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Ballet Talk for Dancers


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I know there are threads on this somewhere, but I was unable to locate the specific ones by doing a search. I tried!


I'm looking for some consolation. How do you all deal with performance anxiety? I'm not normally prone to stage fright (I've been doing stage things for as long as I can remember) but this year is different. There are special friends and family coming to watch me in my upcoming recital (this weekend!), and, most importantly, this will be my first recital that includes pointework. I haven't been at it very long (a year and a half, maybe?) and I don't feel completely solid on my technique. There's always some part where I slip or wobble, and thinking about those parts just makes me feel sick. I imagine myself, in my lovely costume, surrounded by lovely dancers, suddenly wobbling and falling over on a slippery stage in front of those I care about (and it will be on video! :green: ) It's the pointe I'm most anxious about. In my other disciplines, I feel rather secure. Pointe has the most potential for humiliation.


I know we've all been there, and will be there again and again. What are some techniques everyone uses to relieve pre-performance stress and nervousness? I tell myself the things that should work.. concentrating, relaxing, having confidence, but for some reason, I keep psyching myself out! This isn't all about me, of course. Hopefully we can all offer some tips to keep the rest of us calm.


Something tells me that when the day comes I'll be relatively calm, but I can't help but worry. Practicing makes me feel better. Also, pre-performance things like doing my hair and makeup seem to calm me down. I've just never been anxious like this before. :shrug:


(Could it be that our costumes are white? :devil: )

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Just remember - they're all out there, sitting in the dark, stark naked. :devil:

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Sounds like you've already got the right idea! :devil:


For the pointe work, be sure to rosin up a little bit before you go out... it will make you less likely to slip and will also make you feel more secure!


I'm the same way - I sometimes will be terrified for days before a show, but then once I get out there, I'm totally fine. Practicing the material is a great way to calm nerves. I'd say just run through everything to calm yourself down, and then DISTRACT yourself! Go read a book, do a crossword, have a glass of wine, watch a movie... just do something totally unrelated to ballet. No use dwellling on the nerves too much - that will only make them worse! Hair and make-up are good distractions on performance day. Little rituals and routines can be so calming.


Finally, just trust yourself! After all the preparation you've done, you'll need to just relax and trust that you are all ready to go. Though if you still have nerves on the day of the show, that can be ok too - sometimes a good burst of adrenaline actually does wonders for a performance. :green:

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Just remember - they're all out there, sitting in the dark, stark naked. :devil:


..That's supposed to make me feel better? :green:


And wine will be lovely... in September, when I turn 21. :shrug:

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Whoa! Let's remember, you're the one asking for advice, so sarcasm isn't a very appropriate response, even if you don't understand.


That was President "Ike" Eisenhower's device that he used to overcome stage fright. He imagined his audience in an even more vulnerable and frankly ridiculous situation than he was in as a speaker. Sir Winston Churchill used a similar tactic. He imagined his entire audience each had a hole in its socks, all in the same place.

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Aww, I don't think she meant it in that sort of way..it was in an 'imaginging people naked! I might feel worse!" sort of way, unless they all looked like ..insert most eligible male/female name here... of course ;)


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Can I suggest: you dont worry about being good - or not? (I know that sounds a silly thing to say.. but) - you are an adult - you are (presumably) paying for the privilege of being there. You are there to enjoy yourself, not necessarily to be good. Even if you're not that good, you will be better than members of the audience would be, and better than you would be if you had no training. In other words, however it works out, it will be a gain. So just have fun.


If you slip or wobble - either it wont be noticed, or it will be a really big one and you will be admired for your courage when you recover rapidly and continue. All ways you win.



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I play in a quartet and frequently get really nervous before we perform. Before our last performance, I was feeling very anxious because I didn't feel comfortable with our piece yet. Our violinist gave me some useful advice, which I think might help you. First, people are coming because they want to see you and have a nice, enjoyable afternoon/evening. They are not sitting there looking for your mistakes. They probably won't notice them anyway. If they wanted to see a perfect, professional performance, they'd go to one. The expectations are different. Secondly, even if you do make a mistake, it doesn't matter. It's the passion and spirit with which you perform that people will remember and what makes the performance. And think about it, what will really happen if you make a mistake? Is it really that embarrassing? Will anyone care (aside from you)? I think you'll find that the answer is probably no. So just go out there, do the best you can do and enjoy yourself.

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Here is some advise that my husband totally beleives in, and I have also applied this principle for quite a few things, and it does work! There is research that has been shown that your 'brain' cannot distinguish between what you are 'thinking' and what you are actually 'doing'. You brain accepts the information in the same way.


Sooooo the pointe' (hee-hee) is that you visualize what you intend yourself to be doing. Go through the motions, picture vividly in your mind whatever it is in a very positive way, rathern than a negative way.


In your case it would be to visualize yourself on the stage, doing your performance, totally enjoying the experience, and you are filled with confidence and ~grace~. Then have fun with it as you finish your performance and have it end the way you want it to! You're on your feet, there was no wobbling, and then guess what??? You hear that beautiful sound of applause from the audience :clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping: and then you get this 'thing' :grinning: coming across your face, and you know in your heart you loved the performance...and you can't wait to get back on the stage again!!!


Then what?? You run off back stage and you :party: And to finish it off you meet all of your friends and family after the performance and they :flowers:


That's all there is to it! Have a great performance and do let us know how it all went perfectly!!

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As an old guy who has spent a lifetime performing in front of groups (not so much dance performing, however), my performance anxiety is minimal. In fact, I like to create a little just because I think it is needed. Consequently, my suggestion might not be so good.


Personally, I like to watch others exhibit their performance anxiety. I see what they do, assess the level of anxiety they express, and then look at myself. For me that puts things in perspective.


I don’t know that there is any way to really reduce performance anxiety other than through experience. With experience you gain confidence which is probably the psychological trait underlying performance anxiety. Keep performing (and not just dance performing) and anxiety decreases.

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Sorry, I didn't mean to sound snarky... I just never understood what was so comforting about imagining a nude audience. I get nervous and start imagining it the other way around. Plus, as I'm sure you know, there's not much audience visible from behind those stage lights. I suppose that's somewhat reassuring..


Anywho, I truly appreciate everyone's advice. Fortunately, the pointe is not the first event for me in this recital, which means I'll have one or two of my more confident numbers behind me when I get up there. We'll see how these next few nights go (dress rehearsals) and I'm sure by the weekend I'll have nothing to worry about. Thanks, everybody. :)

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Well, do not look into the audience before your finished your piece! No eye contact with noone!

If you have professional stage lighting you will no be able to see much of the audience at all anyway- so just imagine they are all not there and you are dancing for yourself. :)

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Just to show how idiosyncratic approaches to performance anxiety can be, I make eye contact with different people in the audience (whether dance or business performance) both because it gives me a real person to relate to and because it makes me feel as if it is a one-on-one thing (hence, less anxiety). We all try different things and keep whatever works for us.


Professional lighting on a professional stage for amateur dancers? I love the concept!

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Balletismykidslife! said exactly the same thing I would have (though much more eloquently than I). I have always found that visualization works very well for me.


Then, of course, there is the logic of my daughter, who, when she was seven, explained to me how she dealt with being on stage and overcoming stage fright (this is a child who has always been very nervous about speaking up in class or in small group settings). She said, "I'm fine on stage because they can't touch me." It seems to me that there can be both a literal and figurative interpretation of this statement, the figurative being that she's the one that can be up there, not them...

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