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Ballet - Competitions
Guide: Nerves, we all hate them, but how do we conquer them? (karma: 3)
By Pinkgemstone Comments: 109, member since Mon Nov 28, 2011
On Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:07 AM
Made sticky by hummingbird (128773) on 2012-09-02 11:21:05 Stickied.

Okay so over the years I myself have looked for and found many different ways to deal with nerves. There is a million and one ways out there and this wont even cover a fraction of them, but I figured I’d post it anyway!

Tips and Tricks (before the big day):
• Can’t say this enough: PRACTICE! Then practice again. And again. And again. After that go home and practice it again.
• Before you go to sleep think over your steps. Do the same when you wake up.
• Mark the dance with your fingers (if you’re bored).
• Run through your dance without music.
• Run it with music.
• Slow your dance down to super slow motion speed and literally work the dance from the ground up. Committing every, little, tiny, and annoying detail into your muscle memory.
• Write down your steps.
• Write down your corrections.
• Use your corrections.
• Have a dancer who hasn’t seen your dance ever before critique you.
• DON’T ask a non-dancing parent to critique you if you want serious feedback. I’m serious guys, if you want real feedback get someone with extensive knowledge. No matter what, you’re parents will tell you it looks great.
• HAVE a non-dancer but somewhat educated person who knows the basics of dance and or has seen many professional shows (sorry, dolly dinkle recitals don’t count because at some schools anything can go). This way they may not necessarily focus on your technique but more if you can project while you’re dancing and if you in a way captivate them.
• Practice your emotion and artistry AS SOON AS YOU GET THE STEPS DOWN. You don’t want to have to smile but then come the big day forget to plaster on that smile, or end up halfway through the dance with cheeks that are cramping (I’m telling you, you DO NOT want your smile to cramp. It’s absolutely awful and doesn’t look like a real smile either).
• Get your music on your ipod, mp3 player, CD thingy, whatever and listen to your music WHENEVER you can.
• Know your music inside out and backwards.
• Know your dance inside out and backwards.
• DON’T DON’T DON’T, please don’t try anything crazy close to your big day that could result in a horrible injury. Don’t try those thirty two fouettes the night before if you haven’t ever practiced more than five. If you fall or something goes badly wrong you are out of the dance entirely, and some injuries can result in threatening your possibility to ever dance again.
• I know the week before the big day can be nerve wracking but this is crucial to get good sleep.
• If you’re sore during the week before/of the big day try to get un-sore. Take hot baths, some anti-inflammatory medication can help, use one of the roller thingys that can help relieve soreness, get/use a heating pad on your muscle(s), stretch (SLOWLY), **always warm up before stretching as well. If something feels wrong them go see a dance PT person and they may be able to help.
• Eat good, balanced, nutritious meals the week up until the day before your big day. This may mean it may be time to drop the junk food so you can dance you’re best when the time comes! But remember, everything in moderation isn’t bad! I mean that slice of cheesecake isn’t that big, right? Haha ☺.
• Maybe take some strengthening and conditioning classes prior to the day so you can be in tip top shape.
• Make sure you are/will be in tip top shape come your big day.
• Make sure you have all of your hair things, shoes, and costumes ready.
• DON’T wait to break in those new pairs of pointe shoes the day of your big day, unless you like dancing in brand new shoes I highly don’t recommend it!
• FIND out what types of shoes you prefer to dance in best for that dance ahead of time. For example, pointe shoes, if you like light, softer, shoes make sure you have softer and more broken in shoes for that dance. If you like super hard and sturdy barely danced in pointe shoes make sure you have those too.
• I know I said this in the beginning but really, go practice some more. “Yes you. Right now. Yes you have to go practice. Stop whining. Sorry, but it’s really unavoidable. Yes. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Go. Oh really, have you actually practiced yet? Oh you already practiced this morning. Oh okay, well how about…you practice right now? Yes now. Goodness, do I have to repeat myself? Am I speaking Chinese? Yes? Well maybe you need to get your ears checked. Sorry if this is foreign to you but really go practice. Go. Practice. Now. Ugh. Are you still here? Why? Go!” –The go get up off your butt and practice your dance voice speaking up from somewhere inside of your brain.
• Oh, and one more thing! Promise this is the least one. Are you ready for it? Yes? Okay, you’re going to hate me but…still sure you want to hear it? Yeah? Okay. Wait for it. Coming. Get ready. Get set. GO PRACTICE! Yup, that was it. Amazing, wasn’t it? Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
• Okay, now this is the last thing. I pinky swear, promise, cross my heart and hope to die. You’ll love this one, I know you will! And- wait…but….no, this one was-….ugh will you let me tell you what it is? No? Come on, it’s just one word. And no it’s not practice. Really, I mean it. Didn’t I already cross my heart etc. etc.? Okay, here goes. This word should be a welcomed treat! Here it is: RELAX. Don’t over stress yourself out about it. If you do get stressed really try and relax. Take a break and do something totally un-dancelike. Like…um…going out to the movies, watching a movie, watching TV, helping cook dinner, (hey parents will love these ones) fold the laundry, clean your room, better yet clean the house, do some yard work. Literally anything goes, as long as it can un-stress you! Oh and here’s my favorite, hehe, take a nap!
***Just a question, did you practice yet? I'm serious, you need to be able to dance your dance whatever the cause, you never know what could go wrong. Trust me, the only thing worse than an unprepared dancer IS an unprepared dancer.***

