Performance akwardness

Sara

New member
Does any body else suffer, as I seem to, from being able to dance fine when you're alone, to suddenly looking like you've only taken two classes when you try to perform?

I've been Belly dancing for approx 8 1/2 years, and I'm always complimented on being a good dancer in class, and when social dancing etc. I haven't really performed yet, only a few occassions over eight years, but nothing professional or the like.

The other day, I was at a show in a local Taverna where some belly dancers were due to perform. At the end of their performance, they pulled people up to dance with them. Well! I didn't want to go up in the first place, I get sooo shy in front of people. But eventually I did go up and all I could seem to muster was a hip lift. :think:

I just don't understand. My mind went blank and nothing. This has happened before, when I was trying to dance with my friends at a hafla, and my boyfriend came along for the experience. I just had a mind block, got shy and tried to hide it by doing the robot dance with the bf (who can't dance either and to Middle Eastern music is very very difficult).

Is this normal?
 

BigJim

New member
I know exactly what you are talking about..... sort of a "Deer caught in the headlights" feeling. You know you can dance, that you have all sorts of moves to show off, but you just get locked up. I think that trying to go with the music might help with the inspiration.... be interested to see if anyone else experiences this and what they do to "cure"it..
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I have to be honest. Whilst I've been sick from nerves about performing, once the music comes on, no matter where I am & who's watching me, the dancing just happens. It's always been like that and I have no concept of how to deal with stage fright to the degree that you're talking about.

One thing I found that helps with my stage fright is removing my glasses (so I can't see faces) and wearing a ton of makeup. In normal life I don't wear makeup, so it does turn into a mask and the Darshiva persona takes over.

I think that the thing about learning to dance is that if you've been spending money and time on it, you end up feeling obliged to use it in public. Some people really aren't comfortable in public, and that's perfectly fine. If you have no desire to be in the spotlight, it's a terrible place to be. Why not, instead, just dance for the joy it brings you and nothing else.

Also, I'm sure that even though you defaulted to a move/movement group, you executed it beautifully - like a dancer of 8+ years. Don't fret about it, everyone has their pet moves they default to when they are put on the spot like that and they are usually simple moves that bring us warm fuzzy memories of learning to bellydance. Don't worry about what the performers thought. They probably thought you were being polite (and not trying to show them up with some awesome moves). :)
 

Yame

New member
Does any body else suffer, as I seem to, from being able to dance fine when you're alone, to suddenly looking like you've only taken two classes when you try to perform?
Yes!!! I absolutely have that problem. One of my biggest challenges as a performer is to perform more like the way I dance when I'm by myself. It just doesn't happen. As soon as I know I'm being watched, weird things happen.

It's not even that I feel nervous (the nervousness happens before I hit the stage, not during the performance), but I just seem to lose my sense of balance and coordination and certainty in my moves. It's weird.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I've been a teacher for a long time and used to dancing in front of people, so my performance moments are not frought with nerves... unless I am involved in a group choreography. Then I am terrified. Imagine being the one to screw up the dance when you are not only the teacher- but the choreographer as well! :lol::lol::lol:

In a group situation dancing with friends or performers at a taverna, no one will be paying much attention to you personally so take a deep breath and concentrate on having fun instead of performance quality.

In my student days I did competitive speaking events (forensics) and in the beginning I was scared to the point of nausea every time I got up in front of judges and my peers. I used to go out to the college ranch and practice my presentations for the horses and cows. Got the idea of pretending the judges/peers were horses/cows (or on particularly nerveracking days- watermelons!) and it helped, maybe from the sheer silliness of the idea. I carried this over into the days when I began performing and it helped there as well. I used to imagine people sitting there with watermelons for heads and so could dance with the biggest smile. ;)
 

teela

New member
Oh yes, I've been through that. My default was the hip circle or maya. I have tried dancing at things as much as possible so I could get over it. When I've done this, I've listened to the music and worked out a choreography to the point I could hear the music in my head and dance to it with all the various moves. I also put on pieces of music I do not know and just dance to them figuring I could become comfortable with just dancing to the music. Finally, I got the improvisation toolkit volume 1 and work with it on and off along with her other stuff and that has helped me quite a bit. This has helped me decide what moves can easily go into other moves and I've practiced those adding as things started to fit together. I am still not the best dancer, but it has helped me.
 
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Duvet

Member
That's me! Dancing in the kitchen - I always do my best moves when no one is watching. Or rather - I always feel best pleased with my dancing when I don't feel I'm being judged, and the only way I can guarantee that is by dancing alone. It also means I'm more relaxed, hence the moves come fast and furious with so much variety, creativity and finesse, you wouldn't believe it!!:lol:

Is it just belly dancing you have a problem with? What about dancing in public at non-belly dance parties or discos? I was an absolutely "Oh no I couldn't possibly do that" person - with everything, not just dancing. Things change.

If you are stopping yourself from dancing when you really really want to, and then feeling bad about it afterwards for not doing what everybody else seems to do so easily, then really the only answer is to bite the bullet and get up and dance - even if it is just the same move over and over and over again. That alone will get your confidence up, and then the other moves will follow in time.

