Eat, Pray, Stretch: Dancers Reveal Their Pre-Performance Rituals

“Once I have my makeup and hair done and my costume on, I go through the different turn sequences in my routine and do each until they’re perfect. Then I tell my mom I love her—I text her if she’s not there—and pray. Next I do some sit-ups and a few balance exercises, and then I go through my routine as fast as possible in my head. I put on my performance shoes right before I go onstage and as I’m walking on I swivel my feet to feel if the floor is sticky or slippery.”—Kaitlyn Conley, JUMP Convention demonstrator

“Before I go on, I move around to work out any kinks and warm up my muscles. I do about 20 squats to get my blood flowing, and then I get a sip of water. If I’m with a group, we usually do a chant to get pumped and to remind ourselves to be thankful that we get to do what we love.” —Ellenore Scott, “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 6

“I always wear these old socks from Discount Dance Supply that I’ve had since I was 11. They look like hot pink pointe shoes and I wear them over my pointe shoes while I’m warming up. They’re so ragged now, but I love them. I also have a cup of Chinese herbal tea and pray. Then I’m in a good, spiritual mode before I perform.”—Whitney Jensen, Boston Ballet

“Right before I go onstage, I have to do something four times. Whether it’s clapping my partner’s hand four times or hitting my leg four times, it has to happen four times. Four has been my favorite number forever. I was born on the fourth of the month and have had the number four at auditions more than once. It always brings me luck!”—Mishay Petronelli, tap dancer and faculty memberat Broadway Dance Center in NYC

“My rituals are show-specific. Fifteen minutes before I perform in STOMP, I have to drink a can or 20-ounce bottle of Dr. Pepper. The show is so physically grueling and high energy that I need simple sugars to burn. In Darwin Deez—the band for which I dance and play bass—the drummer and I do a core workout and a series of push-ups or planks to get energized for the show. We’re so serious about the workout that it sometimes takes place in a dirty hallway, depending on the club’s accommodations. We also have a secret chant that we all say in unison the second before we take the stage. The only hint I’ll reveal about the chant is that it comes from Busta Rhymes!” —Michelle Dorrance, tap dancer

“First I say a long prayer, then I kiss my hands and throw them toward the ceiling to release the energy. Then I hop around and do a series of deep-breathing chi exercises. Depending on which role I’m performing, I either do jumps to bring buoyancy and power to my body or do a deep plié to ground myself. I say ‘good show’ to the other cast members, then I grab a handful of chalk and rub it on my pants and shirt. I completely cover my left arm in chalk. Once I’m onstage, I look for something in the theater that I’ve never seen before. I don’t start my part in the show until I’ve seen something new!”—Nicholas Young, tap dancer

Latest Posts

Meet the dancers of MDC3: Madi Smith, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Mather (left to right). Photo by Joe Toreno. Hair by Marina Migliaccio and makeup by Lisa Chamberlain, both for the Rex Agency.

Meet MDC3: The "World of Dance" Winners Who Defied the Odds

In March 2020, the same day the "World of Dance" cast got word that production would be shutting down due to a global pandemic, MDC3 artists Madison (Madi) Smith, Diego Pasillas and Emma Mather stood shoulder to shoulder onstage, bracing to hear the final results of the competition. The champion title and $1 million prize money were within reach, decided entirely by the three celebrity judges sitting in front of them. As their competitor's scores dropped from the lips of Derek Hough, Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo at roughly 2 percentage points below their own, viewers watched realization dawn. MDC3's mouths dropped into gigantic Oh's before their hands slapped over their faces in disbelief. Sparklers shot up while confetti rained down, and the announcer shouted, "MDC3, you are the winner of 'World of Dance'!"

It was an impressive accomplishment for any group of dancers, let alone three teenagers who'd faced rejection from the show three times over. Despite their youth (Madi is 18, Diego is 17 and Emma is 16), this moment was hard earned through years of dedicated patience.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Mason Evans assisting at New York City Dance Alliance in Orlando, FL (Evolve Photo & Video, courtesy Mason Evans)

5 Dancers Share What It's Really Like to Return to Competitions Right Now

For the first time since the coronavirus hit the U.S., competitions and conventions are meeting in-person once again (brimming with safety precautions, of course), and dancers couldn't be more thrilled.

We asked five standout comp kids about their recent experiences attending competitions around the country—and how they're taking advantage of these long-lost opportunities.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Because the future of Black dance is happening right now (Braylon Browner photographed by Rhiannon Lee, courtesy Braylon Browner)

Celebrating Black Futures Month: 4 Up-and-Coming Black Dancers Making History Right Now

Throughout the month of February, many Americans celebrate Black History Month, a period of the year dedicated to honoring the contributions of Black figures to American culture and society.

The lesser-known Black Futures Month, which is also celebrated in February—and often in conjunction with BHM—looks to art and artists to envision an equitable future for Black Americans. At Dance Spirit, we're celebrating #BlackFuturesMonth by spotlighting four young Black dancers whose dance journeys are proving that the future of Black dance is bright.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search