Q: "Do I have to perform to belly dance?" A: Absolutely not!
In fact, you might love to dance but hate to perform or not be ready to perform. It took years before I wanted to perform or had the ability to actually execute the moves (I was very much a late bloomer). Once I did, I fell in love with creating experiences for an audience, but that's my personal goal. If you are wondering about performance, ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I ready to perform on a technical level? This is largely between you and your dance instructor and your body.
Different instructors have different requirements.
Some have time-in-class expectations, some have auditions, and some have varying levels of performances depending on skill. Recognize that you will excel in some areas and struggle in others.
Whether you perform or not, always focus on the main thing: loving your body, learning, and moving in a way that works for you.
2. Am I ready to commit to practicing, costuming requirements, and showing up the day of the performance? If you are not prepared to commit for whatever reason (family, work, travel), don't force yourself!
It's better to recognize that now is not the time than to attempt something you just cannot do. Life happens, but set yourself up for success by being realistic about the time, energy, and money you will have to expend.
3. Do I want to perform? You might not want to perform. Maybe you're not shy but you're not interested. Embrace that and feel no pressure to move into something other than classes!
Maybe you're having a struggle with stage fright that you're not ready to face. That's okay! If you want to perform, talk to your instructor, get honest feedback, and work on the skills and techniques you need to accomplish before moving onto the stage.
Performers, how did you decide you were ready to get in front of an audience? What made you embrace performance?