In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I completely fall apart at dance competitions. I get so nervous when I know that everything I do is being scored. How can I calm down in front of the judges?

Alexandra

Dear Alexandra,

First of all, remember that the judges want you to do well. Yes, they're critiquing you, but it's for your own benefit. When I'm judging, and a dancer comes onstage, I'm not sitting there thinking, "Great, let's see what she does wrong." I'm rooting for her! And ultimately, the judges' opinions about your dancing are just that—opinions. Dance is an artform, and that means it's inherently subjective. No score can determine your worth as a dancer.

Competitions are also a great way to build confidence. If you can dance well and consistently while being judged, you'll do even better during normal performances without that pressure. Try to shift your perspective. Thinking of competitions as learning experiences, rather than big, scary events, will help calm your nerves.


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