If you want to wish your fellow dancers good luck before they go on stage, it doesn’t sound quite right to say ‘break a leg’ like you would to an actor. Also, as the old wives’ tale goes, it is actually considered bad luck to say to another dancer “good luck” before they go onto the stage.
Here are some great ways to wish a dancer good luck.
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How To Wish A Dancer Good Luck Before A Performance
“Chookas” is an expression used in Australia based on the word “chook”, meaning chicken, so I am not quite sure where this came from.
This might just explain it. The word “Chookas” dates back to the 1900s, when eating chicken was considered an expensive delicacy. If the performance was successful, dancers would be paid well and able to afford a chicken meal after the show.
“Merde” is French for um…”poop”
This is the most common word that dancers use to wish each other luck before a performance.
Saying “merde” became popular in 19th-century Paris, France back when patrons of the Paris Opera Ballet would arrive at the Palais Garnier in horse-drawn carriages. If there was a full house there would be a lot of horse manure in front of the theater.
So saying “merde” was to tell the dancers to have a good show for a full and approving audience.
This practice eventually spread worldwide.
Toi toi toi
“Toi, toi, toi” is onomatopoeia for the sound of spitting.
“Toi, toi, toi” comes from Yiddish, Hebrew, and Old German traditions where saliva was believed to have the power to banish demons.
Saying “toi toi toi” accompanied by a pantomimed spit was said to ward off evil spirits.
Break A Leg
When you tell someone to break a leg, you don’t literally mean that you want them to break a leg, especially if they’re a dancer.
People commonly tell performers to break a leg when they want them to do well or have success in their show, but this doesn’t sound quite right if you are a dancer.
Break a leg can be used by family or by friends. Cast members often say that to each other and it helps to boost the spirit of the entire team.
Break a leg is not usually restricted to a particular time and is usually said the last time that you meet with or speak to a person before their show. It can be used right before a show or even a few days before a show when you’re speaking about the upcoming event.
Blow Them Away
Blow them away is an easy catchphrase to use with people of any age.
While merde -because of its meaning – can’t be used with young children and “break a leg” might occasionally be misinterpreted, “blow them away” doesn’t carry any restrictions that would make it difficult to use in different contexts.
When you tell someone to “blow them away,” you’re wishing that they will impress their audience immensely. You want the audience to be amazed by what they see and hear.
In other words, the entire experience should be similar to that of an exciting whirlwind.
These are perfectly acceptable ways to wish a dancer luck before an important performance.
Safe phrases include, “best of luck” and “good luck.”
Since many performers come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, it’s sometimes helpful to use phrases that don’t mention luck or any other type of traditional theater superstition.
In this case, you might want to keep your wishes for their success to their acting skills or to more general terms that could be used in other situations as well.
You could say:
- “All the best.”
- “Do your best.”
- “Give it everything you’ve got.”
- “You got this!”
- “Leave it all on the stage.”
- “Wow the audience tonight.”
Your aim is always to help the dancer to focus on giving their best performance to their audience.
Encouragement is usually appreciated by anyone who has to face a crowd of people they’ve never seen before. Sometimes a simple thumbs-up can do this effectively.
Pairing words with positive gestures makes a double impact.
Which one is your number one go-to on how to wish a dancer good luck?
No matter which phrase is your favorite, it is always best to think it over and make sure it is an appropriate comment for the person you are aiming it at.
How To Wish A Dancer Good Luck With A Gift
Here is a lovely assortment of appropriate gifts you can give that special dancer before her big performance.