In my own experience you have to accept that when you start dancing outside of your comfort zone,(with people who don't know you, or who haven't seen you dance before) you are going to feel awkward, silly and embarressed. That's the nature of being shy. You mind goes blank, you can only think of one move, you repeat it, you know there are so many other moves but you can't actually think of any, you feel uncreative and that you can't dance, you slink away and hope no one noticed. But you've got 8 1/2 years of tuition and dancing behind you, you've danced infront of your class and friends, you've performed before - nobody tied you up and put you in a closet because they didn't like what they saw. In fact they complimented you! You've put time, money and effort into the dancing - so it would be a shame not to share it with others.

The more often I forced myself to get up and do something, anything, rather than just sit there on my coinbelt, the more easier it got to get up and do something, anything. Everything else improved after that. Getting used to feeling embarrassed meant I gradually got/am getting more relaxed, and so less embarrassed, and my ability to be creative and responsive to the music has improved, as has that 'getting in the zone' thing, connecting with other dancers, and feeling good all at the same time.:)
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
I know exactly what you are talking about..... sort of a "Deer caught in the headlights" feeling. You know you can dance, that you have all sorts of moves to show off, but you just get locked up. I think that trying to go with the music might help with the inspiration.... be interested to see if anyone else experiences this and what they do to "cure"it..
"Deer in the headlights---that is SOOOOOO me. oO;; I have bad stage fright, even in front of the family (mostly because they laugh and look at me weird when I dance). -_-
 

RahimaMJR

New member
Finally, I got the improvisation toolkit volume 1 and work with it on and off along with her other stuff and that has helped me quite a bit. This has helped me decide what moves can easily go into other moves and I've practiced those adding as things started to fit together.
Is this a DVD and who does it? SOunds like something I'd be interested in.

I've felt this kind of nerves, but especially more when I was ballroom dancing--no matter how much I practiced, I just never felt like the performance was good enough or as good as I would do during practice. With belly dancing I do feel a little bit freer, but at the same time my knowledge is less with belly dancing. Performance is something that really interests me, and I really hope to hone those particular skills that make a great performer.
 

RahimaMJR

New member
You've put time, money and effort into the dancing - so it would be a shame not to share it with others.

The more often I forced myself to get up and do something, anything, rather than just sit there on my coinbelt, the more easier it got to get up and do something, anything. Everything else improved after that. Getting used to feeling embarrassed meant I gradually got/am getting more relaxed, and so less embarrassed, and my ability to be creative and responsive to the music has improved, as has that 'getting in the zone' thing, connecting with other dancers, and feeling good all at the same time.:)
This! I think these are really good points. Also, when I got to Cape Town, I joined an African dance class, and the teacher had us do crazy/improvisational things. Since I didn't know anybody there, I just figured "what the heck," and went all out. That class (it was actually a combination of dance styles, but the teacher liked to focus on African) really helped bring me out of my shell and do things I never would have imagined myself doing, especially in front of people. Maybe something like this, where you could just be goofy, would help you open up?
 

Sara

New member
:D :D I'm so glad it's not just me! My goal isn't necessarily to perform in public professionally or anything. But even just once, to be brave enough to dance at a hafla, at the end, where every body else dances, would be good.

I think for me, it's being quite shy that makes me nervous, and go in to robot mode. even when I'm dancing in my room, and my bf walks in, I freeze and have to wait untill he's left.

In my own experience you have to accept that when you start dancing outside of your comfort zone,(with people who don't know you, or who haven't seen you dance before) you are going to feel awkward, silly and embarressed. That's the nature of being shy. You mind goes blank, you can only think of one move, you repeat it, you know there are so many other moves but you can't actually think of any, you feel uncreative and that you can't dance, you slink away and hope no one noticed. But you've got 8 1/2 years of tuition and dancing behind you, you've danced infront of your class and friends, you've performed before - nobody tied you up and put you in a closet because they didn't like what they saw. In fact they complimented you! You've put time, money and effort into the dancing - so it would be a shame not to share it with others.
I think that sums me up great lol. The thing is, I know I can dance (in some form :lol:) but I just can't sem to get over that barrier. It's like a massive dance block wall. :confused: And for some reason, it is worse with my family and friends. At dance class I am fine. When my bf once turned up to a little dance party we were having (as friends and family were allowed), I turned to jelly.

Is it easier to dance for strangers than your family etc?
 

gisela

Super Moderator
For me it's way worse and awkward to be pulled up to dance or to dance in front of just one person (friend or boyfriend) than preforming on a raised staged with spotlights and in costume.

The first one is you and the second one is you in performance mode. Big difference.
 

teela

New member
The improvisational toolkit volumes 1 and 2 are done by Nadira Jamal. You can get the DVD's from her or Amazon. I find them to be very helpful. She has you journal, try things in a safe manner so you develop some skills.
 

