Do you have any suggestions for handling nerves at dance competitions? We have participated in one competition already this year and my dancer was a nervous wreck. She is 12 and gets a little nervous before group dances, but with her solo it is literally like her teachers have to force her on stage. Once she started dancing, she relaxed a bit, but it’s all the anxiety leading up to being on stage. Do you have any techniques for managing stress prior to going on stage to compete?
It’s important to remember that all performers have experienced this at some point in their careers. It’s finding what works for your dancer. Remind her she knows the choreography. She has been rehearsing and practicing with her teacher for awhile – she is fine. Look up some breathing techniques and find a calming one to do while waiting in the wings. Make sure you are stretched out and physically ready to go. Then finally remember it’s about dancing from within and with your heart and soul. It’s not just about the perfect pirouette, or jetè. This will help to relax and you will have more fun!
Nerves can truly get the best of you, whether you’re 6 years old, 12 years old, 18 years old, or 35 years old! Some people handle the anxiety differently, some don’t feel anxiety at all, just a few butterflies. Some things I have taught my dancers to do before they go onstage is to get into a zone. This isn’t a zone of NERVES, but one of focus. If they are soloists, I have them listen to their music while they stretch. Some of them choose to run their choreography with their earbuds in while others simply want to stretch and just be alone. Some feed off their teammates energy and get each other pumped. Maybe make a playlist of some of her favorite songs for her to listen to before she goes on! Or if you are spiritual/religious, write a “before performance” prayer that she can read to herself over and over. Talking to God always relaxed me as a dancer growing up.
Last year, I experienced a case of BAD nerves with a couple of my students who were 12, just your daughter’s age! I had to use tough love on them, because unfortunately, the motherly sweet affection did not help at all. It made them more nervous. I remember saying to them, you don’t have a choice here. You have signed up, you have paid money, you have worked HARD on this dance, and YOU KNOW this dance. You WILL go onstage and YOU WILL get through it. They would look like a deer in headlights still, but they would nod their head and knew there was no turning back! It helped!