The night before:
• Eat a high energy dinner, that will help give you crucial energy for the next day.
• Stay hydrated! Dehydrated dancers don’t dance well or look good. Dehydrated dancers tend to not be a good thing.
• Get enough rest and sleep.
• PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t psych yourself out and not be able to sleep. You do not want to feel as though you could fall over and sleep for ten hours during your variation.
• Know you’re schedule and know when you need to get up in time to make that schedule.
• Pack everything that you could possibly need in the case that something does go wrong. Now I don’t mean irrelevant items (if any of you watch bunheads on ABC Family, don’t be like michelle and the pepper spray from the last show!), but extra things like extra pointe shoes, ribbons, elastics, hair pins, hair elastics, pins (trust me, these can be a lifesaver when you don’t have time to sew), hair spray, hair nets, makeup remover (A friend once got lipstick on my tights five minutes before we went on and only makeup remover worked. But make sure it won’t bleach/discolor your tights.), tights, extra straps in case one breaks, first aid stuff, etc. etc. You get the picture.
• ORGANIZE EVERYTHING from costumes to your dance bag to your makeup case. Organize everything so when you are getting ready you know exactly where everything is.
• Pack the car ahead of time if you’re going on early.
• Listen to your music before you go to sleep one last time and try to picture yourself on stage in front of an audience dancing. Imagine doing it perfectly and getting that first place prize at YAGP or whatever. But if this is only going to make your nerves worse then please, please don’t listen to your music. Many people would rather a good nights rest before your big day, rather than two hours of sleep but listening to your music on repeat until who knows how late and in the end just making you more nervous.
• If you have any little routine you like to do the night before a performance than by all means do it!
The morning of:
• Okay, now first thing you do when you wake up is RELAX. Today is the big day, yes, but it’s still only one of the seven days of the week. Still one of the 24 hours in the day. Only one of the 12 months of the year. And yes still only one day in the earths orbit around the sun. This day, statistically is really just 1/365 out of the year. That’s just .002739726 in decimals. That’s a really small number. Tell yourself that. It’s nothing important. It’s still an average day for someone out there in the world. It can be just an average day for you too, nerves wise. I can’t guarantee many people will be dancing a variation on you big day as well. Unless you’re competing, then yes many other kids will be waking up just like you and freaking out, just. Like. You. At least try and find comfort in those three words.
• If you haven’t learned to relax just yet, remember, today is just a normal day where you should act like your normal self. Don’t freak out, don’t hitchhike to mount Everest or hop on a flight to some foreign country no one’s even heard of just because you think you can’t do this. You can.
• Go get dressed. Do your hair. Do whatever you need to do. Take a shower etc.
• Eat breakfast. Please don’t skip it. Hungry dancers are only right above dehydrated ones.
• Make sure you have everything.
• Try and aim to arrive to the venue you will be dancing at with enough time to spare so you won’t be rushed or flustered come stage time. Usually aim for at least an hour or two before. Remember, the time you go on can always change at last minute and you don’t want to miss your dance!
• Ready, set, leave!
• In the car listen to your music.
• And please, please, please try to be nice to your parents if they’re coming with you. They can stress you out more but they can also be your biggest fans! Remember that no matter what they will be proud of you!
• Check in and set up your stuff in either a designated space or wherever you are allowed too that will give you good access to everything you need.
• Do you makeup and prepare for your dance but you may not want to get in costume just yet.
• Relax. Take a few deep breaths,
• Meditate if you want to.
• Read a little bit of a book if you want to and if reading clams you down. HIGHLY NOT RECOMMEND FOR AVID READERS WHO CAN’T PUT BOOKS DOWN!
• Have your lucky charm with you if you want it. (I have a pearl ring I wear to all of my auditions and before all of my shows).
• Make sure you have everything, you don’t want to be missing something and not be able to get it.
• A way that works for nerves for a lot of dancers is stretch!
• BUT before you stretch give yourself a good warm up, do some plies and tendu’s etc. If you want add in a few crunches to keep you centered.
• If you’re sore try to get un-sore. You may not be able to take a hot bath or soak in Epsom salts but you can use one of those roller thingy’s, heating pads, taking an anti-inflammatory medicine. etc.
• Take some deep breaths.
• IF, and I mean IF you want you can run through your dance. Some people like to do this (myself included). But if this doesn’t work for you don’t do it.
• If you want you can also listen to your music.
• Do whatever it takes to get in the zone.
• When they call and say you have ten minutes don’t freak out. Get into your costume. If you have warmed up them quickly do some releves or run in place to get try and get your blood moving. But really you should’ve warmed up earlier.
• Once you’re ready go to the wings or wherever they want you to go.
***This is just a thing you can only do if it’s allowed that some people like to do, is just sit on the stage in an empty auditorium. If you want you can just practice your dance without music, no pressure, nothing. Just dance. I like to at least know my stage before I dance on it. If you can ask dancers who went before you about the stage and if it's sticky, slippery, good, if it has any dips etc.
In the wings:
• Don’t freak out.
• If you have a routine you do before you go on stage do it!
• If you’re nervous but will be fine if someone distracts you have someone do that!
• Make yourself laugh or think of a really funny thing. Sometimes laughing helps with nerves.
• Do the High School Musical ma, ma, ma thingy.
• Try and calm yourself down.
• Run through the dance either marking it out or running through it in your head.
• Picture the audience empty.
• Picture everything that could possibly go wrong and then say it’ll never ever happen. Do this as many times as it takes and hopefully convince yourself.
• Don’t run out last minute.
• You can do this. You practiced it a million times. And then three times more. Remember? ☺
• Talk to someone, sometimes talking helps.
• If you want it to be silent tell the other people backstage that. They may not all comply to your wishes but there has to be at least one respectful dancer there as well.
• If you want or can have your teacher back there talk to them.
• If you want and can have one of your closest friends back there.
• Take some deep breaths.
• Check for little mishaps like an untied pointe shoe or lipstick on your teeth etc.
• Tell yourself it’s no big deal. Go over the fraction of the world day thing if you need to.
• Remember this: You love to dance. You love it more than anything in the world. This love is what got you here and it is also a tool. It’s the best treatment for nerves, because even though you get nervous in order to love dance fully being nervous is part of dance. So technically in order to love to dance you also have to love kind of being nervous. That doesn’t really make sense but just remember: Dance is what you do. It’s what you now best. Now it’s just time to show everyone what dance has given you!
Time to dance:
• Ready, set, prepare, and….DANCE!
*Dance like nobody's watching!*

