It’s nearly here! It’s almost time for Circus! If you’re performing, you brain probably feels like a circus right now, with all the questions running through your head: Am I ready? Should I do another rehearsal? What do I bring? What should I do to prepare? What underwear should I wear that day? Never fear ladies, I aim to answer as many questions as possible! 🙂 What I will do is tell you some of the things I’ve learned in the past three years, and lend you some of the advice I’ve gotten from a few instructors I’ve talked to. Here goes nothing!
Respect your body. Preparing for the show takes a lot of practice and a lot of repetition. You will put yourself through practice after practice after practice. As the show grows closer, you grow more nervous. Little slip-ups that come with exhaustion are interpreted as a cue to practice again. Stop! Pay attention to your body. If you beat on an already exhausted body, you’re not helping yourself. You will not get better when you’re that tired. If you’ve already run it a few times over, “full-force,” then just do a timing run. While the music is going, pretend to do the moves or do them just enough to represent how much time you would take. Your “full-force” run helps your body’s muscle memory, but that timing run will help solidify it in your mind.
Start pre-show prep early that week. I asked Instructor Meegan what she suggests performers do before the show, and her advice included starting early. Even though we should always be drinking a healthy amount of water, she suggested that performers start focusing on their hydration at least three days before the show. Instructor Meegan also suggested that performers make sure they get really good sleep the night before the night before. She pointed out that most people are so nervous the night before that they struggle to sleep. If you make sure you’re getting sleep the night before that night before, you can at least get some semblance of rest before the show! Instructor Kelly S’s advice agrees with this, except she suggests you start getting that sleep and hydration earlier, when the “show week” starts. Instructor Paige says that she pays closer attention to her diet as the show comes closer, so she can avoid any unnecessary stomach upsets.
Ask questions. If this is your first show or your fifth, there’s no shame in asking questions. If you don’t understand or remember something about your routine, ask your choreographer or group member (if you have them). If you want advice on performing, ask someone who’s advice you trust, whether that’s an instructor or a fellow performer. If you need advice on preparing, ask! Most often, you never know the answer until you ask! This is show number four, and I’m still learning!
Plan to wear something comfortable. Your show outfit will certainly be flashy, but it also needs to be comfortable. You’re going to be stuck wearing it most of the day. You’re going to have to move quickly and dramatically, without limitations. The last thing any performer needs is to be distracted by their costume–there are enough distractions going on!
Start packing early and double-check it the night before. The show is this Saturday, and I started packing my show bag last Sunday. One year, I spent a half an hour before I was to leave LOSING MY SANITY because I could not find my black shorts for the show. I found them, but by that time I was frazzled. Not a good way to start the show. I refuse to go through that again, so I’ve started putting together everything I’ll need. Here’s my packing list.
Make a plan and set alarms. You do not want to be late or even extra stressed, so set those alarms ahead of time. You might not need them, but do it anyways. Set up everything you need in the morning and put your bags by the door. This way you wont be running around trying to find it! Also, make a game plan for your day. Figure out what time you’re leaving, when you’re going to eat, things like that. Make sure you factor in a little extra time for those “oops” moments. I know I have to drive my 40 +/- minutes from Green Bay, but I’m going to factor in an extra 15-20 minutes because I’m really good at getting lost and/or turned around when I’m headed to new places. 🙂
On show day…..
Eat, and eat smart. This comes from me and multiple instructors I’ve talked to. You’re going to be nervous, and you’re probably not hungry. Too freaking bad–eat breakfast. Your body will not be able to function on NOTHING. Keep it light, but it needs to include some of the major food groups. Doughnuts are not smart pre-show breakfast materials. Instructor Paige says she makes sure she doesn’t have a sugary breakfast, which can be a struggle with her sweet tooth. I like to incorporate protein, like eggs.
Exercise. Now, I’m not one to do this, but Instructor Meegan does. She said that she likes to get a little morning exercise in before she heads in just to work out her nerves and wake up her muscles.
Bring food. Whether you get the nervous munchies like me, or you don’t care to eat before a performance, bring a snack. You’ll have time between rehearsal and the show, and you need to have something in your stomach so you body has fuel to work off of. Instructor Kelly W suggested a protein for some long-term energy, and a fast carbohydrate like honey or “goo” for that last bit of energy right before you go on. For the love of all that is pole-holy, bring something that fills your stomach a little bit for after your performance, because when the show is all over, you might be consuming adult beverages. You don’t want to be sloppy and silly after just one drink, so make sure you’ve got some food in there.
Calm yourself and channel that energy. Your nerves are live wires because you’re about to perform. People are running around getting ready, you’re running around getting ready. There’s hairspray flying and the whole place smells like fear and pole grip. Take a moment to breathe calmly and deeply. Instead of sending your energy in every-which direction in your nervousness, focus yourself and channel that energy into a kick-ass performance. If you need help with that, find me :). Instructor Paige says that applying her makeup calms her nerves, and when she’s all done with that, some jumping up and down sometimes does the trick. “There’s a lot of jumping involved, trying to place my adrenaline somewhere other than my shaking hands,” she says. I have also used the same technique!
Have fun! Remember that EVERYONE at this show is there to support a dancer or to support you, and so they’re excited to be there. Instructor Leah pointed out that “Performing in front of an audience is a skill to be developed, and no one should expect perfection their first time.” So, ladies, instead of focusing on getting it perfect, focus on doing your best and enjoying it.” Instructor Kelly S’s advice echoes this–she says that “we need to remind ourselves that this is about having fun and we will do our best at the show.” Instructor Leah added that “As humans, we tend to think negatively of ourselves, and assume that others do the same when, actually, they are so happy to be watching the performer.” Everyone there is excited to see all the performances! There’s only ONE Christmas show a year–enjoy it! Smile! Ham it up! Play the part! The audience loves you!
The only expert in your show prep is YOU. YOU know what is best for you, and YOU know what will make you the best you that you can be that day. You’re also going to learn each year that you do it. My show prep for my first show (left) and last year’s show (right) were very different, because I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work for me.
I’m so excited for this year’s show, and I’m so excited that I get to dance with so many people and watch so many new and repeating performers! It’s going to be a great night!
Do you have any show prep to share?