What I learnt from my biggest belly dance performance fails…

Getting a belly dance veil wrapped around your hand so its like a club you can’t get rid of, having your one of your zills swing around to the other side of your finger, making a mistake in a group choreography. Are these my biggest performance fails????– No. When I think back through all my performances I am happy to say that there have been no occasions where my on stage actions were serious enough to consider epic fails or true fails at all. I have usually managed to cover quite well for small errors and have finished feeling very pleased with myself for not panicking and handling the unforseen situation.

No, on reflection my biggest fails regarding performance have occurred off stage.

It’s what I say after my dancing that has given me the most cause for regret.

cute buny

Fails aren't fails if you learn from them...

This mistake I made quite a bit when I first began performing –

Audience member: “Wow, what a great performance, I loved how you danced”.

Me: “Thanks, but I really am not happy with how I did (blah, blah) move/dance.

     or “I can do better”

     or “The sound was terrible I could hardly hear it”.  Etc, etc.

Talk about totally ruining the moment!!

Here is a fan enthusiastic enough to approach me and say something nice and I would take the wind out of their sails! Being a perfectionist, I often run over what I did after each performance and what I could improve upon or try differently next time. But what I have learnt is that while internal dialogue can help improve one’s dancing (if you keep it constructive and positive)– it should stay internal! Don’t share it with the audience. If someone really loved what they saw, pointing out everything that could have been better is akin to saying “you have no taste”. Next time they want to compliment you or other performers, they might hesitate and choose not to. It’s particularly a big deal for someone to offer praise in Australia. Our culture is very much against tall poppies. People (particularly in country areas) may love what you do but feel anything more than a friendly nod or smile would be inappropriate, they don’t want you to get a big head and think that you should know if you were good – no need to say anything more. We need to cultivate those willing to break with tradition! So years ago I made a point of saying “Thank you very much” when complimented. I feel better, they feel better.

Don’t tear yourself down. – Lesson Learnt

My second biggest fail is on a similar theme. I am still so annoyed with myself because I have managed it more than once. A few times, I have unexpectedly found myself either on-stage at an event or on panels of choreographers being asked questions regarding dance. This is when you are supposed to answer the questions in a succinct and preferably funny manner and try sell yourself a bit. Boy have I struggled with this! I prepare for performances but didn’t realise its worth preparing for this too! While other dancers were glibly mentioning their credentials and places they had danced, I managed to NOT mention that I had been studying Middle Eastern dance for 13 years, that I had taken workshops with some of the best and brightest dancers and that I had travelled to Egypt to further my study!  WTF I did say I have no idea but I managed to sound like a country hick.

Jade Belly Dance with veil

I think I will go hide in this corner now...

So embarrassing!

Another time I managed to mention something about getting drunk!!! I am a tea-totaller, I rarely go anywhere near alcohol but somehow managed to infer that I like to hit the bottle!!! Where those lines came from I have no idea but let’s just say I came off in a less than optimal fashion.

The lesson?? Write down a few key points about yourself, what you love about your style and why you dance – you never know when someone will call on your expertise and you don’t want to ruin an excellent performance with sub-par remarks.

Can you relate? Any epic fails you would like to share?  Please comment below 🙂

Before you go, as a bit of a pick me up have a look at this short clip of famous failures. It seems many people ‘fail’ before they succeed.

I would like to thank Nichelle from Dance Advantage for suggesting this topic.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Intermittante
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 21:31:00

    Very inspiration and recognisable too.. We’re so hard on ourselves sometimes, yet, our audience merely wants to see us perform and be entertained, right?.. We’re often so caught up in all the things that went wrong that we fail to see how magical we might have looked to them. And though we might perform because it makes us feel good, we’re doing it for -them- too.. If they don’t judge, then who are we to judge ourselves?.. 🙂

    Keep up the positive thinking! You look gorgeous!

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  2. Trackback: Making Mistakes On Stage and Off | Dance Advantage
  3. Sasha
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 03:48:47

    I could relate to your point on being a perfectionist. Like you, I am very critical of my performance too, regardless on whether I receive a compliment after or not. My brain will automatically analyze my whole dance performance as if someone installed a video recorder in my grey matter that goes onto playback mode right after I dance. It is so annoying!! At one point, I told myself I should stop doing so, and enough is enough – yet, sometimes, it still happens subconsciously. Sigh! To acknowledge that by doing so, how ‘perfect’ is ‘perfect enough’ kind of helped me lighten up a bit. Thus responding with a “Thank you” and a smile whenever I receive any compliment(s).

    Thanks for sharing your story! =]

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    • jadebellydance
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 10:45:15

      I really have had to work on shutting down the critic and like you it still pops up every now and then. I have found that if I video as many of my performances as I can, it helps me to let go and enjoy the moment more because I have a record of it and can analyse it later if I want to. Funnily enough I probably only look at about half the footage!

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