I Can't Go On! Stage Fright and Mind Over Matter
Not everyone is cut out for the spotlight, and not everyone wants to be.
But there is a point in many a ballroom dancer's career when they come to choose a steady dance partner, a focus, and a routine. They may decide to actively pursue performing, or even competition.
In this regard, all dancers who dream of stealing the show should absolutely give it a try at least once. Dancing with a partner in front of an audience is an unforgettable, highly rewarding, and often addictive experience. One will probably want to try it more than once.
This act of creative bravery, however, comes with its hazards. Performance is not for the faint of heart.
Performance Anxiety: The Symptoms
It's show day. Or maybe the day before show day. Sometimes even a week before. And you are a wreck because your mind is suddenly populated with little monsters popping into your head, singing, "What if?"
"What if the judges disqualify me for my bad hair day?"
"What if I forget the routine?"
"What if I trip on the hem of my dress during those natural turns?"
Enter: Pre-Show Butterflies. Nerves. Stage Fright, to put it bluntly.
You consider canceling. You're sweating, so you must have a fever, right?
You experience the unpleasantries of shortness of breath, mild shaking in the extremities, negative thinking, and... existential dread.
Speaking the Body's Language
Your body is manifesting your negative thoughts. You must master your mind like a Jedi and change its downward momentum, should you have any hope. Tell your body that you are calm by breathing deeply. Do not argue with your nerves; they will only strengthen. Go with the flow and trick your mind by telling it you are excited, not afraid.
A Few More Tips
Remember also that in ballroom dance, you will have a luxurious advantage: the company of your instructor or partner to perform with you, right by your side (or thereabouts). You are a team, you have been working on this, and you are ready to show the world what you've got. Who knows? Your dance mate may even be a little nervous also. Talk them down from the ledge! It will help you relax. Be kind to yourself - you are doing something amazing that most others would never attempt in a million years!
Hope is available. At the end of the day, many professionals who have been in showbiz for their entire lives will tell you, if they are honest, that those pre-show jitters never really go away. They can only be softened and mediated by proper preparation, practice, and the calming of your mind. The nerves may always be with you to some degree. But there is a bright side. Some claim that the adrenaline rush they get right before going on to the dance floor is the very fuel that revs their engine and makes for a stellar performance!
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