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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Stage Nerves!! What to do?!

Guest thepinkfairy

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Guest thepinkfairy

Hi...I have another question. Whenever I do a solo performance on stage, I get really nervous. :sweating: Sometimes I get so nervous I shake...but I don't know why?! Its unpredictable about how bad it will get (sometimes I shake alot, and other times not as much), and it can really let me down. :( Does anyone have any tips or something I can do? :blushing:

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Two World War II greats had different strategies for approaching this very same problem. Sir Winston Churchill used to get terrible bouts of depression and fear of speaking in public. He called these times his "black dog". He dealt with it by imagining that every member of his audience had a hole in his sock in exactly the same place. His colleague, General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower went him one better than that. He used to imagine everyone sitting there watching him was stark naked! No wonder he could grin so easily!

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Guest dancing<><piper

I'm always afraid I'll get scared but I somehow never do-it's excitement for me.

In other performance things besides ballet, I can be a nervous wreck, though.

It's getting better: this is what helps me.

For a long time before hand, I go through what it will be like in my head at night and imagine all the people, stage, lights, etc. everything. (in my case, judges as well) Also, telling yourself over and over you aren't scared can make you believe it.

And there is always reading and different things that might help calm.

I don't have a ton of experience but it's always worked for me.



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Guest xballetdreamsx

The famous quote...


Dance like no one is watching! :wink:


And a little tip... never look directly at the people in the audience...


For the first couple times I was on stage, I was really nervous before it, too. But then, when I actually was on stage for a few seconds, you realize there's nothing to worry about. Now, I actually look forward to performing on stage. :blink:


And remember. Just do your best. :wink:

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I've found that stretching, listening to music, or otherwise doing something which makes you feel stretched out and just that enough wee bit reckless to attack (if you're doing some sort of allegro) can really help.


Failing that, when I was a kid, I used to wiggle my toes to distract myself!

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Knock knock... Just thought I'd add a few thoughts for the courageous Pink Fairy!


I've only been onstage as a super, never in a dancing role. But I've spent years

playing in various semi-pro bands (rock, blues, country, now folk and bluegrass), and

in that context I've had to face similar sorts of feelings. Here's what I have learned:


1) A little fear is ok -- it tells you that you're doing something important, and it

reminds you to prepare yourself. Whenever I feel that tingle, I remind myself that

it's like going on a roller coaster ride: scary things CAN actually be fun, but you

need to be sure your seat belt is fastened. So use it as a reminder to check your

costume and shoes and so on.


2) I found it almost impossible (and not really desirable) to try to block those feelings

of fear. Because invariably, the harder I try to "silence" them, the more they

are there. Instead, here's what I do:


a) Distract myself, using humor. That's what Mel's examples of Eisenhower

and Churchill point to, I think. This doesn't work so well for me, individually,

but when our band is waiting to go on, humor can lighten up the group in

a really constructive way. I would expect that's also true for dance companies.


B) Talk to the scared part of myself as I would to a little brother or sister who

is afraid of the dark. Metaphorically speaking, open the closet door and show them

that there is nothing to worry about in there. In other words, when you feel the

fear, remind yourself that you have practiced and worked and disciplined yourself

to be a performer. Be reasoned, calming, soothing, and firm -- this is just a performance,

and you ARE prepared, so there is no boogeyman.


c) Use the feelings as a reminder to LISTEN, and turn the focus outward from yourself.

Whenever I am nervous onstage, it's usually because I am turning inward -- worrying

about screwing up my solo or singing a harmony part wrong, or whatever. I try to

catch myself in those fears, and use them to pull me back to paying attention to

the other musicians, and to the music we are making -- in other words, reminding myself

to listen, because even a solo is not "all about me". This works the best for me...

In dance I expect it would too -- when you feel that fear before starting your piece,

let it summon you to really really listen to the music, and pay attention to everything else

on stage.


3) Finally, remember that no one is ever watching you as much as you think they are.

It's true, and knowing it both keeps us humble, and reminds us that we make our best

music or dance when we get caught up in the beauty and excitement of it all and lose ourselves.


Centuries ago the Sufi mystic poet Rumi wrote: "Let the beauty we love

be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."


Good luck!

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Nice quote, DPR :wink: I also use the music and the moment in the ballet and keep focused on that and not on myself. Really LISTENING to the music always helped!

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