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Combating Stage Fright: Six Tips!

Performing for an audience is exhilarating. The bright lights, the big stage, a large audience! For many dancers it can be an energizing and fun experience. For others, it can be a little nerve-racking, for some it can be completely terrifying. Having a little bit of jitters before going on stage is totally normal! We don’t perform on stage everyday so it's expected that some dancers will not be as comfortable on stage. Nerves can be important. It means that you care about your performance and how well you do. But we never want nerves to become debilitating; causing us to perform poorly or forget choreography.

Dancers in a blue costume in a pose at a dance competition in Omaha, Ne
Mary Lorraine's Dance Center Competition Team

A few tips to help with controlling nerves before a dance performance:

Be prepared.

This may not seem like a solution. But sometimes solutions are about being proactive! When we get to the day of a performance or once you get backstage, our fears and anxiety will start to take over. However, if you are prepared, you will feel confident in the fact that you have done everything in your power to do your best. Take control of what you can! Practice and have your dance memorized inside and out. Don’t wait until the day of the show to realize there is a section of choreography you can’t seem to get. Have every costume, hair piece, and dance shoe that you need. Make sure your dance bag is organized. You may even want to go so far as to practice the hairstyle and makeup in advance, so the getting ready goes smoothly. Having all these things well organized will help keep you calm.

Keep a positive attitude.

Speak and think to yourself in positive words and thoughts. Don’t bash yourself or think about what could go wrong. Speak and think kindly. Remind yourself that you are well-practiced and have worked hard on your dance. You can do it!

Practice breathing.

When we get nervous our heart starts to race and our breathing becomes more shallow. Mindfully take deep breaths. Close your eyes and take three long and deep breaths. This helps relax your entire body and releases tension.

Tap dancers in Omaha Standing in an end pose at a dance competition in Omaha, nebraska
Mary Lorraine's Dance Center Compeition Team

Take care of yourself.

Again, control what you can! Get a good night of sleep before a performance. Eat a nutritious and energy sustaining breakfast. Perhaps skip the Starbucks latte or energy drink and drink lots of water instead!

Count on your friends.

If you are performing in a group situation, rely on your friends. Talk each other up and yourself up! “This dance is going to be awesome. We are going to kill it!” Most likely your friends are nervous too. Put out positive energy and you’ll receive it back to you!

Find what works for you.

Everyone is different. Figure out what helps you stay calm or gets you pumped up in a positive way. Maybe that's listening to a pop song that gets you excited. Or maybe it's listening to a calming song that relaxes your nerves. Either way, find what works for you! And in the same vein, get rid of what doesn’t. If you found that packing your bag the morning of a performance stressed you out, never do it again! If watching the competitor or performer before you makes you nervous, focus on yourself instead and stretch while you wait for your turn to perform.

Again, nerves before a performance are normal! Even the most accomplished dancers still get nervous! The goal is to learn how to control our nerves so we can still do our best and have fun!

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