My Pre-Show Rituals

Jennifer Butler

  • Massachusetts Columnist

Pre-Show or Rehearsal Rituals: They don’t happen for me on every show or before my dance performances. When they do occur, it is mostly because I am working backstage at a show and I am responsible for some important piece of theater magic that is a significant aspect of the play.  These rituals do not occur for any shows that I have produced or designed. They have only occurred for shows that I have worked on backstage. 

These pre-show rituals stem from my nervousness and anxiety of wanting things to go right. It just doesn’t happen for one show either. If it works opening night, then it must happen for the entire run.  My pre-show rituals are nothing I created, they just happen. It was nothing I intended to happen. But because I had drank a certain type of juice, listened to a certain song on my way to the theater, or wore new black boots on an opening night that went well, I continued to do the same thing. I convinced myself that these things must have been a good luck charm and so I continue to do what works for me. Thus my pre-show rituals were born. 

A second example that comes to mind is a recent opportunity I had of filling in as a dance teacher at my friend’s studio. The first class that I taught on my own, I happened to have my hair in two braids. That class went well and I convinced myself that it was because of the way I had styled my hair.  For the next class, a few days later, I braided my hair again and had another successful class. I know in reality that the class was successful because I am good at teaching, I know how to dance and that the kids had fun. However I believe that having my hair in braids helped me feel confident so I am going to stick with it until the end of the month, when I finish teaching the class. 

To some, superstitions or rituals may be silly, but if it makes the person feel better and they believe it works, well then just let it be.