Stage fright can be a common occurrence for dancers – or any performer – whether they are amateur or professionals, ballet dancers, contemporary dancers or even singers and actors. Everyone can experience stage fright at some point, which can begin as plain nervousness while they are performing. With dancers fully fledged stage fright could mean you can’t remember the steps or are frightened to present yourself on the stage, and it can cause extreme emotions.
Stage fright can be confusing; you dance because you love to, and usually this will encompass performing on a stage. It therefore begs the question as to why the stage fright occurs if you love dance so much. Many dancers will treat themselves negatively because of it: they have rehearsed for hours, have carefully warmed up, and are ultimately ready to perform.
Despite this, the fear experienced is not irrational. The high levels of stress that performance can incite do not usually occur in public, heightening the emotion and fear felt at the side of the stage. Regardless of experience, the body’s pre-programmed stress responses mean it can enter a different physical state and sometimes even a different psychological state. The difference is that highly skilled and established performers have had more opportunity to practice dealing with stage fright and learning how to overcome it.
It can also be helpful to visualise yourself outside your body in order to give yourself some pre-performance advice and keep yourself grounded before the fear takes over. Some dancers do this by imagining the worst case scenario, and imagining what they will do to overcome this. Remember how much you love dance and performing, because the feelings of stage fright are only there in the wings – once you step into the stage you can enjoy yourself!