, really, is there?
    Regards,
    A'isha
    when I read Eshta's ??? I thought of replying.... "Even though I will not be able to say it as eloquently as say A'isha..... blah blah blah..." & sure enough A'isha... says my reply better than I could have.... yeah... USUALLY after getting ON stage, or IN FRONT of a class after the 1st minute or two... whew..... sooooo much easier!!!... & I NEVER put much thought about it before.... but I AM SOOOOOO A CREATURE OF HABIT (as in I LOVE "regular gigs").... & in reading A'isha's response, now I KNOW why..... which may help the rest of you (us).... the MORE unknowns, the more that can go wrong.... the scarier it can be.... so those of you who are REALLY freaked out.... see if you can check out the stage/lighting/music set-up/other dancers/even do a dress rehearsal (EVEN IN YOUR LIVING ROOM IF NOTHING ELSE!!!)... the fewer unknowns... I think, the easier it will be...
    (oh... & a few friend/family "plants" in the audience don't hurt either!!!)
    NOW I do have to say that after YEARS of performing average 2-4X per week... I am NOT SOOOOOO freaked out..... & MOSTLY don't care... cause as many have said.... things have fallen off/got caught/broke a glass w/ my veil/fell on my ASS!!!!/knocked over stuff/cd mishaps (bad volume to out & out failure!)/ had to dance to a greek band who ONLY played Aziza (their "bellydance music") thru TWO 20 min sets!!!!!!!/blah blah blah.... & you know what????? these people are STILL hiring ME back!!!!! go figure!!!!!!
    ...............
    the thing I think it is hard for us shy/introverted people to understand is this....
    the audience is almost ALWAYS on OUR SIDE!!!!!
    even if there is that B#*^$ in the audience making comments/giving you dirty looks..... 8x out of 10, (unless it is her boyfriend...poor lad!) her companions are saying .... "shut-up"... & when I do have those unfortunate creatures in my audience (if appropriate)... I sweetly ask THEM to dance...
    they ALWAYS say NO......(freak out more than me!!! & shut up!! wheeee).... but THAT (so far! EEEK) has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with!!!.. besides my OWN insecurities!!!!... so I have taken to telling MYSELF to shut up & dance!!!
    & just last week.... at my (of course) regular restaurant gig..., the owner was bummed.... a party of THIRTY (in a like 45 seater restaurant)... had not shown up OR cancelled (so he had turned down other reservations as well!!) so HE was losing bucks.... PLUS my other dancer... 1/2 my age & kick ass beautiful (looking & performer!) was all depressed for some 21 year old angst! (sorry young ones out there!!!)... I am feeling all fat & old myself..... but I said F)$* it... I am going to DANCE & put on my fav music (actually 2nd fav... cause other dancer had used one of the songs out of my fav set..... oh well suck it up.....)... & you know what???? I felt SOOOOO much better!!!!! plus my other dancer said wow.... & you could be my MOTHER!!! & the restaurant owner was no longer wondering WHY he was paying us.... so WHEW>>>>>> another night saved by (super hero music PLEASE!!!!).... BELLY DANCER!!!!!!
    (so just write your own comic book next time YOU perform!!!)
    .........oh by the way... one time.... I had like SUPER FAMOUS dancer here to teach workshop... so show before= I AM SOOOO nervous (plus have super huge skirt in super small place) BECAUSE of super FAMOUS dancer... that super big skirt knocks over plant stand candy dish... (plus lots of "smaller" MISHAPS)..... & you know what??? super famous dancer STILL HIRES me to DANCE in one of her BIG shows in HER town .....

    so moral OF THE STORY (FINALLY!!!!) IS just DANCE!!!!! (& have fun!!! because if YOU do so will THEY!!!!!)
    I TRY to remember that my job... of course is to dance as well as I can... but more importantly.... we are ENTERTAINERS>..... so SMILE & have fun!!!

