Bristol's Badass Burlesque Show
When it comes to performing, positive mental attitude and confidence go hand-in-hand. Yes, it takes belief in yourself to get up on the stage, but even those who have no intention of performing can take these exercises into practice for daily life situations.
Embrace the fear that is holding you back… Fear of failure, things not going the way you rehearsed them, of falling, etc is why most people don’t give a performance (or a life situation, say of making a phone call, a job interview, a meeting) their all. Fear comes from the ‘fight or flight’ decision your brain makes and by turning that fear into fight, you can use that fear to propel you forward. Train yourself to enjoy that feeling of fear and have a ‘bring it on’ mantra in your head. If you find yourself in a dread-situation, worrying about the event/performance a few days before, change the fear into ‘I’m excited!’ and really try to believe you love the feeling of fear, followed by the ‘bring it on’ mantra. Take a few deep breaths and go for it.
A lot of us are held back by that little voice in our head that tells us we’ll never be able to do it/ we will make a fool of ourself if we try/ we are too old, we look big in a certain costume, etc. No one is more critical of us than ourselves and sometimes we can get trapped in a catch 22 of negative thoughts where one critical thought leads to others. When we do this, we’re holding ourselves back and not allowing others to see our full potential. We make ourselves feel uncomfortable, we may even hold ourselves in a different way. The thing is no one else goes into that much detail when looking at us or our performances. No one is going to notice a new wrinkle. Try and think of at least five things you like about yourself or your performance (it could be your posture, the way you can easily make the audience laugh, your facial expressions, the way you come alive when you hear the music, a certain way of peeling you enjoy, a unique move or a certain way you do your make-up) and take the time to enjoy these things. You may find that the more you enjoy thinking of these things, the more great things about yourself you think of. The more you enjoy the things you feel good at, the more confident you will start to feel. Which leads us on nicely to…
Believe it or not, most performers are not confident people! You can trick others into believing you are confident (and again, this is something that you can use away from the stage!), but it does take practise. Practise walking with your head held high and with a determined step.
Even this small change in your normal behaviour will make you feel more confident and you will notice those around you believing in your confidence. Tell yourself you can do anything – as you really can! Yes! You can do it! Following on from the walking, practise moving with intent…
Most importantly of all of these tips is eye contact. Eye contact will not only make people believe you are confident, determined and capable, it also invites others to watch what you are doing. Just as an experiment try this theory out for yourself with a friend as your ‘audience’. Have a go at doing some moves without eye contact and then do the same thing with eye contact; the person watching will agree that the moves performed without eye contact make them feel very uncomfortable (and voyeuristic) watching while moves performed with eye contact ‘invite’ them to watch and ‘invite’ them to enjoy seeing a confident and capable performer in action. Practise eye contact with people in everyday situations as well as on the stage as giving eye contact (as scary as the prospect may sound) is the biggest confidence trick there is, and you will notice a positive response.
To become a great performer takes a lot of will power. There will be times when you feel like giving up, times when you want to learn something new which takes time to ‘get’ and times when you feel like (your bookings or rehearsals) are not getting anywhere. These would all be good, and easy, reasons to throw in the towel, especially if the results are not as immediate as we’d like but by setting yourself achievable goals you will notice your will power increasing. Teach yourself that these goals are urgent (goals work better with a time-limit) that way you’ll be more committed.
Lastly, commitment; This is the big one! So you’ve over come all the other obstacles in your way and now you need to stick with it – especially if you are working with others. Being committed to your rehearsals, your show bookings, your fellow troupe members (if you are performing in a troupe) and your audience does sometimes take determination but in doing so, you are showing commitment to yourself and the hard work your done in paving the way for your performance.
Good luck! We know you can do it!
Lilly Laudanum is the resident artist and producer of Bluestocking Lounge shows in Wales. She performs regularly across the UK, ‘bringing the dead back to life’ through her comcal characterisations.