Weather it's your first time or your millionth, nerves will always play a part in your performance. No matter how much you rehearse and how well you know the choreography there are always surprises on show day. Unforeseen circumstances, luck, and all the other people a show relies on can change a performance at any moment. All we can do as dancers is be prepared for the unexpected. Here are some tips that may help you feel prepared and comfortable for your upcoming and future performances so that you can still be in the moment and enjoy your time on stage.
It's very easy when you are nervous and filled with adrenalin to forget to breath the way you would in rehearsal. Forgetting to breath can cause you to tire quicker. Taking full breathes when dancing gives your muscles the oxygen that they need to perform at your best. When you are performing you will push your body harder then in rehearsal or class and therefore you will need to be sure that your breath is not shallow and is consistent. Breathing in through your nose and out your mouth at a consistent pace through the whole dance will help you stay steady and spread your energy through the whole routine. It will also help you stay in the moment, just like meditation.
2 . Let the music guide you
By this point you should know the choreography very well and with that you should also know the music you are dancing to just as well. Breathing and being in the moment when you are performing is great but be sure that with those things you are also in your music. Have you ever tried to do the dance without music and found that you couldn't remember the choreography that you had done a million times? That's because the movement is connected with the music. So, when you are on stage, if you let yourself feel and truly hear the music, it will help you remember the choreography.
3. Don't let mistakes mess you up
Everyone makes mistakes. Even the most seasoned dancer has a fumble or forgets a step. There are three things that can prepare you for making a mistake.
The first is, if you mess up keep going. Even if that mistake is forgetting the choreography. Make it up until you can get back on track. The audience most likely doesn't know the choreography, so as long as you don't show it they won't know it. That includes making a weird face or stopping.
The second thing is don't let a misstep effect the rest of the dance. It is vey easy to forget a step and have it fallow you through the rest of the routine. It will keep circling around in your head, and guess what? It will be there nagging until you make another mistake. If you don't just move on it will get worse. If you mess up let it go and move on. There is nothing you can do now, the music is continuing, with or without you. Once you are off stage you can look back at your mistake and hopefully work on it so it doesn't happen at the next performance, but while you are up there stay in the moment, in your breath, and in your music.
Third is, great dancers know how to fake it. It's part of our job to go with the flow. You never know what can happen and adjusting and faking it when you mess up or fall is an essential skill. A slippery stage, another dancer isn't where they are supposed to be, the person that was supposed to lift you got hurt right before the show and isn't there anymore. Be in the moment and go with the flow. Pretend it was all on purpose.