Today I went over to the home of my first belly dance teacher. I only had a few lessons with her, but she was the one who really lit the fire under me. I thought I was too clumsy and gangly to dance beautifully. She showed me that I was wrong, and even though she doesn't belly dance anymore herself, she is constantly encouraging me in my journey as a dancer.
Because she hasn't been able to come to any of my shows lately, I told her I'd bring my music along for a private performance, so she could see what I was working on and how far I've come.
There is really nothing more nerve-wracking than dancing for One. Person. It's very intimate and intimidating. It feels weird to look at them the entire time, and weird to look away. And you know that if you mess up, they're going to notice because they're certainly not looking at something else! You can't even really do the "look at the top of their head" trick, because they're close enough to catch on.
On the other hand, when that audience of one is one of your dearest friends and a mentor, it's possible to get past the initial weirdness, relax into it, and enjoy showing off for a friend. I had a good time, and I got some glowing compliments that had me floating through the rest of the day.
Experiences like this help remind me as to why I'm doing what I'm doing. They reassure me that I'm on the right path. And they remind me that dancing doesn't have to always be getting all gussied up in a fancy costume with a ton of makeup for an official gig. Sometimes dancing can just be casual, fun, and friendly, still from the heart, still with all of the technical skill at my disposal, but without the trappings of the stage.