Backstage Secrets

Preparing to Perform


The time has come. You have on a full face of makeup, your hair is perfectly pinned and sprayed, you’re in your uniform or costume, and you’re on deck to perform next. You’re starting to get those butterflies in your stomach, and your mind starts racing through your routine, trying to make sure that you feel fully prepared. Finally, the announcer calls your name and you walk out to perform.

But wait … suddenly, those butterflies disappear and are replaced with full confidence because you know you’ve done absolutely everything you could to prepare for this performance, and now you’re ready to just go out there and have fun with it!

It would be nice if it were that easy, right?

Well here’s a secret, it can be that easy! Of course getting ready for a performance takes A LOT of work, but there are a few things that you can do to make your day less stressful and more fun. I have listed below my top five helpful tips for getting ready for performances, so hopefully these can help some of you out there as well. Enjoy!

1. Get plenty of rest 
Although most of us have trouble sleeping before a big performance or competition due to being nervous or anxious, it is CRUCIAL that we get our rest so that we’re energized and feeling our absolute best the next morning. Nothing is worse than having to wake up at 5 a.m. feeling like you got hit by a bus when you know that you have an extremely long day ahead. Most dance and cheer competitions can start as early as 7 a.m. and end at midnight or later. I’ve even been to competitions where I didn’t get home until almost 3 a.m.! You look your best and you feel your best when you are completely rested, so do whatever you have to do to get your eight hours of sleep in the night before a big performance.

2. Pack your bag the night before
Do a final item check the NIGHT BEFORE your performance to make sure you have absolutely everything you need. It is much more beneficial to your sanity to be able to just wake up, get dressed and head out. Packing your bag the morning of a performance often leads to forgotten items and panic. Trust me, save your friends or family the trip of having to bring you your ONE missing item such as a hair bow, glove or dance shoe. They are definitely not going to be happy if that happens, and neither will you.

3. Take time to get mentally prepared for your performance
Whether it’s the night before while you’re in bed, or backstage five minutes before you go on, always take a moment to listen to your routine and mentally picture exactly how you would want to see yourself doing it. The more you prepare mentally, the better you will look. Just make sure to pack your iPod & headphones, find a place where you can be alone, and close your eyes and get lost in your performance. It always helps your nerves to be able to listen to your music one last time before you go on stage.

4. HAVE FUN WITH IT
Showmanship is everything, so make sure that no matter what, you get into your performance and have fun. If you’re supposed to smile, SMILE BIG! If you’re supposed to be mad, then look mad. No matter what emotion or character you’re portraying, make it larger than life and show the judges and the audience that you’re having fun and trying your absolute best. My older sister always told me, “If you don’t feel like you’re going to get sick when you walk off that stage, then you’re not performing big enough.” Remember, it’s your time to shine so don’t let anything hold you back.

5. Take time to unwind and appreciate your performance
You got up early, you gave it your all, you received your results and now it’s time to go home. By this point, you’re exhausted and ready to just take a shower and get in bed. Whether you finished in first place or came in dead last, always remind yourself how hard you worked to prepare. If you made a mistake don’t let it get you down. Before you go to bed just think through the day and remember what parts of your performance you were proud of and go to sleep feeling happy about what you accomplished.

As dancers or cheerleaders, it is often very easy to be too critical of ourselves. We all put way too much time and effort into preparing for our performances to not feel good about them. The most important part about performing is having fun and 100 percent loving what you are doing. Being on stage should not be scary or stressful; it should be the one place that you feel most comfortable.

“The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness. The rewards are going to come, but my happiness is just loving the sport and having fun performing.”

This quote by Jackie Joyner-Kersee sums up my thoughts perfectly. I hope these tips have been helpful, and I wish you all the best of luck in your future performances!


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