I recently got back from touring Europe for Zouk. It was the first time I had danced outside of Canada for Zouk, and also the first time I met so many “big names” in such close quarters.
Back home in Canada, I’m pretty confident in my Zouking skills. I understand my limitations and shortcomings, but when a dancer comes to visit, I very rarely feel nervous about asking them to dance. Additionally, as a performer and local teacher, I feel pretty secure overall as a dancer in my home country and surrounding area.
When I went to visit Poland and Amsterdam, most of that confidence decided to take a nice, 2-week long summer nap.
Suddenly, I was in a foreign place, surrounded mostly by people I did not know, and there was a high concentration of very high-level dancers in my immediate vicinity. I was watching Kadu and Larissa, Freddy and Andressa, Adilio and other top pro’s dance up a storm. A few posts ago I spoke of my highly debilitating “dance crush” during the beginning of my salsa years. I feel like that same can’t-speak-an-intelligent-word, stiff-as-a-board awkwardness had returned. Also, my heart felt like it had enough energy to re-start someone else’s heart, had the need arisen.
My feelings can be very accurately summed up by this Tumblr.
In theory, I know that these people are hired to these events because they love dance and teaching. I know, in theory, part of that pay has to do with showing up at socials and dancing with other dancers. I’m also quite aware that I am likely not the worst dance they have ever had, possibly not even that evening. But, there is something profoundly terrifying of tip-toeing into the ranks of pro’s, tapping one on the shoulder, and asking them to dance.
To be fair, after I asked most of the pro’s were completely pleasant, outgoing, and smiling when I was dancing with them. It’s possible that those who weren’t were just having an off-day/night, or just unhappy (for whatever reason). Most of them, as I have come to learn, are very wonderful, down-to-earth people. But still, no matter how nice, awesome, etc. it is really scary to dance with people who you so greatly admire and look up to.
I generally am that person at home who throws my students and friends at other dancers. But, when the tables are turned, I can be just as chicken about those whom I look up to. I doubt it’s any different for dancers who are a higher skill level than me as well. Guess I’ll just have to suck it up and keep throwing myself out there, insecurities and all 😉
Performance anxiety sucks; and there’s no easy way to get through it.
It most certainly is!! I guess you just have to power through it…