  4. #44
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    For me there is comfort in knowing that some of the best dancers I've ever seen--including some workshop teachers I have had-- have the exact same kind of performance anxieties that I do, just on an "international star" level instead of a "nervous student" level. Even if you get to the very top of your field, you will still find things to worry about and things to criticize in your own performance. Somehow it helps me to realize that this can just be part of the experience and accept it as such.

    As for concerns about being fat or old. I think age and experience are an essential asset in this dance. There is no other way to achieve the same kind of emotional depth.

    Cathy

  5. #45
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathy View Post
    For me there is comfort in knowing that some of the best dancers I've ever seen--including some workshop teachers I have had-- have the exact same kind of performance anxieties that I do, just on an "international star" level instead of a "nervous student" level. Even if you get to the very top of your field, you will still find things to worry about and things to criticize in your own performance. Somehow it helps me to realize that this can just be part of the experience and accept it as such.

    As for concerns about being fat or old. I think age and experience are an essential asset in this dance. There is no other way to achieve the same kind of emotional depth.

    Cathy

    Dear Cathy,
    I have sort of come to see stage fright as a dance tool rather than a detriment, thank goodness. It took years to come to that place, but I am happy that I did!!
    RE Old/Fat. These are two different issues. The OLD, I can agree has many benefits as long as one actually remembers to pack ALL costume parts or class materials or music or whatever. The FAT is another issue for me personally. I see that Suheir Zaki was as wide as she was tall at the time she did her very best dancing. I see that Aida Nour, one of the lovliest dancers ever is still that way, though many pounds heavier. I SEE that fat is not a deterrent to these dancers. Yet for me, I see the subtlety of my movement disappearing in layers of chub. I am on a weight loss program now, but it is slow going. I am not used to being fat, so its even harder!! I do not feel that I can do my best by the dance with all this extra wieght.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  6. #46
    Senior Member Eshta's Avatar
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    A'isha, isn't it funny the image you build of someone in your head? I would never imagined this of the A'isha, our guardian angel of the dance, whose posts on this forum have both intimidated and inspired many over the years- and I mean that in the most respectful of terms!

    I wondered if it was those 'little voices' were the source of the anxiety and it seems they definitely play a role. With me, I'm very objective (in the sense that I tend to look at facts almost to the exclusion of more subjective input) so when the little voices try to intimidate me, I smack them back down with a healthy dose of logic and rationality!

    But those little voices are absolutely crucial, as you say, they give you an edge if you can learn to harness them. It seems you have managed to make good use of them.

  7. #47
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eshta View Post
    A'isha, isn't it funny the image you build of someone in your head? I would never imagined this of the A'isha, our guardian angel of the dance, whose posts on this forum have both intimidated and inspired many over the years- and I mean that in the most respectful of terms!

    I wondered if it was those 'little voices' were the source of the anxiety and it seems they definitely play a role. With me, I'm very objective (in the sense that I tend to look at facts almost to the exclusion of more subjective input) so when the little voices try to intimidate me, I smack them back down with a healthy dose of logic and rationality!

    But those little voices are absolutely crucial, as you say, they give you an edge if you can learn to harness them. It seems you have managed to make good use of them.

    Dear Eshta,
    I think, when dancers move beyond themselves as the focal point of the dance, and into the dance itself as what is going on, on the stage, it somehow changes things. I am not sure I can really put into words exactly what I mean. I think I feel WAY more responsibility about what I am doing now, than when I had been dancing for 5 or even 10 years. I think for me that causes more stage fright, but as you said, I have learned to make that energy work for the benefit of the dance.
    And..good to know that my writing here makes an impact, at least occasionally!! BTW, "guardian angel" sounds WAY better than "Nazi"... I appreciate the thought that you must have put into careful wording!!
    Best regards,
    A'isha

  8. #48
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    "Guardian angel" is much nicer. As it pertains to dance, let's bury the term "Nazi" once and for all.

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