Snowflake Stories

Award-winning, Bilingual

Personalized Children's Books


By Yazmín Franco

How Dancers Calm Their Nerves

No matter how much you practice or how much time you spend memorizing your steps and dance routine, feeling nervous or insecure about dancing onstage is completely normal. Virtually all dancers and performers, both amateur and professional, have felt this way at some point in their career.

Performance anxiety is so common that we wrote an award-winning children's book entitled Dance Recital, which features a young girl who is suffering from a case of pre-recital jitters. In this personalized ballet book, the little ballerina learns to overcome her fears and nervousness by developing confidence, having a positive mindset, and practicing a lot. As our protagonist learns in the book, the important thing about overcoming nervousness is to not let panic overwhelm you.

In case our words of wisdom aren't enough, we compiled advice from some of the most famous dancers in the world on how to calm nerves and manage performance anxiety so that you'll rock your performance!


Photo by Sobima Via Pixabay

Misty Copeland - Clear your mind

"Ballet class is a form of meditation for me. There are times before shows where I put on music and focus on my breathing just to stay calm and not get too nervous about the performance. I always try to find less conventional ways to clear my mind. ... It's really about finding moments in the day that are for yourself." (1) 

Misty is the first African American woman to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. (2)

You can follow Misty on Twitter and Instagram.

Worried about making a mistake at your #dancerecital? Clear your mind like .@mistyonpointe and you won't be! More suggestions on calming nerves from .@Snowflake_Story in the post:

Click to Tweet

Tamara Rojo - Create a ritual

"There's a fear of disappointing people, a fear of not being good enough. ... I've found that having rituals, having a consistent way of preparing for something, for me, is the only way not to succumb to panic." (3)

Tamara is a Canadian-Spanish ballet dancer with over 30 years of experience. (4) She has danced with the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet, where she is currently the artistic director. (5)

You can follow Tamara on Twitter and Instagram.

#Ballet dancer? .@TamaraRojo1 suggests creating a pre-performance ritual. Read more suggestions on calming nerves from .@Snowflake_Story:

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Natalia Osipova - Get to the theater early

"With age, I have got better at managing the nerves. Now I know how to not let it get to that point. I arrive at the theatre much earlier and spend some time on the stage, living the life of my character before the show. That is really helpful." (6)

A Russian ballerina who began to practice dance at merely five years old, (7) Natalia has danced for the Bolshoi, Mikhailovsky, the Royal Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre. (8)

You can follow Natalia on Twitter and Instagram.

To keep from getting nervous for your #dancerecital, .@NatOsipova recommends getting to the theater early. Want more suggestions on calming nerves? Check out this from .@Snowflake_Story:

Click to Tweet

Leanne Benjamin - Enjoy yourself

"I'm really going to enjoy myself now ... I"m not going to be so nervous about every little thing." (9)

Leanne is an Australian ballerina who has received two National Dance Awards and has danced for the Deutsche Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet, as well as the Wheeldon Company. (10)

You can follow Leanne on Instagram.

Leanne Benjamin's advice on relaxing before a #ballet performance? Don't let the pre-recital jitters ruin your fun! Read suggestions on calming nerves from more premiere dancers in the piece by  .@Snowflake_Story:

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Skylar Brandt - Don't fight the nervousness

"I try to let the nerves -- when I have them -- help me, versus freak me out. I know that I'll be fine once I get on stage and that the adrenaline will help me and make things better. So I try to look at nerves as more of a positive thing, and treat them as something that I should accept rather than try to fight them. (11)

Skylar is a ballet soloist currently dancing for the American Ballet Theatre. She has 17 years of experience. (12)

You can follow Skylar on Instagram.

Love #dance but hate performing? Skylar Brandt says to recognize nervousness for what it is & understand that adrenaline will propel you on stage! Learn more in this post from .@Snowflake_Story:

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Daniel Ulbricht - Remember the audience is there to cheer you on

"Performing definitely gets easier as you go through a season. The first couple of shows of a season you are really trying to get your rhythm together. ... The best way for me to deal with nerves is to turn the situation around. I try to use it as energy. Instead of thinking that the audience is a group of judges, I think of them as support. They are there to cheer on art, not pull it apart." (13)

Daniel is an American dancer who started his career at 11 years old. He is currently a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet. (14)

You can follow Daniel on Twitter and Instagram.

#Dancers: To keep jitters at bay, .@DanielUlbricht says to remember that the people in the audience are cheering to see you succeed! Click for more suggestions on calming nerves from .@Snowflake_Story:

Click to Tweet

May Yen Cheah - Trust yourself

"After repetition and time, you learn not to stress about the steps but to trust your body and muscle memory. Then you start to really experience the freedom of dance and the art of expression. It is absolutely necessary to adjust to and get comfortable with the new surroundings: the size of the stage, floor material, lights and not having a mirror. Before I go on stage, I like to be alone and get into a zone to prepare myself mentally. This is very calming and helps me to focus." (15)

May is a Malaysian dancer who began her career at four years old and is a soloist for the Singapore Dance Theatre. (16)

You can follow May on Instagram.

May Yen Cheah says with practice and time, you learn to trust yourself & keep nerves from affecting your #ballet performance. In this post from .@Snowflake_Story, hear how other dancers keep nerves at bay:

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Dance is about self-expression and using your body as a means of art, but it is also about having fun. Although nervousness is part of the trade, we want you to enjoy yourself while doing what you love.

Tell us in the comments which tip (and from which dancer) you will be incorporating into your pre-recital or pre-performance nerve-calming routine.

Have a lil' ballerina? 

We bet she'd love our free, downloadable dance activity kit!

Six fun activities sure to entertain her 🙂

Sources cited:

Forget your fears & dance!

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