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Thread: Self-confidence

  1. #1
    Member LaVanessa's Avatar
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    Default Self-confidence

    Not really sure what I expect to get out of this post - mainly I'm just throwing this out there. Any words of wisdom welcome. Or maybe you're experiencing the same thing I am and we can discuss. :-)

    Tonight my teacher told me that she wants me to stop heading to the back of the class, that she wants me to dance up front. She said I know the choreos, the basics, I can dance, that I'm more advanced than the other girls so she wants me to stay up front. She also told me to really look at myself in the mirror when I dance. But mainly, she said I need to dance with more self-confidence, be more self-confident.

    I'm very grateful for the feedback. Obviously it's nice to hear that I'm progressing well. At the same time, I've felt sad all evening because, well, I thought I was a fairly confident person but I guess not, or at least not when I dance. I give off the lacks-confidence vibe. Interestingly, her most frequent correction to me is to make movements bigger - something I also get from my flamenco teacher. To be bigger, stronger, have more attitude, take the space, be present.

    I dance for many reasons and building confidence and using movement as therapy are among them. I'm not sure how to go about building, or projecting, this confidence though. Fake it 'til I make it? (and how would I even go about that?) Is confidence a place or stage to be reached, or an eternal work in project (like forgiveness)? How will I know when I've reached a good level of confidence projection?

    Like I said, I'm just throwing this out there and more or less thinking aloud. Thank you for reading!

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    I think confidence is definitely a work in progress and we all have times when we feel more or less confident. As to how you know when you look confident, you could ask your teacher or another dancer whom you admire.

    I think also how we appear to others and how we actually feel are two different things. You may feel perfectly confident but we can never see ourselves as others see us. I always think I'm smiling when I dance but I've been reliably informed I am usually frowning with concentration.

    One useful trick to be confident I've found is to visualise a time in life when you felt really strong and confident and positive and remember how that made you feel and then summon up those feelings within you when you are feeling less confident. Remind yourself with a mantra before you go on stage that you are an awesome, beautiful bellydancer and the audience is lucky to see you. Say it like you mean it and then you find you do.

    Another trick is to ask your teacher what would make you look more confident and what she thinks confidence presents as when dancing and then seek to model that.

    I actually think sometimes it helps to video / see yourself because you don't realise how you appear until you do. Can you video yourself dancing or get someone to video it and send it to you? I have to do public speaking sometimes as part of my day job and got told by a few people that I looked down, moved from foot to foot and fiddled with my rings. I didn't believe it until I went on a course that videoed me making a presentation. Once I saw it, I could make a conscious effort to model positive body language. Perhaps if you see yourself you'll be more able to modify what you do as you think appropriate.

    Just some thoughts.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    I am not a very confident person, I have that little person sitting on my shoulder whispering what will people think all the time, I have learnt (slowly) to tape his mouth up, & brush him off my shoulder and to appear more confident, I make sure I look out over the audience and keep smiling. I think it is a self conscious thing the lack of confidence, that niggly worry of what if I make a mistake what will others think/I'll look foolish, - in the end it is just pushing through all those feelings, difficult as it may be. Imagine you are alone, dancing for yourself in your kitchen or something (when alone one can be more daring an open because no one is watching), even if that picture only lasts a few seconds, you may find those sparks of confidence will become longer & more lasting.

    What I use to do & probably still do if I am feeling a bit nervous, is before a performance I imagine myself in a protective circle, I tell myself That nothing can touch me while in that circle and if I do make a mistake, no one can see it - it works for me. I don't have problems within a class situation, but maybe something like that will help in class for you. Also if you can, each week move to a different spot, for instance one row forward and move to the left or right. Just dancing in a different spot can be of tremendous help in boosting one's self confidence. Also keep in the back of your mind your teachers kind words, she wouldn't say them unless she meant it

    Take a deep breathe (or several) hold your head up, posture lifted and tell yourself you can do it -& you can ... it might be small steps at first, but soon you'll be able to confidently stand up front. Also don't forget our dance is joyful and fun, don't allow stress to mar that for you - talk to your teacher she may have ideas to help you as well.
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


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    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Honey, she's already told you how to increase your self-confidence: dance up front, quit hiding in the back, look at yourself in the mirror, make your movements bigger, stronger, be fully present when you dance (not thinking about the groceries you have to buy later) and claim the space in which you are dancing.

    When you do those things long enough self-confidence sneaks right in.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

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    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    Just take it one step at a time. Start with moving to the front and claim that space.
    My teacher used to say that we have three imaginary "headlights" on the front of our body. One on the forehead, one on the sternum, and one one the pubic bone or just above.

    Experiment with turning those "headlights" on and off in your mind and see if you can create a difference in how you shine

    Perhaps this sounds weird but think of this strong light shining out of your chest when you dance and I think it will feel different.

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    Ok I just studied that in philosophy class. I hope I can explain it where you can understand.

    The only reason your doubting if you have self confidence or not is because it came from someone you look up to or respect. Other wise you would have shrugged it off coming from someone else.

    So you do have self confidence you just need to be reminded.

    Now my opinion. I think she meant to give you motivation but it backfire and made you think about how you really are. You know you got it so go strout it.

    I hope I made sense.

