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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • July 2018
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Being performance ready

“I’m not ready!” I hear it all the time. How do you know when you’re “ready” to do anything? I’ve been spending more and more time working with people to prepare them for performances, as well as preparing myself to perform. As that fateful day approaches, those three little words start to creep into our heads and inevitably out of our mouths. Many first time performers never really feel ready, but after they are finished and they look at a video of what they’ve done and see how wonderful it was they realize they were indeed ready. What does it take to get there? How do you prepare to show others what you can do?

There is a lot that goes into being ready to perform in front of an audience, whether it is stringing a few moves together in front of two people in your class or dancing alone for three minutes in front of 200 people at a competition. I focus on helping people prepare for their time on the larger stage. Once you’ve done the upfront work — picking a song, writing a routine, choosing a costume, choosing your venue or competition — it comes down to the fine details. I’ve come up with a few things that help to get me not only physically ready, but also mentally.

The first thing I think about is how much time I’ve spent writing and rewriting, and then getting feedback from other people and writing a sequence again. Before I solidify a change, I compare each version of the routine to the older version to make sure that the changes are for the better. By doing this I can reassure myself that each change is necessary and makes the piece better and better each time. This reflection helps put nerves at ease and allows you to relax a bit knowing that the routine is a work of art that can be changed as needed.

After reflecting on the routine writing process, I tape and then watch myself as I rehearse. By watching and seeing what it looks like from an audience perspective you can see if there are things your body is doing that you are unaware of. It seems strange, but it really does happen. For example, if you are concentrating so hard on what your feet are doing sometimes your hands are doing something extremely weird unbeknownst to you. By watching your own performances you can then work on all of the little details to really make your performance stand out.

Finally, I do as many mini performances as possible. The more times you can perform and the more people you perform in front of the better. Each mini performance helps you get over the jitters and nerves that come along with performing, so you are more relaxed with each performance. Being relaxed allows you to enjoy performing more and really connect with your performance.

Throughout the whole preparation for a performance, I have become more and more aware of the importance of positive self-talk. I recently worked with a few women as they prepared for a competition in Chicago — some of them first time competitors and some of them not. It was very interesting to me to hear the differences and similarities in their self-talk leading up to the weekend of their competition. At about two to three weeks out leading up to the competition, thoughts were mixed. Some were at “Oh if I only had an extra week to practice,” while others were already at the point of “I got this.” By the week of, everyone had gotten to the same place mentally: “I’ve done all that I can to prepare for this, now it’s time to relax and just do what I know how to do.” This was amazing to hear and see as a coach. Watching how their performances changed from before they felt mentally ready to after was incredible.

It’s not enough for someone else to tell you that you are ready. You have to feel it for yourself. By reflecting on your preparation, watching yourself and practicing in front of others you can really develop that mental aspect of feeling truly ready and be able to bring your performances to the next level.

Kim Flinchum

Kim Flinchum is an instructor at Aerial Dance in Appleton & Green Bay. Kim holds multiple Aerial Dance certifications, is a certified Aerial Yoga Instructor, recently attended the Circus Arts Institute for additional training and has a Group Fitness Certification through AAFA.  Learn more about Pole, Hoop, Hammock & Silks at or by calling 920-750-1441. 

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