Nearly inevitably, in a belly dance show, there will be a dancer whose technique is just all right or not that great but, damn, she's having fun on stage, she doesn't care what the hell people think, she's just giving it her all... and the crowd reacts to her and give her some lovin'. Meanwhile, another dancer's technique is uber polished and she's hitting all the accents of the piece spot on but it's a little cold because she's holding back or something and the crowd is not reacting nearly as much.
As a fellow dancer, this may leave you scratching your head... but there is one important lesson here: whatever you do, GO ALL OUT!
First off, going all out means also exaggerating things. See, with distance between you being on stage and the audience, your normal smile won't cut it. I joke with my students and tribe sisters to do the "crazy cheerleader on crack smile" to get a smile that will be noticed in the crowd. Many have tried it and, you know what? This is generally just about the right amount of smile that will be noticed.
Secondly, the crowd will react oh so much more if you just give it your all vs. being reserved about it. So, yes, looking like a damn fool will give you more kudos than restraint. The stage ain't a Victorian salon. ;) That being said, that's not to say that you should strive for looking like a fool at all costs. But you know what I mean right?
It's oh so much easier said than done, I know. It took me quite a while to get the hang of it... it's getting much much better.
I know you've most likely heard this one before but it's oh so very true: no one on their death beds (or late in life) will lament "I so wish that I had held back for that performance!" It's rather the opposite.
So go all out! Much better than holding back!