Things I Want to Tell My Dancers Before a Show

The studio has a big performance this weekend. We have live musicians coming in, we have dancers performing their first solos ever, and we have a full classical ballet production as well as a contemporary dance production. There’s a lot of dancing to be done.

These dancers spend the year getting excited about these productions and pouring their hearts, bodies, and weekends (& weekdays!) into getting ready. It’s a tradition that is very full circle for me, as when I was growing up, I was quite literally in their shoes, growing up in the same school, and just as they are tonight, the night before, gathering all of my costumes and makeup and putting my feet up.

So as a teacher, as a former student, a former professional, and always a dancer at heart, I have a few things to say (as always) before they get onstage.

  1. There is no better feeling than performing with your dance family. These are people that have seen you at your most tired, your most energetic, that have seen you struggle, grow, succeed, and keep pushing on. The people around you (I TRULY believe in our studio) are behind you, cheering you on and wishing you the absolute best.
  2. You WILL be great. Tell yourself this as you wake up, as you get ready, as you step onstage, as you perform. You WILL be great. It’s not about being perfect. No stumble, no misstep is going to define your performance. It’s about being in the moment, it’s about believing in yourself, it’s about knowing that you did this for YOU. It’s about giving yourself the best and you give it to yourself by how you speak to yourself.
  3. Be kind to your parents, the volunteers, and your teachers. Tensions and nerves run high, we often let that guide our emotions for the day. But the more you see the people around you– your parents that have worked so hard to support and get you there, the volunteers that want to help you have the best day and experience, your teachers that pour their love and expertise into you– the easier to see what a gift it is to be onstage and perform and how wonderful it is that we are at this point. If you are feeling lots of nerves, they will seem more manageable this way!
  4. To perform is a celebration. A celebration of your hard work and passion. We spend so much time in the studio, tweaking details and such, at this point, it’s time to celebrate that work, not pick apart every little thing you could do differently. Let the work go, let the enjoyment begin.
  5. Enjoy the warmth of the stage lights. Yes! They can be hot, and make you sweaty, but bask in it. Your teachers will tell you, it’s a beautiful feeling, and the more you embrace that moment, exactly where you are, the more beautiful it will feel and the more beautiful it will appear.
  6. Emotions are a good thing. Smiling, crying, feeling, drama, happiness, joy– it’s a place where no one can tell you what you are feeling is wrong. We get to feel whatever we want to feel, and show everyone. That’s pretty amazing.
  7. Get excited that you don’t have anyone telling you anything anymore! No teacher to tell you to spread out, or listen to the music, or stretch your feet, or anything! It’s your time. Your moment, so go play. The stage is your playground!
  8. I love you dancers. It is an art form that keeps on giving. That keeps inspiring and keeps challenging. Know that while your teachers are running around like crazy people during showtime, we want nothing more than to be able to tell each and every one of you that you matter to us. That to see you progress, to watch and help you on your individual journeys, to know where you are on each individual day, not just as a dancer but as a person, well it’s so very satisfying. I am honored to be your teacher. You are already great. This weekend, you will be extraordinary.

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