Stress always exists backstage but for me personally it usually has nothing to do with another dancer or member of their family and has never resulted in something ugly.
It took 5 years but I got into my first backstage argument with another mother. Ouch.
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Okay, I know, you want details. But that isn’t going to be what this post is about. So the quick version is:
*A dancer was invited to a competition to fill a spot in a routine. This dancer and her mother are not used to the fast paced environment of backstage at competition. Dancer was asked, by an instructor, to not be in the middle of the chaos if she was not changing. Dancer was standing over my daughters things (after being told by an instructor to leave the room) and she did not. I asked the dancer to move. Soon, dancers mother is backstage accusing me of screaming at her kid. Fortunately, the instructor who was present at the time quickly advised the mother that was not what had actually happened.*
But it was kinda too late. I’m a mama bear type who goes from 0 to 100 pretty quickly. I can usually keep that under control but in an already stressful environment, I was set off. I didn’t need to defend myself, as the instructor was able to clarify what had actually transpired, but it did not stop me from lashing out in return. Overall it was just an ugly situation that didn’t need to happen. It was stressful for me and my child and I’m sure for the other family as well.
So here are 5 easy ways for you and your dancer (and me and mine) to de-stress backstage.
#1. THINK OF SOMETHING GOOD THAT HAS HAPPENED AT THAT PERFORMANCE SO FAR
Seriously! Its like, science and stuff. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-scientific-studies-prove-power-positive-thinking-mark-guidi
Did your kid just land a triple pirouette for the first time ever on stage? Nail that double shuffle grab off? Fall on their butt but laughed it off and kept on dancing? MENTALLY CELEBRATE THOSE THINGS. Take a minute to breathe and appreciate the good. You are there for a reason, because your child loves to dance. Take the stress inducing thought and mentally replace it with something good.
I legitimately forget to eat on competition day and sometimes I have to be reminded to feed my kid. Before you threaten to call social services, I don’t *not* feed my child. But for example this weekend at competition our director approached me and asked me to go make sure my daughter ate. I was slightly confused because we had only been there for about 30 minutes and she had eaten just before we arrived. I then found out that the way her routines were scheduled the next 2.5 hours were pretty much back to back chaos.
Dancing burns energy. They need that fuel. The only dancer meltdowns we have ever had on our team have been due to lack of energy and low blood sugar. Protein, Protein, Protein! Are you cranky when you’re hungry? So are they. Cranky moms and cranky dancers backstage are never a good thing. Bring a snack bag. An insulated lunch box. Whatever you do, make sure everyone eats.
#3. HUG YOUR DANCER
This kind of falls along the same positivity theme as #1.
Doing something positive helps the brain to be positive. A route recalculation if you will. A hug helps both you and your dancer regulate your stress and emotions and calm down a little. Don’t just hug them on competition day, find more info on the benefits of hugging your kids HERE
#4. TAKE A TIME OUT
Do you have a spare 5 minutes between routines? Use them. Find a bench somewhere or go sit in the dark auditorium in the back by yourself. Just get away. Sometimes its hard to relax and get your head clear when tension or stress is present. Remove yourself from the immediate environment or crowd and spend sometime alone. Breathe. Process thought. Mindlessly scroll Facebook. Just chill out when you can.
Another one of those positivity things, are you sensing a trend yet? Tell your daughter a joke. Ask her to tell you one. Mads and I randomly sing show tunes and we think we are hilarious. Pull up a funny video on YouTube. I personally recommend cat videos. Here is one of my viral favorites…
The ultimate point is try to distract yourself from backstage stress with something good. Whether it be hugs, laughter or food etc. Remember, its just a dance competition and at the end of the day you and your child will go home and move on with your lives. Don’t take everything so serious. Have fun, enjoy the moment, all of them.