Okay. Let’s face it. Not everybody might look forward to performing. But really, everyone does some kind of performance at one time or another, some more often than others.
Most people think performing is just getting up on stage and acting or singing or dancing. Already, that’s 3 kinds of performances! When you’re really into it, there’s nothing like the thrill of getting ready for a performance…sure, the rehearsals might be difficult and you might be getting it perfect during rehearsals…but actually performing to an audience, live or otherwise, is a special kind of thrill. If you’re new to it, you’ll probably rehearse over and over again in front of a mirror, psych yourself into facing the audience, then experiencing that fluttery feeling in your belly, and sometimes that empty, sinking feeling when your belly feels like it’ll sink right through you to the floor. Then your hands get clammy and your throat tightens up. Sometimes you get all sweaty and it just won’t stop pouring down your face and back. That can be a very uncomfortable feeling. It’s usually called stage fright. And some people never get over stage fright.
Some people, on the other hand, take to stages like fish to water. No matter what they’re doing on stage, whether they’re performing, making an announcement, delivering a speech, they look like the perfect picture of a suave seasoned stage artist. They move into their act smoothly, maintain contact with their audience, and just get carried into it.
I know that I always wait for the response of the audience when I perform…when I hear any response, especially some kind of emotional response, I know my performance is working. And when I finally hear applause at the end, that is the sweetest most triumphant sound I glory in, because I know my performance is a success! It can get addictive, but it doesn’t mean you don’t go through that little bit of pre-performance nervousness. I know that, after all these years of acting, dancing, and speaking on a stage, I can go right up there without feeling nervous at all. Public speaking? Pooh. Folk dance? Just give me the right music. Acting? Anytime. As a student, I had joined so many spelling bees and speech contests that it has practically become second nature to me. As a teacher, on any given day, I can go up to the front, or side, or back of any classroom and get speaking on almost any topic you might give me…or at least begin a dialogue on anything, if I don’t know what I’m talking about.
I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that I haven’t made performing my life’s calling. I’m still too self-conscious and introverted to flaunt my performance skills or offer them unless I’m asked. But those who know me and have seen me perform know what I do and can do when I am given the platform.
I think the greatest performances of my life have been in the classroom. If I could reproduce those days when I’d have a class completely attentive or rolling in laughter at what I do, I’d have had it made as a stand-up comedian. Step aside Patrick Ledwell, Cindy Lapeña is on a roll! But no, it’ll never happen because, unless I have to do it, I won’t, again I repeat, won’t volunteer. Someone will have to volunteer me. I hardly ever say no.