I am sure a lot of us dancers go through the dilemma whether to keep practicing until you are comfortable to perform or go out there and test the waters before you are completely mentally ready. I used to always think I have to be 100% ready before I can perform. But I believe there is a fine line between performing and over performing. 

If you are working on a routine which you think you are not completely ready for, mayyy be - go for it once and see how you do. Next time you perform, you have one experience under your belt - the audience expectations, the adrenalin that rushes through when you start performing and how you have to put it under your control to avoid letting your steps go out of control. All that can only happen in a real setting - which is performing in front of live audience. It could be your friends or family, or a big show with a huge audience, bottom-line you need to get used to the fact that someone is watching you and / or judging you and calm those nerves. Over a period of time, you will have learnt to dance for yourself and not for anyone else and thats when the magic happens. If you are enjoying, the audience is enjoying. 

But on the other hand, its my observation that a lot of students at these big studios, which have a show or a party every 2 weeks, learn a new choreography every other week to perform at those events. Students hardly get time to practice and forced (in a way) to go out there and perform over and over again crashing their confidence. More importantly, its not really helping them learn the dance or the technique as there is no learning without practice. 

Now, if you maintain the same choreography or build on it to perform at successive shows, you would have a solid foundation that you are building on instead of switching it up every time. Thats where I see the fine line between performing and over performing. 

I have to mention my teacher Tommye, who does a brilliant job (well, of course) at layering choreographies. She sees how a student evolves and adds more spice to it as it progresses. Change something up, may be the song, some steps BUT build on the fundamentals of the first dance to see real progress. 

What has been your experience with performances / competitions? Please share.