Sometimes watching other Irish dancers can be intimidating. It’s hard not to notice what they can do and you can’t.
I was at a feis once waiting to compete and was making casual conversation with the girl next to me. Once the music started and the competition began however, she quickly turned her back to the stage. She told me she can never handle watching the other dancers in her competition. She was afraid watching them would intimidate her and effect her own performance. I almost laughed, but part of me understood where she was coming from.
Human beings have a natural tendency to compare themselves to one another, and in doing so we often make the mistake of comparing our weaknesses to other’s strengths. Since feiseanna are all about comparing one dancer to another, it’s hard not to get caught up in the stress of comparisons. So the best way to avoid feeling intimidated is to take some time to recognize your own strengths.
We spend hours and hours in class looking for something wrong when we dance so we often forget to notice what techniques we have already mastered. You may have a hard time staying high on your toes and your TCRG never lets you forget it, but if spend too much time dwelling on that weakness you may never notice that your clicks are higher than any one else in the class.
Some strengths are obvious right away, while others are not. For example your strength could be picking up new choreography incredibly fast, or easily holding a smile from start to finish. Once you recognize your strengths, you won’t be so easily intimidated by other Irish dancers. At the next feis, you will be much more likely to compare their strengths to your strengths.
The most important thing to remember is that the only healthy habit is comparing yourself to yourself. Everytime you practice you get better and if you compare yourself to others too much you won’t even notice how much you’ve improved. Don’t be intimidated by what you can’t yet do, instead celebrate what you can do and the next time you compete, you might make the other dancers watching you feel a little intimidated.