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How to Overcome Surprise Dance Stage Fright: Own It!

Your big day is just around the corner, and there are a ton of considerations. A modern Quinceanera is a mix of old and new, so you may still have the lovely meaningful Mass, then the fun rituals like changing your shoes and the Last Doll and of course, dancing with your dad. But these days, the highlight of your Quince reception is your surprise dance. But what can you do to make it truly fabulous? It’s actually pretty easy. If you do one thing and do it really, really well, you can totally overcome Surprise Dance Stage Fright and rock your Quinceanera world!

Your Baile Sorpresa will come after your fairytale waltz and dancing with your dad. This is good because it’ll get you used to being in front of the crowd. For one or both of those, you can use traditional waltz music or go with something a little more contemporary. In any case, they’re pretty much straightforward, and you don’t have to worry because if it comes down to it, you do not have to have your entire court do the waltz—just you and your escort.

The Baile Sorpresa is another story. It’ll take more thought, planning, and work, but it’s worth it for this wildly entertaining way to top off your showcase dances. Here’s the one key to pulling it off:

Own It!

Yep. That’s all. Own it, girl!

OK, so this may be easier said than done. But the Quinceanera is rooted in dance, and your guests are there to support you, not judge you. Still terrified? In a way, that’s good. Not only is it absolutely normal, but being a little bit afraid can make you work all the harder! Here’s what you need to do to build your confidence so that you totally own the dance:

  • Choose a choreographer you really like

What’s most important, even more than the complexity of your Quince routine itself, is that your choreographer knows how to dance and knows how to teach others some basic moves.

He or she also has to be able to interpret what you want as far as the style and mood of your dance. If you’ve started working with someone, but you’re just not clicking—even if it’s a pro—switch to someone else before it’s too late in the game.

  • Ask for some private ballroom lessons before you start Quince rehearsals

See if your folks will get you a few private ballroom dance lessons—not just group lessons— before you start working on your Quince routine with your court. You’ll learn some couple’s dance basics—for instance, what a “frame” is, how to keep your shoulders down, and how to move with a partner. Even if you go to dance class already, if it’s not ballroom dance, get some specialized lessons so that you’ll be ahead of your court when you start group practices.

Tip: This may be the easiest way to find the perfect choreographer! If you like your private teacher, hire him!

  • You choose the songs

Never mind what anybody else thinks What music do you like best? What songs make you want to dance? Yes, you want your music choices to entertain your guests, so keep your crowd in mind on two counts:

First, if your family is really pulled in, make sure you tone down your music and your routine a little bit. Otherwise, have fun doing whatever you want.

Second—and this is crucial—be aware of the length of the surprise dance. You want enough time to show off what you’ve learned, but you don’t want to go on so long that the crowd gets restless.

  • You choose the routine

Your surprise dance should not be a last-minute “group vote.” Do enough homework to know what style you want—or styles, if you want to do a mix—then stick with it. You can make the routine more complicated if you and/or your group can handle it. Put in an extra turn here, some fancy footwork there—there are lots of ways to take it up a notch.

If you can dance better than your court, then ask your choreographer to make your steps the “fancy ones” and give your court a simplified version. If you need to keep it simple for you, then let it be simple for everybody. But stick to the routine that you decided on ahead of time, then let your choreographer each everybody else and adjust the difficulty as necessary.

  • Don’t make the routine longer than you’re comfortable with

If you’re a really, really good dancer already, or if you turn out to be after some lessons, you still don’t want the surprise dance routine to go longer than 5-6 minutes. But if you get nervous after a few minutes, or you feel like you can’t remember the steps, cut it down to 3 or 4 minutes tops.

Confidence-boosting tip: Have you ever noticed that all of those ultra-fancy Dancing With the Stars routines are only 1-½  to 2 minutes long? And they’re impressive, aren’t they? But they’re also short. If you want to wow the crowd with something DWTS-worthy, work out a routine starting with just you and your escort, then bring in the rest of your court to finish with easier moves.

  • Impress yourself, not your audience

Even though you want your dance to be unforgettable, remember that it’s better to do a simple routine really, really well than to have a complicated dance with too much room for mistakes. You do not want to look at your video and cringe. Find a routine that makes you feel good about you. Then practice until you feel like you could do it in your sleep.

  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel comfortable

You don’t necessarily have to do a surprise dance with your entire court. There’s no reason why you can’t pare down the dance personnel. Here are some perfectly acceptable dance partner combinations:

  1. You and your escort alone
  2. You, your escort and another male member of your court or a male friend
  3. You and just your chambelanes
  4. You and just your damas

If you really want to keep it super-simple, and your dad is on board, you can do your father-daughter slow dance, then switch gears and go into a rehearsed duet. Then you’ll be able to practice as much as you want and need to with the one man who loves you most—your father.

  • Make sure your outfit fits

You’ve all seen videos of Quinceaneras and weddings and other fancy parties where the lady of honor stops and tugs up her strapless dress. Not too appealing, is it? This is not something you want to be doing during your surprise dance. The last thing you need is a wardrobe malfunction, or to feel like you have to tug and pull on what you’re wearing to get it back into place.

Choose something that you like, feel comfortable in, and can move around and dance in without ever—not even one time—wanting to tug at, or tuck in, or pull up any part of your outfit.

  • Learn to cover your mistakes

This is where a good dance teacher or choreographer is invaluable. Get someone to coach you in not saying “oops” or “sorry” or worse, coming to a dead stop if you make a mistake. A good dance teacher can also show you how to recover from a misstep so here’s maybe the weirdest tip of all:

  • Practice making mistakes!

Just a few. Just enough so you’ll know what to do if your shoe slips on the floor or how to recover if you turn left instead of turning right. Learn how to keep a straight face—a smiling face!—in the face of disaster. Then if something does go wrong on your big night, you won’t make a big deal out of it.

And if you don’t make a big deal, no one in your group will either, and your audience probably won’t even know anything went wrong!

  • Last tip: Be Just a Little Bit “Selfish”

Seriously!

This is your day, your dance, and as much as you want to be gracious and include other people, when it comes to your surprise dance, it is perfectly OK to be a little “selfish.” We mean be selfish as in, make choices that make you feel good about yourself. When it comes to others and having to make compromises, make sure that your confidence is protected first.

That way, when you get out there on the dance floor, you’ll be dancing for you first—doing the very best that you know how to do—and having fun because you’ll know that you’ve done everything you possibly can to… Own it!

For some great ideas for fusing your favorite styles, check out our blog Fusion Rocks: http://qbydavinci.com/blog/baile-sopresa-102-fusion-rocks/