Dealing with the pressures of performing

The limelight that occurs on stage can be one of the most rewarding moments of your life but it can also easily be the most terrifying. I recently traveled overseas to another country to compete in a major competition. Away from home, and away from family and all things that seem familiar. It was one of the scariest performances of my life. Not only is it the pressure of competing with others but the pressure of wanting to please those who supported you for making the journey. Keeping a happy mind in such an intense situation can lead to such a rewarding thrill.

My tips for any competition or performance is to keep your cool. Easier said than done, right? So here are some steps for calming your nerves before the big moment;

1. Always ensure you have had a healthy meal with enough energy to sustain you through your warm up and performance! This process can sometimes take hours, especially if your competition is running behind schedule. Along with that you should make sure you are drinking enough water the night before and leading up to the performance. With the nerves and excitement you may not even realize how dehydrated you are which will only make dancing on stage that much harder for your body to handle.

2. Always warm your body up properly. Try and time your warm up so that you are at your warmest and most relaxed right before going out on stage. There is no use in warming up your body just for it to go cold before you go back on stage, that will only waste energy. Start from the feet up and work your way slowly. Remember to switch on all those muscles that you use in practise.

3. Certain people work differently in pressured situations. Some people may constantly talk to others to calm their nerves or some may completely withdraw. Learn what makes you feel comfortable. For me I know I like to spend more time alone having my thoughts to myself. I find the best way is to separate yourself from other competitors maybe by going to a quite dressing room. Also bringing a pair of earphones and listening to your favourite playlist on your phone can be a good way to stay calm and lighten your mood. It is also very important to not always take offense to others in performance situations. People handle themselves in all different ways, what someone else says or does to you is not a reflection of you or your performance. So if anyone treats you in an odd way or begins to act unfriendly or rudely towards you, don't think about it, it’s your performance and your time to shine. Always remember to be considerate of others, be thoughtful before and after you have performed as others may not be as happy as you are with their performance.

4. The build up of entering stage should always be thought of in a positive way. Don’t think about who is performing before you. Look at the stage and plan your floor pattern. This could possibly be a new stage or a new dance never performed on stage by you. So your first few moments entering may be a little confronting. The lights may be shining very brightly and there may even be a dark pit of blackness where the audience is, but these are the things to embrace. Feel the hot lights give you a warm sense of energy. Its not often in life that there are pretty lights beaming down on you, so seize the moment and let yourself shine. The darkness where the audience is can help because you no longer need to look at their faces. If you are struggling to find a spot, there are usually some lights that are kept on in the audience and can act as a guide. Once you have got your bearing on stage let your worries melt away and just sink into the wonderful moment. You have worked as hard as you can up to this point and there is nothing more you can do other than to feel the music and let your heart lead your body.

Many people will never  get the opportunity to perform on a stage, so think about how lucky you are. FORGET your technique and DANCE! Because after all, isn't that the reason you're there.

X Layla