Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in Blogs

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Artists and athletes are known to be a superstitious bunch– and dancers are no exception! Much like actors and other performers, many dancers’ myths revolve around the backstage area and preparations before a show. Amateur and pro athletes alike often swear by a routine in the dressing room to improve their performances… And guess who does that too? That’s right: dancers! Keep reading for a quick look at the fascinating story behind dance superstitions.

“Break a leg!”

This well-known saying has many theories behind it, but many are so familiar with it don’t even think twice when it comes up. So where does it come from? General consensus is that wishing an actor, dancer, musician or other stage performer “good luck” before a show is actually increasing the chances of bad luck. Since the onset of this belief, it’s alleged that wishing something bad– such as a broken bone– will have the reverse effect. Hence: “Break a leg.” Other possible origins include bowing or curtseying causing the legs to “break” or even breaking the plane of the stage marked by a curtain post or “leg.”

“Merde!”

Not as much of a household phrase as “break a leg,” “merde” serves a similar purpose and is popular among dancers in particular. The French term for fecal matter, “merde” is most commonly used as a curse or disparaging word. Not so in the world of dance! Its origins may lie in the world of classical dance and opera performances, where animals were a part of the stage production. Another theory is that the more popular show was, the more animal-drawn carriages were needed and the more “merde” would be left behind outside the venue. In either case, dancers were said to watch out for their own– helping prevent them stepping in excrement by shouting, “Merde!”

Getting ready the “right” way

Whether it’s which shoe you put on first or a certain way you do your hair, almost everyone has a quirk or superstition that they stick to– no matter what! The consequences of going against these actions may only be in your head, but high-performance athletes like dancers rely on mental toughness. As in many professional sports and artistic pursuits, dancers often benefit from following a strict training regimen or pre-show routine. Using this to find peace of mind and a sense of effortlessness can guide the dancer to even greater heights than they thought possible.

The above superstitions are only a sample of the wide range of beliefs held by dancers and instructors alike across the vast, varied world of dance. From folktale charms to religious ceremonies, there can be many acts that a dancer could use to help hone their focus and mental acuity. Just because a good dancer appears peaceful on the surface, you cannot underestimate the amount of work and training that goes into achieving that state of mind.

If you are curious about more traditions of dance and how to get started, contact or visit Elite Dance Studio today. Our instructors are friendly, considerate and just the right amount of superstitious!

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