Welcome to the very first installment of the Introverted Performer Project, written by the amazing Rosa Noreen of Portland, ME!
How does being an introvert affect how you prepare for a performance?
I need to be sure that I have an internal monologue available to me for every performance. I may or may not use it, but it helps immensely to have a direction to follow if I need it.
Occasionally this is a full storyline (like in my performance at the 2014 Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive). Most often (like in the baladi video) it’s something more abstract, something that serves to anchor me and remind myself that it’s not about impressing the audience but instead taking them along for the experience.
It can be scary to let people in, but also very rewarding when they value the connection you have made during the performance. I hope that they will remember the feeling they got more than the individual movements performed.
How does being an introvert affect your connection with your audience?
When I first started performing, I chose to use a stage name to help me get into a separate persona. After a number of years, the belly dancer side and the personal side had merged and I decided to drop my stage name. However, it was very useful to me as a tool at the beginning of my performance explorations.
What I have come to realize is that, as long as I have a role (performer, teacher, representative of my “brand”) I’m perfectly comfortable being extroverted (at least for a few hours–then I have to recharge). As a performer, I have a role, so I don’t find it difficult to connect with the audience. That said, I’m not a gregarious or hilarious performer… that’s just not my personality!
How does being an introvert affect your choices of things like makeup, costuming, props, venues you choose to perform in, etc.?
I enjoy the challenge of performing in all different types of venues. When I’m able to see it not as “me wiggling around” but as “the belly dancer in action” the fear goes away and the challenge is there to be met.
Performing on a stage where you are separate from the audience used to be more comfortable for me. After becoming comfortable with improvisation, I started to really enjoy restaurant-style performances where audience interaction can feed your performance. I think there’s a link there… that would be an interesting topic to explore.
How does being an introvert affect the other aspects of your performance career (i.e. marketing, networking, negotiating)?
Carolena Nericcio, founder of Fat Chance Belly Dance, says “I’m not an extrovert; I’m a business owner.”
When I heard that quote, it really struck a chord, and illuminated things for me. Just going out there and trying to promote myself feels impossible. It is difficult to gear up to go flyering. To cold call venues. To introduce myself to strangers. But thinking of it as representing my business (rather than myself) is very helpful.
I have learned to pace myself when I am at big events like belly dance festivals, for instance. I know to build alone time into my schedule. When I fail to do that, I end up crashing and needing to run away and hide for a while.
I also find that Facebook and other social media work nicely with my introvertedness. I’m able to craft my responses before sharing them, I can interact with people from the comfort of my couch, I can share when I feel like it and log out when I want to.
And when I meet Facebook friends in person, we often already have a shared experience, we know something about each other so it’s much easier to find things to talk about. Yay for text-based connections!
What’s your relationship with your introvertedness? (Does it bother you, do you see it as something to overcome, have your learned to leverage it, etc?)
This is a case in which a label has been very helpful to me.
I am An Introvert.
I would rather stay home and be cozy than go socialize at a bar–or even a friend’s party, sometimes, to be totally honest… Anxiety not infrequently sneaks its way in when trying to motivate to go be a “normal” social person, and for no good reason.
But acknowledging that I am an introvert helps to calm that, and it also helps me to make the right decisions for myself.
It’s OK if I don’t go do everything (as long as I haven’t said I would, of course). It’s OK to give myself the space and the recharging time that I need.
What advantage does being an introvert give you over extroverted performers?
Being an introvert, in my case at least, means that I enjoy spending time alone. So, spending time in the studio with myself and the music is not a burden or a barrier to other pursuits, so much as it is a pleasure in itself.
Rosa Noreen founded the Grace Academy to help dancers add depth and dimension to their work so they grow in confidence to take their places on stage and in the world. Based in Portland, Maine, where she runs Bright Star World Dance studio, Rosa travels nationwide to teach and perform. Her workshops, DVDs and online intensives have helped dancers around the world to slow down and revel in the moment.
You can find her on the web at: rosanoreen.com
See Rosa in action!