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vaptek

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Hi all!

You all gave me such good advice so far, I have to ask a second question. Has anyone dealt with children with huge stage fright? What do you do?

I'm actually surprised that my daughter is interested in dance, mainly because she is such a bashful introvert. She's the kid in the school assembly that just stares at the audience, rather than perform the class song. Today after dance class she was working on a Brownie Dance badge and was super-nervous about just performing her dance for her immediate family. I can't imagine what she'll do at an actual recital.

Now she wants to do a ton of dance. Right now it looks like she will be doing ballet and Irish Dance in the fall. (She started Irish this month.)

Has anyone else had a super-shy dancer? How do you ease them into performances? Any suggestions? We are waffling between telling her she has to perform or just saying we won't order any of the pretty costumes because we know she won't. That just seems sad...

Suggestions?

Vicky

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vaptek

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Reply with quote  #2 
Oh, I feel like I should hop back into say, that I'm really fine with her not performing. I'm primarily interested in her self confidence and posture.
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ChelleB70

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Reply with quote  #3 
My dd has never had stage fright.  She loves dancing and having everyone watch so I don't have first hand experience however I believe if she really wants to do it just give her pep talks and verbal encouragement about being on stage.  If she enjoys dancing she may eventually get used to people watching and even enjoy it.  I think it's a wonderful thing for confidence esp if she overcomes her nerves.  Also, let her know it's perfectly ok to be nervous.  LOTS of people are nervous before going on stage and while being on stage.  There are professionals who deal with nerves all the time! (I believe it's Mariah Carey who has had to overcome severe stage fright). I find that if my dd knows other people go through whatever she's going through it takes off a lot of stress.  Don't tell her she has nothing to be nervous about.  It'll only make her feel like there's something wrong with it and there's nothing wrong with nervousness.
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martinlgcb

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Reply with quote  #4 
The first year my daughter danced, she was very nervous about going on stage.  She kept telling us she was never going to dance again because she didn't want to be on stage, and that she wasn't going to do her dances that year. Her dance teacher had asked her to be a leader in a certain part of the dance and she said no way! We encouraged her, told her it was normal to be nervous, etc.  So the night of the dance recital we sat in the audience unsure of what to expect.  She did come out with her group and did both of her dances (even though she stared straight down at the floor the whole time [smile]).  After it was over, I was expecting her to be so relieved that she didn't have to do it again.  Instead, after getting flowers and lots of hugs, her response was "I can't wait to do that again next year"!  That was 10 years ago, and she has become a beautiful dancer, taking almost every type of dance class possible, competing, etc.  We still laugh about that first recital!
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Zlab7322

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Reply with quote  #5 
My daughter's first recital - all the kids came out and then there was this looooong pause. Then my daughter was pushed out on stage & carried her blankey. She cried. People laughed at her :-( When she got off the stage she said, "Mama I did no moves." She was 3. We took a few years off of dance and then came back. She now is completely comfortable on stage - dances on the "A" line team at her studio, does a solo (!), and has performed in 2 summer plays - this girl can't get enough of being on the stage now.

So, if it were me - if she wants to dance, I'd encourage it & I'd also encourage the recitals - yep, I'd buy the costumes. Assume she will go on stage and if she doesn't then consider taking a break the next year.

Once she does it, it is very likely to be an incredible confidence booster.
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Mom2Girls

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Reply with quote  #6 
My younger daughter is a natural on stage. She loves being up there and everyone says she just glows and you can't take your eyes off her--even if she isn't the strongest dancer.

My older daughter, however, has always had a very hard time being on stage. Her first recital (age 6), she went through the motions, did her dance, but literally stared at the girl next to her non-stop to avoid looking at the audience. It was more obvious because she was in the front row. It is a very (very) slow process, but at 11 she almost looks comfortable up there. She loves dancing enough to know she needs to improve at it, but I doubt she will ever be a natural performer or really love being up there.

We shouldn't encourage our kids to only try things we know they will be successful at. There's so much growth involved in doing hard things. Encourage her to try.
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crafty1

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Reply with quote  #7 
Kudos for encouraging her to dance! Stage fright is very normal. I seem to recall that public speaking is the #1 fear of adults, so if you can get her to overcome it early, she has an advantage over the average person. At some point, everyone needs to get up in front of others, whether it is in business meetings or in a classroom for an assignment. Also, my oldest is a singer, and she has told me that it is easier to sing in front of a large audience than to just me. Sometimes it becomes too personal and the distance of singing for many people is easier. A lot of performers are actually shy.

