|Me, onstage performing Sugar Plum in our Nutcracker.|
That's not to say I don't need to work on my stage presence. Believe me, I do. But I definitely feel like I've improved it in the last 6 months, mostly because I've gotten much more comfortable with being onstage. Part of this is because I'm a member of my studio's ballet and jazz/contemporary companies and we perform all the time, and part of it is because I've gotten used to performing in...well...less than ideal circumstances.
Just this past Friday, for example, we performed at a summer camp fair that was being held in a
gymnasium. Gym floors are slippery. It was incredibly hard to jump or turn without slipping or landing awkwardly to keep your feet underneath you. In addition, I was performing my Sugar Plum variation (for like the 800th time) to the uncut version of the track, meaning there were about 45 seconds of music in the middle where there was no set choreography. As this had happened twice before, I was prepared to improv and knew exactly what to do, so there was no visible pause in the movement. The first time it happened, I nearly jumped out of my skin, but this time I didn't let it throw me off. I have come to understand that while preparation is best, nothing ever really works exactly the way it's supposed to in showbiz, so you have to always stay on top of things.
|The Val Jacobs dance bag, mother of all dance bags.|
As someone who is extremely Type A (especially when it comes to dance), my biggest coping mechanism is my dance bag. It's huge. My parents always make fun of me for carrying absolutely everything with me to dance, but that is how I make sure that I'm prepared for whatever is thrown at me. If anyone needs Advil or an extra pair of shoes, I've got it covered. Sprain an ankle? I've got a brace and some Icey-Hot. In addition to extra tights, toe pads, bobby pins, hairspray, tic-tacs, a brush, a roller, therabands, snacks, and toe-nail clippers. All of which have come in handy at some point.
|Our adorable snowflakes, preparing to go onstage.|
My second method is to forget everything before I go onstage. Run over everything in the dressing-room, get it into my muscle memory, warm-up, shake it out, forget it all, and perform. I try to do this while onstage, too, not just in preparation. If I make a mistake, I catch up, forget about it, and move on. You can't let an error in one number ruin the rest of them. You can't let it affect the rest of your performance.
|Performing Waltz of the Flowers for the American Girl Store.|