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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Adrenaline Effects on Belly Dance Performance


By Saqra




Important note from Saqra: "I'm going to be oversimplifying in this explanation. Biochemistry people, relax."

When you are first performing (sometimes "first" can extend for years) there is a massive dose of adrenaline that accompanies performance. It is the fight, flight or freeze response to stressors.

This can have some interesting unanticipated effects.

First, the adrenaline causes dancers to change steps too often and not complete moves. Your actual sense of time is warped — it simply feels as though time has slowed down. You feel as if any move you do has been going on forever. You are certain the audience must be bored.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Sarah Selwood, Leeds, United Kingdom.

The other really big thing that often happens is the post-performance crash: you get done dancing, feel exhilarated, then a minute later you are certain you suck suck sucked and should quit dancing and sell your costumes immediately.

The first one is easy to handle. You need to perform frequently until the adrenaline no longer has such strong effect, then maintain frequent performance if possible. As your subconscious learns that performance isn't actually a threatening situation you will react with less of an adrenaline dump.

You will also develop an understanding and faith in that time really did not slow down. It hasn't slowed down. They aren't bored because after all they are all in the reality time zone whereas you are not.


The second one, post performance crash, is a biochemical reaction that can end your dance career. This is a serious problem.

When you are performing, your body prepares for the fight/flight thing and dumps a bunch of chemicals into your blood. Dancing itself adds insult by using up your easily available blood sugar. When you finish, your blood is sugar-free and full of half-burned junk that makes you feel lousy when there is nothing to distract you (like.... say.... DANCING).

So... you get done dancing and feel physically awful. Nobody does everything exactly correctly when they perform, so you start chewing on that and making yourself feel emotionally awful — which you then associate with your entire experience of performing.

It becomes a feedback loop, and you feel worse every time you perform until you finally quit.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.

So this is what to do after performing: eat a snack to improve your blood sugar, and refuse to analyze your performance until the next day. Just refuse to go there.

Your analysis of your performance is just as faulty right after you perform as your sense of time is while you perform.

Write some of your issues off to biochemistry. Know that the more you perform the more resistant you become to "fight, flee or freeze."

As usual I'm gonna say your mileage may vary.... but if you are experiencing any of these things and don't listen to me, and decide to quit performing, please send your costumes to: Saqra, P.O. Box 3934, Kent, WA 98089.




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About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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