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6 Steps to Pre-Performance Calm

Dance studios all over the place are currently preparing for their Christmas performances and showcase displays… it can be a stressful time, and especially on performance day itself, the jittery nerves can easily get the better of you.

Ever happen to you?

  • You are doing really fine until you suddenly think about your mum or your boyfriend or your director sitting in the audience watching you, and suddenly you fall to pieces…
  • While the dance before yours in going on, you stand side of stage, with legs that have turned to jelly, hands that are cold and sweaty and you feel more like running to the bathroom than on stage…
  • You make it on stage but then you go completely blank, you’re in the front line looking like a deer in headlights…
  • You have to hold a pose on stage for awhile and you get that nervous twitch in your smile and you can’t make it stop …

All of these things are common in stage-fright. Nerves and adrenalin are part of performing but you don’t want to let them get the better of you. Here are some things you can do to help you keep cool, calm and collected.

1. Eat Well

Unfortunately, many dancers get through performance days with lots of high-sugar and fatty snack foods and caffeinated energy drinks.  These aren’t at all great for sustaining your energy levels and focus for you to do a strong show.

Make sure you eat a good healthy meal a few hours before you perform to give your body the fuel it needs. This might mean you need to prepare something the night beforehand, and be prepared with simple snacks like cheese & biccies, fruit and nuts to tide you over.

2. Psych Yourself Up

A great way to help you get focused and calm for the show is by visualizing. Get into a quiet spot (if that’s not possible, put your headphones in with some quiet music on) and shut your eyes.

Go through your dances in your mind seeing yourself on stage, with the lights, wings and people around you. See yourself doing everything just right, with confidence and security, fully into it.  When you are about to go on stage, have this same focus on what you are going to do.

3. Stay Positive & Be Yourself

Focusing on all the things that could go wrong and what your boyfriend is going to think of you in your costume are usually not going to help you perform at your best. Believing in yourself, trusting what you know and have rehearsed will help you relax, be yourself and help the best come out of you.

If you find yourself getting wound up in nervous racing thinking, take a few deep breaths, acknowledge what’s going on in your head, and calmly try to steer it towards something positive.

4. Relaxation

If you feel a big stress coming on, lie down on the floor and do a body scan from your toes up your whole body to the top of your head, relaxing each part down into the floor as you go. Once you get to the top of your head, let your attention go into your lungs and focus on slow, deep breathing for a few minutes.

5. Shake It Out

If your muscles all turn to jelly with nervous energy before you go on stage, do whatever feels right to release it: shake out your muscles, swing your arms around, do some jumps or full body movements.

6. Warm Up Your Face

Dancing on stage often requires strong projection of feelings through facial expressions, but most people don’t even think to warm up all the muscles in your face.

To avoid the nervous smile twitch, get with a group of friends (or go into the toilet if you prefer to do it privately!) and make a bunch of weird and extreme faces: screw your face up, stretch it out wide. It’s fun to do and means you can project those emotions more easily on stage.

Hope these help! All the best for your performances!

🙂 Philippa



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