You probably ask yourself how the terms confidence and self-doubt fit into one post but I promise you: they can.
Through out the last few months I have been working on the ballet production of my dance school which is always fun but also very stressful. One week before the premiere takes place, we bring everything on stage and rehearse for long hours in order to deliver a marvelous performance. I always become very excited when this week arrives since its the moment I love the most; the moment when we go on stage for the first time and feel the rush of adrenaline running through my body.
Nevertheless it is also the moment I feel the most vulnerable, I have to figure out if everything I have plotted together in my mind comes together and if I can fill this huge space with, well, just my facial expression and the choreography my body fulfills. The stage therefore has become a place of confidence and self-doubt for me.
I feel the pressure, resting on my shoulders. I want to do my best and I want to give the people, coming to see the performance, a good show. Something to remember. “To be inspired is great, but to inspire is an honor.” (by Stacey H. Hunt) has become my guiding quote when doubt overcomes me. I want to inspire the audience and those who dance along on stage with me, especially those little ones who are the next in line.
But this does not come out of the blue, you don’t just have confidence. It is something you build up over time and with new situations there comes more confidence. First of all I think confidence starts with excepting yourself. Excepting who you are and what you are capable of. And if you want to reach further you need to work harder and sacrifice more.
Connected to confidence is self-doubt in my opinion. Nevertheless how confident and mature I feel there is always a little dash of self-doubt. Am I heading the right direction? Can I transport the right emotions? Am I good enough? Do I have the power to get through this? I guess many people think that I just go on stage and everything is sorted out but thats truly not the case. Establishing the character of a role I dance takes time and sometimes I even find new feelings and motivations during a performance, long after the rehearsal process has come to an end.
Going on stage never makes me nervous. I don’t mind if there are two, four hundred or one thousand people watching me dance. I’m just really happy and grateful before I go on stage. People always ask me “Arne’t you nervous before a performance?” and I can honestly answer “no”. People always say its good to be a little nervous but I really don’t have this situation anymore. Anymore meaning, this hasn’t always been the case.
I still remember the first time I was able to dance the lead role of our annual summer production. I was quiet on the outside but in the inside I was really nervous. But I also remember the first step on stage. It felt wobbly, my legs were trembling a little (not visible but it felt that way). But right after the first few turns and jumps all those nervous symptoms were gone and I just enjoyed and lived the moment.
And with that I decided to never become nervous again just because it takes away too much energy and everything I want to feel instead is excitement and joy.
Coming back to the topic of confidence and self-doubt. I think through every performance I have done so far, my confidence has grown and when you go on stage you have to present a certain confidence since the audience expects you to. And you have a responsibility when you go on stage and want to entertain. The responsibility for everyone taking part in the show and delivering a great performance.
And along with confidence I feel that I also need to experience self-doubt and never think that I’m perfect and that I have achieved everything I wanted to. That will never be the case since dancing always takes discipline and a lot of hard work. Especially dancers never feel that they can stop learning, you can always do more turns or jump higher. There are no limits.
I want to encourage all those young girls and maybe even boys out there to find something for yourself where you can build confidence and feel constantly challenged. Because coming to a halt will not bring you further.