Thursday, February 15, 2007: Solo Blues Firsts

(Migrated from Myspace.)

Last weekend at the Valentine’s Uproar in Nashville (which was a wicked good time), it was sort of impromptu-announced that there would be a solo blues competition, with the prize being a pass to the Buenos Aires Blues event Dan Parshall is putting on.

It was free to enter, so I decided to give it the old “what the heck” shot and enter. Thing is: I had never danced “solo blues” before in my entire life ever. I’d seen some video of solo blues competitions. I’d seen the clip from “The Spirit Moves”. But I’d never actually really tried dancing it myself. Lucky me, however, I’d been taking a belly dance class series during the previous weeks. I figured I could borrow some serious hip-motion stuff and hand movements from my belly dance class.

What ended up happening for me was, I think, inspired by the message I got from Ramona during her masters class earlier that day. It was partly about making ourselves vulnerable when we dance, by opening ourselves up to our partner (or in this case the audience) and partly about feeling the music and letting it tell me how to move.

The shaking, shimmying, let-loose dancing that ended up coming out of me during that blues competition, and particularly in the spotlight finals, was uber-scary and totally freeing at the same time. It was like a release. Even though I was half-ignoring the crowd of people sitting 3 feet away from me the whole time. And it was such a nice feeling of affirmation, a good return on making myself available and vulnerable in that way, to win the contest! My first solo blues dance, my first solo blues first place.

For me personally, it’s always been a challenge to feel confident and at ease in front of a crowd. I’m an introvert, believe it or not. I have to pump myself up or psych myself out in some way anytime I go into a jam circle or a competition. Up until now, my strategy has involved a lot of “pretending they’re not there” in terms of ignoring the audience & the judges. But I’m starting to reach a point where I think I can begin to let the consciousness of having an audience reach me a little more. It is about making yourself vulnerable, putting yourself out there. When the way you dance is an expression of who you are, it’s personal to let people see it–see you. Hopefully this will lead me to a new level of self-understanding and honesty about who I am, not being afraid or shy about it, and letting the world know, this is me.

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