Photo by Ali Müftüoğulları, Courtesy Unsplash

3 Tips for Fighting Performance Anxiety

Whenever I'm cast in a solo role, I'm consumed with thoughts of everything that could go wrong. Please help.

—Isabella, Philadelphia, PA


Raising the stakes with "what ifs" only heightens your anxiety. Your insecurity may stem from a lack of stage experience or low self-confidence.

The first can be overcome by putting in extra rehearsal time until the solo becomes part of your muscle memory.

Gaining confidence requires mental conditioning, such as learning to reframe negative thoughts (like "I'm going to mess up") with something positive ("I'm excited and ready to go").

Adopting a strong stage persona may also help you tap into traits that will enhance your performance—just think of what Beyoncé's alter ego, Sasha Fierce, did for her. Many of the best dancers have struggled with anxiety. You are not alone.

Latest Posts


Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS