Fairfield County Edition

Become More Confident by Tapping into Your Creativity

A Conversation with Khristee Rich of The Dancing Curtain

Khristee Rich

Khristee Rich

Natural Awakenings is keenly aware of the connection between creativity and confidence. Khristee Rich, principal of The Dancing Curtain, LLC, and a visibility and confidence coach for entrepreneurs, shared her own story with us as an example of how children can find their confident, authentic selves through the creative arts.

Many children—and adults— suffer from shyness which inhibits their confidence. Please describe your experience with childhood shyness.

Growing up as an African-American girl living in a small suburban town was hard for me. My parents chose Ridgefield because it was a safe, beautiful, family-centric community. They placed a lot of pressure on me and my brother to be the perfect role models, so we would represent our ancestors well. Consequently, I wore my thick, extra-curly hair in perfectly tight braids each day. I dressed in the up-and-coming Esprit clothes that all the cool girls sported in town. And I was so painfully shy that I did not utter a word in school. I was so afraid of how I would be perceived that I chose to be silent so I could appear perfect. But at home I was wildly playful. My parents often had to yell at me to keep it down!

It might have been due to the fact that I didn’t speak in school, but I didn’t have many friends. At the time, there was only one other black family in the whole town, a well-regarded Jamaican family. Luckily, the family had a daughter, Joanne, who was my age. Naturally, I yearned to become friends with her; when I heard Joanne had signed up to take an acting workshop on Saturday afternoons, I signed up too.

How did your first foray into the arts help you express yourself?

The day I stepped into my creativity was the day I became unstoppably confident. It was the day I felt more connected with my soul.

Spotlight Theater was a wonderful children’s theatre for kids ages four to 18. It was led by a charming couple, Al and Lillian Matthews, who were old-timers of the theatre. The children learned theater games, such as The Machine; everyone acted out different machine parts, provided their own rhythm, added their own unique sound, and performed as a well-operated team. During the school year, we memorized and performed short comedic scenes. During the summer, we performed full-length musicals with parents helping with sets, costumes, props and ticket sales. Lifelong values were emphasized such as the importance of teamwork, collaboration, non-judgment, support and friendship. Everyone got a chance to perform and there was no competition. Most importantly, we were encouraged to be free, to express ourselves, and to use our wildly creative imaginations. It was like playing make-believe but with an audience. I loved it!

After my first performance, I was hooked and immediately signed up for the summer musical. I had found my home. My shyness vanished when I was performing. I was never self-conscious because I knew I was playing a character. That was freeing. The live stage was empowering for me.

How did acting affect your confidence and your goals?

Acting gave me the confidence and poise to reach for my desires, confidently auditioning for theatre programs at prestigious universities as I got older. During my time as a theatre performance major at the University of Michigan, I not only acted in several productions but also wrote and directed my own full-length play.

Acting has given me the courage to dream bigger and to accept my true authentic self. It has enabled me to travel to study and act in London and be a professional actress in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Who knew playing The Machine in a kids’ acting workshop when I was 11 would change my life forever?!

Connect with Khristee Rich at TheDancingCurtain.comFacebook.com/thedancingcurtain or 203-733-8250.

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