Giving your Best Dance Performance

Best Dance Performance

Continuing with 4 more ways to give your best dance performance…

Expect the unexpected: 

Be mindful of the fact that no matter how much you practiced on your own, with your dance partner, and in your costumes on stage, you can always end up in a scenario that you haven’t encountered before. To give your best dance performance, keep going with your steps and have fun if you make a mistake. Learn to laugh at yourself and take things lightly. The audience will love it if you are able to remain upbeat and happy while making an error, and most of the time, they will not even notice if a mistake was made.

Best Dance Performance

Adding a movement that feels natural:

Choreography of any type of dance may include many steps and movements that do not always feel natural for us to execute. Adding more natural movements, may help us feel more confident and have more fun on stage - and they often look better too. Things like a simple hair flip or hip twist or any form of styling helps you execute your weaker steps with more confidence.

Focus on your body, not on your thoughts:

When you’re giving your personal best dance performance, focus more on how much joy you feel when you dance and listen to the music, rather than the critical thoughts, such as, did I spin the wrong way? or why didn’t I point my toe here? Remember to stay consistent: If you have to improvise, so be it, but make sure you always look like you’re having fun, even if you’re really nervous. The audience is not there to judge or criticize you; they are there to enjoy the best dance performance you can give, and if you keep smiling and look like you’re having fun, they will pick up your positive energy. That positive energy will circulate back to you, and you’ll both feel happier with the outcome.

Best Dance Performance

Focus on your strengths when choreographing: 

If you feel like you cannot execute a specific movement confidently, better to leave it for the next performance. While challenging yourself is always great, you also have to be ready, physically and mentally, and it is better to spend more time practicing a specific move and feeling confident about it prior to performing, rather than taking a wild risk and injuring yourself.

Finally, in order to really have a lot of confidence on stage, you have to love what you’re doing. You have to love dancing and love trying new things. Make the audience feel as if they are part of the performance. Be present in the moment. You are dancing and performing to put a smile on other people’s faces, so do not focus too much on your own past mistakes or nervous feelings. Focus on how you can make someone’s day better just by coming to watch you give your best dance performance.

Irina has completed a 16 month teacher training program in International Ballroom and has experience performing and competing in Latin and Standard. She's looking to expand her dance by continuing to train and perform in various venues.

Best Dance Performance

5 Ways to Shine in Your Dancing Performance

dancing performance

All the prep work’s been done. You’re walking out on stage for your dancing performance when… Oh my goodness, look how many people are watching! Wait, did my shoe unlace itself? AHH, IT”S ALL GOING WRONG!!!

Don’t let this be you. The 5 strategies I’m sharing here will keep you focused and lower stage jitters to a minimum. I owe both my own coaches and other ballroom experts for this hard-won advice - may it do you as much good as it did me.

dancing performance

1. Accept the anxiety

If you’re hyperventilating and on the verge of bolting from the stage, remember that in the grand scheme of things, our dancing performance is not as important to other people as it is to us. Say you’re first showcase is a complete flop. How many people are going to be talking about it an hour from now? A week from now? A year from now? At worst, people will laugh, then quickly forget about it.

Besides, a little anxiety is healthy. Back in my theatre days, it was a bad sign if any of the actors showed up for the first performance with a ‘no sweat, I’ve got this’ attitude. Their relaxed headspace caused them to make mistakes more often then not. So if you feel a bit nervous, know that it’s just your body’s way of making sure you stay focused out there.

dancing performance
A few deep breaths wouldn't hurt either.

2. Double knot your shoes!

When spacecraft are preparing for flight, everything is double and triple-checked, because something as small as a loose bolt could spell disaster. Likewise, it only take a single trip-up to wreck an otherwise brilliant dancing performance. So if you’re shoes are lace-ups, double-lace ‘em. In fact, it’s probably best to double-secure everything you have on should be is double secured, in case of anything unexpected.

3. Look at the audience!

A dancing performance isn’t just about you and your partner - it’s a conversation with the audience as well. This can terrify some people, and they convey shyness by avoiding the eyes of the crowd. Fight this urge! When you practice, imagine moments when you would look into their eyes. This establishes a connection with them, allows them to feel what you feel. It gets them involved, and actively rooting for you.

dancing performance
This is just for you. Yes, you.

4. Distract your mind

Remember this well: If you still have to think about your steps to do them correctly, you haven’t practiced enough. Don’t try to ‘remember’ anything during your dancing performance, but instead focus on blanking or distracting your mind, so you body is free to do it’s work. You can even use visuals that reflect the dance. For example, a past coach of mine imagines a bunch of kittens in a basket whenever she wants to smile more.

kittens in a basket
Seriously, try not to smile while looking at this.

