GOING FOR GOLD!
Preparing for a Performance with JLDC Faculty, Goldie Walberg

You might think “preparing for a performance” solely means focusing on your rehearsals, classes, and making sure your choreography is ready for the stage. Technically speaking, you wouldn’t be mistaken.

But other than the obvious, there are many other factors that come into play when preparing for a performance. 

With our annual Winter Concert and Hip Hop Shows just a few weeks away, it’s time to dive into what it really takes to feel confident and prepared both physically and mentally before the big day. 

We asked our faculty member and professional dancer Goldie Walberg for the inside scoop on preparing for a performance. Growing up in the City of Angels, Miss Goldie knew dance and entertainment all of her life, and eventually became a professional dancer with the Kansas City Ballet for 3 seasons before moving to Boston in early 2020. 

Preparing for a Performance: Allow Your Body To Rest 

Wait, we just mentioned to focus on rehearsals, classes, and choreography. Now we’re talking about rest? It might sound a little contradictory, but giving your body the proper rest it needs is key for performance success.

Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep is essential for high-performing athletes, including dancers, as it restores cognitive function, as well as memory. This is so important for rehearsing your routine!

At this point in the game, you know your choreography. You’ve been drilling your dances and have been focusing on every last detail down to those pinky fingers. It is okay to take a break. In fact, it’s more than okay – it’s necessary! 

As important as it is to be in rehearsal and to make sure your dances are stage ready, taking care of yourself and your body should be just as much of a priority. Resting your muscles, getting enough sleep, and allowing muscle memory to carry you through until showtime is the perfect pre performance trifecta. 

Pro Tip: Turn preparing for a performance into a mini spa day!

We highly suggest jumping in a hot bath with some epsoms salts after a long rehearsal day. Add a bath bomb, a face mask, and maybe some Netflix and you just turned your muscle recovery into a five star luxury experience. 

Preparing for a Performance: Rehearse Your Pre-Performance Routine 

More rehearsal?!Preparing for a Performance with Goldie Wahlberg

If you are someone that struggles with pre-performance anxiety, or a little bit of stage fright, then this tip is for you: The easiest way to combat that terrible anxious feeling before your stage debut is to organize and prepare. 

Pro Tip: Say it with me! Organize and Prepare! 

If you have never been backstage before, or this is your first performance back on stage for a while, then you might not realize or have forgotten what it feels like.

Finding a pre-show routine or ritual will put your mind at ease and allow you to actually enjoy all of the moments backstage. 

How Does One Create A Pre-Performance Routine Or Ritual?

Let’s start with my favorite topic: food. 

When it comes to pre performance food, everyone has a different preference. Some dancers enjoy a hardier meal to feel like they have enough energy to perform. Others tend to stay on the lighter side so they don’t feel heavy in their grand jetés. 

Whichever you decide, testing out your pre performance meal before opening night might not be the worst idea in the world. 

Pro Tip: The last thing you want distracting you while on stage is the sound of your rumbling stomach. 

Which leads me to… SNACKS! Some might argue that backstage snacks are more important than your pre-show meal. 

Here is a list of some classic, easy to eat, and filling snacks to throw in your dance bag before you head to the theatre:

Trail mix
Sliced Apples
Protein Bars
Bananas
Cheese and Crackers
Greek Yogurt
Popcorn
Dried Fruit
Hard Boiled Eggs

Now that all of our mouths are watering, let’s refocus and continue talking about our pre performance ritual. 

Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate  

Remember how we just went on and on about all of our pre performance food? Well now we get to focus on the importance of pre performance hydration.  

Whether you have gatorade, energy drinks, electrolyte packets, or just good old fashion water, remembering to stay hydrated is extremely important to perform at your best. If you are one to forget about drinking water, try snagging a cute reusable water bottle that makes the idea of drinking water fun! 

Trust me, your body will thank you. 

Preparing for a Performance: Plan Your Pre-Show Warm Up!

Just like planning your meal, planning your warm up is an amazing and effective way to feel comfortable and confident on show day. The goal is to warm up just enough to where your body feels prepared, without overexhilitaring it to the point of muscle fatigue. 

We are all familiar with the term jello legs, right? Not fun. 

It’s all about balance! No pun intended…

Create A Performance Schedule 

Another way to calm down any pre performance jitters is to be as organized as possible. Why not make your very own theater schedule? 

Between classes, dress rehearsal, and then FINALLY the day of the show, there is a lot to keep track of. Grab some paper, fun colored pens or highlighters, and come up with a schedule that works best for you. This can also create fun decor in your dressing room for all of your friends to use as well. Did someone say color coding? Sign us up! 

Pro Tip: There is even potential to turn this tip into a great dressing room activity with your dance friends! 

Preparing for a Performance with Goldie Wahlberg

Preparing for a Performance: Make a Pre-Show Checklist

A Pre-Show Checklist to assist you with preparing for the big day:

Preparing for a Performance with Goldie Wahlberg

Costumes & Accessories
Leotards
Hip Hop Shoes
Pink Tights
Tan Tights
Ballet Shoes
Jazz Shoes
Tap Shoes
Contemporary Shoes
Water Bottle
Dance Bag
Hairspray
Hairpins
Hair Elastics
Hair Nets
Stage Makeup
False Eyelashes
Red Lipstick
And don’t forget your mask!

Preparing for a Performance: Last, But Not Least… HAVE FUN!

We talked about resting your body and staying hydrated. We also talked about what to eat, and how to stay organized backstage… So now it’s time to smile and have fun! 

Now is your time to shine. This is what you have been working so hard for, so enjoy the spotlight!

Being able to share the stage with your friends that you have been working so hard. Having the curtain rise at the start of the show feels amazing, and hearing the roaring applause as you take your final bow. That is what makes all of the work worth it. So go out and enjoy it! 

And one last thing before you go… Make sure to double check your dance bag the night before in case you are forgetting something?! 

Break a leg! You are going to nail it. 

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Shawn Mahoney

Shawn Mahoney began his ballet, tap, and jazz training at the Joanne Langione Dance Center and his early performing career with Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre in Boston, MA. As an apprentice, Shawn danced for American Ballet Theatre before joining Boston Ballet. At Boston Ballet, Shawn performed in Petipa, Balanchine, Kylian, Forsythe, Bejart and others. Shawn performed as a chosen member of “Tharp!”, a national and international touring company directed by Twyla Tharp. Ms. Tharp invited Shawn to be part of the creative and choreographic process for her Broadway hit “Movin’ Out” and performed in Tharp’s “Red, White, and Blues”. Shawn performed with the Suzanne Farrell/Balanchine Project, Sean Curran Company, Washington Ballet, and Bale Estado de Goias. As an educator, Shawn has taught internationally for Festa de Danca in Sao Paulo and Bermuda Civic Ballet. Currently, Shawn is on faculty at Emerson College, instructing dance classes to actors and musical theatre students and is a teacher and lecturer at Days in the Arts. Shawn founded Mahoney Agency, representing dancers for national engagements for the Nutcracker Ballet. Shawn is a sought out mentor for emerging artists and choreographers in ballet and contemporary dance.