Your dancer has been focused on footwork, poise, and smiles. As the big dance competition or recital performance approaches, your dancer may be feeling some trepidation about going from her studio classroom to a big stage in front of a crowd.
Taking time to calm her fears is really important for a solid performance. Usually, a dress rehearsal will take place a couple of days before the recital, giving dancers the opportunity to wear their costume and get comfortable on stage. Dress rehearsals also give the teachers and parents the rhythm of the actual performance — you know you’re going to be nervous too!
Dance competitions are another story, however. Since competitions are typically held in a hotel convention center, it’s not possible to get on stage a few days prior to the competition, since they usually set up the stage on the day-of.
I bypass fear in this setting by sneaking away from the group and showing my daughter the stage when it’s quiet. I find my seat and let her know where I’ll be — even though she likely won’t be able to see me from the stage (thanks to the bright lights!) she does find comfort knowing the general area where I am seated.
It’s Performance Day!
On the day of the show, nerves are at their peak. Despite the dry runs and dress rehearsals, the whole building will be abuzz with other dancers, their families, and the audience. This nervous energy may feed your daughter’s own worries.
Dance teachers are well-equipped to help in this scenario. They will likely hold an additional mini practice in a quiet area of the performance space, which is ideal for finalizing any last-minute hair and costume needs, as well as encouraging a final potty break! As performance time nears, the teachers will take the class backstage and parents will find their seats. Breathe a sigh of relief that your dancer is as prepared as she will ever be, and enjoy the show! The best part of these venues is that there’s typically great TV screens, so every seat will be the best seat in the house.
Many little kids are attached to stuffed animals or blankies — they provide some much-needed security during stressful times! Be sure to pack your dancer’s favorites . . . along with snacks and tablets to keep her occupied during long stretches of waiting.
The best tool in your kit is to be open and honest with your dancer’s teacher. Let her know that your daughter is nervous, and I guarantee she’ll have numerous tips and tricks to ease those fears! During my daughter’s first competition, she was absolutely petrified and overwhelmed. Her teacher let me “sneak” backstage posing as a dance teacher so that I could be next to her. It’s a small gesture that made a big difference in developing a positive relationship between my daughter and performing.
I even found that letting the entire team or class open up about their fears with one another is calming! When the girls know that everyone else is nervous, they often feel better that they’re not alone. Plus, opening up like that builds camaraderie among the team, building a strong friendship that leads to support and the ability to talk through big emotions.
Nerves are normal — preparation is key!