Dealing with Dance Team Distractions

You’re sitting on the sidelines with your dance squad. The buzzer sounds and suddenly you’re center court striking a pose and staring up at the wall of people stacked in the bleachers. The music blasts and your body snaps into action. But since you’re not in a dark theater, you can see everyone—that guy who didn’t call you back, your BFF texting on her phone (we know, how rude!), even your favorite celeb! Then there’s the local camera guy running around the court, getting in your way. And did a basketball just fly by?

If you’re used to dancing in a theater, performing center court can be challenging. In fact, it’s a whole different ball game. According to Jim Taylor, PhD, performance consultant and author of Psychology of Dance, “The closer the dancers are to the fans, the more potentially distracting it is. The intimacy of a basketball arena creates more disruptions.” Luckily, DS has got the help you need. Check out these four distracting situations and learn how, in the words of Troy Bolton from High School Musical, to “get’cha head in the game.”

THE BOY

Scenario: Whether he’s an ex-beau, current fling or even the captain of the basketball team, guys can disrupt your concentration. It happened to former Syracuse University Dance Team member Jacki Cadoret when she got onto the court and saw her ex-boyfriend sitting next to her current boyfriend. “A feeling of panic swept over me,” she says. Knowing he’s (past or present—and in Jacki’s case, both!) out there and hoping to impress him is enough to get your heart racing—and not because you’re dancing.

Solution: Distract yourself with your teammates and the game, and if all else fails, amp up your performance for him! Jacki relied on pep talks from her teammates between dances to keep her from getting psyched out. She also threw herself into responding to the exciting game plays going on and firing up the crowd. If this fails, try using your eye candy (remember the famous “cheer sex” scene from Bring It On?) as a performance tool. Kayla Cunningham, an 18-year-old from Sheridan, AR, did this when she was the captain of the Sheridan High School Dance Team. “Find a cute boy, make eye contact and flirt it up!” she says. “Grab his attention without overdoing it. This will help you put more into the dance.”

THE FRENEMY

Scenario: Your buddies are supposed to be your biggest supporters, but sometimes jealousy or pettiness can get in the way. This happened to Kayla’s squad when two ex-teammates sat in the front row at every game, sneering. “We could see them literally pointing out our flaws,” she says. “Like if someone fell out of a double turn, they would talk about it in an obvious way.”

Solution: Use their critiques as a mirror. “I focused their criticism in a positive way by working harder at areas they pointed out, ” Kayla says. But classmates you’re not as close with can be just as distracting. Laykin Tucker, 16, from Frankfort, KY, is often positioned near the student section when she dances with the Franklin County High School Dance Team. “The students act goofy and make faces at us,” she says. “So I stare at one object, like a jacket, rather than the faces.” The bottom line is: Don’t take it personally. Remember what they say about sticks and stones!

THE CAMERA GUY

Scenario: If his job is to follow you, and your job is to follow the formation, at some point you’re going to cross paths (hopefully not with your foot in his face). ESPN and Syracuse University cameramen often got in Jacki’s way.

Solution: Concentrate on your dancing and ignore everything else. Jacki recognizes that it’s her job to perform for the crowd, not the camera. “It’s like being on reality TV,” she says. “And there’s a lot of thinking to do when you’re out there—recalling the steps, following the music and keeping up your technique, like pointing your toes and pulling up.” Do your best to keep your mind on the routine and your attention on dazzling the audience.

THE CELEBRITY

Scenario: Being starstruck center court is the last thing you want to happen. While Madonna probably won’t show up at a local high school game, she might go see an NBA team. Bria from the Los Angeles Laker Girls remembers when Paula Abdul came to a game. “Since she’s an ex-Laker Girl, it made me nervous,” Bria says.

Solution: Remember, celebrities want you to succeed, not fail. Bria got an energy boost knowing Paula was watching. “During our performance, I saw her bopping her head and smiling,” she says. “It was comforting knowing that we got her approval.”

Taylor Walker, captain of the New Jersey Nets Dance Team, agrees that it’s energizing to know that artists (like Jay-Z, Beyoncé and kanYe, who frequently attend Nets games) are performers, too, and can appreciate what the girls are doing.

“There will always be distractions—celebs, cameramen, flying basketballs, etc.,” Taylor says. “Our job is to focus as a team and put on the best show possible!”

Even if your worst nightmare comes true, remember the most important rule—the show must go on!

Latest Posts


Nathan Sayers

From "Dance Moms" to Complexions: Ballerina Kaeli Ware's Unconventional Path to Success

Take one look at Kaeli Ware's Instagram page and you'll be captivated. The elegant, impossibly long-limbed ballet dancer has over 110 thousand followers hooked on her every polished move. But the 19-year-old phenom isn't just a social media sensation. Having already conquered the competition scene and the world of dance reality TV, Ware recently joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet as a trainee. These days, she splits her time between NYC and Philadelphia, PA, where she continues to beef up her classical training at The Rock School for Dance Education.

She's not a traditional bunhead, and she's not a run-of-the-mill social influencer, either. Instead, Ware is creating her own hybrid career path—and it's taking her to impressive places.

Keep Reading
(From left) Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, and Lauren Graham in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," courtesy NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Mandy Moore Puts Dance in the Spotlight in NBC's Newest Series, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"

Imagine living in a real-life musical, where spontaneous song-and-dance breaks happen as often in the street as they do onstage. After a series of unusual events, every dancers' dream becomes an unexpected reality for computer coder Zoey Clarke (played by Jane Levy) in NBC's newest series, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist." Although at first her new powers catch Zoey off guard, when she learns to embrace them, she's able to connect with the world around her like never before.

And the best part? Every musical mashup puts incredible dancing front and center, thanks in large part to series choreographer and all around dance-for-the-screen extraordinaire, Mandy Moore. Dance Spirit chatted with Moore about choreographing for the dance-driven series, which returns to NBC with all-new episodes this Sunday, February 16 at 9/8c.

Keep Reading
Boston Ballet principal Seo Hye Han as Cinderella in Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella (Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet)

5 Principal Dancers on the Ballet Steps That Still Challenge Them

Their technique might seem effortless onstage, but even the most seasoned ballet professionals have that one step that still drives them crazy. We asked five principal dancers to open up about the skills they still find challenging, and how they're working to finesse them.

Keep Reading
contest
Enter the Cover Model Search