Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My belly dance milestone

I'm officially taking a break from writing the article I'm working on to write about my belly dance solo demo on Friday. It was a biggie for me, so I wanted to be able to take my time :)

So, Friday I left work early to factor in extra practice time and a quick shower. And practice I did, many, many times. Soon, I was sick of the music, which is always my cue to pack it in for the day. I was due to arrive at the studio a half hour early for the demo, so I packed up my water bottle, costume, dance bag and iPod, and headed out.

Thank God I remembered the water bottle. It was already a warm day, and additional anxiety sweating began in earnest the instant I arrived. I took my time putting on my hip scarf and half soles, drawing things out a bit. But pretty soon it was time to face the iPod-produced music.

And I knew precisely why I was nervous. As we were eating dinner, Mike asked, "why are you so nervous? Claire watches you dance all the time."

Well, yes, but in a larger group, while I know that she watches me to some degree, I never know *when* she's precisely watching *me.* There's such security in a group, kwim? Now, I know that she'll be watching *only me* *the whole time.* This is actually more intimidating than dancing in front of a gigantic group of random strangers. There may be more of them, but you care about their opinion a whole lot less. You have a single person whose opinion you really respect and you want them to really, really like you.

So, I get organized center floor and my music starts. I try to pin on my beatific beam that I've been practicing so hard, but as one would expect, it's much, much harder when someone is really watching you. At some early point in the dance, I blanked on my next choreographed movement, and stuck in a step that I had tried at that juncture at some previous point but had changed. It still worked fine. I was happy that even in my state of heightened performance anxiety, blanking didn't cause me to stop dancing altogether and alert anyone watching that I wasn't really Confident, Successful Dancer after all. As long as you keep moving, no one knows the difference.

I remembered everything else just fine. About 3/4 of the way through, my hip scarf started to slip, which distracted me to no end, but I made it. Claire clapped happily and told me that she really liked it. This was a tremendous relief. She gave me a few pointers on arms and a more dramatic turning sequence towards the end, all of which I liked.

In the mean time, some of my classmates had arrived out in the greeting area, and Claire asked if I minded if she called them in and had me do it again. More practice, you know? I sweated some more and agreed. So I did it again, and this time I remembered the entire choreography as I had planned it. Happy day. As Claire asked me to run through it a third time, I could actually feel sweat trickling on my forehead. But it went very well. I struck my final pose, then just discreetly went into the waiting area to freshen up and drink about a half gallon of my water.

I still had the hour-long class to go, plus at least 30 minutes of performance group practice. I made it, and hurried home with my empty water bottle. The next morning, I saw that Claire had posted a Facebook status update about how much she liked my solo, which pretty much made my whole week. I was a very happy belly dancer.

I've adjusted some arms, added a more dramatic turn, and I keep trying away on the smiling. "Playful" is not something I've ever really strived for, sigh. But I'm working on it! Confident, Successful Dancer, come be my guide...

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