Stage fright can creep up on any dancer, from amateur to professional! It may not seem like a common ailment when dancers look so composed and confident on stage, however the feeling can develop over time or simply be managed well. It can affect dancers of any genre in any dance company, and can also affect singers and actors. Everyone and anyone can experience stage fright at some point while they are performing.
For dancers specifically stage fright could mean you can’t remember the steps or are frightened to go onto the stage, and it can cause stress and extreme emotions. The fear experienced is a rational emotion, due to the high levels of stress and anxiety that performance can incite. The body’s pre-programmed stress response means it can enter a different physical state and sometimes even a different psychological state, distracting the dancer from what they intend to do and cause doubt and fear.
Stage fright can be strange and confusing: dancers love to dance, which is why they do it. Dancing normally includes performing on a stage, so it is unclear as to why stage fright is a condition experienced by many. Many dancers treat themselves badly because of stage fright as to them it appear irrational – they have rehearsed for hours, warmed up, practised hard, and are then frightened to step onto the stage.
To combat stage fright it can help to visualise yourself outside your body at the side of the stage, taking everything in and imagining the worst case scenario, and what can be done to overcome this. Remember how much you love to dance and perform once you are on stage and once the performance is over: the feelings of stage fright are only in the wings. Once you step onto the stage you can dance and enjoy yourself.