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TIPS FOR GUYS WHO WANT TO BELLYDANCE (AND GALS, TOO)
5. Think about what you eat.
This is a huge topic that I am just going to scratch the surface of. Mainly I am referring to what you eat before you perform. I always give this a great deal of thought because my moods can be dramatically affected by what and when I eat. When I get low blood sugar it is nearly impossible for me to keep a positive attitude. As I get older I get better and better at not sharing that negativity with others, and I usually have enough adrenaline to make it through a performance, but it’s not a pleasant experience for me and I feel horrible afterward-the combination of low blood sugar and the adrenaline rush of performing can make me feel bad for days. I’ve learned to keep snacks handy to keep my blood sugar up, but even if you aren’t as sensitive (and old) as I am, it is still might be worth paying closer attention to what you eat on the day you perform.
I have seen performers consume all kinds of things that work out fine for them, but would probably ruin my performance and vice a versa. I see many dancers drink caffeine before they perform and do great, but there was a Starbelly Dancer who reacted exactly how I would react to caffeine before a performance, with an anxiety attack. I don’t consume much caffeine or sugar regularly, so when I do, I often feel their effects intensely. I prefer to avoid any mood altering substance before I perform so that I can appreciate the thrill of performing undiluted – but that is an ideal situation. Certainly some mood altering substances may be necessary if you are dealing with excessive anxiety or other issues that could make performing extremely difficult. My point isn’t to declare the best pre-show diet, my point is we all have different needs, but giving focused consideration on what you put in your body can greatly improve your experience.
For me the ideal pre-show meal is a heaping plate of rice and vegetables with some canned salmon and vegenaise about 2 hours before I perform. That’s not always feasible so I like having beef jerky handy. It used to be Lara bars, but I am on a low–oxalate diet in an attempt to avoid kidney stones and Lara bars, like all kinds of healthy things I love are high in oxalates. I only bring this up because we all have different health issues to be considered (Cecilia has a dishearteningly long list of food allergies) when figuring out what to eat, but if you plan ahead, prioritizing your diet right up there with costuming and props, your performance will be better for both you and your audience.
As dancers we are asking our bodies to do wonderful, beautiful things, thinking about what you are putting into your body is a powerful way to show your body love and appreciation for all those wonderful, beautiful movements.