Hope this helps some people with their nerves before dance performances, recitals, competitions etc.!

***Sorry this is kind of wordy, but i just mis-mashed things together. And also spelling errors may occur in the lists, they're really long so I may not have gotten everything!

3 Replies to Guide: Nerves, we all hate them, but how do we conquer them?

re: Guide: Nerves, we all hate them, but how do we conquer them?
By balletgirl4ever Comments: 535, member since Tue Jul 31, 2012
On Thu Aug 23, 2012 07:04 PM
wow, best guide for competitions ever! I dont do competitionss, but this will be helpful for the shows the school does during the year. I always do the HSM ma ma ma thing with my friends backstage!! its soo funny!
re: Guide: Nerves, we all hate them, but how do we conquer them?
By lovestodance989 Comments: 318, member since Sun Jun 12, 2011
On Fri Aug 24, 2012 06:30 PM
Karma for you!!
re: Guide: Nerves, we all hate them, but how do we conquer them?
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Sat Aug 25, 2012 08:42 AM
I only had time to skim it, really, but I wanted to pick out one thing that jumped out at me:

Picture the audience empty

I've done vocal performances, dance performances and theatre, and even though I KNOW this one, sometimes I forget to do it. Especially if I catch sight of anyone in the audience, I get super nervous and then I'm liable to mess up in small ways, or hold back.

So now I'm going to focus on keeping that pretense going in my mind that no-one's there, all the way through the performance. Thanks for reminding me :)