Last week we did a student show in which I performed my first solo. Solo! What?! How did this happen?! Well, after a our December show, my teacher encouraged me to take the choreography from one of the group dances and use it as a solo piece in a future show. Ooh, a challenge! I was down. Five months later, I was in front of an audience all by myself…
I have to say that performing solo is not at all like performing in a group. Safety in numbers, as they say. When you’re in a group and you trip over your feet, it’s likely no one will see/hear it. And you’re surrounded by friends just like in class; it’s very comforting. But when you’re thrust in front of an audience for the first time alone, with little experience working with a singer and guitarist, things get a little scary.
Let’s back up a moment. A few weeks before this experience, I wasn’t sure I could actually pull it off. During my first private lesson with my teacher to go over my dance, I was a sweaty, hyperventilating nervous wreck. I felt so sick. And mind you, she’s great. Very supportive. It was all me and my own neuroses, and my fear of looking like an ass and letting her down. I’m never competitive with others, but I constantly compete with myself. It’s this trait that propels me, yet holds me back at the same time. Anyway … when I danced for her and watched myself in the mirror at the same time, it was almost as if I’d left my shaky body for a moment and was watching and listening as an audience. I remember thinking suddenly, “Where are those sounds coming from?! OH! From my feet!” It was jarring. How could I concentrate on my choreography when I was so distracted by the sound of my own feet?! Do other dancers ever feel this way? Is it just me? Am I just over thinking this?
Lucky for me, my teacher maintained her faith in me and let me perform as planned. While it was pretty much a blur, here’s a summary of what went through my mind as I performed:
1.”Ok, I’m going out there. Relax. Keep it cool. Think of the Dalai Lama … Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama …”
2.”Oh! There’s a guitarist and singer behind me! I forgot! Oh wait — now I’m distracted. Shit!”
3. “Oh! Everyone’s watching ME! And there’s my friend with her big-ass camera! Now I’m distracted again. Shit!”
4. “Oh! When I got distracted, I lost compas. Shit! Where’s 12? Where’s 12?!”
5. “Loosen up, loosen up! Why am I so stiff?! This can’t possibly be pretty.”
6. “Oh jeez, the footwork is coming up. Please don’t mess up .. shit! I messed up!”
7. “Ok, buleria time … it’s almost over…keep pushing … damn it! I rushed and lost compas!”
8. “Ok, one last turn and end on the beat … YES! It’s over!! Thank you, God!”
This may have been the longest 3 and half minutes of my life. Yes, I got off beat a couple of times. Yes, I flubbed my footwork. No, I was not as elegant as I had hoped to be. But I kept going, and I didn’t cry afterward. I felt good. And I feel like I learned things that will make me better the next time. And yes, I am already preparing for next time.