Teaching Tips

3 Stress-Reducing Exercises to Give Your Students Before Going Onstage

Getty Images

The pressure young dancers feel to succeed at competition can lead to unhealthy stress levels that take the fun out of performing. To help your students feel calm, cool and collected before dancing, teach them these three stress-reducing exercises to do before going onstage.

Trust us, learning how to manage anxiety will benefit your dancers for the rest of their lives!


1. Deep Breathing

According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, by Harvard Medical School, deep breathing can help calm anxiety by encouraging a full oxygen exchange. "Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure," the author writes. In order to help your dancers focus their mind on something other than their anxieties before going onstage, encourage them to practice this breathing technique. Here's how it works:

  • Sit still or lie down.
  • Place one hand on your stomach, and your other hand over your heart.
  • Inhale slowly until you feel your stomach rise.
  • Hold your breath for roughly eight counts, or as long as you feel comfortable.
  • Exhale slowly, feeling your stomach fall.
  • Repeat.


2. Meditation

According to 47 different studies analyzed by JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation helps manage anxiety, depression and pain. Become educated on different meditation techniques, and teach these to your students to practice before going onstage. Here are three different mediation apps you might consider checking out:

  • The Mindfulness App
  • Headspace
  • Calm


3. Yoga

Yoga may not be your go-to warm-up technique when it comes to your dancers, but before a competition, it might be just what your students need in order to lower stress. Your dancers are certainly flexible and strong without participating in a yoga practice, but the mental health benefits may be worth the extra time and energy. According to the Mayo Clinic, "A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being."

Teach your students the poses, and watch them downward-dog their way to peace!

News
Layeelah Muhammad, courtesy DAYPC

This summer's outcry to fully see and celebrate Black lives was a wake-up call to dance organizations.

And while many dance education programs are newly inspired to incorporate social justice into their curriculums, four in the San Francisco Bay area have been elevating marginalized youth and focusing on social change for decades.

GIRLFLY, Grrrl Brigade, The Alphabet Rockers and Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company fuse dance with education around race, gender, climate change and more, empowering young artists to become leaders in their communities. Here's how they do it.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.