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
Through my extensive career as a professional dancer, I have observed some pretty strange pre-performance rituals. I have seen it all, and tried it all. So what works?
The truth is, not everyone is the same. There is no magic cure for nervousness, but there are things that you can do to calm yourself in the wings.
In Part 1 of Performance Nervousness, we will take the first step. Identifying the type of nervousness you are feeling.
Here are the categories of nervousness that I have defined through my years of dancing. See which category you best fit into or have felt in the past.
Prepared Nervousness– You feel well rehearsed, excited, pumped up. Maybe your family is out in the audience. You have a positive outlook on the upcoming performance.
Unprepared Nervousness– It feels like you are going into unfamiliar territory. You are doubtful, almost fearful. Maybe you were thrown into a role last-minute or were an understudy.
Combination of both– You are prepared but doubting yourself and your abilities. Even though you feel ready to perform a role, you are worried about uncontrollable factors.
Over-Prepared– You have rehearsed perfectly every day. Maybe you have even performed this role consecutive years. You are not nervous. After the performance you may even feel let down, although your performance went well.
Competitive Nervousness– You feel pressure. If you can perform well you will get a promotion. You want to outshine other dancers. Maybe your director or teacher watches the show from the wings.
Now that you have identified the type of nervousness you are feeling or have felt, we will move on to the solution. Stay posted for Part 2 of my Performance Nervousness series! As always your comments are greatly appreciated.
Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author