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    Member Pleasant dancer's Avatar
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    A word of warning: if you are going to video yourself - be kind to yourself when you watch it back. The first time you see yourself you will hate it (most people do) then watch several more times. You will see the bits you need to improve, but also take the time to find the bits that are good and you really like. They will be there, I promise you, but sometimes we are so hard on ourselves we overlook them.

    About watching yourself in the mirrors: try not to look at yourself as a body you might not like bits of (e.g. tummy sticks out, I hate my nose etc). Look at yourself as a dancer. Look at the dance shapes you are making with your body, the movements, even the feeling you are exuding (difficult in class as everyone frowns when concentrating!) - so give yourself a smile in the mirror, it will lift your spirits and increase your confidence. And don't worry about other students seeing it - they will be so wrapped up with their own confidence and other issues that they will barely notice (and if they do it will probably make them feel better also!).

    Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Your teacher obviously sees something in you that can be developed, so give it a go, even if it's just a tentative move to another position in class and a big grin at yourself in the mirror.

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    I recommend to do what your teacher says. Believe it or not, but dancing up front does build confidence. I usually choose a spot in the front row whenever I can, because I am short and have bad eyesight, and I have noticed that this position really has good side effects. In the front row you must know what you are doing, because you can't copy what other people are doing. Which means you must focus more on dancing and spend less energy on worrying about what people think of you. Immensely useful.

  9. #9
    Member LaVanessa's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the replies, advice and tips! I will definitely be incorporating some of your suggestions. A lot of them are indeed of the 'fake it 'til you make it variety' - I guess auto-suggestion is how this works?

    Actually, though, I haven't explained myself well - it's not that *I* think or feel that I completely lack self-confidence - in fact, I thought I *was* confident - but apparently this does not translate or project in my dancing. LOL. I think jjj really understood best what I meant.

    At the same time, there must be an issue there if my teachers give me the same corrections (make movements bigger, take more space etc.), and one of them tells me straight up that I need to dance with more confidence. I've just always been one to sit at the back of the class, back of the bus...it's like a cat sitting in a high spot. I feel comfortable there. But I *can* dance up front. Last year for our recital I danced up front, I'm up front for the choreo this year, and my re-introduction to recital performances last year, after not having danced on stage since I was a teenager, was in a duet. So obviously, at a basic level, I'm okay with being put on the spot.

    In this particular class I tend to hide off to the side or the back because - and I'm not sure how to say this without sounding completely immodest - I'm the most advanced in the class (technically mixed level, de facto beginner, I just don't have easy access to more advanced classes here) and the other girls tend to watch me, follow me. I feel pressure and it distracts me. Sometimes they'll point out how I do certain moves well. Last 'semester', some girls even made faux-catty comments about how good or 'into it' I was. I just don't like that kind of attention - I just want to learn and dance. Does any of this make sense? I'm not a natural performer. It's gratifying to get all these compliments but at the same time, I don't know how to be comfortable with them.

    It's not gone unnoticed by me that I'm attracted to dances (bellydance, flamenco) that require serious attitude and confidence. I'm obviously working out some issues here, learning to embody strong feelings.

    Yorkshire Lass: 'I think also how we appear to others and how we actually feel are two different things. You may feel perfectly confident but we can never see ourselves as others see us.'

    Yes, apparently! I don't know why I never thought about it (within the context of dancing) before.

    'One useful trick to be confident I've found is to visualise a time in life when you felt really strong and confident and positive and remember how that made you feel and then summon up those feelings within you when you are feeling less confident. Remind yourself with a mantra before you go on stage that you are an awesome, beautiful bellydancer and the audience is lucky to see you. Say it like you mean it and then you find you do.'

    Thank you. That's a good trick, maybe a bit like acting. Also, regarding video'ing, actually I do it all the time - but I never watched the video with an eye for how much confidence or intensity I project - mainly just watching out for proper technique, overall flow, etc. It seems so obvious now, though, that I should watch and examine what I project.

    Shanazel - you're right! I guess I was missing the forest for the trees, or something. Again, it looks like it's fake it 'til you make it - I hope my self-confidence will, in time, be visible, palpable.

    Gisela - I love the headlights theory! Totally makes sense to me. I will definitely try this, starting tonight with my flamenco class.

    Pleasant_dancer: Thank you - actually I'm totally ok with video'ing myself - but it's true that I find constantly looking at myself dancing in the mirror sort of distasteful or...distracting? I do look at myself in the mirror, but not constantly. I will try to look at myself more in the mirror tonight.

    Henna: excellent point! I never thought about it like that, that it would force me to focus (and I have bad eyesight too ;-), but I really like thinking of it that way. Utilitarian. Works for me! :-)

    Thanks so much ladies! This has been very helpful. It's funny how a little comment or pep talk makes all this self-doubt and uncertainty surface.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    It's not so much "fake it til you make it" but more how to bring out what's already in there, and make others see it. I so agree with the comment that
    how we appear to others and how we actually feel are two different things
    The first time I saw myself dancing on video I had a chock. What I thought was a sweet and confident smile was a contortion of the face and a serious underbite So I had to find a way to make my face express what I felt in a way that also looks good outwards.

    I very much agree with Henna as well
    In the front row you must know what you are doing, because you can't copy what other people are doing. Which means you must focus more on dancing ...
    Myself, I am almost always in the back to the side. Mostly because I am so tall and sometimes get complaints if I am in the front

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