I know that I must not be the only person who has ever felt like that. I am a woman (no revelation here, I hope). As such, I can be competitive as often unfortunately happens to our gender. And I can be real hard on myself. So there have been a number of times when, if I go in a show after someone who has had tremendous applause that I feel like I will fail, be boring, blah blah blah... insert negative comment from my stupid inside negative voice. There have been a series of experiences that have made me realize that, really, it's not because someone had success that I won't.
There's room for all of us!
Well, one night, a couple of years ago, I was watching two local dancers whom I really love (Amirah and Gabriela) and I mused that it was so neat that there was enough room/space for all of us. I meant there that we all had something very different to say with our dance and it was great to see all 3 different perspectives and aesthetics.
The audience wants to be entertained!
Truth be told, the audience wants you to succeed! Mira Betz mentioned that in her intensive I took with her a few years ago and it was a revelation... as silly as it sounds. Seriously, the audience wants to be entertained from start to finish! They don't want to be bored! (And don't let that statement make you nervous!) They want to see what YOU can do with the dance. That is really what they want. And for those who do funky stuff (I most certainly am funky), the audience may have some preconceived notion of what they want but, hey, you can shake that up. Sometimes, we don't know what we want until we see it.
And, again, it's not like they're looking at the program, pinpointing at a (random) name and say "I want to be entertained by THIS person." Well, they are bound to say that of the main act in a belly dance show... that person at least better be entertaining. But they also want the rest of the acts to be entertaining as well.
It takes many different acts to make a circus!
I was talking to my student Adriane and my tribe sister Kat (while at the airport on the way back from 3rd Coast) about this concept and I found a good analogy. It's less intuitive because you may not perceive the competition as much because they are technically different disciplines but, say, for a circus, there are magicians, trapeze artists, contortionists, jugglers, etc., and they all have their place! We need to have them all! Adriane is the one who came up with this: THEY make the circus. So, yes, they might be competing each for a place in the show to begin with but we need all of them to get a circus show. And it's the same thing for belly dance: we need all acts to make a belly dance show!
Focus on what you have to bring!
I started to come up with that whole concept right around Tribal Revolution and I pulled from it also at 3rd Coast. At Tribal Revolution, I was going after Sarabi who had brought down the house. At 3rd Coast, Raphaella did a splendid job (for as much as I could tell from backstage). So I focused on what I had to say with my dance. Those ladies did their thing and presented what they had to say. Next was my turn. I was presenting what I had to say. It was most certainly different than what they had done. But it's a case of neither is 'right' nor 'wrong'... they're just different... period. It's kind of like having a differing viewpoint. Or, actually, one has nothing to do with the other (except for being in the same show).
Do the best that you can with what you have!
Tempest often mentions in her workshops and in her blog posts that you should do the best that you can with what you have RIGHT NOW and under the set of circumstances of the day. So do the best that you can with your skill at the level that it is right now, with the body that you have right now and under the day's circumstances (e.g., if you're tired, do the best that you can given that you are tired). You don't have to be the next best thing since sliced bread to be in the belly dance show, you know! Just do your best!