5. Pretend until you believe yourself

The old ‘fake it ’til you make it’ rule comes in handy here. Dancing performances are about playing a character. Focus on the emotion of the dance, either using the visuals described above, listening to the music or lyrics, or come up with your own focusing tool. Convince yourself that you really feel the emotion you are conveying, and let the crowd see it! Remember that the audience wants you succeed - all the better if you can draw them into the story you are weaving.

kittens in a basket
What's happening here? Wouldn't you like to know?

dancing performanceWhat’s the most stressful performance or presentation you’ve EVER given (doesn’t have to be dance)? How did you get through it?

Dance Competition Tips

About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches ballroom at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

6 Secrets to Preparing for A Dance Performance

dance performance

Some perform because it motivates them to improve, because they love the stage, or because they rarely get the space to dance with their whole heart. Sadly, many others are intimidated by the stage, and miss out on the the joy of performing for others. If you’ve decided to take the plunge however, here’s how to get ready your next dance performance.

dance performance

1. Simulate your performance experience

Would you climb a mountain without practicing with a boulder first? When preparing for a dance performance, it’s important to create conditions similar to the event itself. A dress rehearsals or two is a must, to make sure there’s no risk of wardrobe malfunctions. Ask about the size of the performance space, and stay within those dimensions when you practice. Check with people who’ve performed there before for important details, like if the floor is slippery or sticky.

Dance Performance

2. Organize the things you need early

Organize everything you can before your dance performance, and save yourself from the ‘chicken with it’s head cut off’ routine. Make a list of things you will need, and pack them up the day before. A few things worth including:

  • iPod with fully charged batteries, loading with music and earbuds
  • CDs with your music – bring two so you have a backup copy
  • Costume
  • Shoes, Half-soles, etc.
  • Make-up, towelettes, and make-up remover
  • Hair supplies, like bobby pins, rubber bands, hairspray
  • Sewing kits with safety pins, super glue, fabric tape
  • Nail clipper and file
  • Protein bar and full water bottle
  • Directions to the performance site

This might seem excessive, but all it takes it one broken strap and no rubber bands to turn a smoothly running performance into a nightmare.

Dance Performance
Why have you forsaken me God?!

3. Eat healthy, high energy meals

Healthy eating is just a good idea for both your body and your dancing. Assuming you are human enough to indulge from time to time however, at least make sure you get a good combination of carbs and proteins in your meals the day of the dance performance. A few fast recommendations are high-fibre cereal, oatmeal, bananas and strawberries (try having the last two in a smoothie together!) And for goodness sake, don’t skip breakfast!

4. Arrive early

Nothing’s worse then flying on stage last minute, and having to perform while your brain’s still running to catch up.

Dance Performance
Y'see, it all started with this dance performance...

Show up at least a hour before show time, to give yourself plenty of ‘oh sh*t!’ time if needed.

5. Warm-up

The last time my dance partner had to perform without a warm-up, she pulled her leg muscle badly enough to keep her limping for a month afterwards. Light aerobic activity, stretches, yoga and pilates are all useful ways to prep your muscles for a strenuous routine, and keep you from getting a muscle spasm at the worse possible time.

Dance Performance
Like here, for instance.

6. Get in the zone

The greatest athletes always have some strategy for ‘getting their mind in the game’, whether it’s visualizing the movements, listening to music, or sitting on stage imagining a screaming crowd. Find your own way to stay calm and focused until show time. It’s okay to be nervous, but let it motivate you, not paralyze you.

‘This is all well and good,’ I hear you say, ‘but what about when I’m actually ON stage? How do I keep myself from freaking out then?’ Next week, I’ll show you how to overcome those on-stage jitters and become a brilliant performer.

Dance Magazine
Onstage Dance
Tour De Fit

About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches ballroom at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Dancing Exercises for Any Level

dancing exercises

Like a certain Depeche Mode song, there’s some techniques in dancing you just can’t get enough of. Tricky body movements that can take a lifetime of training to master. Here’s some common dancing exercises worth adding to your routine.

Cuban motion

  1. With feet together and weight forward, practice changing weight from one foot to another. Each weight shift completes on a bent knee and the heel down, then straightening to push the weight to the next step.
  2. Let the bending knee sink the hip forward, and the straightening knee push it back, creating a rotational movement.
  3. Start stepping to the side and closing, completing the weight changes as described above. Try forward and backwards as well.
  4. While you move, raise your arms as though you had an invisible dance partner. Keep the chest forward; only the hips rotate. Try 16 steps in every direction.

