Performing live is what all dancers strive for- the reason we push our bodies to the limit at class each week contending with injuries bruised bodies and bruised egos. The thrill of performing in front of an audience makes all the blood, sweat and tears of training worth while, and it is the reason we continue to better our skills. We all want to perform to the best of our ability and feel confident that our skills and training will carry us through a live performance, despite nerves, emotions and fears. All dancers, even professionals, get nervous when performing live, as there is always the risk of making mistakes, but it is conquering our fears that makes performing so exhilarating!
Practice Makes PerfectIt is an old saying, but one that rings true when it comes to dance. Nothing is guaranteed during a live performance, but the more you rehearse, the better your chances are of performing well, in spite of nerves. Adrenaline is powerful, and can either give you an edge during live performances or push you over it! Solid preparation and practice will ensure you are 100% confident when taking to the stage. Work hard on areas that scare you or give you trouble, don’t leave it to luck on the day. Know your routine and music inside and out- mental practice is invaluable in ensuring what to do at each moment of the music. And the best part is you can practice in your mind any time, anywhere- on the train, eating breakfast or before you go to sleep at night. Make sure you have a copy of your music and learn it inside and out.
VisualiseAs well as physical training, train your mind to visualise the performance exactly as you want it to be. A negative mind frame is a performer’s worst enemy, but if you see yourself performing well, you will. A positive attitude will present you as a polished performer. So once you have mastered the physical elements of the performance, be confident and let this shine through to the audience.
Dress RehearsalTry to rehearse in the space you are set to perform in. Dress rehearsals are not just about costumes, but will be the closest you get to simulating a live performance. Try to perform before an audience, even if it is a small one, as it is important to get a feel for dancing in front of a crowd. Practice with lighting you will be using on the day, as you want to know what to expect to avoid distractions. Practice costume changes so that they are smooth, and if not enough time has been allowed, rectify the problem. If you can’t practice in the performance space, map it out exactly in the studio so that the choreography fits. Also, try to visit the venue for a visual inspection, which will give you some idea of what to expect.
TrustFirstly, trust yourself. If you have practiced hard, you have the ability to perform well, so be confident and enjoy yourself. If performing in a group, know and trust your team mates. If someone is having trouble, it is everyone’s problem, so help and support each other, so there are no worries when you step out on stage. Everyone has enough to think about during a performance, without worrying about others, so if you want to perform as a great team, practice like one.
If you slip up, carry on, often a mistake that seems enormous to you is barely noticeable to the audience, although your reaction to the mistake will determine this. They will happen, so keep going and don’t let your confidence waver. Mistakes, nerves and mishaps are all part of performing, but the feeling of being out on the stage in front of an audience doing what you love best far outweighs the fear of failure, so embrace the adrenaline rush, and shine!