What's on your mind when performing?

DYinn Maciel

New member
When I had my first show, I was horrified. The scenario was way too big, and it was the first time my parents were able to watch me dancing. So, to make it even worse, I was in the middle-front, and we were the first group to dance.
So, I couldn't think of anything else, and forgot a couple of things of the coreography... Oh, wait, let's add this little detail of the lights brightening more than usual (I knew the lights weren't right, a couple of months later) and making me sweat and unable to see where the middle of the scenario was.


The second performance I had, I was still a little nervous, but I changed the things running in my mind. I just listened to music, and talked to myself "Well, this is left, right, hip drop, aaaand turn" It was way too much easier and I remembered EEEEVERYTHING in the coreography :dance:

But, what goes through your mind when you are in the scenario? :)
 

Jane

New member
I don't think much. I like to look at people and see if they like what I'm doing. If I have live musicians I have to think about what's likely to happen next in the music. I try not to think too much and put myself on autopilot with the music most of the time.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
I waaaaaaaaay overthink the performance. >.>;;

"One, two, three, four, don't/drop/my sword/on/the/floor,
Five, six, se-ven, eight, this/move/I really hate..." >.>;;;

Then there's the blinding sunlight, that doggone earring that keeps catching my veil, the holes and dips in the ground that I have to avoid, and OH, YEAH, there's the audience, SMIIIIIIIIIIIIILE!!! :D :confused:

I love dancing, but I worry excessively about EVERYTHING in life. EVERYTHING. I am the Charlie Brown of Bellydance. :confused: Good grief! -_-
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
I tend to go on auto-pilot, if I am dancing a group choreography, I know the music & know what I am meant to be doing, but do admit to having on the odd occasion to allowing my mind to wander to who knows where and had slight hesitation moments which quickly brings me back to the music:D. I've never had a problem smiling as I tend to smile all the time naturally when in such situations.
~Mosaic
 

Darshiva

Moderator
With improv: "I'm going to enter like... then there's this move I want to do.... and, oh, that zhuzhy bit that I want to play with... and this is how I want to pose at the end"

With choreo: "I'm going to enter like... then there's this combo that I need to remember... oh, and the zhuzhy bit goes like this... and this is how I want to pose at the end"

Similar? Well my motto is "fix it with improv" so it's probably a good thing I don't do troupe work very often, I probably drive them mad. ;)
 

Dunyah

New member
I always give my students a few words to hold in their minds during the performance. Words like "sparkle" "earthy" "playful" or other words that apply to the particular dance we are doing, so they can project something beyond their rote memory of the steps. You can dedicate the dance to someone in your mind, or choose "love" or "connect" or something else meaningful to you as your word. I really believe it helps to give a little extra dimension to the performance, beyond blank faces and concentration on counting the steps.

I also have them rehearse certain facial expressions and emotions to project during certain parts of the choreography, so that when they perform they will have some expressions on their face.

As Aziza says, "As you practice, so you will perform."
 

Munniko

New member
I just try and think about having fun, making sure the audience is getting into the music and if they aren't throw a playful look of "Don't you want to dance with me?" (works better with Bollywood dancing though because sometimes that is literally the lyrics) and yeah if I'm dancing on the same level as the audience what people can I approach safely and they'll enjoy the interactive part.

Usually I do choreography so I've mesmerized the song and the movements of how long I can draw out a move I'm elsewhere in my head for what I can do....and also before hand I pick like two or three moves to jump to if I forget a step XD
 

DYinn Maciel

New member
I always give my students a few words to hold in their minds during the performance. Words like "sparkle" "earthy" "playful" or other words that apply to the particular dance we are doing, so they can project something beyond their rote memory of the steps. You can dedicate the dance to someone in your mind, or choose "love" or "connect" or something else meaningful to you as your word. I really believe it helps to give a little extra dimension to the performance, beyond blank faces and concentration on counting the steps.
I loved the idea. I'll try it next time, if my lips decide to obey and not to tremble :p
 

Kashmir

New member
For me the music takes me (which is why I hate group choreography - I have to more or less stick to the choreography). I feel this pleasure bubbling up and I let it show - even if I can't see anyone. Actually even when practicing (right brain mode rather than drill and technique mode) I feel this and my face and eyes let it show.

That's not to say I don't get nervous on a big stage or in front of dancers I respect - but as soon as I start dancing something else takes over.
 

Yame

New member
I think about EVERYTHING.

What I'm doing, what I should do next, where I'm going, do I look boring, I've done this a million times and should do something else, have I been smiling, is my costume shifting around, wow that turn came off way wrong, my arms are all over the place, how are these people still watching? I wonder if that person will get up to dance with me, phew, they got up to dance with me/ugh, they just won't get up! Who's my next victim? Is there a waiter behind me and if I step back will I knock his food over? Do I have enough space to do [insert move here] with [insert prop here]? Smile check. OMG this sound system is so bassy and awful, I can't hear my music. The DJ needs to turn the music up! Yay finally some tips, am I still smiling, wow it is waaayyy too hot right now, I'm getting tired maybe I should just stand here and shimmy, which table should I go dance for now, ugh I really wanted to be OVER THERE for this part of the song, shit I just bumped into someone, yay finally my exit song is on, wow does this exit song ever end, what will be my ending pose.

