NAIL Your Stage Presence!

Riverdance Star Amymae Dolan Shares TIPS for Dancers on how to NAIL your stage presence! 


Stage presence can be a mysterious thing, sometimes we watch a dancer walk on stage and we are immediately captivated, sometimes not realising why. 

A dancer’s stage presence draws your eye and makes you excited to watch them; it also makes it very hard as an audience member to stop watching them!

When deciding to write about stage presence it got me thinking about specific dancers I adored observing, what had they all in common? Somehow by only watching them on stage I felt like I had an insight into their own individual personality and that I believe is one of the most important aspects of stage presence - allowing your unique identity to come through in your performance. 

We often question whether stage presence is inherited, an innate power which we would all love.

In some ways this is true some dancers seem to naturally ooze a presence on stage whilst others must spend time developing and perfecting it. The good news is that, finding your individual stage presence when you don’t think you have one is very possible. One of the main aspects in which we can all, always grow is CONFIDENCE. 

Pictured:  Amymae during her competitive dancing days

As dancers, a lot of us have a great confidence in our every day lives. Dancing in-front of audiences and competing often helps us grow a confidence which has so many benefits to our lives outside of dance. However, put us in a large group of dancers and those with a strong belief in themselves and a greater confidence will stand out from the crowd.

There are many things we can do in our training to develop our confidence.

First being very comfortable with your choreography and believing you worked your very hardest. Also, knowing you have a strong stamina to get through an entire dance at the best of your ability and having adequately prepared your mindset so that nerves as well as other factors will not effect your confidence are all important in ultimately having a strong stage presence. 

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A Simplified Look at Championship Adjudication & Marking

In the grade levels at competitions, Beginner - Prizewinner, each dancer is given a mark out of 100 by his or her adjudicator. Each adjudicator has a slightly different “scale.” For example, for one judge, 85 might be the highest score they give out, whereas another judge might be more generous and give their top dancer a 95. The highest mark wins, second highest is awarded second and so on.

But in Championship and Oireachtas competitions, a dancer is graded by three adjudicators and their championship result is based on all three dances. If you have three judges and they each give each dancer a score out of 100 based on a personal scale, it becomes a mathematical nightmare backstage to add and average every judges score for each round.

To make tabulating easier, each judge’s marks (raw scores) are converted into corresponding “Irish Points” using a chart created for commission competitions. The Irish Points are vaguely logarithmic, in that 1st place= 100 points, 2nd place = 75, 3rd place= 65 etc, until 50th place = 1. This gives higher marks by single judges more weight than average marks by more judges. In other words, if a dancer gets a first place from one judge somewhere, it will increase their overall placing in the competition by a surprising amount. Conversely, this gives dancers that get a first place from two judges a higher lead than a dancer that was only placed first by one of the judges.

For example, in a 3 judge competition it is almost impossible to Not get first with 2 judges agreeing that 1st place is warranted, since with 200 Irish points, the 3rd judge would need to place a dance 7th or worse to overcome the 25 point bonus between 1st and 2nd. This scoring method helps ensure that a single bad adjudicator does not unfairly ruin the results. At a standard 3 judge Feis competition, a unanimous 1st place score is 300 (100 from each judge). At Regional Oireachtas competitions, there are 5 judges who rate all three dance programs, creating the possibility of a perfect score of 500. At the World Championships (Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne), there are 7 judges, which means that 700 would be perfect if all 7 judges agree that one dancer performed the best.


Thank you to for this great explanation. 

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