DT on Dance Moms: Scared Stiff
August 12, 2011


Ok, now I understand why this show is called Dance Moms. They really made a spectacle of themselves this week, didn’t they? Especially Christi, whose screaming fit in front of the children brought some of the tiny dancers to tears. And this was all because her beautiful daughter’s solo placed fourth—an excellent (and fair) trophy, if you ask us. Bad form, Christi! That pre-performance bottle of wine was probably not the best decision.  But Abby Lee continued to handle these situations in the best way she could, begging Christy to step outside and away from the children. Abby Lee gained some serious points in our book—almost making up for the baseball bat she brought out during rehearsal.


On a happier note, probably the cutest moment of this episode was a shot of the whole team proudly skipping towards their moms, trophies in hands, after a successful competition awards ceremony (of course, this is before Christi’s cringe-worthy meltdown). Their smiles were contagious.


But one little girl was not a part of the happy skippers. Ten-year-old Paige performed a solo for the first time, and with less than a week to practice—most of the time without her music—stage fright got the best of her. She literally froze with terror halfway through her routine, completely blanking on the rest of her dance. We’ve all seen children perform flawlessly in rehearsal only to clam up on stage. So how can we be sure that our students never feel the mortification of forgotten choreography that poor Paige felt that day? Here are DT’s tips:


(Tips based on “Conquer Stage Fright” by Alyssa Roenigk)


1. Provide students with as many opportunities as possible to perform in front of a full audience prior to the event. The more they practice walking on and off stage, the less chance they will walk to the wrong spot or become overwhelmed by what they’re walking toward—lights, judges and an excited audience.


2. Once your dancers know their routine well enough to practice full out, take them out of their comfort zone. Spend the second half of class facing away from the mirror, switch rooms with another dance class or get out of the studio altogether.


3. Be sure that they’re not just following the girl in front of them. For larger production numbers, try having several dancers perform the combination while the rest of the students in the number watch.


4. As competition day draws near, schedule a dress rehearsal that simulates the competition as closely as possible. Try to book an auditorium or gymnasium that resembles the venue you’ll perform in and perform all numbers in full hair, makeup and costumes.


5. Prepare your dancers for the little things that could go wrong during their performance, like a shoe falling off, the music not starting on time or someone next to them missing a step. Teach them the important lesson, “Always keep dancing.” Try simulating performance mishaps and asking them to react as they would at a real competition. 


6. Instead of stressing the competition and the trophies, concentrate on small, individual goals such as improving a segment of a dance to take some of the pressure off.



And who’s on the top of DT’s pyramid this week? Six-year-old Mackenzie! Dressed in mouse attire from head to toe, with a long tail that “sometimes gets in the way” her solo was flawless and oh-so-cute. But, don’t get too comfortable with this little firecracker on stage. She’s got other plans: “I love dancing, but I don’t want to go on Broadway,” she says. “All I want to do is stay home and eat chips.”


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