Going up on stage to perform in front of everyone can be nerve-wracking, especially for young performers. Registering for a dance competition is an exciting time, but sometimes it can feel scary when you’re about to go on stage. But don’t worry, there are a few tricks you can use to overcome stage fright on the day of the competition.
So what causes stage fright or performance anxiety? You want to perform, so why do you get anxious before stepping on stage? Stage fright occurs when you are focused more on yourself and your own feelings rather than your performance. You are thinking that maybe you’ll let down the audience or the team if you have a misstep. Remember that performing in a dance competition is about having a fun experience, challenging yourself, and growing as a dancer. It is not about proving yourself to anyone or being perfect.
Practice And Practice Again
If you go into a competition without knowing your routine front to back, you’re setting yourself up for performance anxiety. Practicing your routine over and over (and over) again is the best defense for stage fright. After you practice your routine, practice your performance. Perform for your family, friends, and community. This will reinforce the idea that if you can do it in practice, you can do it on a stage. Additionally, making the leap and doing one dance performance in a competition will make you more prepared for your next competition. You will continue to get better and better and feel less anxiety the more you perform.
Eat A Healthy Meal Before Performing
Nerves can take the form of everything from a racing heart to an upset stomach. So be sure to give your body the fuel it needs to feel good. Eat something light and familiar so you won’t experience any food-related tummy problems, and avoid caffeine which can make you jittery.
Remember To Breathe
Don’t just breathe in and out; breathe with purpose. Imagine your breath going into your belly, rather than your chest. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Put your hand on your stomach to feel how it moves when you breathe in. Take your time and breathe slowly.
Remember Why The Audience Is There
Why did the audience show up today? In the nicest way possible, it isn’t to see you (except your parents – they came to see you). At a dance competition, most of the audience is going to be made up of other dancers, their parents, and their instructors. They are either there to perform themselves, or to watch some fun dance routines in general. They didn’t come to see Jane Doe, they came to see dance. And that’s what you’ll give them! While the audience will probably pay attention to and enjoy your performance, it can help ease nerves knowing that they aren’t going to be hanging on your every move and expecting perfection.
Think about it. When you watch others perform, are you sitting in the audience judging and laughing if they make an error? Most likely, you don’t even notice when others make small mistakes because you’re busy enjoying their performance. Remember that the audience feels the same way about you as you feel about other performers. We’re all here to have a good time.
Star Systems Creates Low-Stress Dance Competition Environments
As a family-owned company, we focus on creating an encouraging environment at our competitions. Our main goal is for every dancer to walk out of the competition feeling confident and eager to compete again. We do this by having a welcoming staff, many of whom are former dance competitors themselves, who are great at keeping the dancers calm yet excited about walking on stage. If your child or dance students experience stage fright and performance anxiety, remind them that they are not alone and help them to practice the above tricks to calm their nerves on the day of the competition. For a list of dance competitions in 2018, head over to our regional dance competition schedule page.