Cold feet, shivers, pale skin, muscle spams … sound familiar? Every dancer, at least once in their dance careers has experienced some level of anxiety before a dance sport competition or any other kind of performance. But, before we jump in and start fixing it, let’s see what performance anxiety is all about.
FEAR – It all, really, comes down to that. Fear to make a mistake; fear to upset your partner, coach or parents; fear that spectators won’t clap; fear of being disappointed in your performance overall; and fear of not placing high enough. And, that is just to name a few, since everyone would have their own “version” of fear. So, let’s start by acknowledging that we have it. Because, if we deny the fact that we are scared of something, it will only get worse. Then, let’s look at a few possibilities of dissolving it.
Shallow breathing will give you hype and increase your heart rate, which, as a result, will give you more performance anxiety. Deep diaphragmatic breathing can tremendously help with calming yourself down. ‘In’ through the nose,’Out’ through the mouth. Nice and deep inhales, and slow and controlling exhales. Closing your eyes or looking at an immobile object can also help your concentration. There is no need to keep the count of breaths you take, since it may vary from time to time, but the outcome you’re seeking should be the same – Calming your hype.
Your Focus is on You
Different people, focus differently. Some stay with their partners and practice before coming out, some need to get away from them and other people, sit in the corner and listen to music. The main goal is to focus on yourself and that you are doing this FOR yourself. I would assume, you got into competitive ballroom dancing because you physically or emotionally needed it. Otherwise, why would you be doing it? Nothing exists but you, your partner, your craft and the music that is about to play.
Trust and Accept
It is, however, important that you keep mind, that a lot of things can go wrong. Someone might cut into you in one of the dances, or you or partner might lose your balance, or even fall. Just accept the fact that there might be unforeseen circumstances, which you will not have any control of. There is no need to expect something to happen, or plan a way out when it happens. You’re just programming yourself in advance for a failure. Don’t worry, If it happens, you’ll figure it out! Trust the process, accept the outcome.
PS. If you ever find yourself forgetting your routine in the middle of a dance (which happened to me numerous times), talk to your partner before coming out, and pick a spot in your choreography to start from, in case one of you blanks out or get interfered. Always worked for me.
Just, Let Go.
I’m sorry to tell you, but there is nothing more you can do to make your dancing any better at this point. You practiced hard (or maybe not hard enough, but how much is ‘enough’ anyways?), you’ve discussed all the points with your partner, in case things go wrong; you’ve breathed deeply; focused on yourself, your partner and your dance; you’ve accepted things that might go wrong, which could be out of your control … That’s it!
You might not see this right now, but the whole process of development takes time. Practice to practice, competition to competition. There is no way around it. Just know, that YOU ARE getting better with every moment spent on a dance floor. It’s time to let go …
Enough talk, Go and Enjoy Yourself!