Sophia Maria

New member
In my student days I did competitive speaking events (forensics) and in the beginning I was scared to the point of nausea every time I got up in front of judges and my peers. I used to go out to the college ranch and practice my presentations for the horses and cows. Got the idea of pretending the judges/peers were horses/cows (or on particularly nerveracking days- watermelons!) and it helped, maybe from the sheer silliness of the idea. I carried this over into the days when I began performing and it helped there as well. I used to imagine people sitting there with watermelons for heads and so could dance with the biggest smile. ;)
LOL!!! This is the funniest thing I heard all day!

My problem is not so much that I forget moves or have trouble doing moves, but I have waaaay less creativity than when I'm on my own. Also, I really have trouble putting my personality out there. I feel like I have a really intense persona when I dance, but when I have to perform in front of people I tend to slip into this embarrassed-looking smile. I get crazy nervous before I go on, to the point where I'm shaking and my heart is beating out of my chest, but as soon as I go on the nerves disappear--I love being on stage. That being said, I still have trouble looking like I'm at all confident.

Sara, don't worry, I'm sure you will learn how to dance the way you want to. :) After all, you do have 8+ years of experience under your coin belt :lol: Don't stress when you're improvising, just take it one step at a time.
 

Yame

New member
My problem is not so much that I forget moves or have trouble doing moves, but I have waaaay less creativity than when I'm on my own. Also, I really have trouble putting my personality out there. I feel like I have a really intense persona when I dance, but when I have to perform in front of people I tend to slip into this embarrassed-looking smile. I get crazy nervous before I go on, to the point where I'm shaking and my heart is beating out of my chest, but as soon as I go on the nerves disappear--I love being on stage. That being said, I still have trouble looking like I'm at all confident.
OHMIGAWD, this, this, and this!!! That describes me to the T!!! *rubs eyes and looks again* am I sure I didn't write this myself?
Yup, that's me exactly. So glad I'm not the only one...
 

MissVega

New member
I'm the opposite most of the time, I find in practice I can't motivate and push myself like I can when people are watching. I tend to lolligag when I practice , whereas when I'm performing I'll push myself more. I also find if I film myself while practicing I'll try harder. If the audience is really into it then I will really tend to push and go all out.

The number one thing that impacts my ability to perform well though is my mood and events that day.

*Warning Graphic side story.*
The other day, before my performances at One World, I had my windows down and saw a squirrel get run over by a truck tire, but only it's back end. The half of the squirrel was flattened but it was still alive and trying to move with the front end and making this terrible screaming sound. I was in the other lane and there was traffic in both lanes behind and in front and I couldn't stop to even just hit it on the head and end it. I could NOT get the sound of it out of my head and it really took a lot to get into a performance "zone" after that, and honestly I didn't feel like I succeeded or was myself. I would say that was one of the hardest nights for me to want to get on stage. :( I just felt so bad for that squirrel and how it suffered:(
 

Sophia Maria

New member
Yame said:
OHMIGAWD, this, this, and this!!! That describes me to the T!!! *rubs eyes and looks again* am I sure I didn't write this myself?
Yup, that's me exactly. So glad I'm not the only one...
Lol! For me...I think naturally I am a really introverted and cool person, but dancing for a few years and making many new friends has caused me to open up a lot more and be more outgoing. That being said, sometimes I still have trouble putting myself out there and expressing all the craziness that's on my inside, and this carries over to my dancing.

MissVega said:
I could NOT get the sound of it out of my head and it really took a lot to get into a performance "zone" after that, and honestly I didn't feel like I succeeded or was myself. I would say that was one of the hardest nights for me to want to get on stage. I just felt so bad for that squirrel and how it suffered
:shok: Oh no! That poor animal!
 

lily_raks

New member
Yes!!! I absolutely have that problem. One of my biggest challenges as a performer is to perform more like the way I dance when I'm by myself. It just doesn't happen. As soon as I know I'm being watched, weird things happen.

It's not even that I feel nervous (the nervousness happens before I hit the stage, not during the performance), but I just seem to lose my sense of balance and coordination and certainty in my moves. It's weird.
The same thing happens to me. I'm glad I'm not alone on this. Some nights I feel I could have done so so much better, like I do at home. Or I feel like I didn't let myself go the way I do at home. And yet the audience seems to love it and give me lots of compliments. But I know that it can be better and that is also my challenge :)
 

chirel

New member
Today I showed my first choreography to a friend for the first time and just realised how nervous I was. I did remember all the moves, but I was always lagging or doing things too early. It was strange to feel that confidence just evaporate. Now I'm wondering how much of my confidence has been based on false ideas of my skills... That's the only performance i've made so far, so that's all I have to say about performing.

No wait, there's more. I think that the only reason I didn't complitely paralyze is that I've been dancing on the busstops while waiting for the bus. It's fun to see the ractions from the drivers, I usually wave at them if they stare too long :D But I think it really has helped me with stage fright. When in school, I used to be so nervous about presentations and stuff. Then one time I got so fed up with being afraid, that I decided to do the presentation differently. I was talking about celtic culture, so I put on some soothing celtic music (my favorite music at that time), sat on the table, to stop myself from chaking and just chatted about my favorite subjec, and it was awsome. That day I realised that when i'm performing, I get to decide the rules (to some decree). So if you really want to perform, make sure the situation has all the important details you need to feel relaxed and safe and then just go for it.
 
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