Overcoming Stage Fright

Everyone gets a little nervous before a performance.  Even professionals get a little anxious before they take the stage at competitions or shows.  If you have never performed in front of others before and are feeling apprehensive, here are some things to keep in mind to help you overcome those feelings.  If you are someone who has performed before, but still experiences intense stage fright or nervousness, these tips are also for you!

 

Practice!

The more you practice, the better you should feel about your routine.  If you feel like you know your piece very well, that might eliminate some anxieties about going on stage.  For instance, if you are nervous about making mistakes or forgetting steps, a lot of rehearsal should alleviate that fear.  Try listening to your performance music multiple times because it will help you become even more familiar and comfortable with your routine.  If the thought of being in front of a large crowd is what’s giving you anxiety, start off by showing your routine to a small number of people and then gradually increasing the size of your mock audience.  If you are able to have access to your performance area beforehand, it would also be wise to practice a few of your steps on that stage for extra preparation.

 

Listen to Feedback

Assuming you have practiced your routine in front of others, they will probably give you some praise and advice on how to make your piece even better.  When listening to others’ critiques and advice, think of them as notes that will help to improve your performance.  Listen especially to the pointers that your instructors, coaches, and other professionals give to you.  When people praise your performance, take that to heart.  Sometimes dancers shy away from receiving praise, but it’s important to believe others when they tell you that you did a good job!

 

Talk With Someone

One of the best things you can do if you are having performance anxiety is to just talk it out and discuss your worries with a friend, your instructor, or a peer who as performed before.  Talking about your stage fright might help you get to the root of your fear and help you figure out exactly what about performing makes you nervous.  If you are worried about crowds, you can find ways to cope with dancing in front of large audiences.  If the fear of making a mistake on stage is making you anxious, then plan on scheduling multiple rehearsal times throughout the week.  If you are still feeling anxious after planning ahead, don’t let your fear stop you.  Nervousness is common for most dancers before they perform, so continue to talk to trusted friends and advisors, and we’re sure they will be able to help you.

 

Realizing What You Can Control

On stage, there are many things you can’t control like the condition of the dancefloor, the size of the venue, the lighting, and other dancers’ movements.  If these things outside of your control are giving you anxiety, know that this is a normal feeling, but instead of putting all your focus on those things, focus on what you can control.  For instance, you do have control over how much you rehearse, the costume you’re wearing, your song choice, and your overall attitude towards your piece.  Having all those controllable factors in order will ensure that you feel prepared, and that preparation should lessen some of your anxiety.  We can’t always control outside factors, but if we realize what we can control and formulate an appropriate plan it will make some of our worries seem less drastic.

 

Meditate

Meditation can be a good exercise to calm your nerves and prepare you for a performance.  You can use meditation to clear your mind, examine your thoughts, or to visualize your performance.  Sometimes mentally visualizing how you want your performance to pan out can help you feel more comfortable with being on stage.  Visualization will allow you to imagine how the performance will “feel”.  While you are meditating, you can also take deep breaths to help you relax.

 

Find Ways to Calm Yourself

Since a lot of dancers get the pre-performance jitters, many have techniques they use to help them calm down.   You can choose one of the methods we just described, whether it is deep breathing or meditating.  You can also go over the routine in your head, do stretches, count, jump around, drink water, or do any activity that you know will calm your nerves.  Think about something you normally would do to cope with nervousness and apply that to your pre-performance ritual.

 

Feed Off Audience Energy

One of the great things about the ballroom dance community is that they love cheering on all dancers.  The audience will always give off positive feedback in the form of applause and cheers, so you can use that energy to motivate yourself during your performance.  This is extra special if you have friends, family, and teammates in the audience because they will be the ones cheering you on the most!

 

Pick a Focal Point

If the thought of an audience full of people staring back at you is causing stage fright, just remember that you don’t have to make direct eye contact with the audience because you can chose a focal point.  A focal point is just a far off location in the room that you can choose to focus on, instead of having to look at others’ faces.  For example, you can look just above the audience’s heads instead of directly in their eyes.  You could also choose to focus on intimate objects like a sign or an empty chair.  If you have a friend or family member in the audience, you can even find out where they are seated and focus on them if that makes you more comfortable.  Depending on the venue and lighting, you may not even be able to see your audience.  In that case, you could choose any focal point you’d like!  As you progress in dance, you will need to work on connecting to the audience by using strong facial expressions and eye contact, but if you are just starting out, focusing on something other than a face will help your stage fright.

 

Enjoy the Moment

The best thing you can do once you are on stage is enjoy yourself.  Live in the present and realize that once you’re up there, there’s nothing you can change.  If you have efficiently prepared for your performance, you should be ready, so trust yourself and your dance partner.  Before taking the stage, it may seem like performing will be a drawn-out, harrowing event, but once you start dancing, you’ll see that it all goes by so quickly.  A performance is a fleeting moment, so use your time on stage to enjoy it!  By the end, you’ll see that you had very little to worry about!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^