Monday, April 9, 2012

Starting a Dance Practice When Fear Monsters are Growling & Sharpening Their Fangs

From recent retreat in Buffalo
I recently got this question via Formspring:

Hi, Christine. What advice would you give to someone who is drawn to movement and dance, and would like to try a class, but feels unbearably self-conscious about being physically "free" in the company of others? 

What to do if you feel drawn to dance but also feel fear?

The easy answer, of course, and the correct answer always, is to do it anyway.

Do not think I am being flippant, here; I speak from direct experience of this particular Fear Monster.

Every single time I attend another workshop for dance, my Fear Monster grows fresh fangs and seems to gain a ton of weight in muscle. But I know from experience that as soon as the music starts, the Fear Monster turns to ash.

So that is tip number Most Important: go anyway and trust the music and trust your body's response to the music.

Trust that the music will take you into an experience of your true self and that it will kill the monster.

Here are some other little things you can do:

1.  Wear something you love and feel amazing in.  Think of this as your suit of armor. You are going to battle with the Fear Monster. Dress appropriately.  And never, ever doubt the power of glitter or a tutu.  I have watched tutus magically transform women who are barely moving into Whirling Dervishes of Wonderful.

2.  Stand in the back so you can watch at first and not feel watched.  Though I can guarantee that no one else is actually watching you...

3.  Keep your eyes soft.  This is both an external and an internal act of kindness.  You can keep your eyelids low so that you are not watching anyone else or committing any acts of comparison or judgment, but you also are keeping your internal eyes soft when you do this. Believe me...soft eyes on the outside mean you can see your True Inner Dancer from the inside.

This soft eyes thing is especially important if there are mirrors in the space. Which I hope there aren't but not everyone is smart about this no mirror thing... which brings me to...

4.  Find a space with no mirrors.  This tells you a lot about the teacher and his/her approach.  If there are only spaces with mirrors available to you, do not look in them. DO NOT LOOK IN THEM.  Turn your back.  Find a spot in the room that is less mirror accessible.  Close your eyes.  Mirrors destroy creativity in movement and will only bring out your Perfection Monster.

5.  Take a buddy.  If you can, the first time or the 100th time, for however long you need, take a friend.  Take someone who knows how to LAUGH.

Oh...and if there is not a lot of laughter emanating from the teacher...don't go back.  This practice is meant to be one of Joy.

To sum it up, here is the Basic Fear Monster Butt-Kicking Kit:

Tutu + Glitter + Friend + Soft Eyes + Space JuJu