Photo by Ahmad Odeh/Unsplash

Where's Front? Tips for Not Getting Turned Around Onstage

I'm terrified of performing choreography that changes directions. I messed up last year when the stage lights caused me to become disoriented. What can I do to prevent this from happening again? I can perform the combination just fine in the studio with the mirror.

—Scared, San Francisco, CA


It's never too late to learn from your experience. Last year, you were taken by surprise, but now you know what to expect and can prepare ahead of time. Practice the choreography in the studio by facing away from the mirror so you feel self-assured without using your reflection to guide you.

Then, try to get into the theater early to rehearse. Focus on something tangible (like the red exit sign at the back of the house) to center you. The point is to orient yourself despite the blinding stage lights, so you can become immersed in the performance. The most magical dancers stay in the moment instead of getting distracted by worrisome questions like "What if I can't perform that step?"

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at advicefordancers@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS