Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How to deal with the weird crowd?

This is long overdue for some students who have asked about this. So, what do you do when the crowd's not really into belly dance?

Well, first off, let's analyze the setting. Though I will experience the weird crowd in a setting like the Greek restaurant where I dance (example, when the Jehova's Witness convention was in town), usually, the phenomenon will happen at a not so conventional place for belly dance like a fundraiser of sorts or some weird show night at a bar or whatnot. Or the setting could be perfectly fine but you just so happen to be THE dark fusion dancer in a sea of happy, shiny cabaret people (that has happened to me, actually).

It can be really hard to keep your composure and keep pushing through... but you have to. Remember what you're there for: to entertain (whether it's a fundraiser or a weird show night at a bar). Someone booked you to do that and believed that you can do it and add to their event: believe in yourself as well.

This is when I think to myself that I should have the courage of my conviction. My conviction here could be just being a belly dancer or my specific genre of belly dance or my specific piece. Just remember what your intent is with your dance. I know that it can be easier said than done but do take a moment to breathe and ground, if you can. Now if you realize that you're in a weird situation as you're dancing, it's the same principle: keep holding onto the intent of the piece, of your dancing, and try to ground yourself if you can.

What it boils down to is that you should keep focused on what you are delivering: some awesome belly dance. It's fine to be a different kind of belly dancer. It's fine to be a belly dancer when people didn't expect one. Just try and relax.

One important thing is to not close yourself off. That will be a natural tendency as you are bound to feel vulnerable. If you've ever worked with techniques to project energy (for example, opening your chest), do use those. I've managed to swing a whole crowd around by projecting energy.

You also will generally be able to find at least one person who will be into watching you dance and your energy will connect with theirs. Or you may even be able to make eye contact with that person. And that will help you carry on. (And oftentimes the person will find you afterwards and tell you how they appreciated you connecting with them.)

Now if you're in a noisy setting like a bar and there's ruckus, I will handle in the following manner (and it's easier for me to adapt as I mostly do improv): I will first direct energy and my attention towards the ruckus. It is incredible how much people will pick up on someone watching them. Generally, one person in the group will tell the rest of the group that they should quiet down and pay attention. If that doesn't happen, then I'll just generally ignore that area and focus on those who ARE paying attention.

And if all else fails and you can't find a good groove or anyone you can connect with, just try to connect with the Universe and Dance. It sounds woo woo but connecting to the joy of dance will help you power through a difficult setting.

The other thing to remember is that these unpleasant instances are what makes you into a better performer. The more you encounter them, deal with them, and come out on the other side unscathed, the better you get at handling them. You can view it as just earning experience under your belt. And those usually make for some good stories to tell later on.

So go forth and do your thing!