Monday, March 12, 2012

Dealing with Anxiety - Performing Nerves

A lot of people get really nervous before performing. It doesn't matter if you've been rehearsing for weeks or months, it doesn't matter if you could do the piece in your sleep or if your brain is working overtime during the routine, some people will just be nervous no matter what. And if you're one of those people, there's some things you can do to help ease your nerves:
  1. First, you really need to figure out why you're nervous. Is it the audience? Family and friends? Impressing your teachers or fellow dancers? Is it a competition? Are there other important people in the audience, like scouts? Afraid of falling or making mistakes? Is there a move in the dance you're unsure of, you're inconsistent with, or is potentially dangerous?
  2. Audience-based - Remind yourself that no one else besides you, your fellow dancers, and your choreographer know the choreography. Practice improvisation so that you'll be comfortable with it as a last resort. Whenever you make mistakes in rehearsal, never stop, throw a face, or do anything out of the ordinary - train yourself to take them gracefully.
  3. Family and friends - Again, they don't know the choreography! And they think you're great anyways. Unless they're dancers, you don't have much to worry about. And even if they are dancers, you'll get some compliments and some constructive criticism, and that'll only make you better.
  4. Impressing people - Don't feel the need to impress anybody. You don't need to prove yourself, especially not to people who have already seen you dance. The worst thing you can do is psych yourself out thinking everyone is looking at you all the time. They're not. So don't worry if you're not perfect, because you're a human being just like the people you think you need to impress are human. Dance for yourself and your talent will be evident. 
  5. Competitions - Don't worry so much about "ruining" it for the group. The more you worry, the more likely you are to mess up. Also, don't overthink the piece right before you go on stage. Take a few deep breaths instead of doing one last triple pirouette. Worry less, concentrate more on what you're about to do, and clear your mind of all other thought. Maybe run in place, do some cardio to warm yourself up and get yourself focused on your body.
  6. Important People (scouts) - I've been in this position once, but I knew I had zero chance of getting picked up by a scout. You may be different - this may be your big break! I've never been there, so all I can say is good luck and again, dance for yourself. The more you concentrate on you, the more you will be special and stand out. And the more you stand out, the more jobs you'll book.
  7. Fear of making mistakes - I think this is my problem. I think back to rehearsals and tell myself "I fall out of that turn 50% of the time. What if this is that time I fall out?" and I begin to psych myself out. Chances are that, unless you make the fall spectacular, no one will even notice if it happens. And if they do, so what? You're human and things will happen. Just remember that no one will remember you as "the girl who fell out of her turn during that one dance" - again, focus on yourself, stay warm, and make sure that they remember you for how special your performance is as a whole.
  8. Unstable movements - So there's a movement you have in your dance that you're unsure of. The first time I performed a piece on pointe, I had a double turn in the dance. I wasn't doing consistent doubles on pointe, and I always worried about it. But I found that if I didn't think about it, I didn't have the chance to tense up before the turn and ruin the performance and the turn itself. If you have some partnering work, share a hug or a smile with your partner and reassure yourself of the trust you have with this person. You'll be fine.
In general, coming up with a quick and efficient warm up routine that you always use before performing will bring you to your center and give you some of the stability that you crave. Listen to some music (preferably not the song you're dancing to in a few short moments!), breathe, stretch, relax, don't worry (or you'll tense up).
    Is there anything I left out? Is there a specific ritual you do that works for you? Leave me a comment below! I hope this helps! Part 2 on auditioning nerves will be coming soon.


    1. I have a question:
      I was going to practice and I went to preform a practice run. There was two guys that were supposed to judge. They critiqued everyone, but me and another girl. The difference was I asked a question to see if they had any critiques for me, they just looked and me and one of the judges said work on isolations, but this pertained to everyone but they didn't tell me anything specific, nor did they even look at me throughout the whole dance!!

      1. Did I do anything wrong or did they pick favorites?

      2. I'm assuming that these two guys/judges were peers? If they are peers, it's entirely possible that they picked favorites, but there's also the possibility that you just didn't catch their eye during the run. It's really hard for anyone to be completely unbiased - are they closer to the other people that they critiqued?

      3. Yea and they were my instructors friends, they were the ones judging. I was kinda close but I guess it wasn't good enough.

      4. It's hard to tell whether it was them or you. Chances are it's a combination of both their bias and the fact that it's hard to watch everyone in a piece. Personally, when I watch pieces, I never watch every single person, and it's hard for me to remember to do so if I'm trying to give critiques. Don't be hard on yourself!

      5. Probably but thanks for your help!! I really appreciate it :D

    2. DANCING IS MY LIFEMay 20, 2012 at 10:12 PM

      I am considering doing competition this umcoming year. Daisy, or anyone else for that matter, do you have any tips on how to prepare mentally and emotionally for competition for the first time?

      1. That's a great question. I'd love to do a post on it, even if I'm not that experienced in competition (sorry to admit). Check back tomorrow!