Tomorrow is my next big belly dance show, and oddly, I haven't been that nervous. I'm sure I will be tomorrow, but so far, I've been ok.
I'm dancing a lot more this time, and I haven't yet decided if I'm happy about this or not. I enjoy having moved up to the performance group, which does more dances. On the other hand, I enjoyed only doing one number and then getting to watch everybody else. :)
This time, I'm doing a short solo to Very Short Belly Dance Drum Solo, by Raquy and the Cavemen. I do like the choreography that I came up with, and at only a minute and sixteen seconds, I barely have time to get nervous, before BAM! My final flourish. :)
I'm also doing 3 group numbers, one of which involves a silk veil. I've never danced with a silk veil before, and I found out that using a silk veil is infinitely different than using a chiffon one. Silk is SUPER floaty, and you really have to keep track of it so that it doesn't wander off on its own. The one good thing about this is that if it gets stuck somewhere you don't want it to (in your lipstick, on your hair, or somewhere in your beading) it will come off immediately the next time you breathe or move. Chiffon tends to want to stay put until you physically remove it, which can create an awkward moment.
I honestly don't love using either one. Using any kind of prop in belly dancing makes me feel as if the quality of my dancing goes down. I'm just not that skilled at using any of them enough such that my movements don't suffer. And to be frank, this applies to more people than just me. You will see many belly dancers skilled at playing the zils (finger cymbals), and I long to be one of them someday. But dancers that dance while balancing a sword, cane, or giant candle display on their heads? This is much tougher to master. You can't just be good, or even really good at doing this. You have to be SUPERLATIVE. Otherwise, you just look like you're making small dance moves while simultaneously trying to balance lit candles on your head. It's a tough balance.
At any rate, even a simple veil makes me feel a bit like I'm doing a duet with Hank. The other member of my team may at any moment do something unexpected, totally uncontrolled by me, and meltdown. It makes me twitch.
But I'm stuck with the veil, so I've been practicing with a borrowed one. I'd like to acquire a silk veil of my own, but not in the budget right now. Maybe next year.
When practicing my solo, I've been trying to repeat the smiling mantra in my head. It's so tough to smile when you're performing and nervous, because, well, you feel dumb. But the thing is this: How do you want people to feel while watching you dance? You want them to enjoy watching you. When you're done? You hope that they remember your routine because they enjoyed it so much.
Will you always be the best dancer out there? Most likely not. But that doesn't really matter. If you're performing, you're obviously pretty good, and that's good enough. The audience wants to see a dance in which the person does a good job, and LOOKS LIKE THEY'RE HAVING FUN. If you look like you're having a great time, smiling away, the audience relaxes and enjoys you. If you look like you may pee your pants at any second, they will feel nervous for you. And this inhibits their ability to enjoy your performance. I of the definite pee face have been working REALLY hard at this, because it is in fact an acquired skill. I doubt that there are many (if any) people out there that are "natural" performers. Everyone gets better with experience and practice.
So, we'll see what happens. I've been monitoring my belly carefully, since it will out there right in the open when I have my costume on. It has gotten a tad bigger, but overall I'm still pretty small. Maybe I just have a giant torso or something, because everyone told me I carried Hank small too. I don't feel small toward the end, but I'll worry about that later. For now, the baby will be shimmying right along with me. I think dancing puts him or her to sleep, because they're always real quiet in there when I dance. :)