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Ballet Talk for Dancers

performance anxiety -- not dk's, ours!


Jacqueline

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Now that many of us are fully immersed in nutty Nutcracker season, I thought I'd start a thread on a lighter note -- how to deal with our own performance anxiety!

 

Anyone else out there feel you are more nervous sitting in the audience than your dk is on stage? Feel free to vent and share!

 

A few years ago, I told one of dd's teachers, who herself had been a principal with a major company, how nervous I was about some of the bigger roles she would be dancing for the first time. I asked her why we as parents couldn't just relax and enjoy it, and she told me it would only get worse, recounting tales of her own Dad watching her first professional Sugarplum!

 

Last weekend, my dd finally had her dream role in Nut and although I tried not to show it, I was a nervous wreck! Finally, while sitting there waiting for her scene I asked myself, "what is your worst fear?" The answer to that was that the stage would be slippery and that she would fall down. The fear was compounded by the fact that there were several errant pieces of plastic "snow" left behind for second act! But just having that little conversation with myself, and deciding how to deal with it if it did happen was a bit of a comfort. The performance was successful but passed in a blur. When we get the videos, we will truly enjoy it!

 

Anyone else? Tips, advice for nervous parents? I guess it all comes with the territory!

 

Jacqueline

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I find it very stressful to watch both of my daughters perform (one dances and the other acts/sings and also plays an individual sport which I rarely can watch). The Nutcracker doesn't bother me so much because it is with a huge company on a huge stage. It is the solo/small group stuff that really puts me over the edge and I'd almost rather they be in the corps/chorus.

 

I also can't take them to auditions--when they were young their father took them--now they go on their own.

 

Glad to know I am not the only parent with stage fright by proxy!

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I understad the feelings exactly, but they are not for DD. She has demonstrated an amazing ability to cover. In her first "professional" dance experience, American Girl character dances, the entire sound system caught fire, and ligts went out temporarily while the kids were on stage. They just kept dancing in place and we could hear their little character shoes clumping away until they were told what to do (DD was only 10).

 

But DH, who does theatre makes both of us very nervous for him. He has been known to perfectly present his lines from a scene - only have it be the wrong scene from where they are in the play leaving everyone else to scramble. We don't go to most of his shows because that seems to bring his nerves on the most.

 

DD just doesn't get nerves when she performs but she does for her dear dad and her friends.

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I can honestly say, in 10 years of dance, I've never watched more than a few minutes of DD performing. She has no nerves and loves it, I survive the performance or competition days on diet cokes, nerves and pacing. I do the same with my son's various competitions. She always laughed at me until she went to state finals with her brother, and paced and chewed gum nervously the entire day. An "aha" moment, when she realized that it's much more nerve-wracking to worry about those we love, than to actually be doing the activity!

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Wow! I had no idea.

 

I confess, I am not usually anxious for my kids. My feeling is more of eagerness, and then disappointment when it's over because I don't get to watch them anymore.

 

The one time I was really anxious was when my DD was just getting over the flu or strep or something. She hadn't danced in a few days, and was in that stage of post-illness lethargy and "offness". I really was concerned she might collapse, but she made it through.

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My dds don't get nervous before a performance, but I do! The more they have performed, the less anxious I have become, but I still feel very nervous when they perform solos. If I have the chance, I watch from the wings. I feel more comfortable being there if something should go wrong. It is such a helpless feeling to be in the audience when the sound system malfunctions, etc! I just love watching kids dance! Their enthusiasm is contagious!

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I reacted different ways at different stages of my daughter's training. When she was little - before, say, age 13 - I used to just get excited and happily look forward to the event.

 

But once 13 hit, and she began to perform pas de deux roles - and I began hearing of the various travails of her partnering rehearsals - I started to get nervous. As her roles grew from ages 13-16, so did my anxiety.

 

Like many of your children, she was never scared, just "pumped". She loved to perform and was a risk-taker onstage too. She's always liked to gobble up space.

 

But I'm happy to report that my nervousness really lasted only till she was a junior in high school. At that point, I became almost relaxed about seeing her on stage, happily looking forward to the event once again. I knew she'd be fine and I knew that she'd maturely handle whatever mishap might come her way.

 

Most moms of my daughter's dancing peers reported the same progression so I think that the dancer's reaching age 16/17 is pivotal in a parent's development too. :flowers::wink:

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Most moms of my daughter's dancing peers reported the same progression so I think that the dancer's reaching age 16/17 is pivotal in a parent's development too. :flowers:  :wink:

 

 

Maybe that's why I feel so at ease, comparatively speaking -- my oldest has passed that milestone. Now that you mention it, I do think that I probably felt more anxious in the past.

 

Vagansmom, I know you just have the one DK -- do you think that having an older DK eases the anxiety when the younger one dances? I don't have much anxiety for the younger one either.

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I don't know. My son was an Irish dancer who competed regularly at feiseanna till he was a mid-teen. I remember being terribly nervous about that all the way through. But he never competed after 16 so I don't know if that would've eased. Maybe not. To this day, my insides go into knots when I watch some of our stepdancers compete; it's every bit as acute as it was when my own kids were students.

 

I think sometimes it might just be our own temperaments. My heart thumped in fear with every single well-baby/well-child visit with both my kids. :flowers:

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Vagansmom, I agree both about the age and our own temperaments!

 

The pas de deux and solo roles definitely increase the parental nerves, and other than that, perhaps we are thinking how scary it would be to be up there from our own points of view! I have to hand it to the kids because they really put themselves out there. Something that will serve them in later life, for sure.

 

Sometimes I worry about stuff I shouldn't -- given that my dd is responsible, level-headed, experienced, well-trained and passionate! It is silly stuff like, what if she forgets to come on when she is supposed to (well, I sort of did that myself once back in my long ago youth!)

 

I guess it is just better to try to let go and enjoy! These moments are all too short.

 

Jacqueline

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Wow - what an interesting topic. Oddly, I feel quite excited but not anxious watching my daughter and I admire her and all the other dancers for their courage and aplomb. Watching her take part in piano competitions, however, is a different matter - I have the full adrenaline surge symptoms then! Wonder why the difference?

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Wow - what an interesting topic. Oddly, I feel quite excited but not anxious watching my daughter and I admire her and all the other dancers for their courage and aplomb. Watching her take part in piano competitions, however, is a different matter - I have the full adrenaline surge symptoms then! Wonder why the difference?

I don't feel nervous when my daughter is actually performing, but if she has a ballet or drama exam (as she did last week) I am terrible - I can't eat, can't read, pace, feel sick - you name it. She was the same, but if it's a performance, she's just a bit nervous. Strange! :yes: Fiz.

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Nervous yes but I'm usually so busy that it is energy displaced into someone's costume needs instead. Although when I sit in the audience I am tense. Not hugely so but every now and then when she's dancing I'll notice my legs are tensed up and usually laugh at myself and then relax them.

 

vj

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I only get nervous if there's an obvious opportunity for a fall or major flub...like a lift. DD performed yesterday, a role that was a first for her and good reason for her to be nervous. In the morning, when she woke up, she said "I'm really nervous", which is not like her.

 

After the performance, her brother asked if "she's nervous when on the stage" and she said "no". I sort of thought she wasn't telling the truth, because I knew she was nervous yesterday, and I called her on it. She corrected me, saying that she is often nervous before, but it evaporates when she goes on the stage.

 

I thought that would be a comfort for me in the future. If I know she's fine, it will help me relax and enjoy watching her more.

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