Every dancer knows the chaos of competition season. It’s what you’ve been working for, and your teammates and teachers are counting on you. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and pressure, so here are some tips on taking care of yourself during that hectic time.
Break a Leg!
Everyone has a few good luck rituals, ranging from simple habits to full-on superstition. If you suffer from stage fright, I’d recommend working some deep breathing, mantras, or even short meditation into your pre-performance process. Getting into the right headspace is equally as important as getting physically prepared. Over time, you’ll find the tricks that work for you.
Dance Equipment Go Bag
Have you ever walked into the dressing room and realized you left a crucial piece at home? Make a list and pack up the night before. Double check for every costume piece, leotard, spare pointe shoe, make-up kit, bobby pin and hairspray, snacks and water. It’s tedious, but it’ll save you a lot of stress and embarrassment. Keep an updated “go bag,” so you can focus on your performance.
Dance Injury Prevention
Listen to your body. Are you experiencing any abnormal pain? Any conditions flaring up? I used to have shin splints, which worsened as the season went on. Keep tabs on your health and physical condition. Continuing with an injury might seem like the tough, “team player” option, but it’s not worth a permanent injury that risks the rest of your career.
Never Stop Stretching
On the topic of injury… Keep on top of your dance warm up! We all know the benefits of stretching, but as you get late into the season, dancers tend to get a little comfortable and complacent. You’ve done these routines hundreds of times, you know your body is capable of executing them. But it only takes one wrong move with cold muscles to get you watching from the wings indefinitely.
Keep Morale High
Tension and arguments sometimes arise after a faulty dance performance. Someone didn’t finish their turn, or messed up the lift, or was early on the cannon. Blame gets shifted around, and people get impatient. Remember that these are your teammates and, hopefully, you really care about them. Keeping each other accountable is important, but it can quickly get bitter and resentful if you don’t nip it in the bud.
Talk to Your Teacher
Maintain a dialogue with your teacher/choreographer. Are there pieces where you were off time? Are there things you can improve on? Maybe you’ve been nailing it every time, in which case a bit of praise is never a bad thing. Show your teacher you are paying attention to their critique and your commitment to growth will pay off in more ways than one.
There’s nothing quite like rubbing your shoes in some rosin, hearing your name called, and stepping on stage. Put systems in place to decrease your stress. Take care of your body and brain. Continue to check in with your teammates, your teachers, and yourself. You spend all year waiting to feel that warm stage light, make sure you can enjoy yourself when you do!