Instilling Confidence in Young Models, Actors, and Dancers
I recently attended an Encore Dance Competition where I had the pleasure of watching dancers from all over the Southeastern United States perform. I was amazed by the dedication and confidence of these young dancers and realized how well suited they are for the modeling and acting profession. The dancers arranged on stage ready to “bring it on” and put their best foot forward, no matter what.
Similar to acting auditions, you can’t always prepare for everything that happens on stage. This could mean that you don’t feel your best, your costume falters, your music doesn’t play, or the act before you was a hard one to follow. Such as talent auditions, there isn’t always a dress rehearsal. From my seat in the audience, these dancers were prepared and unafraid. I can see that a lot of this comes from having done it time and time again and learning to check your nerves at the door.
Bring Your Confidence to the Runway or Stage
The most important quality that a child can bring to an acting or modeling audition is confidence. It allows the casting directors to look directly at the level of talent without being distracted by the potential awkwardness of the moment. It helps them forget “the movie that is playing” and get sucked into the scene. I heard one of the dance instructors, Caroline Jones, say that judges usually know how they will score the dancers within a few moments of seeing the dancers on stage. This is also true for the modeling and acting industry. It is that confidence alone that sets the precedent for what is to come.
Instilling Confidence in Your Young Performer
As parents, you wonder how to establish this sense of confidence. Instilling confidence stems from practice and showing up for the work, time and time again. Dancers break in their shoes and models and actors break in their confidence by stepping onto the stage or in front of the camera, and getting over that fear. The stage elevates talent to a place where they realize they can conquer that moment at an audition. It empowers the talent and allows them to learn that they can stand on their own two feet and make it happen. That brings up the question of “how does a child learn to audition successfully?” My answer is to find any stage or platform where a child can learn to act on the spot and grow to love the spotlight.
As I have mentioned before, there is a certain personality that like a moth, is blindly drawn to the light. If you have a little star on your hands, they will find a way to return to the light, no matter what. As parents, give them every possible opportunity to shine. My ideas include not only the obvious ones such as drama classes, community theater, school and church productions, but also setting the stage at home.
Very often I have a child at an audition and they want mom or dad to leave the room when they audition. Get them used to auditioning in front of everyone including friends, family, neighbors, and anyone who will become your potential audience. My suggestion is “don’t make excuses!” You can live in the smallest town, but there is always an audience, even if you create your own. I know there is not a grandparent who will not serve as an adoring member of an at home audience.
Using Social Media as a Stage for Your Dancer or Model
One stage we have now, is the online stage. Share your children’s performances on your social media. The positive feedback you receive from friends and contacts is an automatic boost for your child and grows their audience. I have two young children myself and I understand that this can be a sensitive area. However, I feel that you can carefully screen what you present of them online.
Think about what you present before you put it out there, and consider what the long time impression of that may be. Only share things that your child would be proud of, and not embarrassed of. When you have positive responses, share this with your child. It will boost their confidence and allow them to trust and embrace the audience.
So much of gaining audition confidence has to do with learning that people actually like you and want you to succeed. It’s not to say that there won’t be haters, but that is just life. Teaching your child to brush it off is one of the best lessons you can teach them. After all, it usually takes a lot of auditions to book that first big role.
Photo by Michael Farella of Exulting Images. Featuring Parker Stelmack of Center Stage of China Grove, NC