I used to struggle with crippling stage fright. Every time I got in front of people, my heart would race, the sweating began, and I panicked. Only once did I almost faint, and that was with a high school presentation that I wasn’t 100% ready for.
How did I get over the stage fright?
It really started to melt away when I began teaching in Japan. Teaching was a lot like performing. It started with small groups of 2-6 students, then it went to groups of 40 at the public schools in Tokyo. Next, I was a Gymboree teacher where it was so much like performing, I got over speaking, singing, and dancing in front of people.
Being a teacher transferred to bellydance, especially performing. So, I came up with a few tips to help those with stage fright work on conquering it and beginning to enjoy dancing for others!
#1 Just Breathe
We all know how to breathe but how many of us actually know how to breathe properly? Most of us don’t! If you are feeling particularly nervous about getting on stage, inhale for 4 seconds (slowly not rushed!), hold your breath for 2-4 seconds, and fully exhale (which may take up to 10 seconds). Keep repeating it and you will realize how calm you feel!
Check out my Bellydance Tip video on what I learned in choir about breathing properly here!
#2 Remember to Have Fun!
We forget this one, big time! Why are we dancing in the first place? To have fun! And, the audience wants to have fun with you. So before you go out, repeat this to yourself and the audience is sure to join you.
#3 It’s OK to Make Mistakes
I was the same. I had to be perfect. The strong urge to be perfect was amplified when I was in a group dance. Remember, it’s OK to make mistakes. I guarantee the lay person isn’t going to know when you make a mistake. And if you do? Play it off as something you meant to do!
I had a show where the stage had just been waxed, and my leather sole dance shoes made me skate across the stage. YIKES! I slide across the stage like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. This was not planned. But I remembered my dad telling me about a famous musician who hit a wrong note one time and then played it again as if he meant to do it. The audience loved it, and that’s what I did. I slide across that floor to the opposite side and people loved it!
#4 The Audience is Rooting for You!
The audience is not hoping you fall flat on your face, unless they are a-holes. They want you to do a great job. They want to be entertained and have fun. So keep this in mind before you go out. They WANT you to succeed!
#5 Don’t Dwell on What COULD Happen
I suffer from anticipatory anxiety. I’m a huge mess until I step out on that stage. It’s because i think about everything that could go wrong, or what I could forget, or what I’m going to do! Focus on the present moment. Nothing that happens in the future matters because it hasn’t happened yet!
#6 Get Silly Before Going on Stage
I love making me people laugh. I tend to act very silly before I go on stage because it helps me get rid of being so serious. Don’t get me wrong, I am very serious about present this dance properly as someone not of the culture. But, getting silly really helps me let all the nerves out so I can have more fun and entertain more easily.
Stage fright doesn’t need to keep you from having fun with this dance. Try these out the next time you perform live! Do you have a tip that helps you with stage fright?