Performance has to do with doing something: a concert or play is a performance, and if you want to talk about how well the actors did, you'd rate their performance.

The main sense of performance is artsy: actors and musicians (and other performers) give performances. You could praise an actor's performance in a movie, but this word extends to other kinds of work and accomplishments as well. If you're failing math, your performance is below par. An athlete can get in trouble for taking performance-enhancing drugs: drugs that make their performance better. Anytime you're talking about how something or someone works — or performs — you're talking about performance.

Definitions of performance
  1. noun
    the act of performing; of doing something successfully; using knowledge as distinguished from merely possessing it
    “they criticised his performance as mayor”
    “experience generally improves performance
    synonyms: carrying into action, carrying out, execution
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    specific performance
    the performance of a legal contract as specified by its terms
    linguistic performance
    (linguistics) a speaker's actual use of language in real situations; what the speaker actually says, including grammatical errors and other non-linguistic features such as hesitations and other disfluencies (contrasted with linguistic competence)
    mechanics, mechanism
    the technical aspects of doing something
    the performance of a religious or ceremonial or public duty
    type of:
    something done (usually as opposed to something said)
  2. noun
    the act of presenting a play or a piece of music or other entertainment
    “we congratulated him on his performance at the rehearsal”
    “an inspired performance of Mozart's C minor concerto”
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    dramatic performance, dramatic production
    the act of performing a drama
    an extra or repeated performance; usually given in response to audience demand
    extemporisation, extemporization, improvisation
    a performance given extempore without planning or preparation
    juggle, juggling
    throwing and catching several objects simultaneously
    conjuration, conjuring trick, deception, illusion, legerdemain, magic, magic trick, thaumaturgy, trick
    an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers
    musical performance
    the act of performing music
    one-night stand
    a performance in one place on one night only
    interpretation, rendering, rendition
    the act of interpreting something as expressed in an artistic performance
    last hurrah, swan song
    a final performance or effort (especially before retirement)
    program, programme
    a performance (or series of performances) at a public presentation
    the act of performing a role again
    a new or different interpretation
    a distinctive interpretation (especially as used by politicians to sway public opinion)
    the act of playing a musical instrument
    jam session
    an impromptu jazz concert
    singing, vocalizing
    the act of singing vocal music
    the entertainment offered at a public presentation
    card trick
    a trick performed with playing cards
    prestidigitation, sleight of hand
    manual dexterity in the execution of tricks
    type of:
    demonstration, presentation, presentment
    a show or display; the act of presenting something to sight or view
  3. noun
    a dramatic or musical entertainment
    “they listened to ten different performances
    “the play ran for 100 performances
    “the frequent performances of the symphony testify to its popularity”
    synonyms: public presentation
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    act, bit, number, routine, turn
    a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program
    a performance to raise money for a charitable cause
    a performance of music by players or singers not involving theatrical staging
    performance by or technique of a pianist
    play reading
    performance of a play by a group of readers
    the first public performance of a play or movie
    performance of music or dance especially by soloists
    rendering, rendition
    a performance of a musical composition or a dramatic role etc.
    song and dance
    theatrical performance combining singing and dancing
    histrionics, representation, theatrical, theatrical performance
    a performance of a play
    a lavishly produced performance
    world premiere
    (music) the first public performance (as of a dramatic or musical work) anywhere in the world
    show-stopper, showstopper, stopper
    an act so striking or impressive that the show must be delayed until the audience quiets down
    benefit concert
    a concert given for the benefit of some charitable cause
    rock concert
    a performance of rock music
    a theatrical performance held during the daytime (especially in the afternoon)
    type of:
    a social event involving a public performance or entertainment
  4. noun
    process or manner of functioning or operating
    “they compared the cooking performance of each oven”
    “the jet's performance conformed to high standards”
    synonyms: functioning, operation
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    type of:
    physical process, process
    a sustained phenomenon or one marked by gradual changes through a series of states
  5. noun
    any recognized accomplishment
    “they admired his performance under stress”
    “when Roger Maris powers four home runs in one game, his performance merits awe”
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    better than expected performance (better than might have been predicted from intelligence tests)
    poorer than expected performance (poorer than might have been predicted from intelligence tests)
    type of:
    accomplishment, achievement
    the action of accomplishing something
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