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Ballet Talk for Dancers

how to deal with

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Hello everyone!

Next Saturday it's my school's performance and while I am quite anxious about it, I am starting to feel a bit nervous as well..I know it's not a big deal, (I mean we are just amateurs, one mistake is not going to ruin a carreer or anything) but still, it is the very first time I am going to go on stage as an adult, let alone dance in front of my family, fiance and friends and lots of other people!! What's more, they have never seen me in a tutu before and I am afraid I am going to look funny..(just me - the costumes are great and the production is very good overall).

Since many of you on this board are much more experienced, do you have any tips about how to deal with being nervous right before going on stage? I have the feeling that the few moments before going on stage are the worst ones - once you are on stage you don't have much time to think about it I guess..

I already know that my stomach is upside down!!

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Just imagine that your entire audience is out there sitting in the dark -- stark naked.

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Before you go on take some calming breathes, remember that you are well prepared for this and that you love dancing. Anyone willing to come to see you perform is obviously supportive of the things you do, or they wouldn't be there. While you want to wow them, my guess is they will love it regardless of what you look like.


And you are very right about not having time to think once you are on stage. Think about your dancing!

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Guest BalletBrat

Something I read a few years ago, and can't remember where, was that you have to learn the difference between fear and excitement. Often times it is excitement we are really experiencing and trying to focus our energy on being positive , rather than frightened, is a great way to conquer those butterflies. So, when I am standing in the wings waiting for my cue, and I feel a little quiver in the pit of my stomach, I just say to myself.."I'm not afraid, I'm excited!:" This really helps me in that moment right before I go on and am the most worked up.

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BalletBrat - that's a good point. It reminds me of something in John White's book, "Teaching Classical Ballet."


In the book, White discusses Giving as a mentality of the artist. First of course, that the artist must give 100% in the classroom and rehearsal and on stage physically.


But even further than that, that the concept of Giving extends beyond mere physical preparation to the mental. You are Giving (sharing, bestowing) a performance to your audience. When you feel that excitement and feel it wanting to turn into nervousness, you can think about what you are about to share with the audience, what you are about to Give/GIFT them. And what a blessing that is, to be in the position to share art.


It is a selfless mentality and as such is outward focused. When you look at it this way, it becomes not about yourself and therefore there is no place/rationale for stage fright!


You're going to do great. :thumbsup:



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I liked Mel’s comment because it is both funny and because it takes away an element of judgment, which is often a cause of anxiety.


I think the important thing to know is that what you are experiencing is common and perhaps even necessary for a good performance. Coping strategies? Well, I think each person has his or her own. Personally I like to watch and listen to other performers and note their nervous habits. Somehow, seeing others in a highly anxious state makes me feel less so.


A more interesting phenomenon related to performance anxiety I’ve seen over and over has to do with repeated performances. With the first performance, there’s lots of anxiety and magically it all turns out just fine. Anxiety level then drops through the basement floor and in the second performance some mistake occurs or the performance is lifeless.

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I LOVE your suggestion. That could be a really powerful tool in performance and class. Never even thought about the butterflies that way. Really helpful. I'm going to remember that one.

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Elie, I hope you have a great time in the performance on Saturday. I've never performed for an audience, but my sister-in-law is an actress and says if you don't have the stage nerves, you can't do well. She's been stepping out on stage for about 50 years and says she's been nervous every time. Somehow, giving a good performance involves the emotional build-up - the payoff is the high you get afterwards! Let us all know how it went.

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Guest BalletBrat

Lampwick, it really works, and Spankster's comment regarding John White's book explains it perfectly. :wink: I find I perform the best when I focus on this thought process, all of my energy goes into my dancing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I keep on having stagefright everytime I have to perform a variation in which consisted a step I still cannot master perfectly. For example, a 7-times grand fouette releve en tournant. During the rehearsals, the chance of getting the step succeeded is.. say, 3 out of 5 times. I mean, out of 5 rehearsals, I can only do the 7-times grand fouette well in three rehearsals. So.. who can guarantee that on the performance day I would do it well?

That's what giving hundreds of butterflies in my stomach whenever I wait in the stagewing.


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Hi all :D

I am coming back, after the recital, to say that Ballebrat's ans Spankster's comments were really helpful (I tried Mel's thing but I thought I would laugh all the time lol!).

Nevertheless, I have to say that things happened the other way round - before the recital I had thought that I would be nervous right before going on stage and that the feeling would disappear once I got there, but I was surprised to find out that the moment we got out, I got REALLY nervous. It shows on the DVD, for the first moments my arms look hideous with all the tension and all.

Anyway, after a couple of minutes I was OK, but I have to admit that a ridiculous thought crossed my mind: I said to myself, ok, if I can't take this, I can run backstage!! Luckily I didn't do that, it would have been absurd.


Anyway, I already posted on the Brag Board some days ago that the recital went well, and thank you all for your encouragement once again :shhh:

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