Posted by: Chelsea Novak | December 6, 2007


Some people thrive on the spotlight and it’s amazing to see them just turn it on. it goes beyond introvert and extrovert. I know incredibly shy people who become entirely different creatures the moment they hit the stage. There are also people who are always on. I am neither of those people. I am pretty much always me, all the time. This is why I am not an artist (I mean, there’s also the talent and dedication thing, which I have a smattering of, but not enough to make it a career). There is nothing for me to turn on, as I have no switch.

Throughout my life I’ve had opportunities to perform. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a stage, but for awhile there, it was a pretty normal place for me to be. Of course, 95 per cent of my stage time was logged playing double bass, comfortably nestled within an orchestra of 80. I stopped playing the piano just as I was moving into the part of life when I was becoming really self-conscious. There is evidence of me performing alone, but I was too young to really get it.

There was one foray into acting, which I was told I was good at, but that was only because I was personally attached to the narrative, so it was more like retelling than pretending. Singing in a choir is fine. Singing on my own, anywhere other than the car or a karaoke bar can be a vomit-inducing experience and an unintentional, terror-driven vibrato. I’ve done it and survived, and in my mind, I’d love to do it, yet do I ever? No.

Dancing has always been in groups. And while I’ve never been particularly good at it, it’s always brought me out of my shell more than anything else. And that’s not particularly far. Even now, where I’m just taking classes at a gym, with no possibility of anyone outside of my classmates seeing me dance, I’ve taken to dabbling in a pre-class drink, just to chill me out. Dancing in clubs doesn’t even count as it was always part of crowd in the dark. I hate to admit that I fall into the category of that “dance like no one is watching” life affirmation phrase, but I am compelled to admit that it would be nice if I could do that.

I mentioned this to a colleague who is a Belly Dancer and she suggested that I create a performing persona so that I don’t have to have a drink before I go to dance class. She recently did that and it really freed her.

So I’m trying to craft a persona. One I can put on when I’m out in a club or in classes when I’m taking things way too seriously. For when people are watching. For fun. Really, it’s why I play music or move. Maybe if I have a performer-like identity I can show people the fun that I have in my head. Oh the joys of a rich inner world.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with who I am and what it is to be me. It’s just that sometimes, who I am is tremendously practical, kind of shy and prone to caring too much about what people think. There have been times in my life where I’ve been uninhibited. As uninhibited as I get. And I think the persona should come from there.

I think she will wear more hats that I do.



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