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OMG! Dance Performance Anxiety


Anyone who has had to dance in front of an audience understands that it goes beyond steps. It is about performance and that can be a scary place. Never fear. We are here to help with those pre-stage/on-stage jitters. And who better to learn from than our own teachers, who all have had to face the music so to speak. Sarah Skinner, our Belly Dance Instructor, offers 8 tips to managing the panic.

1) Go Into Your Own Personal Zone

If you talk to most performers, they will almost all tell you that they have a special ritual and space they slip into before going on stage. It could be a mental imagery or it could be a specific process of doing things that has become a good luck ritual. Sometimes, it’s finding a physical space. Almost always it’s about the breath; deep calming breaths. Whatever it is, find that special place where you can block everything out but the sound of your own breath and the dancer within. Make it a part of your warm up.

2) Stretch and Move

Take the time to warm up. Your body will love you for it. Stretch, wiggle your toes, massage your feet, maybe do a little shimmy and don’t forget to breathe.

3) Know You Can and You Will

Know that the audience is with you. They want to be swept away with you. The story you tell through your movement is an amazing one that your audience wants to experience. Know that you can and you will weave it wonderfully. Remember the audience is less interested in perfect technique then they are in the magic of dance.

4) Smile

It’s a proven fact that you can’t smile and be anxious or unhappy at the same time. When you smile, the brain is triggered to release serotonin which is makes us feel good. So, smile. It’s a good thing.

5) Posture

When your mom said stand up straight, she was right. When your dance teacher was nagging you about posture, they had a reason. Standing tall gives you confidence. Your mind is literally guided by your body to feel this way. When you are confident, so is the audience.

6) Positive Internal Language

Remember what follows the words “I AM…” happens. So keep your internal dialogue positive. Focus on the aspects of your performance that you do well and then give it all you have.

7) “What If I Make a Mistake?”

First don’t set yourself up for one by thinking about it before you go on. However, if you do make a mistake, keep going. It happens to the best of us and 90 per cent of the time people don’t notice or they honestly don’t care. Remember, performance is more than the sum of the parts and goes well beyond steps and technique.

8) Be Gracious

People tend to think this is about how you respond to others. That is part of the equation; the other part is to be gracious to yourself. Thanking yourself for all the hard work you’ve put into your performance isn’t goofy. It’s worth it and at the end of the day so are you.

Dance is a gift we bring to the world. It is emotion in motion and you are just the person to do it. So, you’re in the wings and ready. Take a deep breath; weight on the balls of your feet…and… Happy Dancing!

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