This week in bellydance class, my teacher surprised and embarrased me (in a good way...just wait) by telling me (allow me to paraphrase, as shock prevented me from recalling her precise words), "Kate, you're a good dancer, and you're so into bellydance, but you have got to stop looking down and blinking your eyes."
When I told He Who Puts Up With Me, he was like, "Um, what's wrong with blinking?"
A valid question, with a good answer. As my teacher explains it, when a dancer blinks too much (which can happen from sheer nervousness), her eyes are like a shutter on a camera, closing her off from her audience. She also describes it like a film strip: If you were watching a movie and you could actually see the part of the strip that surrounds each frame, you would be really distracted, and probably unable to enjoy the movie. Well, a frantically blinking dancer has the same effect on an audience. And anyone who doesn't believe that a blinking dancer is not a good thing just has to watch the rather humorous demonstration my teacher gives in illustration: This is your teacher dancing and blinking, this is your teacher dancing and making proper eye contact. Big difference. Huge.
She's called me on the looking down part before (which I think has its roots in my need to actually look at my hips to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing), but the blinking is new...I think (of course, my contact lenses were bothering me that night).
But let's not forget that she said I was a good dancer! Not that I thought I totally sucked, but well, you know. Trying to judge my own ability at something is kind of like being an objective judge about how good (or not) a photo of myself is. I think each of us is our own worse judge, and anyone who seems like their own biggest cheerleader is likely putting on a big show. Oh, and she knows my name now. And she uses it a lot. Big deal, you say? Well, I've been taking classes from her for almost a year, and I don't think she knew my name until about a month ago (granted, she admits she's much better with faces than names). There's just something about someone actually using your name when they praise you. It's more personal. I wonder if that's how Doofus feels when I praise him for fetching....hmmmm.
So my skills are there, but I have trouble connecting with an audience (hell, I have trouble connecting with my own reflection in the mirror when other people are in the room...something else my teacher has called me on). I blame this on the crippling shyness that consumed me as a child and adolescent, but now restricts itself to random manifestations in my life. So,what am I afraid of? Hell if I know, but it's buried there somewhere. Fear of failure? Fear of being a fool? Fear of my costume falling off? (Because that is so not what bellydance is about).
I was thinking of putting bellydance classes on hiatus for a while once I start baking and pastry classes next month, but her comments reminded me of how much I love bellydance, how much I have improved since I started last year, and frankly, how much I need bellydance. It's more than just exercise, it's more than just art, it's more than just sisterhood. And I'll tell you what-- it's a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy!