So… You usually feel great about your dancing, but now you are devastated. Not sure why. You love dancing, and others think you are pretty good. You thought so too … Yesterday. You just won a championship, but for some reason you are questioning everything. Congratulations, you have “Dancer’s Blues”!
If you were not serious about your dancing, you would not have had emotions about your dancing. Dissatisfaction happens and there is absolute nothing wrong with that. If you have ever felt “Dancer’s Blues” you are probably a serious competitor, or about to become one.
“Dancer’s Blues” should not be confused with simple disappointment.
Any competitor might be disappointed when not placing as hoped. Disappointment is clearly understandable. For early competitors, it may be a necessary part of learning the landscape. The same is true when the local star goes to their first national comp. Dancer’s blues, however, are not always expected based on the situation, but can be understood.
First let’s look at what is happening in general
The more you stretch and the more you want to achieve, the more likely it is that you will have ups and downs. Downs are often a step in growth. Your physical muscles often feel worn and weaker just before they become stronger. The same can be true for your emotions. Also, the better you prepare yourself, and the better you understand what is happening, the more likely that physical wear and tear will be limited and not set you back, the same is true for emotions.
Now let’s look more specifically at the types of “Dancer’s Blues”.
The crash may in large part be due to an adrenaline drop. Never underestimate how your excitement, commitment and drive can impact you physically. When training for and participating in a major competition, or a very important series of competitions, your adrenaline is not only high but it stays high for a period of time. This can become your “new normal” for a while. The thing is that it can never last. Adrenaline crash can make you feel anxious, negative or depressed. 2 tips are important for this:
- The first is to understand that this can happen and not to over react.
- The next is to plan ahead for pleasant activity after a major challenge. For some it is important to have a change of pace with family, friends or other activities. For others a great way to wind down is to go back to the studio, but not for an intense structured practice, but more for creative exploration without any set demands. Essentially to allow yourself to connect with the joy that ignited your passion for dance in the first place. The worst thing is to do nothing.
The catalyst may start with disappointment, but it continues, and feels like a loss of confidence, or dissatisfaction with everything in dancing. This can be very damaging if not put in perspective quickly. The first thing is to remember that even though you trained very hard, everyone in a competition trains hard as well. You may have improved significantly, but that is no guarantee of a better placement or even the same placement. It doesn’t mean that your improvement is not valuable. One or two results do not predict all of the future. The other thing is that the more impatient and frustrated you become, the more your performance will suffer, and the less you will feel and be in control. 2 tips here as well:
- Re-focus your energy away from negative feelings, and toward setting very specific goals that are fully within your control. Work toward one goal, then another then another. The smaller, more specific the goals, the better. In some cases, many advanced competitors would do well to set goals related to making their basics absolutely and consistently perfect. Consider for example, if the basics are even just 2% off, the next level choreography will be 4% off, and the next level will be 8% off. 8% will off your best, will make a difference.
- Maintain images of yourself performing exactly the way you want to, even if it feels out of reach at the moment. You will always move toward what you visualize. Thinking and talking constantly about weakness will work against you (BTW being around negative people is not great either). This type of dancer’s blues is called the catalyst because it can set you on the clearest path to success… but only if you focus on success, and take the necessary steps.
The Reality Check
You have the championship title that you worked so hard for, but you feel let down. Part of this may be due to the adrenaline crash, but the other part may be the gap between your expectations and reality, or because you simply do not know what to do next. When you achieve a major milestone, some things may change, some may not, or possibly very little will change. Another 2 tips for this too:
- The best thing you can do is to clearly know what you want next now that you have the title, and have a plan. Getting opportunities or just recognition may be short-lived if you do not to stay visible, connected and confident. Humble is also important because it helps you to keep things in perspective and not make assumptions about what will or will not happen. (Humble also makes you more likely to be the champion people support, versus the one they would like to see others take over).The best things only happen when you are clear about what you want, and consistent at working for it.
- Stay in the moment. When you achieve a goal, enjoy the feeling of that moment without any expectations. After that moment has past, reflecting is great, but you still need to move forward. Please remember that if you achieved one goal, you have shown yourself is that you have what it takes to achieve your next. Keep that in mind and you will keep growing!