Teaching Tips

Help Students Overcome Stage Fright By Taking These Steps

Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

Q: What's the best way to help my students get over stage fright before competitions?


A: I think the best way to deal with stage fright is to take steps to minimize it. First, I make sure that my dancers are as prepared for competition as my staff and I can possibly make them. We rehearse often, encouraging them to always perform full-out, and even cover the mirrors so they get used to dancing without seeing their reflections. In class, my teachers tape out the stage dimensions on the floor so we know how much space we have. We always have other kids from the studio watching when we run a number, to encourage a performance atmosphere.

My studio rents a theater before we start competing, so the dancers can go through all of their routines onstage in front of their parents, staff and peers. We videotape this rehearsal, so students can later see for themselves any corrections we've given and any spacing issues. This goes a long way to calming nerves and building confidence.

On competition day, we encourage the students to warm up together, to help them bond and work as a team. We let them listen to their music and ask them to close their eyes and visualize themselves doing their routine perfectly. Finally, right before they go onstage, my teachers and I tell them how proud we are, how much they have improved and to go out there and have fun.

We try to make competing a good learning experience. We emphasize that judges' critiques help us grow and improve. My staff and I are always positive at competitions; we save all corrections for later on at the studio.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.