One year while I was at Nationals with my competition team, we were thrilled that our large group tap routine received a high enough score to gain us entry into Headliners’ coveted Platinum Circle Championship. Awesome, right? So we’re all excited, ready to go onstage a second time in hopes of taking home the event’s top prize. But maybe I was a bit too excited, because while I was front and center, I propelled myself into a toe-stand turn—one I had done a million times both in rehearsal and onstage—and BOOM! Totally bit it. I mean, I wiped out. I lost my footing, face planted, shook it off and stood back up and kept going. Yikes!
Now, I know I’m not the only one with an embarrassing onstage blooper story to share. To feel a bit better about myself, I got the rest of the DS staff to sound off on their most awful onstage moments. And I’m nice, so I’m not telling you the names behind the stories—you’ll have to just take your best guess!
And remember, whether you face-plant or lose your top, everyone has these moments. Sure they’re awkward, but eventually you’ll learn to love sharing your story and getting a laugh. Plus, little setbacks will only make you a stronger performer. So stay confident and read on…
“When I was 14, I was cast as one of the Merlitons (aka Marzipan or Marzipan Shepherdesses) in The Nutcracker for the first time. It was one of my first “grown-up” soloist parts, and I couldn’t have been more excited. One of the best perks? The gorgeous tutu, with clear straps that made the bodice appear to be elegantly strapless. On opening night, I threw myself into the divertissement’s first arabesque—and heard a loud “pop” as one of those straps snapped right off, leaving the left side of my (non-existent) chest totally exposed. I was in such a state of shock that, rather than exit the stage gracefully, I continued to dance the variation with my elbow pinned to my side, trying desperately to keep myself covered. What a nightmare!”
“When I was 14 I spent a few weeks studying at a Joffrey workshop in Michigan. I was cast in a modern piece for the workshop’s final performance and was really excited to be dancing at the front of the ensemble. We rehearsed on stage and one day, when the choreographer was working with the soloists, I was goofing around in the wings: I was holding on to my left foot (and legwarmer) with my right hand, and jumping through with my right foot. I completed this trick successfully a couple of times and then, disaster struck. My right foot got caught on my legwarmer and, without my hands out to catch me (still holding my foot), fell flat on my face and right knee. There was a loud thump and as I popped up, the choreographer looked at me and said, “Did you just fall over?” “No,” I said and then ran to the bathroom, where I saw my lip puffing up and my knee ballooning. I had to tell the choreographer I was injured and was moved to the back of the pack because I couldn’t perform the moves full out. To this day, I still have a numb spot on my right knee. Serves me right for messing around!”
“During our Spring concert my sophomore year of college, I had quite the mishap. The third number in the show was a high energy pom routine, and admittedly, I am that dancer—the one who is always over-the-top and full-out. So by the time we got to the end of the routine—’step five, giant battement six, down seven, pose eight’—I was killing it. Unfortunately, I gave that count six battement a little too much force and the next thing I knew…CRACK! went my nose—and it was definitely broken. BUT, I still had nine more numbers to perform and was heading to Nationals in two weeks. Surgery, they told me? That would have to wait! So, after we returned from Daytona Beach (with a massive championship trophy), I had my first (and hopefully last!) septorhinoplasty.”
“Janet Jackson may have coined the phrase “wardrobe malfunction,” but she certainly wasn’t the first to experience one. When I was 16, my boob popped out on stage. It has been nearly 10 years since this happened, but I can still feel my face growing red whenever the incident comes to mind. I can’t recall which song we danced to, but I have a vivid memory of the skimpy white dress with the thin halter straps that we wore. I was a C cup in high school, so going braless like most of my fellow dancers would have been obscene. Instead, I pinned a strapless bra into my costume, pulling it down in places to accommodate the low back. I was nervous as I stepped on stage for our dress rehearsal, but I figured that I was just being dramatic. I wasn’t. About halfway through the dance, I launched into a right tilt and as soon as I extended my arms to the side, my entire left boob slipped out the side of my costume! Horrified, I quickly yanked my costume back into place and kept dancing. We were one of the last few groups onstage that night, and the auditorium was mostly empty, so I was hoping that I had covered up quickly enough that nobody noticed. However, years later, at a barbecue, I ran into a boy who used to dance at my studio. We were catching up on old times, when he suddenly brought up “the incident.” It turns out that he was sitting in the front row on that fateful evening, and he had noticed. So embarrassing!”