Over the years of producing dance concerts for children I regularly see the manifestation of nerves in children as the big day approaches. These nervous feelings, often displayed as signs of self doubt in children are a normal reaction to the realisation of an impending public performance.
The Youtube Artist Spotlight Stories recently captured an interesting comment from successful singer Shawn Mendes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYkvxtriIrI on pre-performance anxiety and if he still felt nerves. Shawn says “Always! Nerves means you care right”. This is true because the most challenging part of the performing arts is the having the bravery to put your art and yourself (because they are intertwined) out there publicly. Difficulties arise when pre-performance anxiety becomes debilitating or stops you from performing all together. So preparing children for live performance is crucial in overcoming these very natural emotions.
A good dance school will ensure that the preparation for a performance is a solid one with plenty of time for rehearsal, fine tuning and talking to dancers about what to expect - especially for first time performers. However, there are some things that parents can do to support this process from their end.
Here are some tips for parents:
To Perform Or Not To Perform?
Know the different between nerves and simply not wanting to perform at all. Not every child wants to perform or indeed needs to. Consistent reluctance, not just as the performance approaches but from the onset and regularly voiced, will be an indicator that performing isn’t a positive experience for your child. There is a difference in supporting your child through uncomfortable emotional states and forcing them to do something they dislike time and time again.
Take The Pressure Down
Enjoyment needs to be experienced as much as nervous anticipation in the lead up to a performance. If a child is constantly reminded of all the relatives and friends that will be watching, how much the tickets cost and senses your stress this can be counterproductive. Check in with what messages you are giving out, your positive words will carry an impression as much as your negative ones. But most of all remember it’s a time of celebration not judgement.
Get Organised In Advance
Minimise any stress by knowing the facts about the event such as arrival times, where you can park, what your child needs on the day. Ensure that they have all the necessary equipment with their name marked on it and know where it is in their bag. Facilitating a relaxing evening the night before a show is ideal also. A good night’s rest will set them up well for the day ahead. Fuelling them up on a healthy breakfast and ensure a good selection of food is available to them on performance day is key to keeping up energy too.
Support Them To Develop
The learning curve from one single performance is so valuable whether a first time performer or a professional. Dancers can always improve in a particular area of their training so the opportunity to perform to a live audience can help dancers to move up to that next level more rapidly. There is also a wonderful residual effect that performers experience. A special bond is often created with fellow dancers and teachers by this exciting shared experience of performing.
Most importantly, confidence is gained and a sense of achievement is experienced when children are given the chance to overcome their nerves with support - we should never rob kids of this developmental opportunity.
Wishing everyone a wonderful up and coming concert season!
References: Ausdance Fact Sheet#2: https://ausdance.org.au/articles/details/parents-code-of-behaviour
Read More Like This: How The Performing Arts Benefit Kids
I’m pleased to say the people that have mentioned the extraordinary cost of the performing arts were not from my dance school but other schools! There are a few minor differences that add up to a major saving for my dance Mums and Dads, which I’m prepared to share with all!
Here are some great tips for dance parents to save money over the dance school year:
HIRE DON'T BUY
Purchasing your dance costumes rather than hiring them will end up being one of your biggest financial outlays next to your dance fees. If your school competes regularly in eisteddfods you can be looking at around $300 for a performance quality tutu and an average of $120 on a Jazz, Tap or Lyrical costume plus shipping costs. Keeping in mind that these costumes are worn for a very short time and only for one dance routine it can be hard to justify the price tag.
If your school does not provide the option to hire performance costumes, you may have no alternative but to purchase your child’s new sparkly sequins ensemble. Some dance teachers will allocated a particular costume for your child’s troupe so there is no way around having to make that purchase. If this is the case you should look at reselling online afterwards. There are some fantastic facebook pages that specialise in ex-performance costumes that have hardly been worn or treated well which you can pick up for a fraction of the cost or you can sell your own there. My favourite place to sell a specific costume to a ready buyer is the Australian Wanted To Buy page on Facebook.
I have come across new costumes with tags still on via these sites that are being sold because a dance school over ordered or simply ordered the incorrect size. Search for #TroupeCostumes or #DanceCostumes on Facebook and you will be surprised at what is available and for how little.
“If I had a penny for every time I heard
someone say the performing arts is
expensive I’d be driving a new BMW
not a second hand Mazda!”
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE & SAVE
Over the course of a dancers life time they will use an average of 50+ pairs of dance shoes. Multiply this buy the amount of dancers around the world and then you will see the environmental foot print our dancing feet leave on the planet. When you have the opportunity to pass on or reuse a pair of dance shoes don’t be afraid to do this.
Our school provides a Pre-loved Dance Shoe Box for parents to sell their child’s shoes once they have grown out of them. This is a great option for younger dancers and they will often grow out of their shoes before they wear them out. Needless to say, you will be saving money each time you buy a preloved pair and earning money each time you sell a pair of dance shoes. It’s a win win situation!
Keep in mind that for older or more serious dancers, correct shoe fittings are important to ensure the right fit for their growing feet, especially if undergoing long hours of training.
Your biggest expense will be your tuition fees. There can be a big difference in cost from one school to another so always know what you are in for before signing up your child. Once settled into a school it can be difficult to move across to another and you may literally pay the price if you didn’t read the fine print on your contract. Look for or be proactive and ask about the additional charges. Hidden costs such as exam fees, compulsory workshops or international/interstate dance performances can double your fees without you realising.
Personally, I would avoid schools that want you to sign a contract, direct debt or require your credit card details as you will be less aware of your monthly costs. When paying dance fees independently online, by cash or cheque you will naturally assess each time if the classes are still worth it and that’s a good thing.
Do a cost comparison with local schools if you haven’t done this before. You may be surprised to see that your dance school is above and beyond it’s competitors and may prompt a change. If changing schools allows your child to do more of what they love then go for it!
Wishing you a long and affordable dance journey!