Now that you have identified the type of performance nervousness you are feeling from Part 1 of my Performance Nervousness series, it is time to come up with a solution. In the book I wrote, The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide, (www.balletaudition.com) I outline the types of techniques that can be used to get rid of Audition nerves. The same concepts can be applied to backstage nerves.
Here are some of the long-term things you can do prior to the show to ensure that you are feeling confident going into theatre week.
Set Goals- Write out your goals ahead of time, starting with your first rehearsal. If you set realistic performance goals and work on them throughout the weeks of rehearsals leading up to the show, you will feel more confident.
Mental Preparation- Mentally prepare yourself through imagery. This is something that I have gone into extensively in The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. If you can visualize yourself performing a role perfectly, you can take that same feeling into the real performing situation.
Here are some of the short-term things that you can do to help with pre-performance butterflies.
Avoid Caffeine & Sugar- I remember sugaring up before shows when I was in school and it always turned out disastrous. Either you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin while you’re onstage or your sugar high crashes right before the show and you are left feeling tired and lethargic.
Eat and Hydrate- No one performs at his or her best on an empty stomach. To ensure that you won’t energy bonk before the show, eat at least 1 hour prior to call. Sip on an electrolyte enhanced beverage throughout the day.
Listen to Music- Listening to your favorite tunes on your iPod before the show can have a huge calming effect on your nerves. Most Professional Dancers practice this technique pre-performance.
Warm-up- Warming-up before the show will give your body the peace of mind it needs to successfully execute choreographic demands.
Focus in the Wings- Think positive before you are about to make your stage entrance.
Breathe- Don’t forget to breathe and relax before going onstage. If you’re holding your breath, all of the movements that you have been working so hard on in rehearsal will feel lot harder and more taxing on the body.
Try some of these techniques before your Nutcracker performances this month! If you are looking for more techniques to try pre-performance, check out the eBook I wrote at www.balletaudition.com. The techniques outlined in that book aren’t just for auditioners!
Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer / Author
Ballet injuries are common career ending catastrophes for dancers of all ages. What may seem like a small ache or pain could turn into a serious injury if you are not making the proper adjustments to your technique. There are a lot of solutions offered that just mask the pain. If you do not get to the bottom of the issue that is causing the injury, it could be a life long struggle.
The following are a list of steps you can take to ensure you are doing the right things to prevent career ending injuries.
1.) See a Doctor- I know this may seem like a no brainer, but going to a doctor is one of the most important things you can do if you are experiencing abnormal pain. If you are attending a good ballet school, they should be affiliated with a Sports Medicine department or physical therapist in your city.
2.) Rest- You’ve heard this one before too. If you are experiencing abnormal pain, you need to stop dancing until you have the issue identified by a physical therapist. I know, you’re afraid that you will lose your part to your understudy, but how would if feel if you kept dancing and tore or broke something? Do your career a favor and take a much needed rest.
3.) Therapy- Once you have seen a physical therapist and they have diagnosed the problem, you need to follow through with your treatments. Your physical therapist may have you doing some strange exercises, but if you don’t follow through with them the injury will come back.
4.) Investigate- After you are finished with physical therapy and your injury seems to have healed, start investigating your ballet technique. Are you rolling in on your ankles? Are you gripping your hips? You might even want to see a Ballet Strength & Conditioning Coach like myself to help you work on technical weaknesses based on your anatomy and body mechanics. (Keep in mind that these are things that most ballet teachers are not qualified to recommend)
Sometimes your Ballet instructors, though they have your best interest in mind, will continue to tell you to force your turnout, etc. so that your body looks aesthetically correct for ballet. While this may look good, it may be doing disastrous things for your body and your career.
Take these simple precautions to prevent long lasting injuries and never be afraid to ask questions. You can try out one of my Ballet Strength programs HERE.
Nikol Klein, Certified Personal Trainer/ Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Nutritionist
You may not realize this, but Ballet Dancers have some of the most unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits. These bad habits effect dancers from daily class all the way to auditions. We’ve all read the famous Ballerina’s books like Gelsey Kirkland’s Dancing on my Grave and hopefully have learned a lot from their mistakes.
What can you do to improve your health so that you can reach peak performance? Follow a few of these simple guidelines to boost your energy in everyday class all the way to performance time.
1.) Don’t skip out on Breakfast– After 8 or more hours of fasting overnight, your body desperately needs food fuel in the morning. Make sure you are eating a balanced breakfast before heading out to class in the morning.
2.) Stay Hydrated– I cannot stress this enough. If you are not drinking water or an electrolyte enriched beverage before and during class, your strength will suffer.
3.) Eat– The skinny, emaciated look is so 1970. Artistic Directors are looking for strong bodies these days.
4.) Soak and Stroke– A hot bath at the end of a long day of rehearsing is just what your body needs to relax and prepare for tomorrow.
5.) Take a day off– Sometimes you need a mental day of rest. On your days off, participate in functions or activites that do not involve dancing. You will feel a lot fresher when the work week begins again.
I hope you have enjoyed these 5 healthy tips for Ballet Dancers! If you’re feeling a little low on energy, chances are you are missing one of the above components.
Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer, Author of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide
I had a chance this morning to bring the video camera into my workout session. I wanted to show my loyal blog followers the type of workout that I do in the off-season to keep my body lean and toned. It is sometimes hard for Professional Dancers to get into the studio over the summer because there are no classes available and/or they cannot afford to pay for them. (Yes, these days most studios are even charging professionals to take class!) If you are not lucky enough to have a studio near you offering free classes, you definitely need to look into the things you can do in the comfort of your own home! I happen to be lucky enough to have an oversized 3 car garage and a ballet barre, so I am able to give myself class at home.
A lot of the exercises I do in the video, mainly the plie jump squat, work on specific weaknesses that I need to target. The plie jump squats help improve my spring in jumps both in ballet class and on stage. I also make sure to add a 10 lb kettlebell to the equation so that I feel lighter when I perform the same movement in ballet class.
I will be making more of these videos in the near future and will be releasing instructional videos too! Stay tuned and please, bookmark this page.
Best in Health,
Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist
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