On Stage Fright

So those of you who know me IRL know that I am very soon to be married. I’ve found that in the last month, the number two question I’ve received is “Are you ready/nervous?” The number one question, incidentally, is “Are you excited?” to which I enjoy dead-panning “no.” The short answer to Question Number Two is ‘No’. The long answer is ‘kind-of’, for reasons I shall elucidate here.

Being a performer, stage-fright, or the fear of getting up in front of actual people, can be crippling and a high barrier to entry for many people casually interested in the arts. This ‘us-vs-them’ mentality has artists talk of visualizing their audiences in embarrassing clothes, staring at the back wall, or using the blinding stage lights to quell and dismiss the terrors of being observed by expectant humans. What are people actually afraid of? Messing up? Nine times out of ten no one will notice. Once in a show, during an excerpt of Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations, I straight up forgot to stand up for about five seconds in the big corps piece, and everyone danced around me. No one laughed, no one threw things, and the show went on.

I will not, however, say that I never get nervous before performing. If I don’t feel quite prepared, or the stakes are high, my stomach starts to do the polka and my hands sweat. But as soon as I step on stage, it all goes quiet, and I do what I do, and what happens happens. It’s all very zen–until I watch the recordings days later and cringe. The one thing, though, that is most likely to make me legitimately concerned for the ‘going-on’ of the show–is set dressing. Scenery. Lights. Costumes. Music. Yes, when they go wrong, they can be hilarious. Yes, actors can play them off wonderfully. Remind me to tell you stories from the Nutcracker, and that time the music skipped with 18 dancers on stage. If someone else is pushing the button, it never works the first time. Never.

And, as it happens, those are all the things that I can’t personally control, both on stage and in my impending wedding, which just so happens to also be on a stage. In a theater.

So to re-cap, Things that do make me nervous:

–People saying/doing/not doing things I can’t control

–Scenery/lights/ malfunctions

Things that don’t make me nervous:

–Dancing/speaking/acting/singing in front of people

–Marrying my fiance

Going to divert from the dancing angle for a minute here–it is my opinion that one should not agree to marry someone if they are then going to spend all or some of the time leading up worrying about whether or not it was a good idea. Yes, I fully understand people change their minds, and stuff comes up, and there are external pressures and whatnot and so on and so forth. But I didn’t agree to marry my Sven until I knew I would potentially be ok with dropping everything and flying off to Bora Bora the day after the proposal. Now, we didn’t do that, because we wanted family to be involved and to have a big party, but the point is that bad nerves are a sign of mental stress, and wedding planning has enough stress without adding the “is this really a good idea at all” into it.

Anyway! Rambles. I am getting married in 4 short days. There will be much excitement, dancing, and family shenanigans. There shall not be stage-fright.

See you all on the other side!

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