“Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.”
- Martha Graham
When my sister and I were in Level 4, for the second or third time around I think, our instructor announced an upcoming Open Night, the last for 2011. “You know the most skills now than you’ve ever known”, she said to us. This wasn’t exactly an epiphany, but it was certainly true. So with a little hinting, and a lot of nudging, she convinced the two of us to perform.
We spent weeks choreographing our first ever routine, we jammed every skill we knew (and could comfortably perform) into a less than two minute performance. We were proud of what we had created, simple as it was. By the time Open Night rolled around, we knew this routine back to front and upside down.
What we weren’t prepared for was the absolute terror we experienced waiting to go on stage. When people tell me they are scared of heights, confined spaces or going to the dentist, I now know exactly what they mean! Stomach butterflies didn’t even begin to cover what my insides were doing. backflips? No, still not expressive enough.
Our shaky little legs wobbled us out onto the stage; no amount of make up was going to cover our colour-drained faces. We knelt down in our beginning position and tried to remember to breathe and not pass out while waiting for the music to start. It seemed like an age that we were sitting there in silence with all eyes in the room on us, but eventually the song began and we were on our way. But the fear wasn’t gone yet, nope, not even close.
My debut pole dance performance at Studio Verve's December 2011 Open Night
The moment the fear left, was the moment the audience applauded and cheered for our first skill. It wasn’t some super amazing inside out upside down manouevre, but that didn’t matter to us or the audience. What a truly amazing group of people they were, some of them knew us but most of them didn’t. Nonetheless they all boosted our confidence with their cheers of support. At one time or another, we have all been an audience member and praised the performer – that cheer is the most spirit lifting, musical sound to the ears of performer.
When all the performances had wrapped up, the pale white look of terror on our faces had been replaced by great big smiles from ear to ear that couldn’t be wiped off. The buzz of performing was very VERY long-lasting. For the remainder of the evening, people were very generous with their praise and congratulations, and to be honest, we couldn’t get enough! We wanted to re-live the moment over and over again. They could have told us they didn’t manage to film it, and we would have been straight back up on the stage to do it all again, no need to ask twice! It’s amazing to think there was only 2 minutes between our shy, head down shuffle onto the stage and our chin up, skip off stage.
Inspired and invigorated by our first foray onto the performance stage, Renee and I performed again at the following Open Night by which time we had progressed to Level 5, so we had a few more skills in our repertoire.
Feeling a little more confident the second time around!
I realised as we stood waiting to perform, there was something different this time. The pre-performance jitters were still there, and I’ve since learnt nervousness is a sign of passion and excitement for what you are doing. What changed was the disappearance of the fear; that is now reserved solely for the yearly dentist visits. Watching back the performances now, you can see a huge change in our confidence levels. In our second performance, we had costumes, interacted with the audience and managed to smile. This time we looked like we enjoyed what we were doing, and we honestly, truly did.
Renee and I are second in from the left and very happy to have nailed our second pole performance!
“Do something once a day that scares you” Wise words. The next chance to perform is always just around the corner, seize the awesome opportunity and show the world what you can do. Relish in the cheers and applause of the audience!
Don’t be shy! Remember, I’m always here to give you encouragement and advice if you need it!