Dancing Exercises

Dancing Exercises

Want more detail? Check here and here.


Samba motion

  1. Stand with feet together. Bend and straighten the knees, lifting the heels and tucking the pelvis forward when the knees bend, and letting them rock back when the knees straighten. Try not to bounce up and down.
  2. Repeat with legs shoulder width apart. Start with weight on one leg, and switch legs on the straight-knee part of every second bounce, like you’re going over a speed bump.
  3. Dance the samba side basic, making sure the side and closing steps occur when the knees straighten. Then, start moving the hips slightly sooner, before the feet move.
  4. Finally, add a slight roll to the hip on each side, so it rotates slightly as it rocks back. Don’t loose the forward and backward motion! Repeat 10 times.

Watch the video below to see it in action. Try the other steps if you're feeling ambitious.


Rise and Fall

  1. With feet together and parallel, soften the right knee, while shooting the left heel forward. Keep your weight over the right foot.
  2. Push off the back leg to transfer weight. As you roll to the ball of the left foot, begin pushing into the floor to elevate that heel.
  3. Brush through with the ball of the right foot, while continuing to push higher off the floor.
  4. Brush through with the ball of the left foot, reaching the ‘peak’ of your rise as your weight transfers, then letting the heel lower, with resistance, to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Try moving backwards, using the same steps above. Rising happens through the body only - keep the heels down. Add a body stretch, if you can. Repeat 10 times in both directions

Dancing ExercisesThink like a roller-coaster going up that first hill and down the drop. Go more slowly to create greater control and fluidity.

Dancing Exercises
Much less scary then a roller coaster, IMO.

Floor Connection

This dancing exercise is a great way to improve your stability and strengthen your feet:

  1. Stand with the front of both feet balanced on the bottom step of a flight of stairs. Practice lifting and lowering yourself, 10 times. Try not to hold anything for balance.
  2. Dance a rumba box, 10 times. Push off by pointing the toe to send yourself in each direction, not by leaning with the body. Repeat as the follower.

Turning Control

  1. Start with either foot pointed forward without weight. Make a full weight transfer forward, immediately lifting the back foot to check your balance.
  2. Repeat, adding a small hip twist as your weight changes, rotating yourself 1/4 in the direction of the foot you used (ex. right for a right foot).
  3. Practice until you can do it 5 times in a row without losing balance, then increase it by 1/4 amounts to build consistency. Remember to practice in both directions.

Dancing ExercisesFilm yourself doing various dances before you start the drills above. Then periodically film yourself again and watch the steady improvement!

Dancing Exercises

What’s YOUR favourite dance drill?


An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling (P2)

An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling

In our last article, we covered some of the basic ballroom arm styling we use to accentuate our body movements. Today, we take a look at how to modify our arm styling to better express different styles of movement.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm StylingYour arm movement should travel out as a result of body movement. If your body swings to the left, your arm styling should travel in the same direction, after the body has begun to move.

Matching the Music

Obviously, an important part of expressing the music is matching it’s tempo. If the music is fast, your body will move faster and your arms will follow. Regardless of when your arm movement starts, it should aways fully extend or complete at the same instant as your weight change.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling
It takes good timing...


Sharp VS Soft

The music may be punctuated by sharp staccato beats (like a tango), or a softer, continuous sound, (most waltzes). Your ballroom arm styling can reflect these changes by completing their movement with a sharper flick of the wrist, or a more slowly, as if dancing in water. In this case, it is the final punctuation that gives the sharp or soft finish - even if you started slowly, you can still add a powerful exclamation at the end with a snap of the wrist, and vice versa.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm StylingAs the music changes, so should your styling. Otherwise, it’s like eating the same meal every day for a year - even if it was great to start, it WILL get boring eventually.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling
Despite what your dog says.

The Role of Tension

What if the music is strong and aggressive, but lacks staccato? (For example, listen to ‘The Assassin's Tango’ here.) We can increase tension in our arms and reduce the bend in our elbow and wrist, creating strong lines of power. Or, if the music has become more fun and playful, we can relax our arms and curve them more to create a more sensual or sexy look, as with rumbas and salsa dances.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm StylingMore tone and straighter arms is considered more ‘masculine’, and softer, curved arms more ‘feminine’. It’s usually wise to err on the side of your respective sex.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling
It's bad enough they make you wear THIS.

Play with these variations in movement with songs you are comfortable with. Find out what matches the music, and as always, be patient. Sensing how to best express what we hear may well take a lifetime. The reward is a better expression of the grace and beauty you hear, both within you, and to those watching.

An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling
What’s YOUR biggest challenge with your ballroom arm styling?