Performance Tips for Dancers

If you’ve been dancing for a while, you may be getting to that point where you feel ready to get a routine together and perform it on stage.  Performing can be an amazing and exciting experience, but the process can be a bit difficult.  Luckily, you can always rely on your instructor or an experienced peer to help you out with some things like choreography and technique, but there are some other aspects that you can work on yourself.  Below, I’ve put together some pointers to help you prepare for your next show!  Whether this is your first performance or your 100th, these tips should benefit you and also relieve any worries you may have about being on stage.


Practice, Practice, Practice

The first thing you’re going to want to do before you perform is practice a lot.  This sounds like an obvious point, but I’ve heard so many dancers mention that they wished they had more rehearsal time before a show.  To get the most out of your performance, make sure you start rehearsing well in advance.  Most people start their routines a few months before their show date, and practice at least once a week.  Running your routine as many times as you can is the best thing you can do to make sure you don’t forget it, too.  If you’re feeling nervous about being on stage, then making sure that you’ve gotten plenty of practice time is the remedy.  If you’ve done the routine a billion times, there shouldn’t be much need to worry!

Lots of rehearsal time will also ensure that you smooth out any kinks you encounter along the way.  If you find that a move or transition is causing some trouble you can use your time to work on perfecting or modifying it.  Also, make sure that you practice your routine “full-out” (dancing as if you are already on stage) a few times.  This is important to do so that your body gets used to how you will actually be moving on stage.

Overall, remember to be patient with yourself.  If there is a step that you are not getting, or if you feel like the routine is not working out the way you want it to, take a step back and give yourself time to think and breathe.  Everything will work out eventually!


Get a “Mock-Audience”

If you have most of your routine done, you might want to start running it in front of others.  If you’ve never performed before, then this is a good way to see how it feels to have others watching you.  Running your routine in front of others before show time is also a good way to reduce any stage fright you may have. 


Get Feedback

In addition to practicing in front of others, you’re going to want to get some general feedback on your routine.  This can be from your instructor, a fellow student, or a random observer.  Either way, any piece of praise or constructive criticism will be very helpful.  Getting feedback will help you figure out what aspects of your dance you need to work on and you’ll also see what others like best about your dance.  It’s always good to get an outsiders perspective of how you’re doing.

If you don’t have anyone immediately available to give you feedback try recording your dance and showing it to someone at a later time.  You can also view that video yourself to see how you look, and take notes on things to fix.


Lose the Mirrors

Having a mirror to practice your dancing is great because you can actually see what you look like when you move.  However, it is possible to become too dependent on the mirror (especially if you are in a group dance).  Sometimes when people are so used to dancing in front of a mirror, they can get disorientated when they do their routine without it.  If you are accustomed to dancing in one particular direction for so long, it can really throw you off when you finally face a different direction.  A lot of dancers also rely too much on the mirrors when it comes to figuring out spacing.  Once the mirrors are gone, it becomes harder to figure out how close or far away other dancers are to you.  This is why practicing routines away from a mirror is a very good idea.  The performance space definitely will not have mirrors, so it’s best to practice without them as soon as you can.  And speaking of your performance space…


Know Your Stage

If possible, make sure you get familiar with the area that you will be performing in.  You’ll need to know how much space you will actually have on stage so that you can prepare properly.  Getting acquainted with the stage can also help to ease stage fright.  If this is your first time performing, it can be weird dancing outside of your normal practice space, which is why it’s a good idea to get some practice on the actual stage if you are able.  The stage may have a different kind of floor from your studio, so it’s good to get a feel for how you’ll be moving once you’re up there.  If you aren’t able to practice on the stage before your performance, try to obtain as much information about it as you can before show time so that you are as prepared as possible.


Think About Costumes

A great costume can make a great performance.  You will want your costume to match the music and tone of your routine, so make sure to keep that in mind.  Once you figure out what you’ll be wearing, make sure you set aside time to practice your routine while wearing your costume.  This way you will know if you have any trouble with the fabric, or if you are able to move freely or not.



When we watch dancers, we usually watch what their faces are doing.  Performances tend to be more entertaining when the dancers are smiling, so even when you are just rehearsing, remind yourself to smile!

If your routine isn’t happy or upbeat, then obviously you don’t need to worry about smiling.  Still, you will want to make sure that you engage the audience in some way.  Whatever emotion you intend to convey in your dance should be reflected by your facial expressions.  To help you figure out what facial expressions to use for your dance, set aside some time to listen to your music, think about how it makes you feel, and then incorporate that into your dancing.


Just Keep Dancing

People rehearse over and over so they can reduce their chances of making mistakes on stage, but the reality is that no matter how hard you practice, there is always the possibility that you may slip-up.  The good thing is that you don’t need to worry too much about messing up in front of an audience; they are seeing it for the first time, so they don’t know how your routine is supposed to look! 

Many dancers make mistakes during their performances, but most observers don’t notice.  The reason these errors go undetected is because the performers don’t show it in their faces or bodies.  They just keep straight faces or keep smiling if they misstep or forget a move.  They keep on dancing as if nothing went wrong.  If you mess up on stage, try to remember not to laugh, make a face, freeze, or curse yourself because everyone will see it.  Just keep going and play it off like you meant to do it!


Get Some Sleep

There’s nothing worse than feeling exhausted right when you are supposed to perform.  If you are able, try to get a good night’s sleep the night before show time.  I know there are a lot of people who get so excited or nervous before they perform that they can barely sleep.  If you are one of those people, then I would suggest finding a way to take your mind off the dance before bedtime.  Read a book, watch a movie, or do something relaxing to take your mind off of dance.  When you wake up you’ll have plenty of time to think about your routine.


Warm Up

I’ve discussed warming up on this blog before, and it still applies in this context.  Warming up and stretching your body before you dance is important so that you don’t get injured.  This is particularly import if you have a difficult move in your routine, or one that requires a bit of flexibility.  You will also find that a good warm up will reduce some soreness you might end up feeling after your performance.


Have fun!

You know me: I love emphasizing how much fun dance is, so of course I want you all to have fun even in the process of preparing for a performance.  Try not to stress out too much over making mistakes or making sure that your costumes are perfect.  Just go out there and do your best.  If you’ve prepared enough for it, then you should be fantastic!


Happy dancing!  ^_^