Site Network

The Show Must Go On: 4 Pros on How They Managed Their Most Embarrassing Onstage Moments

Nathalia Arja in George Balanchine's "Emeralds." Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

Whether it's a wardrobe malfunction or a spectacular, opera-house–sized fail, onstage mistakes happen to everybody. See how these four professionals survived their worst mishaps—and what they took away from them.

​Crystal Brothers

Brothers and Rafael Ferreras in Trey McIntyre's The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry). Photo by Louis Tucker, Courtesy Ballet Memphis.

Ballet Memphis veteran Crystal Brothers had performed the Glinda variation in Steven McMahon's Wizard of Oz several times in her career. But during the most recent run, McMahon slightly altered the steps—two days before the performance. "It was already ingrained in my body, so when we changed it, I was determined to remember it," says Brothers. "I went over it so many times that I forgot it onstage." All she could do was improvise. "I just kept running around doing some passé relevés, flickin' my wrist, trying to hit a ping. An accent here, accent there."

Brothers got away with it. "All my ballet mistress had to say was, 'Oh, it looked like you had a funny smile on your face.' " The audience was none the wiser.

The Lesson: Occasional memory malfunctions are inevitable. "Just don't freeze," says Brothers. "Even though you feel like a deer in headlights and you just want to go crawl under a rock and die, make something up. Sparkle, sparkle. Hit an accent." With musicality and a smile, you might escape the audience's (and even your ballet mistress') scrutiny.

Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Jill Randall

Whether you're in need of some wintertime inspiration or searching for new material for your classes, these six titles—ranging from personal stories, classroom materials, detailed essays and coursebooks—are worthy picks to add to your pedagogy bookshelf.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.