Back in the day when everyone had to have a dance name, I thought about making one for myself. I already have a perfectly good Arabic name (being SWANA), but part of the dance name thing was separating one’s dance identity from one’s every life. Safety being one of the concerns, also sounding more glamorous (and sounding more “ethnic,” now regarded as brownface, kinda racist, and best avoided*). However,
Safety and glamour are entirely legit–scads of performers have stage names, authors have pen names, and they can make a big difference in our sense of confidence as artists.
So I was wondering about a stage name for myself. I love my name, Alia–it means sublime, exalted–“the high clear place at the top,” my mom told me. But you know, the safety and everything. So I thought about borrowing my cousins’ name–AbuSamra. Talk about Glamour!
But then I thought about keeping track of two names (I can barely keep track of the one I have). And I thought about divorcing my dance self from the rest of my life-accomplishments. And I though about how much more glam Alia AbuSamra would be than I am. I did not want to be jealous of myself, and I wanted to own all my facets, so I let it go.
Recently, I have been thinking about her again….
During Secret Stories, and now Mix n Match, we’ve been playing a lot with different qualities–of movement, but also of attitude–ways of being.
Confidence is a big issue for dancers.
Part of it is the way we’re often taught. We squint into the mirror and criticize ourselves–constantly. We tend to look at what’s wrong, and how we can fix it, generally by developing an ever-more rigid focus on technique. On top of this, we endure an unending deluge of media messaging telling us just how we do not make the cut–too fat, too skinny, not pretty, young, shapely, smart enough–need this cream, that blush, deodorant, shapewear, and so on, day after day after month after year.
It’s no wonder we doubt ourselves.
So how can we increase our confidence?
Part of the problem is that we bring our squinting, criticizing, fault-finding, terrified self to the party. Because that’s the only dance self we’ve ever had, that’s who shows up.
What if it were Alia AbuSamra who showed to dance? Or Aphrodite? Or Astarte, the Phoenician goddess of love, sex, war, and hunting? Or Elena Lentini, the goddess of Oriental dance? Or Taheyya Karioka?
It starts to get interesting, doesn’t it?
Richard Wiseman, author of The As If Principle, reviewed study after study, all of which show that behavior creates emotion. For example, when folks act as if they are cheerful, they start to feel cheerful. So if I started to act as if I were my mythical Alia AbuSamra, I would start to feel like her–to become her. I wouldn’t have to be jealous of her–she would be my secret! And I could BECOME her, as I practiced embodying her qualities.
When we act as if we are Taheyya–embodying our sense of her–we start to feel like her too. We start to embody that mindspace. We start to become it.
I’ve been diving into the research in this and other areas as we explore these qualities of being in the FUN classes. They’re like Secret Identities. We’re having a lot of fun with them–and not just for dance.
Superman has Clark Kent.
Selina Kyle has Catwoman.
Who might you have? Imagine who could show up in other areas of your life!
I’m thinking about a 3-4 month coaching/course to develop and field some Secret Identities.
I wonder if that might be interesting for you. A deep dive with monthly accountability, email updates, and lots of opportunity for exploration and test-driving, reporting back, tweaking–and reveling!
What would you like to see in a course like that? What would make it work for you?
As you ponder that, I invite you to try it out. Act as if you are your heart’s idol!
Please let me know how it goes.
Reply to this email, or comment on the Blog!
PS it’s Recital Season again!
Wouldn’t you love to show up to your recital with a mesmerizing dance you made yourself? Without all the frustration and tears?
How to Make a Dance in FIVE Days!
From entrance to applause without setting a single step
Learn a time-tested, systematic approach to dance composition that you can use over and over again.
MD5 opens Sunday, May 22 through Saturday, June 4th. I’ll be monitoring the forum during that time to answer your questions and help troubleshoot any roadblocks that arise.
I invite you to have a look, and see if MD5 is a good fit for you:
*Of of course, if you have a vintage Eastern dance name, please go right ahead with it. Currently we can do better, but anyone who already has an established name, kinda gets grandmothered in ; )