When my oldest (now 19) was in kindergarten, she did not want to perform in their little Christmas program. She looked up to Britney Spears (that was during the "Hit Me Baby One More Time" era). I told DD that Britney Spears used to throw up before she went on stage when she was in kindergarten, so she was better than Britney! She went up on stage with tears streaming down her face, but her voice was clear as a bell when she spoke her lines. The teacher asked me what I did to get her up there. I told her what I had said, and the teacher told me that she had no idea that Britney Spears had stage fright. "Neither do I - I made it up", I replied. It worked, though. Ah the things we find ourselves saying to our children.

Enough of my funny (to me) story. Remind your child that stage fright is perfectly normal and OK. Tell her how proud you are of her no matter what. Tell her she will be proud of herself when she is done. Tell her that everyone who is watching is rooting for her, because they are. Most of all, tell her to have fun, because dance is supposed to be fun.
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my2miracles

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Reply with quote  #8 

My dd is very shy in person but get her on a stage and she's a whole other person.  She's a performer through & through but she struggles to talk to the girls in her dance class who's she's been dancing with for 2 years now.

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danceJ15

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Reply with quote  #9 
I have one DD who loves to perform, well, anything and everything. And another who loves to do things but doesn't like to be watched. It's OK. I wouldn't push your DD to perform. If she doesn't want to perform, but loves to dance let her dance. If at recital time she still doesn't want to perform take her to the recital anyway and just have her watch. Who knows, she may see the other girls having so much fun and wants to join in too.
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FantabulouslyCherry

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Reply with quote  #10 
I've never dealt with it with my DD, but I dealt with it for years as a singer. As I performed more, I started trying to find ways to help get over stage fright. For me, if there is a spotlight, it's much easier to deal with since you can't normally see past the first 3 rows. If there is not a spotlight, I started looking over people's heads. It maintains the illusion of "eye contact" but helps with freezing up. Either way, encouragement is the key word! My mother always let me know that just having the courage to get up and perform in front of people is an accomplishment in itself. It's not an easy thing to overcome. Good luck to her!
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novadancemom

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Reply with quote  #11 
This is really late but I was scrolling through. DD16 has been dancing since she was 3. She never had a problem with stage fright until after her jazz dance when she was 13. She forgot it completely, still to this day have no clue why, and for her being a perfectionist, it was traumatic to her. Lots of tears! Since then, she will get on stage, but the waiting for her number and the hour beforehand she's usually super anxious and scared. Apparently one number before hers during her ballet, she broke down in tears back stage out of nerves!

Now that background is done, LOL, I try my best to just reassure her and I'll tell her, "You know the dance, you CAN do the dance, you will be fine and you will go perform it to the best of your ability." Also, our comp mom do not stay with the girls! We go and watch the competition and the teachers stay with them. So if she has breakdowns, her teachers and friends help pull her out of it and she's fine.  Just tell her to trust herself and that everyone is here for her!
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #12 
Stage fright is basically like a phobia (think fear of spiders). Luckily most of our kids are highly motivated to dance and perform so they have the desire to overcome this fear. The treatment for any "phobia" is exposure to the feared situation coupled with relaxation, and it's pretty easy. Try to relax and imagine dancing in front of class, then on imagine stage, when you can be relaxed and imagine performing on stage, relax and perform for family then relax and perform in situations closer to stage, then relax and go on stage! Stop at each level you can't feel relaxed and practice until it feels ok before going to higher step. A couple of positive stage performances and it should be less bothersome! Good luck.
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Kim_in_Ohio

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Reply with quote  #13 
My daughter had stage fright when she was younger. (Would plant her heels and throw a fit so she wouldn't have to stand up in front of the group at school, etc.) So much so that one of the questions that I asked when looking at dance studios was "Is the recital required?" because I was not interested in having her cause a scene in the wings... and she would have if we'd tried to 'force her' to perform.

