Friday, September 2, 2011


Do you get backstage jitters or performance anxiety?

Even professionals who have been dancing for years sometimes get that sick feeling in the pit of their stomach- you know, the not-so-nice butterflies that feel more like deadly pterodactyls?

There’s not really any way to “cure” these backstage demons, but you can get them under control a bit!

Personally, before a show, I hide in the wings and take a few quiet moments for myself. I take some deep breaths and get centered, then I mentally focus on my performance, reminding myself not to give in to my on-stage adrenalin surges...yes, I still get them.

It also helps if I have ample time to put on my make-up. Even though I could technically apply my stage face in a dark car in ten minutes flat, it helps me to feel much more grounded if I can take my time, and perfect every little stroke of color. If I am out of town, I prefer to do my make-up in my hotel room, listening to The Weather Channel….I’m not sure why, but that is one of my “happy places”!

I also have a crazy superstition that I cannot be seen in my costume before a show- for some reason, I feel as though if the audience sees me in costume, my show won't go well! So I always make double-sure I have a cover-up with me. After the show, it doesn't matter, but before the show- NO WAY!

Then, when I get to the gig fully transformed into Princess Farhana, I can socialize a bit and not feel stressed out, and have ample time to warm up before dancing.

Pondering this subject, I thought it would be interesting- and helpful- to see what sort of practices, or rites, if you will, other dancers perform before going on stage.

So have asked many of my friends-most of whom are world-renowned professionals, to share their own personal backstage rituals. I will continue to post these every so often, for inspiration, or even just so you know what’s going through the head of these beautiful performers before they take the stage!

So…. For the first offering, here are some thoughts from two famous belly dancers who are among my biggest inspirations: ZAHRA ZUHAIR and DELILAH:

“Before a performance I have a beauty and pampering regime with facial scrubs and masks I make myself with yogurt, oatmeal, avacado, honey, and other natural ingredients.

Then I take a hot bath, and stretch.

When I travel, I can't do the homemade beauty ingredients (it's kind of silly to pack a blender and produce), so I have products I can easily travel with.

I'm a big opera fan, so while putting on my makeup, I have to listen to whatever my favorite aria is that day. I never skip my makeup-opera ritual, no mattter how rushed I am.

I love angels, and I have a lot of tiny angel pins that I pin inside my costumes for good luck. Certain angels go with certain costumes. I'm never without my angels.

Once I'm backstage at the performance, my main ritual is over. I usually keep my ear buds on, and listen to my performance music to stay centered, plus I'll try to stay warmed up, but that's about it.

Sometimes with hectic travel schedules there isn't much time for my entire centering ritual, but I always try to do as much of it as I can. "

--Zahra Zuhair

“Mirror, Mirror. . .

My false eye lashes are my talisman. When I put them on my dance character walks into my body like a voudoo loa. She empowers my dance by bringing me confidence, balance and endurance.
Along with the act of looking in the light up magnifying mirror and putting them on, I would also have psychic experiences. Like I'll see someone I haven't seen in years and they will walk in the club that night, or even plane crashes and money coming in the mail. Very strange and uncanny.
The ritual of looking in the mirror and into ones eyes night after night for so many years grew to become a very powerful transition period.”


For more info on Zahra, visit

For more info on Delilah, visit

Do YOU have a backstage ritual you'd like to share?

If so, feel free to post it here as a comment or email me: princessraqs(AT)gmail(DOT)com