Chloe Cooper, the owner of Body Image and Ballet, invited me to collaborate with her Instagram page. Her account promotes a healthy ballet lifestyle through the stories of other dancer’s experiences, including some of her own. I was very willing and excited to work with her and I hope we work together again in the future!
Of the many dance-related topics to choose from, I decided to share my first experience dealing with performance anxiety. You can read the full story below or visit https://www.instagram.com/bodyimageandballet/. Don’t forget to “like” the photos!
I was born a performer. My grandparents would tell me stories of when I was just a toddler and would dance around in the kitchen, demanding attention and applause from everyone in the room. My mom put me in ballet classes when I was three, and since then, I’ve had the privilege to perform on many different stages in various cities and in front of great audiences. Comparable to my fellow performers over the years, nerves grew, especially right before entering the stage, but I would’ve never classified my pre-performance jitters as severe. That is, not until I had my very first performance with The Pennsylvania Ballet.
I have been studying at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet for about nine months now and was given the incredible opportunity this past December to perform in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet company members. I remember seeing the cast list and I could not believe it! I was thrilled to be a chosen student! Naturally, nerves came and went throughout the rehearsal process, but the reality of this unique opportunity did not surface until moments before hitting the stage for the first time in the Snow Scene.
Anxiety and panic raged through me. I could barely breathe and I hadn’t even begun dancing yet. I realized then and there in the wings how high the stakes were for me. The fact that I, as well as the other 15 dancers backstage, were representing a top-tier ballet company made me recognize that I needed to step up to the professional plate. Fear almost overcame me, but I pushed through it because I knew that I had the opportunity of a lifetime in the palm of my hand, and there was no way I’d let anyone or anything take that away from me. My first performance, along with the other 12 shows I performed in, went very well. Honestly, I had the time of my life! Since that panic episode, I’ve thought of ways to help cope with my nervousness before entering the stage. I generally stick to the same warm-up routine, say a little prayer, and remind myself that I have made it so far in my ballet journey and to be proud of that. Then I just go out on stage, love what I do, and make the audience love it too.