Many dancers, even an experienced one can suffer from performance anxiety. This can lead to a situation where the dancers feel doubts about their own capabilities as a dancer. They get paralyzed with fear and as a result, can’t live up to their own expectations.
The most likely cause of performance anxiety is due to mental stress. This is common before any performance. However, it is possible to lose your thoughts and control, leading to a sub-par performance. This is not only common to dancers, but singers and comedians alike have been known to suffer from performance anxiety. In this scenario, it is very important to keep your mind free from any form of mental stress. If you haven’t read our blog post about ways of coping with mental stress, we recommend you to go ahead and read it.
Many questions can arise during a performance. How do you look like? How do other people look like? Will the audience like your dance? etc, are a few common ones that may pop up in your head. And they possibly can take you down with them if not handled with utter care.
Today we are going to talk about how to control performance anxiety
Using the mind properly in dance
As we all know, the human brain is indeed complex, full of emotions.
Our left hemisphere is associated with words, expressions, logics and criticism. Similarly right hemisphere is more tuned to processing sound, images, emotions and creativity.
So obviously, this collision course of thoughts and creativity is what brings about the performance anxiety.
Dancers actually use the brain effectively while in the practice room. You do this mindlessly, practicing over and over again until everything looks better. And this happens unconsciously.
But whenever you step on the stage, the left brain takes over and goes into overdrive, which hinders the overall ability to perform freely. So, it is absolutely essential to be in the comfort zone where everything falls neatly into place. There are certain techniques that help.
Look at a fixed point at a distance. The point should be somewhat below the eye level. This will help you in minimizing the distractions and keep you focused. As you gain enough experience, you will have a better control over your mind and won’t need a specific focal point to keep yourself from distractions.
Be careful here! Don’t over use it too much. Your audience wouldn’t be able to relate to you if your eyes are focused at all times, on a stand far off the corner.
Ask yourself, why are you on the stage? What do you want to achieve? How would you communicate with the audience? Focus on what you can achieve, not on what you can’t.
It’s common for people breathe improperly under stress. When our body gets stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow and rapid. As this happens, our body release adrenaline, which keeps us in flight or fight response,-hence, anxiety. That’s why breathe deeply and slowly.
Our muscle becomes tighter when we have more negative thought in our mind. As dancers need almost all of those body muscles for a great performance, you should keep your muscles from tightening. One of the techniques is to relax each individual muscle group while exhaling slowly. Close your eyes and relax your muscles as you exhale one by one. There are many video tutorials on YouTube that can help you out on this one.
Another trick here is to focus on what it feels like, what it sound like etc. when you performed the same thing back in the practice room. This could help you replicate it exactly like the way you rehearsed it before. Try to visualize yourself performing. One such thing is having your own visual or audio cues. This will help you to remember better.
Have some relatable visual or audio cues so that you will remember what you need to do next.
If you have mastered these points and taken the edge off your nerves than that’s a good sign of progress. Now it’s time to channel emotions and energy through dance. Otherwise, you would look like an emotionless robot. Use the energy provided by adrenaline and take your dance to a whole next level.