23 December 2014

Stage Fright

I perform (dance) again in less than a week. It's my own choreography. Theoretically I should be excited and I am, but I'm sick with worry over the performer -- namely, me.

I've always considered myself rather an average performer, as that seems to be the general attitude towards my performing. I'm all right with that. I'm much better at and more excited about composing choreography anyway. The problem is that I have all this great choreography that I want to see on a stage, if only for purposes of critique, and I have no performers except myself. And, as noted, I'm not exactly Anna Pavlova.

The line between performing and composing is not even thought about in Canada, never mind among my typical audience of Baptists and farmers. Therefore, if the performer is terrible, the entire dance is criticised -- even though the choreography itself may have been stellar. Therefore, if I am the only performer of my choreography, and I as a performer am only a sub-par vehicle for what may very well be excellent choreography, I will not get good, clear, honest feedback about either the choreography or the execution of it. By extension, folks will be reluctant to see any more of my choreography -- even if I'm not performing it -- because a sub-par performance will have sullied its merits.

The nature of my audience magnifies the pressure. Baptist churches are not exactly known for their kind-heartedness, grace, or mercy. They know me, yes, but that means they expect me to be utterly perfect -- by their idiosyncratic definition of perfect. I'm already toeing the line by dancing in the first place. If I screw this up, if it turns out this choreography is poorly represented by the relatively out-of-practice performer, there is a very real chance of living the rest of my life as a punch line: "Remember that time Kate tried to dance back in '14? I thought Hell had broken its banks."

There is only one chance in the Baptist church. Do it flawlessly (their definition) the first time or stop being a Christian. There is no room for trailblazing, for learning, for refinement and development of a craft. Add to this that I'm not entirely happy with the choreography itself, and I'm seriously wondering if I should pull out rather than risk submitting five minutes of random potentially-self-serving crap to an audience that never asked for it. Most of them wouldn't know the difference between bad dance and good dance, which makes me want even more badly to show them a shining example of good dance lest they see one example of the bad and subsequently write off all dance everywhere. At the moment, I can't guarantee that I can show them an example of good dance.

But then, if not now, when? I've been chomping at the bit to get my choreography staged, and now it's finally starting to happen a bit. Logic says I should just take the chance and run. But am I really ready? Is this just normal pre-show nerves? I wouldn't know, I've never really had issues with stage fright.

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