As the gracious ballerina you are, you will no doubt have experienced the nervous and timorous feeling before stepping on to the stage, or the importance of having to prepare physically and mentally before your call. Your weeks of training and prepping for the show are over and it is time to show the audience everything you’ve worked so hard for. You may not be experienced with shows and performing in front of an audience or just want some advice on how to stay on form and on top both on and off stage. By playing your cards right and treating mind and body well you will enjoy the experience all the more, and here I have gathered some helpful advice on how to do that exactly.
Calming your nerves
A lot of dancers find that nerves can ruin their focus and cloud their ability to perform, whereas some find that a little nervousness gives you that little extra adrenalin that makes the performance even better. I am usually extremely nervous beforehand, and in the second I enter the stage my confidence increases and the feeling of being sick is replaced by butterflies formed by the cheer of the crowd and the bright spotlight. For nervousness specificly, here are some pointers that you might find useful.
- Be sure you know your steps. If you’re unsure about the steps, learn them! Not knowing your routine will make you even more of a nervous wreck. Go through the routine again and again until it sits.
- Relax your muscles. Sit down, put your shoulders back and take deep breaths. Drink a glass of water and an energy bar. If you can, get a shoulder/back massage from a friend.
- Psych yourself. Tell yourself that you can do it, that you’re the best, that you’re amazing and that it will be fun. Don’t be afraid of complimenting yourself, and there is no shame in boasting. Be cocky, and enjoy it.
Get a good night’s sleep. Relatively self explanatory. Don’t sit up or rehearse late the day before. Sleeping will be a lot more effective; It will make you remember more and you will feel rested and ready.
Eat healthy and stay hydrated. This really is vital. Don’t go to the nearest McDonalds and stuff yourself sick, but don’t starve yourself either. Make sure your diet is full of protein and vitamins to gain strength and avoid getting sick, and carbohydrates to give you an extra boost. Eat an energy bar or some chocolate, the sugar will do you good. Fruit and vegetables are also recommended, as are protein food such as chicken, fish and meat. Don’t eat too much fibre because it may bloat your stomach and cause indigestion, and avoid fatty/greasy food such as french fries, as it takes a lot of energy to digest. Some suggestions for food for each of your meals:
Dinner (day before performance)
- Chicken with potatoes and vegetables (Lots of protein that will help you regain strength)
- A large bowl of pasta with spinach
- Any usual meal, with extra carbohydrates
Breakfast (day of performance)
- Oatmeal with fruit and nuts. This will fill you up without being too rich, and goes down easily
- Fruit smoothie
- Avoid dairy as it is difficult to digest
- A salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, spinach, onion and any vegetable of choice. Salads are great because they contain antioxidants and nutrients which work wonders for your health
- A light sandwich with ham/cheese (wholemeal bread!)
Healthy and effective snacks
- Carrot/celery or cucumber sticks (For energy)
- Chocolate/ fruit and berry or any kind of energy bar. This will give you an extra energy boost
- Any sort of nuts. Again, this is great for an energy boost.
- Remember to eat 2-3 mini snacks every hour, and don’t get hungry
- Water, water, water. Very important. Do not at any point get dehydrated. Have a bottle of water with you at all times when not on stage and drink regularly.
- Smoothies. Don’t be afraid to add sugar – it will give you an energy boost
- Tea. A cup of tea will warm you inside and make you feel relaxed. I recommend chamomile, green tea or lady grey.
The physical prepping is just as important as the mental. Your mental health can be as strong as every but it will not do much good unless you are in proper shape. That is to say, no dancer can perform their fullest with cold muscles or the odd injury. Make sure you do not have an injury – sometimes you may not even be aware. If you have been under a lot of stress or have been training non stop for a long time and feel a pain anywhere in your body, visit a doctor and get it checked out.
To prevent injuries you must
- Always warm up before rehearsal or a performance. Warming your muscles will prevent a strain and allow you to move with flexibility
- Perform techniques properly and correctly. If not you are likely to get an injury.
- Stop when it hurts. Listen to your body – don’t strain yourself too far
- Perform core-strengthening exercises that will strengthen your body and increase your endurance while also minimizing the chances of getting an injury
I hope you learned something new and the information helpful!
Until next time,
Greenwood, M. (2012) Eating before dance exam or performance – Online Ballet Class. [online] Available at: http://onlineballetclass.com/eating-before-dance-exam-or-performance/ [Accessed: 09 Jan 2013].
Caselli, M. (2009) How To Identify And Treat Common Ballet Injuries. [online] Available at: http://www.podiatrytoday.com/article/1403 [Accessed: January 9, 2013].
Dancemania Dancewear (2013) How to deal with nerves before a performance. [online] Available at: http://www.dancemania.biz/blog/how-to-deal-with-nerves-before-a-performance/ [Accessed: January 9, 2013].
Bussel, D., (1994). The young dancer. London, Dorling Kindersley.