this is, obviously, one of the things people ask me about all the time. how do i stand so still? well, it’s not easy. but it’s not necessarily as difficult as you might think.
practice. practice. practice. just like any other physical activity, the more you do it, the better you get at doing it. already being in decent shape is also helpful.
do not overexert yourself. i’m guilty of doing exactly that every now and then, because i get cocky, or i stop paying attention to what my feet and legs are doing, and then i find myself stuck in a pose that’s very difficult to hold, and all i can think is “oh, please, someone help me! save me! put something in my tip jar, i don’t care what it is, just get me out of this!” and then i start to get a little shakey. it’s just not good. i’ve been doing this for nearly six years now, i should know better by now. but that just goes to show how easy it is to forget.
relax and let your skeleton support you. don’t use muscles that you don’t have to use. tension is your worst enemy! a tense muscle quickly becomes a shakey muscle, and shit just goes downhill from there. keeping your feet at least hip-width apart will help you maintain balance without having to work too hard. keeping your arms low and close to your body is much easier to hold than bringing them up and out. also, posture. i cannot put into words how important it is to keep your spine in proper allignment while performing as a living statue. i used to have a terrible habit of sticking out my chest, but also letting my abdominals relax completely, hollowing out my back. after every performance i’d end up practically disabled for a day or two from a very sore and tender lower back. then i started bellydancing, and realized how atrocious my posture really was. always keep the abs engaged. [gently] suck in that gut! your back will thank you.
the most important factor in this equation, though, is the mind. you need patience. you need to be able to ignore little discomforts, like an itch, or a tickle in your throat, or a sneeze trying to form in the depths of your sinuses. you need to simultaneously maintain focus on what you’re doing, what’s going on around you, and also not get frustrated or bored and just give up. when i perform on the street, i only move when a kind stranger drops a donation in my tip jar. sometimes, that means waiting for what seems like forever. sometimes there’s a lot going on around me with a large audience, sometimes i’m performing for no one. now, i’m not going to say i never opt for a break when things are very quiet. but i generally try to keep going, because one never knows when a crowd could form.
there’s also the matter of people being assholes. what are you going to do if someone pokes you? slaps you? grabs your ass? tries to get a rise out of you by pretending they’re going to steal your tip jar? gets all up in your face and starts telling racist jokes? i, personally, am a firm believer in self-defense. there are too many living statues out there who tolerate all kinds of harrassment because, apparently, staying in character and holding your pose is more important than defending yourself against the drunk who is trying to grab your crotch. and to that, i say, are you crazy?! if you wouldn’t let someone do something to you while you were grocery shopping, why would you allow it to happen while you’re performing? if someone makes uninvited physical contact with me, i do not hesitate to grab, slap, poke, or push them. if they get out of arm’s reach too quickly, then i’ll at least flip them off. one of my biggest regrets is not abandoning my performance to tackle the douchebag who snuck up behind me and screamed right in my ear. or at least shouting to my audience to grab him so i could get the cops involved. but, people are stupid, shit happens, and you can’t let it get you down.