It's amazing that I can think about all that and still be able to hear and interpret the music and interact with the audience.

I find that I think a bit less and lose myself much more in the music if it's good live music, but still these sorts of thoughts are always there in one way or another.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
"One, two, three, four, don't/drop/my sword/on/the/floor,
Five, six, se-ven, eight, this/move/I really hate..." >.>;;;

Then there's the blinding sunlight, that doggone earring that keeps catching my veil, the holes and dips in the ground that I have to avoid, and OH, YEAH, there's the audience, SMIIIIIIIIIIIIILE!!! :D :confused:
:lol::lol::lol:

I can *so* relate!

I'm always obsessing over the "sweet spot" on the stage - am I still in it? Mental costume check - vest hasn't flown open has it? Oh! I haven't danced towards this side of the room yet/in a while/too much. Mental costume check - my skirt isn't slipping is it? WHAT was that that I just stepped on? Mental costume check, what's my belt doing? Am I smiling - or grimacing? Mental costume check - WHAT is my veil wrap doing? Need to do a subtle adjustment to my Zills... Mental costume check - is that my necklace slipping down? Cr@p - I've just done the same movement 50 times in a row. Mental costume check - can I still feel both earrings (wouldn't want to step on one!)? Uh-oh. Was that a skip in the music? Mental costume check - what's going on with the Shemadan/basket/pot/whatever on my head? Obsess over the music - is it going to skip again? Mental costume check - there's *something* just not quite right with my harem pants, some kind of binding. Thank Goddess I have a skirt on... Mental costume check - Is my skirt still OK? I just managed to somehow step on the hem! What the *HELL* do I keep stepping on? Mental costume check - my coin scarf is definitely slipping. Kick it out of the way as it hits the floor... Is that a broken bugle bead I feel working its way ever deeper into my foot? Mental costume check - my hair's a mess, my makeup feels like its melting off, and my lipstain is still sticky!

And so on... :lol::lol::lol:
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
Of course, there's that moment when your false booby slips out from underneath your bra cup and SPLATS on the stage... >.>;;:
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
You know, its sometimes hard being a male in this female dominated art-form - but it does have its advantages too. Like not having to deal with bras and boobs!

I've seen "that scenario" a couple of times, but will never have to deal with it myself - thank Goddess!

One dancer yelled out "Who threw that at me?!" under similar circumstances...

The oh-so-GLAM life of a Belly Dancer...
 
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Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I have experienced all of the above. I stopped worrying about remembering all of the choreo because I always forgot something and had to improv. So now, I tend to follow a skeleton choreo then improv if I feel like it. Now the thing I worry about most is just not falling down.
 

Dunyah

New member
As much as I love belly dance costumes, they do sometimes get in the way during a performance, don't they? More and more I am wanting comfortable costumes that I don't have to worry about onstage. But I love really fancy Sims, etc. and I like to have something new... and unexpected stuff happens (like a pad that slips or a strap that comes undone). So it's a struggle to find something simple but beautiful and comfortable and SECURE so I can focus on the dancing.
I think anything we can do to boost confidence, like lots of practice, including practice in the costume, is going to help turn off that mental barrage. I really try to get "out of my head" not in it if possible when I dance.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I think anything we can do to boost confidence, like lots of practice, including practice in the costume, is going to help turn off that mental barrage. I really try to get "out of my head" not in it if possible when I dance.
This.

One of my instructors has been yelling at me for years to "get out of your head and into your senses!". Took me years to understand what she was getting at - and I'm still working on making it work for me. Some progress has been made, but I still have a LOOOOOONG way to go!

And yes, Rule #1 is practice in/with the costume/jewelry/hair/makeup/veil/other prop that you're going to perform in/with!
 

Ozma

New member
When I get in the zone, everything seems to slow down a bit . I feel like I can fit into spaces in the music and react….but that zone can be hard to get into. I don't have much going on in my head when I perform, unless something needs attention that requires me to adjust/react on the fly.

One thing that has helped me and my students is to get them to do a lot of rehearsing and practicing imagining the audience, odd conditions, and surprises are there around them. I remind them that training your muscle memory isn't a need that stops at the neck…it's gotta be drilled all the way up. Even when they are drilling we work on it "When you've got the basics of the move, put your face back on. You don't need to smile but you do need to look like you know what you're doing and that it isn't a chore!"

If you can drill your body in continuing to look like it is confident, aware, and enjoying itself in practice you're going to feel all of those things, on some level. If you can bring that ability, posture, flexibility, and muscle memory to your performance it won't 100% shut up the things in your head that distract you but it will make those voices a little quieter so that they don't disrupt you too much.
 

Anthea Kawakib

New member
what's in my head...

First of all, I'm so sorry for jumping in when I haven't been on the forum in ages! but I noticed this thread - maybe I'm psychic :)

I just wrote a blog post about what I'm thinking about during live music improv - it's here: tuning in...to improv. It's a breakdown of a short performance on video (video link's included). I guess you could call it a "mental breakdown" :lol: just kidding!

I actually enjoyed the process of going through the video and decoding what was happening - hope you enjoy it too.

xoxo
 
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