Do you feel jittery and slightly nervous before a show? Do you feel more than just nerves leading up to stepping on the stage, but you feel scared and almost terrified to perform? If you’ve ever experienced these overwhelming feelings that come up during performance time, you’re not alone.
One of the first steps in overcoming performance anxiety is to identify the unknowns that are causing it. These may include worries about making mistakes, fear of being unprepared, lack of confidence in your ability to perform, or having a rigid definition of success.
To help alleviate anxiety and embrace the unknown, it’s important to identify what you can be sure about—for example, focusing on what you want to express through your performance rather than the outcome or whether you’ll make a mistake. This shift in focus can help you develop authentic confidence in your ability to perform.
Creating a plan for how to handle negative unknowns can also help alleviate anxiety. Rather than fearing mistakes, accept that they are a normal part of live performing arts. Develop a plan for how to handle mistakes that may occur, such as taking a deep breath and refocusing on your intention for the performance. Practicing grounding techniques can also help you calm your nerves and boost your confidence leading up to a performance. This may include breathing exercises, using a go-to phrase, or focusing on physical cues like your feet on the ground.
It’s also important to understand that live performing arts can be unpredictable, but it’s also what makes it exciting. The organic and in-the-moment nature of live performances is what makes them so thrilling and interesting to watch. Despite the fact that we can access performances online, people still want to pay large amounts of money live performances because of the energy and passion of the performers and the experience of being there in person. The excitement of the unknown in live performances is part of what makes them special.
As dancers, we often have a vague idea of success, such as wanting to dance our best, which is both an unclear and rigid definition. Focusing on dancing our best all the time is not realistic and often leads to a fear of making mistakes, as we believe they are the worst thing that can happen. By identifying what you can be sure about, creating a plan for handling negative unknowns, and practicing grounding techniques, performers can build real confidence and develop a healthy mindset. Remember that the excitement of the unknown is part of what makes live performances so special and captivating, so embrace it and enjoy the ride!
If you’re struggling with performance anxiety or self-doubt, The Confident Dancer Coaching Program is designed to help dancers overcome these mental struggles and build a healthy mindset to consistently perform their best. This program offers individual mindset coaching to help dancers overcome performance anxiety, believe in themselves, and build real confidence. It’s possible to develop a healthy mindset and consistently perform at your best. Click here to explore if this program is the right fit for you.
To explore more ways you can shift your focus from the pressures of performing to feeling joy and excitement as you hit the stage, head over to The Confident Dancer YouTube channel to watch “7 ways I mentally prepare for a performance as a professional ballet dancer.”