|Original Ballet Russe, State Library of New South Wales|
For some dancers, getting on stage your first time can be even harder than making the decision to sign up for dance classes. Everything feels right when you're alone in your home or at the studio, but as soon as you think about other people seeing you, suddenly it's terrifying.
The first time, sometimes even the second, third, or even tenth time you psyche yourself up to get on stage, there's probably a lot of thoughts swirling around your head: I haven't been dancing long enough. I don't have enough flexibility. My song is stupid. I'll be too boring on stage. I can't do all the moves I want. I should be better than I am.
And you are wrong. You shouldn't be anything more than what you are. You just agreed to put together a costume, find music, spend two hours doing your hair and makeup, and choreograph/improv a 2-6 minute song. If you took a random sampling of people on the street who were prepared to do that, you would be in the minority.
If you're dancing for the general public, they'll be so jazzed about seeing a bellydancer they won't even notice your shimmies aren't sharper. And if you're dancing for other dancers, they'll be so proud of you for getting on stage in the first place they won't even think of criticizing your arm placement.
Don't look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I should be better." "I should be different." "I don't look good enough." You got on a stage, in front of people, and bared your soul in front of total strangers. Do you know how hard that is? Just by walking into class, or saying, "Yes, I will perform," just by getting on that stage, you have done more with your life than most of the people you know or will ever meet.
You won't be perfect. Bad photos will be taken, your posture will do something funny, and there will be video evidence of it. But if you falter, just remember that you have already done amazing things as a dancer, and you can make yourself even better. Remember all the classes, all the tears and sore muscles and late nights in the studio rehearsing, and know that you are exactly where you should be.
So what are you waiting for? Get on that stage and dance!