Does the idea of performing scare you to pieces?
You’re not alone.
First, the fear:
I feel embarrassed to admit this, but when my good friend (and beautiful dancer and person) Melinda Hedgecorth, asked me if I would join her, Alfonso Cid, and Jed Miley for a flamenco show in Portland I told her I needed to think about it.
I wanted to do it, but I felt apprehensive as they would be arriving only a couple of hours before the show meaning there would be very little, if any, time for rehearsal.
Over the years I have learned a lot about flamenco from Melinda. Both in the studio and in conversations we’ve had.
During her fifteen years living in Sevilla she gained a lot of experience dancing in a tablao setting where you very often don’t get to rehearse with your musicians before a show.
But this is also what makes it so much fun to watch, right?
Nobody (not even the artists) knows exactly how things will go.
Melinda has told me about how she preps on her own for this situation. She’s taught me signals to communicate with the musicians in the moment.
It’s not that when you do have rehearsals with the group you know exactly how things are going to go. Things never go exactly as planned, but you definitely feel more secure than going in without any rehearsal at all. (I do, at least.)
Shouldn’t I be further along after all of these years of dancing flamenco?
So I said yes to the show.
Yes, I feel scared, but I also feel excited,
I know it will be fun:
I love these three people. They all bring great energy and are super supportive.
I know I will learn a lot:
This is an amazing opportunity to work with high level artists who will challenge me.
It would be easy to say no because I don’t want to bomb, but I’m glad I’m taking a chance.
Putting things into perspective
This nervousness has me remembering the way I’ve felt before performances with Ricardo,
I think about my feelings about this upcoming show in comparison to how I’ve felt in the past before performances with Ricardo where I pretty much always felt like I’d bitten off way more than I could chew. Where I’ve felt overwhelmed with new material and like I didn’t have enough time to learn it well or do a good job, where I’ve often felt like the material is too hard for me.
The uncertainty I’m feeling around this show doesn’t even compare to those experiences!
Okay, now I feel better.
I made it through all of those shows with Ricardo, grew, had fun, and felt happy that we did it.
I realized that much of the fear I’m feeling comes from worrying about other people’s expectations,
Not something I want to devote my time and energy to worrying about.
It is neither productive nor does it feel good.
I mean OF COURSE I want to put on a great show for the people who come out to see it, but it can’t be all about that.
When I go to see flamenco I want to watch somebody who is present, who is into it, who is committed, no matter if it’s a well-rehearsed theatrical production or a more spontaneous situation.
When I dance flamenco I want to enjoy the experience. I want to enjoy the interaction with the musicians, with the audience.
I’m glad I remembered that.
Now let’s talk preparation:
Here are steps I’m taking to get ready for the show:
Rehearse my pieces on my own
Imagine in my mind different scenarios and how I might respond in these different situations
Try out various options
Remind myself to have fun and to be present with the process.
Lots of deep breathing
Acknowledge the fearful feelings and share with others
Accept encouragement from people I trust
(9.) A Step I took that didn’t work: I made an attempt to plan some stuff in advance with the guitarist and the singer via email. But that didn’t go very far. When I asked Alfonso to send me some of the letras he liked to sing he told me that we could set the whole choreography, but that I had “more than enough experience to dance to whatever letras [he] could sing for [me].”
This was actually a very good thing,
A relief. Freedom. To feel the music. To trust myself. To be in the moment.
It was also an opportunity to take his words in and believe them for myself. It was an invitation to have confidence in myself.
I’ll let you know how the show goes.
What About You?
Do you experience fear before a performance? How have your feelings about performing changed over the years? How do you prepare for a show? Let me know in the comments below.