Well, I did it, guys. I survived last night’s dance performance for a private birthday party, in front of a crowd of 150!
I just smile at the thought of last night… It’s a smile of relief, pride, and joy at the remembrance of performing three dances- cha cha, rumba, and jive- with my dance teacher, Giulio.
I was indeed quite nervous the couple days, hours, and minutes leading up to the performance. Like I said in my previous post, My Latest Leap Out Of My Comfort Zone, I was called upon last minute (Friday morning) to perform at Sunday’s party, since the original dancers couldn’t make it. After saying YES to this incredible opportunity, I spent Friday and Saturday dancing like I had never danced before. I came home from the studio Friday night, barely able to walk up the steps to my room, as my whole body ached from physical exhaustion. I had pleasant flashbacks of my good ol’ gymnastics days, where hardcore training was the norm.
My last rehearsal with Giulio was Saturday morning. We made brand new choreography for my cha-cha solo- thankfully, I remembered my steps at the performance! After 2 hours of practice, I came home and literally CRASHED on my bed, in my sweaty practice-wear and all!
I felt nervous Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday leading up to the show. Why was I nervous? Well, remember that this is the same girl who, 2 years ago, felt anxiety about going to school because she was so afraid of social interaction. So there was definitely a lot of performance anxiety. Last night, however, I managed to hold my own in front of 150 people, and I even ENJOYED the experience!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the show, I was very anxious. Saturday night, I had a restless sleep. Nothing crazy there, as I never could sleep well before a gymnastics or dance competition… I pretty much put every other part of my life on hold until the show was over. I had coworkers cover my shifts at Hollister. I cancelled appointments with friends. My sole purpose for those three days was to prepare a great, entertaining performance for the spectators. When I wasn’t dancing, I was either sleeping, writing, or watching movies. Confession: I watched about four movies on Netflix between Saturday and Sunday- “The Princess Bride”, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, “Yours, Mine and Ours”, and “Bring It On”. I justified such binge-watching with the excuse of “needing to relax” for the show. Yeah, right!
In retrospect, I don’t think I needed to be as nervous as I was. It was, after all, only a show, not a high-stakes competition. Shows are supposed to be fun! I guess I put pressure on myself to put on a great show for the audience and, more importantly, for the birthday boy, who was turning 70 years old. I was called upon as the entertainment, and I didn’t want to disappoint. Plus, as I am still in the stages of getting re-acclimated with the stage, I didn’t know how I would handle performing in front of such a large audience. Yes, at one point in my life, I could perform in front of crowds of any size and not be shaken. But that was before the injury, before the crisis. Now I’m working my way back up to where I used to be as a performer.
On Sunday, I woke up feeling jittery. I took a shower, which calmed me down. At 1:00 p.m. I had a dance lesson with my female teacher, Yulia, who helped me with arm styling for that night’s performance (talk about last minute touch-ups)! I got back home around 2:30 p.m. and took a nap until 3:30 p.m., while my mom went to get her makeup done for that evening. After my nap, I took another shower, and did my hair for the show- half up, half down. I got into my evening gown (aka my prom dress), and did part of my makeup (Lidia, who is Giulio’s dance partner/girlfriend, did my eye makeup at the party venue). At around 5:15 p.m., my mom got back from the mall, and we made our way to South San Francisco.
My mom and I arrived at the same time as Giulio and Lidia. Lidia did the rest of my makeup, I put my Latin dance dress in the dressing room, and we took a lot of pictures. The party’s theme was “Mardi Gras”, so there were a lot of green and purple decor and people wearing half masks. Dinner followed soon after- I had salmon with veggies and rice. I couldn’t eat too much, however, because I’d be performing right after dessert.
Getting familiar with the venue, the floor, and the people made me more at ease. I felt the nerves rise up again, however, as I was alone in the dressing room, changing into my costume. I took deep breaths, drank some water. I told myself that the stress I was experiencing was GOOD. I’d channel the nervous energy into positive energy, making my performance all the better. I looked myself in the mirror and told myself I could do this. I am, after all, Belicia Tang.
The first dance we performed was cha-cha. I distinctly remember feeling on edge as I stood in the corner, waiting for the music to start. Once the music began, however, all my butterflies flew away. I felt that indescribable feeling of freedom. Again, I was brought back to my competitive gymnastics days… Always nervous while on deck, but the minute I stepped on the carpet, I became calm, composed, confident.
This time, I channeled all my pent-up emotions of stress, fear, and anxiety into fire and joy on the dance floor. I felt nothing but excitement and adrenaline as I dance to “Hound Dog” by Smokey Joe’s Cafe. I loved playing with the audience. I loved watching their smiling faces, knowing that Giulio and I were the sources of their entertainment. The ending of the routine was difficult, with Giulio spinning me into a fast double-spin. I had only stuck it once at practice, and the rest of the tries ended with me on the floor. Thankfully, I did NOT fall down at the performance, but it wasn’t as crisp an ending as I knew it could be. Other than that, and a few slips due to the surprisingly slippery floor, I was very pleased with our cha cha. It was not perfect, but this performance was not about perfection- it was about sharing my passion for dance with the audience and bringing them joy.
The same can be said of my other two dances, rumba and jive. Were these routines faultless? Nope. The music started early in rumba, so I had to run onto the floor, instead of doing a sexy rumba walk. In jive, I forgot my routine… twice! Thankfully, Giulio saved me during my brain farts. The point is, I really don’t care that my routines had mistakes. In live performances, mistakes are inevitable. It’s the way you REACT to these mistakes that counts. I didn’t let the few hiccups in my dancing faze me or take the fun away from performing.
If you know me, you will know what a perfectionist I am, and how I’ve been trying to correct my perfectionistic thinking. Last night’s performance was imperfect… But there is a certain beauty to imperfection. I had fun with my mistakes! I laughed them off! Being able to continue enjoying yourself, in spite of the faults, is the true perfection in performing.