The Importance of Confidence in Dance

Confidence is critical to a dancer, but it doesn't have to be real! Even if you're quaking in your dancing shoes, LOOK confident and your audience will be impressed. Even if you fluffed the third step and forgot the middle of the routine, smile confidently and chances are, your audience won't even notice.

Dancers often forget the audience wasn't at rehearsal. They don't know what the steps of a routine were supposed to be, so they're not going to spot a mistake unless you make it obvious by frowning or pulling a funny face - or worse, by stopping!

If you can maintain a look of confidence, head up, torso erect, smiling brightly no matter what craziness is happening lower down, the audience will probably never notice you goofed. It's a bit like a swan traversing a pond - people see the smoothness and serenity on top, and don't think about the frantic paddling below!

Most dancers suffer nerves before a performance and don't feel confident as they step on stage, but it doesn't matter. Learn to display confidence every time you dance - even in class - and it will become a habit. You'll be able to look confident and in control, even when you're not.

Unfortunately, dancers who try to display confidence in class are sometimes branded show-offs by their fellow students. You're not supposed to do your travelling steps with your head up, smiling as if you're on stage, and finishing with a flourish! Other students would prefer you to frown or stick your tongue out to show your concentration, break off with an exclamation if you do one wrong, and not bother to hold your final pose.

Well, that may be cool, but if you get into the habit of dancing your steps like that, you'll find it hard to change once you get on stage. Serious dancers will always try to perform in class exactly as they would on stage (the only exception is if they're conserving their energy for a later performance by "marking" the steps). They know that it's not enough to learn how to do the steps - you have to learn how to do the steps WITH CONFIDENCE AND STYLE.

My own ballet teacher was adamant that every time we did a step in class, we must pretend that we were on stage. That has stood me in good stead throughout my dance career - and has even got me into trouble!

More than once, when I started performing belly dance, audience members told me I was a better dancer than my teacher!! I knew that wasn't true - my teacher was technically light years ahead of me. But the difference was, I had been taught to dance confidently no matter what, whereas she was rather shy and tended to dance with her eyes downcast. So when we danced together (as we sometimes did), it was me who grabbed the audience's attention. They never noticed that my accents were not as precise or my hand movements less graceful - all they could see were my smile, my posture, and my "attack" and enthusiasm.

Of course, it's also important to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse so you don't have to worry about your steps. But that is not the most important aspect of your confidence score!

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