How To Tame Your Backstage Nerves and Find Your Inner Bellydancing Superhero

January 22, 2015 3 Comments
3 more dancers and you’re on. Your stomach is churning and sweat is running down the inside of your arms before you have even started dancing.

Not feeling like thisTamin?


Backstage nerves are no fun and I’m pretty sure every dancer has experienced them at some time. Even if you are an experienced dancer and are used to being calm, cool and collected in front your audience, if you find yourself in a new situation where the stakes are higher or it is a “tougher room” (we all know an audience full of bellydancers is the toughest) you may still develop a case of newbie-nerves all over again.

The most straight-forward way to prevent a case of the backstage jitters is to be prepared. If you know that you are well-rehearsed and come to the gig rested and fueled in a healthful way (skip the Monster drinks) you have set yourself up for success. But that’s not always enough.

Your body and your mind are both in on the scheme, linked by your hormonal chemistry. There has been some very interesting research done recently that has turned up some really useful information for dancers waiting for their turn backstage.

You can read the whole study here, but this is the short and practical version…

First, let’s consider the connection between our brain and our chemistry. The hormone testosterone has the effect of boosting confidence. Levels of the hormone cortisol rise with stress and anxiety. Now the relationship between our body and our mind – we read confidence in body language when people stand up straight and look “open”. When we see someone slumping or crossing their arms protectively, we read shyness, fear, hesitation and the like.

In the study by Amy Cuddy at Harvard University, they found that assuming a powerful, open posture for 2 minutes positively and significantly impacts the body’s chemistry for more confidence and less anxiety. Wow. Quick, free and all natural too!

So what does this mean for you backstage?

Try standing in the “superwoman stance” as you wait, feet wide, hands on your hips and chest and head up. Maybe add some deep breathing to boost the calming effect – it certainly can’t hurt.

Now channel your bellydancing superhero self and go raq their world!

What techniques do you use to mentally prepare before you take the stage? Tell us in the comments below…

Mahin (121 Posts)

Professional instructor and performer of Middle Eastern belly dance, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and author or the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”. Belly Dance Artrepreneur, Workshop instructor, performer, event producer, and bellydance writer.

  1. Kelly
    January 23, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Deep breathing and stretching both help relieve tension and get you out of your head where your worrying thoughts are and into your body. It also helps to bring you into the present moment where you need to be to dance your best.

  2. Smashley
    January 23, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I’m still a baby dancer so I’m mostly dancing with our performance troupe and we always do a breathing exercise before hand where we join hands. We close our eyes, take nice deep breaths together and send each other good energy. It really helps!

  3. Nadira Jamal
    January 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I LOVE Amy Cuddy’s research. I discovered the same thing by accident when I started performing at my favorite venue. At that place, you have to wait to go on on the staircase, so you’re out of sight of the dining room. But the bathrooms are upstairs, so you may still run into people going up and down. To make sure I didn’t get caught slouching, I’d wait in the “V for Victory” pose – and it would always boost my confidence!


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