Her first year of dance (1st grade), the SO was DD's teacher and she was WONDERFUL with DD. She told DD that the recital was supposed to be a fun reward for working hard in class all year, it was not supposed to be scary or stressful. She choreographed her on the end for the recital dance so it wouldn't ruin the formation if she decided to go on. She suggested to DD that she could come and just "try" the dress rehearsal. If she didn't like it, then there was no pressure to dance in the show. (Our studio has a per-family "recital fee" but there is no admission fee/tickets to the recital. The SO even told me I could wait and pay the fee only if she decided to dance. I did, however, order/pay for the costume, since that had to be ordered so far in advance.) 

In short, she went out on stage during dress rehearsal with some trepidation, but she decided to do the show "so Daddy can see it." Then she went out during the actual show and she killed it! It was amazing. She was so hyped up/excited afterward. After that, she decided she wanted to join the company. She danced in company for 4 years. This year, she decided not to compete, but she's still dancing. And since that first recital, she's had a lot less fright about getting up in front of people at school, etc.


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GigiDncr

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Reply with quote  #14 
Just putting this here for anyone else who may be facing this. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, just finished her first year; she was fine until it was time to perform at dress reherasal. I let her sit out during the first run through, but made her sit in the audience with me to watch. I gave her a bit of a pep talk, but I was firm. We are part of a team, so while I assured her I wouldn't force her to go on stage; I also shared that we would not go home. Her options were to stay and watch, supporting her team, or to perform with the others. She thought about it, then emphatically joined the others for the next performance. My husband and I provided ample praise for the decision to be a team player. From that point forward, she has sought opportunities to dance in front of others.

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kmpmom

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GigiDncr
Just putting this here for anyone else who may be facing this. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, just finished her first year; she was fine until it was time to perform at dress reherasal. I let her sit out during the first run through, but made her sit in the audience with me to watch. I gave her a bit of a pep talk, but I was firm. We are part of a team, so while I assured her I wouldn't force her to go on stage; I also shared that we would not go home. Her options were to stay and watch, supporting her team, or to perform with the others. She thought about it, then emphatically joined the others for the next performance. My husband and I provided ample praise for the decision to be a team player. From that point forward, she has sought opportunities to dance in front of others.


Your daughter was in recital when she was 2?  The dance season for that recital likely started 8 -10 months prior …..


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kmpmom

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Reply with quote  #16 
I've got one of those really quiet, "what's she going to do out there???" kids who will surprise you 9 times out of 10.  When she had her first solo, during the first run-through in front of her teammates, the studio owner's mom shared with me that the two studio owners honestly didn't think she was going to make it through.  But she did, and went on to have 3 consecutive really great seasons with no issues beyond, "I'm a little nervous".  And then wham.  In year 4, as puberty started, so did the nerves.  INTENSE nerves.  Panic attack nerves.  Since she was beyond my reach at that point, and her DT was also dealing backstage with another dancer always in the same category (who got a lot more attention than DD backstage), she mainly had to figure it out for herself and get herself out there.  Yup, a few times she was flat as a pancake because of the nerves, but she did it and I give her huge credit for that.

Now, another couple of years down the line, she still gets super nervous before some solos but she's "figured it out".

And that's what I'd say to a nervous dancer - not a really young one, those would all be very individual cases - but to older dancers suffering form nerves.  "You'll figure it out.  You know you can do this."  I say this because they need to develop that internal capability to calm themselves.  It can't come from anyone else.

ETA: And that's one of the great gifts that dance will give them in later life.
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GigiDncr

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmpmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by GigiDncr
Just putting this here for anyone else who may be facing this. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, just finished her first year; she was fine until it was time to perform at dress reherasal. I let her sit out during the first run through, but made her sit in the audience with me to watch. I gave her a bit of a pep talk, but I was firm. We are part of a team, so while I assured her I wouldn't force her to go on stage; I also shared that we would not go home. Her options were to stay and watch, supporting her team, or to perform with the others. She thought about it, then emphatically joined the others for the next performance. My husband and I provided ample praise for the decision to be a team player. From that point forward, she has sought opportunities to dance in front of others.


Your daughter was in recital when she was 2?  The dance season for that recital likely started 8 -10 months prior …..


