What to do when disaster strikes during your talent performance
One question that every contestant who performs in a pageant talent competition, is how to handle a mistake, an embarrassing incident, and especially a serious mishap!
Well, first of all, keep in mind that mistakes have occurred for decades in the talent competition! You are hardly going to be the first, or the last contestant, to make a mistake in talent or have an embarrassing situation affect your talent performance.
Contestants have endured the following talent blunders over years:
- A bat flew across the stage during one contestant’s performance of “The Firefly”.
- A contestant’s doves for her magic act escaped from their cage during her performance and flew around the auditorium.
- A pianist’s Southern Belle style hooped ball gown suctioned to the floor, preventing her from standing. Stage hands rushed out to pry her loose.
- Cheryl’s Prewitt, Miss Mississippi, experienced a dead microphone during her talent during the live broadcast of the Miss America pageant.
- A contestant’s clarinet simply refused to play once she stepped onstage, only making a pathetic “Ppppplllll” sound.
- A Tahitian dancer accidentally dropped both her poi balls.
- A fire baton twirler dropped her flaming batons which rolled into the judges’ pit.
- A singer’s music was played at the wrong speed, making her sound like Alvin the Chipmunk. (Yes, she gamely went along with it)
- A jazz dancer raised her arms over her head, which shifted her crop top up, completely exposing both her bare breasts. (Yes, we wondered why no bra as well…).
- One ballerina dancer was so nauseated by stage fright that she used her series of ballet turns to disappear into the wings for a few moments to throw-up, before dancing back on-stage.
So, how do you recover gracefully from such fiascos? Falling flat on your face during the talent competition is obviously a contestant’s worst nightmare, but it can also be her best teacher.
In fact, failures are great building blocks to success because they show contestants what not to do the next time.
If you view talent mistakes as your teacher, those failures can bring you closer to the crown. If you experience a blunder serious enough to ruin your chances of winning, be comforted to know that such mistakes have happened to contestants who returned the next year to win. Do don’t let the experience deter you from competing again.
Since on stage disasters do arise, every competitor should be mentally prepared to handle a major mistake should one occur. Run through various potential problems that could occur during your talent and think of constructive ways you could handle each scenario. Don’t become fixated on the potential for mistakes, but do have a general idea of how you could handle microphone problems, slipping, etc. so that you can have the confidence to know that you are prepared to handle surprises.
Never let a mistake shake your concentration….continue with your performance.
Consider the remarkable example of Sandy Frick, who turned calamity into a crown. During the preliminaries at the 1989 Miss Florida Pageant, Sandy, a superb ballerina (and favorite for the title), danced onstage to perform an extremely difficult character ballet en pointe to the patriotic tune, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. Midway through her performance, she slipped on a crystal bead left on the stage floor and fell flat on her bottom. Never having fallen onstage before, she was stunned, but recovered instantly, leaping to her feet to continue her difficult performance.
Then, when Sandy made the finals later that week, she slipped and fell again on live television. She sprang back up to her toes like a champion, smiled directly at the judges, and completed her performance masterfully…almost defiantly.
A lesser competitor would have been absolutely devastated, but Sandy used the setback to prove she had the unshakable composure of a champion. She was awarded the Miss Florida title that night and later made the top ten at Miss America, where she nailed her talent performance before a live national viewing audience. (View video below)
“The most important thing is to show them that you can handle any situation,” advises Sandy. “It can happen to anybody. You never know, so you have to be ready for the unexpected all the time.” If you have an onstage blunder, “Don’t let it get you down,” she says. “Just pick yourself back up and say, ‘I can do it, I have to keep going, I can’t give up.'”
Her experience illustrates how maintaining composure in the midst of a talent crisis can help put the crown within your reach.
“Don’t let it get you down. Just pick yourself back up and say, ‘I can do it, I have to keep going, I can’t give up.'” — Sandy Frick, Miss Florida 1989 and Top 10 finalist at the Miss America Pageant