Saturday, July 10, 2010

More thoughts on the Tribal Fest performance - Thursday, May 20, 2010

This isn’t a pity party blog. lol Rather, it’s meant to be a debrief to myself of what happened during the Tribal Fest performance. I used to do that quite a bit on Tribe but decided to keep it to a smaller group. For all those reading, do feel free to comment. I just won’t spread it out to everybody and their dogs. ;)

After I was done performing, I was left with a very odd feeling regarding the overall performance: I wasn’t disappointed… but I wasn’t happy… and it wasn’t a neutral feeling. I think that what left a sour taste in my mouth was that I fully realized that I hadn’t been as much in the moment as I could have been. I was really disappointed by that.

I knew, though, that I had somewhat doomed myself. When I was getting ready, I was getting extremely nervous. There was a vibe in the room that totally affected me. And it was nerves, not panic… I now know the difference. ;) I stupidly started thinking that maybe I would be the first bad number at Tribal Fest. Really? Like that was going to happen??? But that was akin to the irrational thoughts that you normally get all the time like ‘Will I fall on my ass on stage?’

I was also battling body image issues. I’ve gained back a lot of weight and had every intention to attempt to slim down before TF but that went out the window quickly. Then, sure, I had every intention to dance for the body that I have (as Tempest puts it in her workshops) but the whole ‘OMG! Everyone is tall and slim in CA!’ got to me. :(

And then there was the pause that I didn’t expect. That also threw me off my game… though I have to say that I don’t know if it helped or hindered. In the grand scheme of things, it probably didn’t do a big difference. The music started a bit earlier than I thought it would and that messed me up a little too. Again, nothing that I wouldn’t have been able to recover from.

As I was dancing, I realized that I wasn’t as much in the moment as I should have or rather could have been. And that I was forgetting my concept. I was facing the back wall and thought ‘Okay. Remember. You are a post-apocalyptic priestess. You are calling down the Gods.’ That was a somewhat determined set of moves for the piece, only the exact placement was movable. When I was practicing that part, I was envisioning like a cave entrance and some flowy arm movements and all that. I did envision the cave entrance for a few seconds… and then I realized that I was looking at *the* back drop that we all know to be the TF back drop. So that pulled me away from the concept a little. And then I turned around and there were people (duh!) but they were *the* TF audience… or rather that I was on *the* TF stage. And the moment was lost. Damn!

Then I reverted to some good old entertainer techniques and looked at Amirah and Jatare on my right (and this nice lady who had complimented me on my hair and my goggles and was grooving to my music) and Jeff and Tempest on the left. Though when I saw Jeff holding the camera, it unnerved me a little but I noticed that Tempest had her chin up as if she was trying to see me from above something (though she was perched high on a chair) and I realized that she was telling me to bring my chin up. lol

I did a lot of mulling over the performance… and have reached some conclusions.

First off, it’s clear that I underestimated the scariness of performing on *that* stage. Thankfully, though, I had advance warning through Ariellah, Belladonna, and Mavi that the stage is much narrower than you think so I had re-arranged some things in my head. Also thankfully, I hadn’t set my expectations too high for the performance. I was hoping to just do good and, overall, I did reach the requirements for a good performance. What upset me a little is that I could have easily done better. But at least now and I know and can do better next year.

I really should have crushed down to pieces that nagging voice that was telling me that I would be the first bad act by a fat performer. That’s where the pause helped b/c I had the chance to quickly chat with Jeff and he gave me ‘the’ look of ‘you’re being silly, hon’.

I briefly wondered if being more prepared would have helped. I mean, should I have had a more choreographed piece? I actually think that the loose plan with specific accents and improve ideas was actually a blessing: it was easy for me to adjust things around (especially given the stage) and stay a little more connected, albeit not as connected as I would have liked.

Tempest commented that I needed to keep my chin up more and my gaze higher. She’s right, obviously. What I realized while mulling this advice is that I am more used to performing at eye level than on a raised stage. So I will have to learn how to deal with that. I know that part of the reason why my chin (and gaze) went down was b/c I was trying to make good eye contact with the audience. I’ll have to adjust my way of doing that contact. And I saw on the footage that my gaze would go down to the floor regularly… that’s a flaw of mine and a leftover of my shyness and lack of confidence. Shyness is going away so I need to work on the confidence side of things and that should solve a lot of that issue.

I had a disheartened moment at one point when I realized that performing, for me, is really not natural. A lot of folks have more self confidence and have a stronger presence on stage than I do… and I wish that I could do better… though I have to admit that I’m really improving on that aspect. But, yeah, it’s just not natural for me… which made me think for a bit that I’m doomed… until I remembered that being a leader wasn’t natural for me either and now it’s hard for me not to be one… and I didn’t have charisma and now I do. So, yeah, it’s a matter of continuing to push and work at it and it will come in time. I did have a moment when I wanted to give up trying but that didn’t last long. ;)

After more mulling over and watching the actual footage a few times, I realized that, actually, the dancing was good. I mean, the technique was there, my movements were crisp and I didn’t overdo them (which I tend to do but, thanks to recording some practices, I’ve learned to tone it down), my musicality was good… but I still feel like something is missing. And now I’ve put my finger on it. The dance from a technical aspect was fine. And I’m sure that a lot of people would be happy with results like that. What was missing was the artistry. And the reason why I feel like I didn’t hit it out in the park was that it was within my reach to add that artistry back in but I didn’t manage to hold on to it. And I think that this whole artistry thing is what is going to take my dance to the next level… which is beyond just dancing nicely. ;)

Also, I realized that my statement about not being enough ‘in the moment’ is not actually accurate. I’ve had performances where my mind was anywhere but with what I was doing. I have come to believe that this was actually a ploy so to distract me from my nerves… or something like that. But I remember thinking distinctly of stuff like I mentioned above regarding remembering the concept. And when that went out the door, I reverted to some entertainer/restaurant dancing techniques… in a very conscious manner… And when I walked from where Amirah and Jatare were (so my far right) to where Jeff and Tempest were using a 3/4 shimmy walk… and I was walking and walking and realized how freakin’ long that walk was and thought ‘glance at the audience to break the head sideways’ (and I did)… And when I had my back to the audience, at one point, I thought to do some shoulder rolls to come back to front, partly to show off that nice tattooed feather moving… So I actually WAS in the moment. But I was WAY too much on the left side of the brain! When I have a good balance (as I did for the No Name Show), I’m actually in control, using my musicality and moves well but flowing in synch with the music… and adding some nuances of emotions. It’s hard to describe what that right brain does… for obvious reasons. :p

The more I think at the performance and see the footage (and start to receive compliments that seem sincere), the more I think that it was a very good performance. Maybe even ‘solid’. I definitely learned a lot from it so that’s always good. But I also did some things very well and I’m very proud of that. Another important aspect is that, in the past, I’d be not fully happy with a performance and wouldn’t know how to fix it or what was missing… but this time, I specifically know. I gotta say that it’s much less frustrating to know that… though it’s frustrating in a different way. :p

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