Parent volunteers for ballet recitals are the support every ballet academy needs. Sewing tutus, dyeing pointe shoes, help in the dressing room with hair and makeup, are the many tasks that need to be done. The excitement of performing sometimes becomes fear - a natural stage fright that some children need help with.
If your young ballerina, tap dancer or hip-hop performer starts to express more anxiety than excitement there are ways to help.
Firstly, you may be hearing expressions of natural stage fright, which almost everyone feels when the reality of opening night strikes - even if just for a few moments.
If you have a child that worries, let her/his teacher know that he/she needs encouragement as well as corrections. Remind your child of compliments regarding their dancing you may have overheard from the studio or stage area.
Some dance teachers like to provide each student with the music of their dances, so that they can practice mentally. When they are resting with their sore feet up at home, they can visualize and feel themselves performing, applying their corrections over and over. The earlier they learn this the better. It is a method that actually helps develop neural pathways and better performance. This is a great way to increase confidence, without getting exhausted, or spraining and straining muscles.
Having a couple of soft ice packs handy at home eases aches and pains.
For older children, remind them about good nutrition. While a lot of sugar can be a tranquilizer, it also weakens the muscles. And for many children sugar is an irritant and increases nervousness.
Fruit is a wonderful source of the minerals that get lost in excessive perspiring....and that, along with good water, is something that students can have with them during long rehearsal days. Replacing minerals and staying hydrated (frequent sips, don't wait until your throat is dry) also helps prevent muscle spasms.
Backstage volunteers can help by remaining cheerful and calm no matter what happens. If a child freezes up in the wings, deep breathing can remedy it. Practicing deep breathing is a good idea during staging rehearsals, while kids are in the wings waiting for their entrances.
Speaking of waiting... modern theaters are often chilly with air conditioning. Your child will need leg warmers, even sweats, to keep their muscles warm during the staging rehearsals.
Having them ready with everything they will need in the dressing room, with some Band Aids, a sewing kit, extra hair pins and nets - anything that could be suddenly required - will reassure a worrier that all angles are covered. Aside from that, it is a good professional habit to ingrain in aspiring dancers.
Natural stage fright turns into exhaltation when the performances are done and well received - and hopefully that won't wear off for a while. And parent volunteers get to share that with the joy of seeing their child close a year of hard work at the barre by getting to dance for you!
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