Last night my bellydance teacher, Claudia, gave the class her rendition of Performance Prep 101, a lot of material to cover in an hour and a half. To aid with this complex presentation, she gave us handouts with 12 Tips for Belly Dance Performance. As I started reading them, I could hear many voices ringing in my head (the good kind), telling me to stand up straight, fake it ‘til you make it, always look people in the eye, etc. The 12 Tips for Belly Dance Performance spoke to me not just of belly dance, but of LIFE—helpful gems that I can (and should) use every day. Following is her list (spelling/grammar edited for my sanity). I encourage you to read it with an open mind, not focused on belly dance or any performance-related subject. Read it and think about your own life. How many of these do you do every day? How many of these should you do every day? I give many thanks to my teacher and friend, Claudia, for engaging my heart and mind with this list.
1. Know what you want to give. What is your gift? Remember this is fun. You love to dance.
2. Warm up a bit and stretch.
3. Check your costume. Check it again. Check your whole look.
4. Get ready to stop the world with your beautiful divine self and extraordinary dance…no negative thoughts. Take a minute or two alone before going on stage.
5. Use relaxing breaths, meditate. Let the nerves you get flow into joy and excitement for your performance…ready…set…go!
6. Take your stage; own it. No matter if your music is slow or fast, your entrance should excite the audience. Your energy and intent can fill a room.
7. Notice your posture. Remember to keep your rib cage lifted, shoulders back, chin lifted. You are larger than life…you are an entertainer.
8. Think about or even plan your entrance and exit. Even as you leave the stage you are still performing…allow the vision to stay alive for your audience.
9. If you are performing for a band, thank them in your closing bows…they worked hard to make you look good…be generous and thank your audience as well.
10. Make a checklist so you have everything you need with you. Your costume bag is your home away from home. Bring all that you might need…everything but the kitchen sink should do.
11. Always have a backup CD just in case. I even carry a random show CD in case I am asked to do an extra show or get called to save a party…super BD to the rescue!
12. Be professional! Treat people and fellow dancers as you would like to be treated. If there are others in the dressing room, remember how your energy affects others.
One last thing to read before you take these words and leave me for the day…a segment of the beautiful poem “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. Claudia put the entire poem at the bottom of her sheet, but I think the first three lines pretty much cover it.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.