Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Performance Realization

I spent the weekend at a non-dance festival, hanging out, volunteering, listening to some great music, hooping a little bit, having a great time. I also had an interesting dance realization, regarding performance.

I prefer to (belly) dance in more formal situations.

Formal is the best word I can come up with, though it may not be the most accurate. Perhaps defined situations? Either way, some friends were performing at the festival and months ago had invited me to "sit it" (dance in?) for a song during the set. With planning for the weekend and costuming things and running around all weekend I didn't really do that, though I did jump around and get down a bit during some of their sets. I was totally happy to dance around but realized I was feeling well, shy might be the best word to use, or hesitant, about getting all belly dancer-y down during their set. So I had to think about this a bit.

I don't know if this comes from my inherent personality shyness* or from my experience as a dance performer, but I think I really like to have a definite idea of what's going on when I dance. Even in situations such as the DCTribal Holiday Hafla or the D.C. Jalsah it's a little hard for me to get up and belly dance. Sometimes I feel too, "I'M A BEAUTIFUL BELLY DANCER! LOOK AT MEEEEEE!". Or I wonder if the musicians really want me to be up there. Or I feel like I'm hogging the limelight. Or I feel slightly off, which my troupe mate pointed out may be that I'm feeling the lack of official belly dancer drag that we put on for a performance. If I'm dancing with my partners I start to think, "Are we taking up too much room? Too much attention? Putting the focus on us too much? Can't stop thinking AHHHHHH!" I also think I get super sensitive to the fact that not everyone likes belly dance and I don't want anyone thinking, "Would she just stop and sit the hell down?".

On the other hand, if someone wants me to dance and we arrange it I can show up in my dance drag and have a bit of a clue of what's going on and if I feel like I belong there and it's okay that I'm taking up people's attention then it's totally fine. I will dance and smile and make eye contact and shimmy around, even when I am alone and missing the back up of my troupe mates. The stage is set, I am there as a part of what's going on, I feel appropriate and pulled together and in the right head space and it's fun and even if I'm nervous it's okay. And if anyone doesn't like what I'm doing than tough!

So if I'm at some event and there's great music and everyone else is busting out a shimmy or some snake arms or something on the dance floor and I'm not, it's not because I don't want too or don't like the music, I just feel weird. And if someone asks me if I'd like to maybe dance along with their music or DJ-ing or whatever I have to figure out a way to say sure, but I need to have it be in a performance based way or else I feel like an attention hogging ass.

Just to make it more confusing, if I'm at a non-BD dance party or club or something I am out there shaking my butt all over the dance floor, and I'll even dance when no one else will. I didn't say this all made sense, it just is.

* Yes, I am shy, you can stop protesting now. Wonder why I talk about my cats so much? Can't think of anything else to say. Why, when I do start talking, I have trouble stopping? Total brain freeze freak out and can't shut up, breathe or let anyone else get a word in edgewise. Talk to you without ever introducing myself? Forgot such social cues as, "Hello, my name is ___ and I'm glad to meet you." Use very animated facial and hand gestures? Hamster wheel is the brain is going a thousand miles a minute.

ETA: New thought. I am a control freak! Maybe that's why I worry so much

ETAA: Ah, I think I may have thought of something. It's doing versus thinking. In an organized dance situation I know what I have to do and I do it. OK, it isn't that utilitarian, but that's a nice summary. In a less organized situation I have to think too much about what I'll do, how to do it, etc. and then I start over thinking and then I'm so in my head I can't dance.

Discussing with another dancer in my livejournal about dancing with a group versus solo made me stumble upon this thought. Dancing tribal group improv with people I already know what I'm doing and how to do it and it's pretty easy. Dancing solo is new for me and I still over think it and worry, which is why I'm currently taking classes with a someone who teaches solo style dancing because I need to work on that weakness.

Hmm, that's a lot of thinking for today, maybe I'll need to watch some Youtube videos later, maybe that Engineer's Guide to Cats one.


Nora said...

I totally know what you mean, but it just hit me to say this: you should realize that you're a totally good enough dancer that it can actually enhance the audiences' experience - not because you are saying LOOK AT MEEEEEE, but because you are showing them visually the beats in teh music. I did not, repeat, not ever get, and I quote myself "that boy band" Rush until I saw Asharah's performance for K. Not even at our hafla. It took the 2nd time for me to SEE what she is hearing. And I finally got it. The music is complicated - someone interpreting it with their body beautifully is incredible to watch, and by extension, hear it differently.

Amy said...

Good things to keep in mind, especially with what we were talking about last night: Dancing is fun! Have fun while you're out there!

Heh, reminds me of a discussion Lyra and I had with our menfolk on the way back from TC, where I mentioned again about being a total hardass. No fun! Just dance!

I added more thoughts to the post.

Asharah said...

You know, I feel the same way. I don't like dancing in non-formal situations unless it's a bellydance party... and even then I feel weird about it. I think that's why I dance all silly instead of actually dancing.

And, thanks Nora. I really appreciate the sentiment... :) ('cause you know I love them like pre-teens love their boy bands... well, almost like that. OMG I <3 Neil 4EVR! LOL!)

Amy said...

Asharah - exactly! Actually, one place I did enjoy dancing for the hell of it was at Triboriginal, on the Saturday night when a bunch of people were jamming out in the cafeteria. It was a nice critical amount of people in the space, the music was loud enough, the energy was right. Ahhhhh.

Lucy said...

For what it's worth, I used to be REALLY shy about bellydancing in informal situations too. I would only get up if there were so many people that I really wasn't visible anyway. I don't really know what flipped the switch, but now I'm fine with it. That being said, I'm often happier to sit down and watch others, now. :)

(Waving to Asharah)