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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pre Show Jitters


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The school where I’ve been taking adult classes for the last 15 months is once again putting on a Christmas show, last year they did excerpts from Nutcracker, this year they want to do something more in line with a full production of Nutcracker, to this end they need several adults to participate, they asked and I said I would do what they wanted me to do.

I will be Clara’s father in the party scene, which puts me front and centre on stage for that dance, I will also be mother ginger for that dance.

This is extremely outside my comfort zone, I have never performed on stage for anything, not even in high school, but if the school is to grow they need to do bigger and better things, usually I am the behind the scenes guy, so this is a pretty big deal for me, I’m pretty nervous about performing on stage in front of people, but I made the commitment.

Any advice on how to calm my pre show anxiety jitters would be hugely appreciated 


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Unfortunately I don't have any advice for you, but I find it extremely courageous of you to do it! 

My school is planning a big show in summer. However my class decided not to take part. The credo was "You should perform if you are cute or very good .... neither does apply to us." I happily agreed and at this point I find myself already daring enough to take ballet at all.

However I wish you a lot of fun!!


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Practise, practise, practise. I was only on stage for 1 1/2 minutes for the adult ballet group spot of 2 1/2min  in the annual show after only about 7 months back at the barre. As a group we put in 10 hours outside of class plus my own marking it through most days. It was still stressful and way outside my comfort zone. The evening of the show I had backstage duties, organising the boys, last minute repairs to costumes etc. that stopped  me thinking about it too much. I did have to focus on my breathing to calm myself down (yoga technique) but committing to it got me on stage. After that muscle memory took over and I enjoyed it. You have already made the commitment so you will be fine.

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Thanks for the words of encouragement 

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You're a good sport. I'm a ballet dad (12 y.o daughter and 9 y.o son dance) with no formal dance training who's been recruited to play Clara's father for our school's production. I did do theater, with some dancing, in high school, but that was over 25 years ago. I'm a bit nervous too, but if it helps, here's how I'm approaching it. First, I've never seen a production of the Nutcracker, professional or amateur, and thought "wow, Clara's father was so memorable." Have you?  The audience remembers the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Cavalier, Clara etc. They don't remember Clara's dad. Second, no one is going to be studying your performance. Clara's father's purpose is to make the on-stage guests, and the audience, feel welcome and comfortable, not to wow them. As long as you've practiced so that know your steps and where to be on stage, you'll be fine. Muscle memory will take over, as said above. Mother Ginger actually sounds like fun. And if you've got little ones going on stage with you, they're going to steal the scene regardless.  Take a deep breath and enjoy.

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Great advice - all of it. I second the idea that nobody is going to see the production in order to see Clara's father. I would practice steps at home so that you can do them without thinking. Enjoy the experience above all - it's nice you get to do it. At the moment I'm bummed because I'm a dedicated adult student and my studio picks inexperienced teens to play the male roles, and serious adults don't have the chance to do anything in the Nutcracker or other productions.

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Thanks everyone this all helps 

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We did 2 shows one on Saturday night and the other on Sunday afternoon, they went great, without a hitch, and I have to say it was a lot of fun 


Thanks for all your advice and encouragement

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've done Mother Ginger three different years it's a role you can play with and have fun I mostly react to what the kids do, loose track of them and count them and get embarrased when the go under the dress. If you wanna give the audience a little laugh do a chest shimmy as you go off stage at the end.

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