I have always found other people’s stage experience very inspiring. Their journey to get to that stage and how much hard work they put to get there is incredible. Therefore, I thought to use this space to share some tips which have helped me build myself as a dancer. Everyone works differently, so I am not saying this is the right way. This is my way. Some may find this extremely useful, some may not. But I am hoping that everyone will be able to take something from this. So here goes…
The Training Period
This is the most difficult and tiresome part of the whole process but what you do during training is what you will see on stage.
- Eat well (see below)
- Make sure to give your body rest – get plenty of sleep
- Yes, you will get injuries – blisters, muscle aches, shin splints, and stress fractures, to name a few. For this reason, it is so important you are fully prepared at every practice with necessary first aid measures – plasters, bandages, painkillers, deep heat/deep freeze, ibuprofen gel, etc
- Support each other – you are a team. Make sure you improve as a team. One dancer should not be better than another, everyone should be equally as good so critiquing each other constantly is crucial.
- Do not be afraid to give constructive feedback to your choreographer. Personally, I beg the dancers I work with to give me feedback, because they will notice things which I, as a dancer/choreographer, may not have previously picked up on. So if you are a choreographer, make sure your dancers feel comfortable enough to be able to come up to you and do so, because only then will you grow as well.
- Remind yourself – ‘When I look back at those videos, I do not want to have any regrets.’ For that you need to work hard from the beginning. Be your worst critique. Never be satisfied! Be harsh, because I can guarantee you that it will be worth it.
- Do adequate homework – this applies to those who take part in shows which represent a different cultural group to their own. I can say this because I had to do a lot of homework for The Bhangra Showdown, with the help of my team. Make sure to fully immerse yourself into that culture so you can best represent and respect it on stage.
- Listen to the mix on repeat and nothing else. Stay focused. Get bored of that mix!
- Which brings me nicely onto the final point, you will naturally get bored of the routine, whether you are dancer or choreographer. This is because you have been doing it constantly for weeks to months now. Do not lose motivation and think what the reaction will be when people see it with a fresh pair of eyes for the first time!
- Eat clean
- ‘Good carbs’ before training, lean protein after training
- Examples of food I eat: cous-cous, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, chicken, fish, egg white, plenty of vegetables to supplement each meal
- Health snacks: plenty of fruits, almonds, raisins, fruit smoothies
- Avoid oily and sugary items altogether
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
During the performance
- Smile – you are there to attract the audience and the way to do so is to smile, wherever appropriate of course! Show that you are enjoying what you are doing. You need to feed the audience with your energy.
- Breathe – as silly as this may sound, this is something which many people forget to do.
- If things go wrong, carry on with an even bigger smile on your face. No one will know it is a mistake until you show it.
- Stay focused when you dance, do not get overwhelmed by the audience cheering because you do not want to lose concentration on the routine
- Performing on stage is very different to rehearsals – because of the stage, costumes, the excessive lighting, and the crowd – naturally you will only do 70 – 80% of what you have been able to do during rehearsals. Therefore, you need to be fully pumped and give your 200% when you perform
- Perform with the thought in mind that this may well be the last time you will be doing this routine, so give it your all
- Last but not least, enjoy the routine and live it!
I believe this to be the most important part of the whole process.
This is when you have to be most critical of your performance. Analyse the positives and the areas of improvement.
I personally look at the performance from the perspective of a dancer, choreographer and general audience.
- As a dancer I critique my own dancing technique, execution and facial expressions.
- As a choreographer, I evaluate the overall routine’s move selection, formations, transitions, music selection and the execution of the whole team.
- As an audience member, I look at how much of an impact the whole routine creates and whether it is relatable to all age groups.
I do all of the above for every dance performance of mine, whether it be for a birthday party, stage show or competition.
There is an over-arching message which comes from all of this. If you have a passion for something, adequate preparation and hard work is required to achieve those goals. This is not just to do with the arts, but also with academics. Every experience has a before, during and after from which you can learn heap loads about yourself.