Those pre performance nerves can really make you feel uncomfortable, maybe so much so that you don’t want to perform at all. If this is the case, please understand that there are things you can do that will help ease the intensity of said nerves and you will never have to miss another performance opportunity again. Although I don’t get much performance anxiety, I used to so I know what helps and what doesn’t. Furthermore, having performed with and alongside many dancers who experience backstage nervousness, I have noticed that the following tips seem to work wonders for them too.
Look at the stage as soon as possible
Knowing what the stage looks like is a great visualisation tool. Oftentimes, I’ve performed at venues where I have had no idea of the layout or where front, side and back is. If I did, I could guarantee that the pre performance nerves would be a bit easier on me. The chances are, you will know fairly well in advance where the event you’re going to be performing at is going to be hosted. Look up this venue and find photos of the inside. Alternatively, you could visit the venue if it is a reasonable distance away from your home. Once you have a picture of it, rehearse with that stage and environment in mind.
Warm Up with an Emphasis on Breath
I know I am always harping on about meditation and sometimes spiritual practice, but the reason I do so is because it works. A focus on breath is a meditation in itself. Add that to your movement and you are golden. There is no room for listening to nervousness then and thinking about what could go wrong. Breathe in time with your routine as you run it through your body. You don’t need the pole to do this either, you just have to stand and think about your movement.
What is it?
You have to understand what you’re actually nervous about. Is it that you might forget, fall or do it wrong? Whatever it is, if you understand where the fear is coming from you will be able to talk to yourself into a more positive state. For example, if you are concerned that you might not stick to the pole you could remind yourself that you have been through the chalk application process a thousand times before. You know what works and what doesn’t so you should know that you have the right amount skin grip. I always remind myself that the stage poles are cleaned after every performer and this helps.
Have Something to Look Forward to Post Performance
When you get so nervous for the performance it can sometimes become a very long winded process whilst you’re waiting to go onstage. You just want it to be over so you can feel normal again. If this is the case with you, have something to look forward to when you get off stage. Most dancers reward themselves with food or a bottle of wine. Usually something they have cut out in preparation for this show. Thinking about this will help you with your nerves.
It’s interesting because as I was writing this post I have realised that, although I am less nervous that I used to be, I probably get more nervous than I think. Overall, it’s important to remember that the performance is part of the process and you are nearly at the finish line. Reflect on the hard work you have put in and celebrate when you have finished.
Have a great performance.