I love performing. It’s an important part of the Irish dance experience. Learning to have great showmanship as well as grace when getting up in front of an audience is important for any dancer. I’ve been dancing on stage for over eight years now and I still get nervous every time I get up in front of a crowd. Even though I’m nervous, most of the time I manage to walk (or skip) on with confidence, dance well, and exit the stage with enough grace that I don’t attract any negative attention.
Most of the time I don’t embarrass myself, but other times I’m not so lucky. I was born a clutz and it seems all my life I’ve had to work hard not trip in random places or bonk my head on random signs. I’m especially vulnerable to embarrassing moments when I’m in a stressful or unfamiliar situation. So when I get on stage, almost anything could happen, and once in a while… it does.
So I thought I’d share with you a few of my most embarrassing moments while Irish dancing on stage. I’m sure you’ll get a good laugh out of my public humiliation. I know I sure do.
The first moment that comes to mind happened almost two years ago. We were preparing to dance on a raised stage for The Utah Scottish Festival and Highland Games. We all had our full costumes on, and while stretching out, Tina Shelley asked me to go test the stage to see if it was slippery. The audience was all in their seats waiting for the show to begin as I approached. I could feel them watching me, probably wondering if I was about to dance. When I reached the stage I attempted to make a quick jump onto it. It was about three feet high, and I knew I could make it.
That’s when my foot missed the stage and I banged my shin hard on the edge, causing me to fall forward onto the stage face first with a loud bang. Of course it wouldn’t have looked half as horrible if I wasn’t in full sparkly costume and poodles. The worst part of the whole experience was hearing the entire audience gasp in horror all at once. I returned to the group, completely humiliated. Luckily, none of the other dancers saw what happened, so I was spared endless teasing during the show.
Our school holds a dance recital every year and the one we held last year made me more nervous than usual. I had invited a guy I was dating to come and watch. Huge mistake! The steps were fairly new to me so I knew they would be hard to remember on stage, let alone with a guy I liked watching. The worst happened. At one point I forgot everything, so I just kept my feet moving in shuffles, whips and random high clicks till the music ended. I was so embarrassed and didn’t dare mention my mistake to the guy watching. It was obvious I didn’t match the other dancers and I didn’t want to explain why.
Anyone can make a costume change mistake and I made a pretty bad one only six months ago. We were dancing a number set in an Irish pub and we were supposed to all be wearing hats hiding our long hair so we looked like boys. Also, since the costume change for the next number was only 30 seconds long, we had to wear dresses and sparkly headbands underneath our pub costumes. We’d done the change for at least five shows at that point so I don’t know how it happened, but I entirely forgot to put on my hat. It wasn’t until another dancer looked at me and mentioned I wasn’t wearing one that I realized my huge mistake. So for the whole number I had to act like a drunk guy in a pub, grunting and pounding my fist on a wooden table while my long hair and a sparkly headband made it obvious I was a girl.
Another time, I was so excited to have a short 8-bar solo in a dance number The Shelley Irish Dance Company performed a little over a year ago in our final concert of the season. The excitement must have gotten to me, because when I came down from a leap in the solo, I managed to roll my ankle and hard. I was able to continue dancing, but the mistake was obvious and ruined the finale of the show. Not only that, the moment was caught on tape. I put the video on YouTube for fun and it’s gotten more hits than any of my other videos! Apparently humiliation is popular.
I have many more embarrassing moments, some worse than others, but all of them tend to stay with me, haunting me every time I approach a stage again. All I can do is laugh about it and remember that most of the time, I don’t make too much a fool of myself.
Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you while Irish dancing on stage?