Social Anxiety

Tanglefoot

New member
I have sort of come to the latest idea as to what keeps me in dance classes and keeps me away from performance where I have being doing classes for over five years now where so many tell me I can do it and why won't I, where through exasperation I have asked myself that question at last and come up with;

Fear of making a fool of myself,

Which amounts to social anxiety as there are other areas where I know I inhibit myself through fear

So does anyone else have these problems ?

And does anyone have any ideas how to get past them ?

As I have a promise to keep to both myself and those others who want me in local performance.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I don't know about social anxiety or how that works, so my advice might be completely unfeasable. But I would recommend organising to perform at your local very small hafla where you will be surrounded by dance friends & people you know. That way if you do realise your fears, you will be in a welcoming social situation rather than having a lot of pressure on you.

For me though, I find it much harder to dance in front of friends than strangers - at least when I'm trying out something that's very new to me. My first performance was at an away hafla - a very large one. I did pretty much everything wrong that could be done wrong and was still welcomed and treated well by my peers. My peers gave me gentle advice on music, costuming and stage presence that I still reference to this day.

But the important thing to remember is that you aren't obliged to perform just because you're learning dance. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. If you do and are trying to gather your nerves, commit to a hafla performance and just take the plunge. Even if it's bad, it'll still be good. :)
 

Tanglefoot

New member
Thanks Darshiva,

It has always been my aim to perform where at the start of every year I say to myself, this year I will do it and it never happens, where my teachers know my desire to perform and so have said hafla's that are coming up this year, they want me dancing at them and so, I have sort of promised where I do not like to renege on promises made and I know what has been requested is for my own good as my teachers do recognise my anxiety issues, where they tell me once the first time is completed it gets easier, where I agree as regards that as it applies in other subjects also.

And so it is one of the dancers is to teach me dress making in lieu of an academic course that I applied for that was cancelled where the others understand if I can make a costume I am more inclined to wear it and so dance.

But it is even in class when asked to improvise everything I know just disappears from my mind and I can't think, where I can only conclude this is anxiety.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Then what you really need is to access some of Nadira Jamal's series of telecasts & dvds on improvisation. Not because you're having issues with improv (although that's part of it) but because the series addresses the issues you're speaking about. Diving out in public to perform isn't going to address the issues in a healthful way until you have some strong tools for overcoming the issues under your belt.

Here's the link. A lot of what she has on there is free, and that would be a good place for you to start and to figure out if this is the right approach for you.

Belly Dance Geek | Learn analytically, so you can dance creatively
 

Roshanna

New member
I can certainly sympathise, as I used to suffer from social anxiety quite badly. Bellydance is really what has helped me to gradually grow out of it and start enjoying my life a lot more. Having said that, I have always personally found performance to be easier to deal with than 'normal' socialising. As a socially awkward person, being on stage is actually a safe place in some ways, because there is a clear dynamic between you and the audience, with clear roles, and you don't have to speak to anyone.

I wrote a blog post about this a while ago, which you might enjoy - The Performer?s Paradox ? It?s the Quiet Ones You Need to Watch | Bellydance by Rasha Nour

As far as advice goes - is there any chance you could arrange to dance just for a very small group of good friends who you don't feel self-conscious around (e.g. just getting up and dancing at a studio party)? This might help you to get over the first fear. I also agree with Darshiva's advice to look at Nadira Jamal's improvisation tips, they are really good.
 

Tanglefoot

New member
I can certainly sympathise, as I used to suffer from social anxiety quite badly. Bellydance is really what has helped me to gradually grow out of it and start enjoying my life a lot more. Having said that, I have always personally found performance to be easier to deal with than 'normal' socialising. As a socially awkward person, being on stage is actually a safe place in some ways, because there is a clear dynamic between you and the audience, with clear roles, and you don't have to speak to anyone.

I wrote a blog post about this a while ago, which you might enjoy - The Performer?s Paradox ? It?s the Quiet Ones You Need to Watch | Bellydance by Rasha Nour

As far as advice goes - is there any chance you could arrange to dance just for a very small group of good friends who you don't feel self-conscious around (e.g. just getting up and dancing at a studio party)? This might help you to get over the first fear. I also agree with Darshiva's advice to look at Nadira Jamal's improvisation tips, they are really good.
It's coming up, a group hafla as my first step but with another group I am involved with, a bigger hafla as part of an arts community sometime in the summer where that arts community I am involved with as an artist metalworker and photographer where at least I'm known for that.

Choreo's for the first time I am working very hard to learn them with both groups where one will be more Raqs and the other more folk, Egyptian and Turkish style, where I am finding the Turkish more energetic but it complements the Egyptian style.

I have even taken videos of completed Choreo's so I can learn them at home.



Oh and that Bellydancegeek stuff is fantastic, she knows exactly what my problem is and it is not just my problem. But I am working through her podcast, making notes and analysing myself.
 

walladah

New member
it is normal! it happens to all performers of all performance arts!

there is only one remedy: practice, and dance in front of people!

and a secret that all bellydancers know: very few people will understand that you are stressed! most people cannot even think that you are really lost in your anxiety, that you have forgotten everything etc....

then, the problem is not who is in the audience but that YOU ARE in the audience! try to assemble yourself and be only onstage!!! you are not the audience, do not judge your performance from the inside, but better to watch the video afterwards and at that moment, be as anxious as you want!

by the way, i will write something that a very famous dancer told backstage once and i was honoured to be present while she was talking: there are performances that you hate, you do not want to dance. You go onstage and you want to throw up. And then people tell you that you have been fantastic. and you have been so.

so, just be onstage only and stop judging yourself as the audience at the same time! you cannot be at two places at the same time, stop thinking like you are.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
To add to Walladah's anecdote, one of my own.

I was debuting as a serious performer and wigging out badly back stage when I noticed one of my idols - one of the biggest names in bellydance in my country - shaking her hands nervously and saying 'butterflies! butterflies!'. I asked her why she, of all people, would be nervous, and she said that she had butterflies because she cared and that the minute she stopped having butterflies before a performance, it was time to stop dancing because she no longer cared.

I think that everyone experiences pre-performance nerves, and experiences them differently. I pace. It drives everyone nuts. So my pre-performance ritual is to find the organiser and offer to help with anything that can be done before I have to change into my costume. Might as well use all that nervous energy that's only going to be wasted pacing & driving the other performers up the wall!
 
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