I'll be dancing with Different Drummer Belly Dancers and Caravanserai Dancers.
I'm so excited! I can't stop talking about it. And the first thing my friends say when I bring it up is, "Are you nervous?"
My nerves seem to work differently than most.
Monday morning, I woke up at 4am, and spent the next two hours thinking about Bloomington Belly Dances. I don't know if that was nerves, or not being prepared, or both. I still had one costume to finish. The practices the day before had been cancelled due to weather.
I could hear the songs in my head. My mind churned over the moves. "Be sure to remember that this move comes before that one in the second song," I told myself. "Do this to keep from dropping that prop. What can I do to keep from smacking myself in the face while doing that?" Problem, solution, problem, solution... I wasn't dwelling on worries, I was solving them over and over again, yet I still didn't sleep.
But the show is tomorrow night. Am I nervous?
Today was a long day at work. The hours seem to drag by. When I went to lunch, I played the CD of the songs over and over again, going over the moves in my head.
No, I am not nervous. The closer it gets to the show, the less nervous I am.
So that must mean that I'm confident about the dances? That I have them down pat? Oh hell no, I'm not! There's this one spot that no matter how many times I run over it, I have to look up what move comes next. I'll have to rely on fellow dancers to hope that someone remembers. I don't like doing that, I'd rather not put that responsibility on them, not give them that stress. So even if it's just in my head, I practice and practice and practice. And then as the show comes up, I let it go.
The first time I performed in any sort of crowd, it was a tiny hafla. I was nervous. I'm an introvert, and here are these people who are looking at me. There's no redirecting the conversation so I can just listen.
And then I shimmied out onto that makeshift stage. People were smiling, eager to see what we were going to do. And then, a couple moves into that first dance, I forgot what came next. I glanced over at my director, had only missed about half the move, and picked it back up. The audience had no clue that anything had gone amiss. I smiled at the person in the front row. They smiled back. We shimmied, people cheered.
After that dance, I was ready to run a marathon. I was energized, I was euphoric, I could take on the world.
"Don't look down," my instructors tell me. "Smile." "Look over the audience members' heads." All the tips for getting over a fear of public speaking are repeated over and over again.
Last year, when I performed at Bloomington Belly Dances for the first time, I had never been in front of a crowd like that before. Yet, before we went out, a sort of calm washed over me. There seemed no need to be nervous, because there was no way that would benefit me or my dancing.
My very first time, performing in front of any sort of crowd ever, and I was front and center. I didn't remind myself to smile. I didn't try to look over the audience. I looked at them. They looked back at me, smiling, cheering, having a good time. I didn't do the moves, I felt the dance, I felt the music, I felt the energy from the crowd. I stepped off that stage grinning from ear to ear, my heart beating a million miles a minute. I was exhilarated, I was high on the energy of the crowd.
It surprised me. I wasn't expecting that. But at that moment, all I wanted was to do it more.
I know it sounds cliche, but belly dancing, especially performing, is like a drug for me. My pulse races, and I am in ecstasy. I'd like to see a brain scan from while I'm performing compared to a brain scan of while I'm making love, because I'm guessing the same regions light up.
So no, I'm not nervous. I'm excited. Every hour until then seems to drag on forever. It reminds me of waking up the morning before my birthday party and having to wait until people started showing up. And so I practice, I plan, I pack and unpack my costumes, I make lists, I do everything I can related to belly dancing to satiate me until the big event arrives.
And heck, it's so much fun, I don't even need cake!