As a writer and accountant, am never really in the limelight. Might I add, I am a shy girl. You might not think so from my writing.
Lately, I have been wanting to do stuff I thought I’d never do. I want to outdo my boundaries, which I set for myself, some without even being aware that I did.
So with this drive, I decided to try facing a crowd with all the attention on me, without me fainting halfway through. I must add that it is certainly not the drive only that led me here but time as well. Because change, for some of us uptight souls takes time.
So as my guardian angels would have it, I started not so long ago through dance and speaking in front of a crowd of some 100 people. In church, which offers the perfect opportunity to explore your talents as you seek yourself and pursue spirituality.
My dancing genesis goes way back. At home, I loved to dance as I washed dishes, in the bathroom, while dressing up, basically at any moment having a good time by myself or with friends. Still do.
I then started dancing salsa
and that had me on dance floors with huge crowds where everyone is usually busy getting down and round. So not much attention is ever drawn to me.
Except this one time.
This one time, it had been a while since I danced and I went to the YWCA class behind Serena Hotel, Nairobi. I made friends, that’s one thing you are sure to do when you attend a salsa
class, especially JP’s (see my article titled SALSA for more details). That was on a Tuesday. I promised my new friends to show up to Club Spree for Thursday Salsa. Thursday came and me and my dance shoes showed up.
I was early and I was psyched.
Cheers to a great night ahead, I told myself.
Have you ever watched a salsa video where several guys switch one girl several times. Like you dance with one then gives you a spin then another takes you up, drains all your energy, spins you to another guy. These other guys are usually there standing waiting for their turn.
It is amazing if you have the energies to keep up.
I never thought this could ever happen to me. Until that Thursday. So here I was, looking all flexible and three guys were ready to make me break sweats.
I say the moves I made that day, never have I ever. I was actually turned upside down, imagine the horror considering I can’t even do a somersault. At the end of the song as I was up in the air and someone had to come pull my legs down, I let out a scream and that was a little embarrassing (okay, a lot since I ran and hugged a guy so my face was invisible to the world). This also kinda marked my initiation to mature salsa since I believe that’s one of the worst things that could happen on the dance floor, except of course falling down or having any of your clothes expose parts not meant for the public eye. And these things happen to performers. And the internet breaks with laughter and judgement.
Anyway, I didn’t let the embarrassment get the best of me, instead, I danced the night away embracing my initiation/new experience.
So, about performers.
I must say it takes first an idea, practice, imagination of yourself performing, practice, fear of performing, practice, then the will to do, practice, then a dash of gut, confidence and courage through the stage fright. And the feeling of satisfaction. Wondering what you had been so scared of. I know I have experienced these.
There’s this time I was busy getting down to salsa and as the guy did a certain pro move on me, his nail dug into one of my fingers and I was a little hurt. I used to look at this mark and instead of feeling mad at him, I felt as if it was a mark of success, an achievement. Is that how kina Aggie the dancer and Ayomar feel anytime they are hurt? Like they become proud of the marks achieved and still continue doing their art. Hurt goes a long way, physical and emotional. And real performers live through this.
Now back to how am crushing my stage fears:
It’s a story too so sit back and relax
So, The great Rotaract club of Karura is a fun club yes, people who know how to have a good time. In the times we’ve traveled together, I have proven a good dancer yes, and as loving as their souls are, they decided to nurture my talent okay. They set up an event dubbed dance night with Karura and guess what, I was part of the trainers for the night. Eh! I was between excited and scared. Excited because some people had seen something in me that I’d not seen in me, or that wasn’t as important to me. Scared because, well, there’s the stage fright situation.
Anyway, I found some amazing peeps to assist me through the dance night and it was a huge success. Having learnt a bit of salsa, shaku shaku, gwarra gwarra, odi dance, etc, no one wanted to go home. Btw, we need to do this again my Karura peeps. I have some new moves.
After this dance night, we continued meeting as he (one of the assists of the dance night) taught me new moves. My dance teacher, is very patient with me. In the beginning I had no idea how to do a shaku. But as of now, I can pull a shaku real good with improvisions.
We eventually created a routine without a plan of where to showcase it. Like we were dancing for fun, to pass time doing something we love. Well he loves to dance more than me.
When we were done creating a choreo he talked me into performing it in church. And I went through all the above stages and the resistance lasted even longer. I had never performed such in my life. It was new. The only time I ever performed a dance was back in KU but then we were many. Now this time it would be two of us only.
Anyway, I sucked it up and performed anyway. And I was commended. Most people were like, I didn’t know you could dance, you have to teach me how to gwarra etc, and also I was told to learn to feel the song, the dance and not be too cautious. One of my fears is to mess up but am conquering that. And yes, I will learn to put my face in it too.
See below part of the performance….
Being in the face of many eyes can be scary. You are in the hot seat, they are your interviewers. Stage fright is real.
So I commend all performers.
- Dancers, moving your body no matter how weirdly, feeling the song
- Singers, trusting that voice, hitting those notes, making those faces. Musicians who make their own song, lyrics, beats and put it out there for the public eye and ear.
- Spoken word artists, speaking your heart, speaking your thoughts, making rhymes, cramming 1000 words and feeling each one as it leaves your mouth
- Actors, leaving your person to be someone else, owning this someone else, doing things your normal self wouldn’t
- Preachers/pastors/teachers, having the patience to read The Word of God and listening to the Holy Spirit then sharing these inspirations with a crowd who will judge your interpretation
- Models who walk runways in some really high shoes, and strut it, act in advertisements, and keep it cool through old men trying to lure them
- Writers, genuine writers who speak their truth through words
- All other performing artists I haven’t mentioned, keep feeding on your art
Thing about performers is, they mostly do this for no pay especially in the beginning (could be years).
It’s amazing how much you can learn through doing that which seemed so hard in the beginning. Ask my dance partners how much trouble I am in class
saying no to moves but hacking them the next day.
My scope for this article, to tell that performer out there, your guardian angels are looking after you. Keep doing that which sets your soul on fire. And to tell you who is being held back by fear, your time is now. Go give it a shot. You’ll leave better than you came. Trust me.
Because the mind that opens up to a new idea never returns to its original size, a good friend told me that.
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