As exciting as it is to hit the stage for competition season, that does not go without saying the excitement is not accompanied by pre-competition nerves. Regardless if you are a first time competitive dancer or a senior graduating, it is natural to feel these performance anxieties, in fact; they can be a good thing! However, the tendencies that come with performance nerves are extremely frustrating and can help us lose sight of why we dance in the first place. You should instead be focusing on all the fun you are going to have with your dance team!
We have come up with a few tips and techniques to help you feel prepared to hit the stage and help conquer these nervous jitters.
Practice Makes Perfect
A lot of nerves come from wanting to have the perfect performance with no mistakes. In the weeks leading up the competition make sure to ask your dance teacher all questions regarding the choreography you may have. The more confident you feel with your dance, the more this will radiate on stage and wow the judges. Whenever you feel those anxious nerves, do a run through of your dance routine!
We all want to impress our dance teachers and peers with a clean mistake free performance, but the most important part about hitting the stage is showcasing your passion for dance. The judges may not notice a slip up in choreography but they will notice your passion, confidence and love for dance gleam off the stage!
Come Organized, Come Prepared!
For both dance parents and dancers alike there is always that fear that something important will be left behind. Between dance costumes, dance shoes, makeup, hair products, tights, props and more there is a lot to pack away for a dance competition. When packing we always recommend creating a checklist of all items needed prior to packing. As you go to pack, make sure to pack all items away in a place that makes sense to you. Emotions are high at competition time and nobody wants to “be on the search to find your missing tap shoes that were thrown into Mom’s purse when running out the door last minute”. Gabie’s organizing competition tip is to purchase garment bags for each dance costume and label each garment bag by each of your song titles. This lets you organize all necessary items for each dance number in its own specific garment bag and therefore ensure all clothing articles and accessories are packed together and labelled. While at the competition you want things to go as seamless as possible so to avoid panic anxiety and any unnecessary stress pack smart!
Checkout Gabie’s Competition Checklist to make sure you have everything you will need to hit the stage!
Eat, Sleep, Repeat!
Like any sport, nutrition and sleep are important factors that can affect any performance. Whether it is a football player on the football field or a dancer on the dance floor it is important to make sure we treat our body with kindness leading up to the competition. Making sure we have a solid sleep schedule the week of the competition and eating lots of nutritional food can help us prepare our bodies for the physical and mental demands that come from performances or competitions of any kind. As a dancer our body is our artistic tool and we must treat it as such!
When it comes to fuelling our body for dance competitions we recommend eating lots of nutritional food and keeping hydrated! This must include water, but drinks with electrolytes are encouraged as well. We want to avoid drinking anything with a substantial amount of caffeine or sugar as these are known stimulants of anxiety. They may also cause you to “crash and burn” after the side effects have worn off.
Get The Blood Pumping!
Between the time you arrive at the competition venue to when you hit the stage you should allow yourself lots of time to warm up and practice your dances. In most cases your dance teachers may ask you to show up at the venue a few hours prior for this reason! You should utilize this time and review all of the choreography of the dance to get comfortable in the venue, encouraging you to have a great performance. Grab a friend to run over the choreography!
This time will also grant you the ability to do a proper warm up - we need to get the blood pumping regardless if you are competing in Hip Hop, Tap or Acro! Getting our body warmed up is super important before we partake in any physical activity to avoid injury. It will also benefit us by feeling prepared to dance and doubles as a great distraction from our pre-competition jitters!
Mind Over Matter
When it comes down to it, competition or not you need to take a step back (figuratively speaking) and remember why you dance. The same with any hobby, you dance because you love it! It is also important to remember that in most cases dance is a team sport and you and your dance team are in it together! Rather than focusing our attention on the scoring of your dances, think of the competition as an opportunity to get feedback from well known dance professionals that will help you grow as a dancer!
Our performance anxieties may come to an all time high just moments before we hit the stage, so we must remember to breathe! With all off our nervous thoughts, bright lights and us trying to recall our choreography we tend to forget the simple aspect of just taking a deep breath. The mindset you have going into your performance is a huge contributing factor into aiding how you will perform. Your mind is setting you up for your performance; so think positive, be confident and most important remember to have fun- you got this dancer!