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First performance - any suggestions?

Guest dragonfly7

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Guest dragonfly7

I will be performing next month for the first time since I started ballet again 8 months ago. I haven't performed since I was 11 and that was a long time ago. Would appreciate any nerve-calming suggestions or other insights into performing. I'm worried I may forget the steps (there's one section that I keep bungling up when we practice in class) or slip or freeze onstage from sheer stagefright. I'm sure a lot of other dancers on this board have performed before, so any nuggets of wisdom are welcome.



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Just remember Balanchine - Just do, don't think. B)


Relax and enjoy the experience. Your anxiety will work against you, if you let it take over. Your teacher has obviously tailored your dance to your group, so it should be well within your competence to do it successfully. Let go and dance!

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Mel is right—relax and enjoy. Problem is that for many people, trying to actively relax actually creates tension and anxiety. If you are one of those people, try distracting yourself from the performance. Go to the movies, start a little home project, anything that will keep your mind off the performance. Once you get to where you are going to perform, take a long time to get dressed, warm up thoroughly, do whatever will keep your mind from worrying about how you will do.


If you are not overly anxious, as Mel says just enjoy the experience. I like watching the other performers and their nervous behaviors, quite frankly.


I think it’s normal to worry about places in the dance where you are relatively weak, but I don’t think thinking or worrying about those parts is very helpful. On performance day, one thing I like to do is to take a nice hot bath before I leave home. While soaking in the tub I do a little mental rehearsal with more an emphasis on feeling than on the actual steps. After that I generally don’t think much about what I’m supposed to do. As I say, I rather enjoy watching how nervous the other performers are.


A little anxiety is always good. When you are doing two performances on one night, I’ve found that people tend let down before that second performance. That is when you are more likely to make mistakes.

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DON'T go over the steps right before going on stage, you'll make yourself nervous and won't be able to remember at that point and than you'll go on stage shaking....


I like what the teacher says in the jazz class in Center Stage:"Forget about the steps and just dance the **** out of it!" :rolleyes:

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Guest fastfeets

dragonfly, you're going to be nervous the day of the show....you should try to relax and not let that get to you, but it's very hard.


Here's what I have to offer (myself and my son were in a show a week ago, and it was his first ever....I told him this as well, and it helped him immensely)....you're only going to be nervous for a little while. Those seconds before you get on the stage are agonizing....BUT, once you step out....it's over. You're in the moment, and you're dancing, and nothing else matters. Before you can blink, it's done...and you're walking off stage thinking "ooh...can't wait til next year..." or something of that nature. So, the worst part of the jitters occurs for most people before anyone even sees them...and you clear that up by stepping on the stage....


Step out onto that stage proudly....take a deep breath and dance like they're only there to see you. :rolleyes:


If that's not enough....remember this. You dance in front of people all the time. Your teacher, the most critical audience of them all, sees you dancing every time you're in class....so it's nothing new to perform. Ok, there may be a few more people watching, but you won't be able to see them anyway.



You'll be fine, and you'll be craving more when it's over. :D


Just remember....never say 'good luck' or (heaven forbid) 'break a leg' before going onstage to dance. ;)

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There's a cliche about how a bad dress rehersal makes for a good performance (don't know if that's always true, but it sure can make you feel better about a bad dress rehersal)


Actually, the dancing never got me nervous. I used to be absolutely paranoid about costume/shoe mishaps. Make sure you get used to wearing the exact tights and shoes you'll be performing in. And have plenty of needles, thread, and safety pins with you. I sew all my ribbons and elastic with dental floss.


Practice as much as you can with your costume and make adjustments far ahead of the time for performance, so there's no surprises.


It really will be over in an instant so savor every moment and have fun. Remember that you're Dancing! not just doing steps.

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Guest dragonfly7

Thanks everyone! You're all very encouraging. With your pep talks and all the insights on this board, maybe I'll post a thread next month about how I survived my first performance, and I'll be sure to attach a smiley to it!


Thanks again, I need all the encouragement I can get! This board's been wonderful.

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Guest sissonne

Everyone else said it perfectly, but I'll just reinforce....


Mel, I think Balanchine had the best "in a nutshell" advice too!!

Just do, don't think


Garyecht, exactly the advice I would give...

do a little mental rehearsal with more an emphasis on feeling  than on the actual steps.
I never, ever physically rehearsed the steps on the day of a performance.


Finally, confidence is key. Fastfeets also gives good advice

Step out onto that stage proudly....take a deep breath and dance like they're only there to see you.
Go out with a confident attitude and you just may surprise yourself! Get a rush out of being on stage and under the lights and use that energy in your performance! Something about being on stage in front of an audience has always given me a surge of energy that nothing else can.


You'll do great....you've rehearsed and know the steps, just believe in yourself!

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Most important, Smile, smile and smile (but not like the Cheshire Cat), and not a smirk. One dancer I knew always came on with a smirk on her face and she simply looked like the cat that just ate the cream.

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At a recent performance, during dress rehearsal, one woman (age 43) was given a bad time because she wasn't smiling, and everyone was telling her to smile, so I painted a big clowns mouth on her with bright red lipstick for the remainder of the dress rehearsal. It got everyone to laughing and they all became much more relaxed. I was tempted to go and get some of those big red wax lips.

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My teacher doesn't typically correct our facial expressions, but once she turned to me and said (well, almost snapped): "Jaana, really, one is allowed to smile here every now and then." I've tried to keep a more pleasant face then; and indeed remembering that correction makes me smile every time I do.

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Smile, smile, smile, even if you make a mistake.

Keep your head AND eyes up--direct your energy up and out, as if for the people in the balcony.

Have fun!

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