How to Overcome Stage Fright in Dancesport
You’re sweating and your heartbeat has reached 130 bpm. You come out from behind the curtain and you climb the stage. There may be palpitations and it often feels like an adrenaline rush. You expect it to go away once you reach the stage but you notice that it intensifies. You begin to realize that it won’t go away and that your only chance is to face it and to use all that tension. If only you could guide it and turn it into concentration and live in the moment.
All of us experience stage fright when it comes to performing in a room full of people that are there for the sole purpose of watching what we are doing. It could be dancing, speaking, singing or any other type of similar activity. Professionals in dancesport have said that no matter how many years of experience they have, it’s always there, creeping in. The only difference between them and an amateur is that they have learned to accept it and found ways of dealing with it. Instead of trying to run away from those feelings you should know that transformation is possible and you can invest all that energy into being more focused.
There are a few things to keep in mind in order to become much more comfortable with the myriad of emotions that flow through your body just before getting on the stage to perform.
This is the most important. When you start getting the shivers just take a few deep breaths. The simple technique of inhale – exhale while you focus solely on your breathing will considerably reduce the level of stress and will calm your mind. It’s also how the yoga practitioners make their heart beat more slowly.
Know the music
A lot of dancers tend to rely more on improvisation when it comes to the songs that they are going to dance on. This is very often why stage fright takes over. Try to know in detail every part of your music and even if you forget a particular move, the music will guide you and you can now better improvise without losing your focus.
Practice to alleviate performance anxiety
Practice is never enough but try not to end up in the other end with a burnout. Take those extra hours and with the help of breathing, calm your mind so you can focus only on dancing. It’s not just all those hours that matter but it’s about how you do it as well. Knowing your steps will give you confidence. If you were preparing a solo dance it would be a lot easier because you could do it whenever you feel like. Instead, you have a partner, and you need to find a time that suits you both. In dancesport the union and the level of connection that you and your partner have will be seen on the stage.
A study showed that people who did sports „inside their mind”, like running, going to the gym, or practicing any particular move, increased their muscle strength with almost the same amount as if they were actually doing it. Read this as many times as you need so you can realise the power that lies within us. Now, try to do this before performing. Close your eyes and imagine yourself there. It’s as if you are hypnotizing yourself. What are you wearing? How many people are there? Does the stage shine? Do you smile? What moves are you about to do?
Be aware of your body
Your body is the most important asset that you have. Be in tune with it and don’t take it for granted. Pay attention to the signals that it’s giving you and you’ll know what to do or at least check yourself.
Invest everything in every performance
Knowing that you’ll give your best in every single moment of your performance will make you enjoy it rather than feel anxious and afraid. There are so many things that are not under our control but we sometimes tend to forget this. Make sure that you are well prepared and then, when you are about to go on the stage, just try to let go of everything else and just feel your body, hear the music, trust you partner and be happy that you are there. In the end, it’s all about the positive energy that you are giving out in the world.
Remember why you started dancing
After going through all these things you may still feel that something is not where it should be. In that moment go back to when you started dancing and try to remember how you felt back then. Given the fact that there were no official expectations from you and the only performance that you gave was the one for your friends or just for yourself, I am pretty sure that it was only you and the act of dancing. There was nothing that could intervene in-between. That feeling of freedom and being alive is what you should strive for when performing.
Being aware of these emotions that challenge our senses is definitely going to benefit us. Rather than trying to shut them down and tell yourself that it’s not there, you can invest all that energy into your performance. Your anxiety can give you strength and focus because at its core, an emotion, like any other, has the power to push someone beyond his own limits in trying to achieve his goals.
Dancing has been my passion since I was 13 and since then I've been doing things in that direction. Writing, creating and putting together the biggest community for dancers around the world!