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GigiDncr

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Reply with quote  #18 
Yes. Mommy and me. She turned 3 this summer.
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Sarahbearsmom

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmpmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by GigiDncr
Just putting this here for anyone else who may be facing this. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, just finished her first year; she was fine until it was time to perform at dress reherasal. I let her sit out during the first run through, but made her sit in the audience with me to watch. I gave her a bit of a pep talk, but I was firm. We are part of a team, so while I assured her I wouldn't force her to go on stage; I also shared that we would not go home. Her options were to stay and watch, supporting her team, or to perform with the others. She thought about it, then emphatically joined the others for the next performance. My husband and I provided ample praise for the decision to be a team player. From that point forward, she has sought opportunities to dance in front of others.


Your daughter was in recital when she was 2?  The dance season for that recital likely started 8 -10 months prior …..




Lots of dance schools start classes at age 2, sometimes younger for a mommy and me type class.  The first studio DD was at had mommy and me classes for kids up to age two and then it was independent after that.  We tried DD there when she was 2 but she was not ready to be on her own so we pulled her out and waited another year.  It is not that unusual.
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meatball77

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Reply with quote  #20 
I get kids with stage fright at school, sometimes they are bawling in fear when it's almost time to go on.  I push them up there after having an older kid give them a pep talk and tell them I'll be right there if they're worried and they always show so much pride when they're done.  It's a little different for me though because they're one of 100 kids on the stage. 
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarahbearsmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmpmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by GigiDncr
Just putting this here for anyone else who may be facing this. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, just finished her first year; she was fine until it was time to perform at dress reherasal. I let her sit out during the first run through, but made her sit in the audience with me to watch. I gave her a bit of a pep talk, but I was firm. We are part of a team, so while I assured her I wouldn't force her to go on stage; I also shared that we would not go home. Her options were to stay and watch, supporting her team, or to perform with the others. She thought about it, then emphatically joined the others for the next performance. My husband and I provided ample praise for the decision to be a team player. From that point forward, she has sought opportunities to dance in front of others.


Your daughter was in recital when she was 2?  The dance season for that recital likely started 8 -10 months prior …..




  

Lots of dance schools start classes at age 2, sometimes younger for a mommy and me type class.  The first studio DD was at had mommy and me classes for kids up to age two and then it was independent after that.  We tried DD there when she was 2 but she was not ready to be on her own so we pulled her out and waited another year.  It is not that unusual.


I've known quite a number of studios that offer a mommy and me class for toddlers but none have them perform in the recital.  And having worked with plenty of two year olds... and having four kids myself who were all once two... I know why [smile]
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Oreogal

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Reply with quote  #22 
Pretty much every studio in my area takes them at 2. I know of one studio with a mommy and me class that starts at 18 months old[redface] and the class performs at the recital. The parents go out on stage with them. Not for me, but hey. I feel like 2 is such young age to have them out on stage. We tried DD at age 2, and it was a no go. With younger DD, I won't even bother attempting that young. The following year at 3, she walked in class, the door shut and that was it. Did good on stage too.
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dncemom01

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Reply with quote  #23 
Most of our local studios take dancers at 2, they do one dance in recital but the studios usually have an early afternoon recital for all the creative movement/pre-school classes.
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Sarahbearsmom

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarahbearsmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmpmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by GigiDncr
Just putting this here for anyone else who may be facing this. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, just finished her first year; she was fine until it was time to perform at dress reherasal. I let her sit out during the first run through, but made her sit in the audience with me to watch. I gave her a bit of a pep talk, but I was firm. We are part of a team, so while I assured her I wouldn't force her to go on stage; I also shared that we would not go home. Her options were to stay and watch, supporting her team, or to perform with the others. She thought about it, then emphatically joined the others for the next performance. My husband and I provided ample praise for the decision to be a team player. From that point forward, she has sought opportunities to dance in front of others.


Your daughter was in recital when she was 2?  The dance season for that recital likely started 8 -10 months prior …..




  

Lots of dance schools start classes at age 2, sometimes younger for a mommy and me type class.  The first studio DD was at had mommy and me classes for kids up to age two and then it was independent after that.  We tried DD there when she was 2 but she was not ready to be on her own so we pulled her out and waited another year.  It is not that unusual.


I've known quite a number of studios that offer a mommy and me class for toddlers but none have them perform in the recital.  And having worked with plenty of two year olds... and having four kids myself who were all once two... I know why [smile]


That's true, I guess I have never seen them that young in recital.
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