Butterflies in formation -- dealing with nerves

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    How do you do it? Especially those who are competitive dancers and/or take dance exams. How do you manage to function under pressure? Any tips or tricks?

    I took a public speaking class a while back in which the lecturer used that expression -- butterflies in formation. She said that, when you're performing publicly, you'll always have nerves. You know. The proverbial butterflies in your stomach. The trick is, according to her, to get your butterflies to fly in formation.

    How do you get and keep your butterflies under control?

    Thoughts, anyone?

    (btw thanks for the topic idea, Kuriin. 8) )
     
  2. Porfirio Landeros

    Porfirio Landeros New Member

    Big breathes, and faith in knowing that you worked as hard as you could to prepare for that moment, and nothing you do a the last second can change that.
     
  3. emanuela

    emanuela New Member

    Porfirio,
    wow .... lovely performance. I have a question though, did the lady in the red and black dress fall in the small video? Did the other couple bump them?
     
  4. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    There's a book called A Soprano on Her Head that gives a lot of information on performance anxiety and ways of dealing with it. It's geared towards musicians but the techniques can be applied to any sort of performance. It's definitely one of the best books out there on dealing with performance anxiety.
     
  5. Lockstep

    Lockstep New Member

    experience, practice...if you're confident in a situation the nerves will get less...

    used to be horrid at 'public speaking', but over the past 2-3 years been doing it more and more for larger audiences, of hundreds even, and nerves dont really bother me that much anymore...

    of course, on the short run, that's litttle use eh? :?
     
  6. Porfirio Landeros

    Porfirio Landeros New Member

    She and I got bumped... so all i could do was pick her up and keep going.
     
  7. emanuela

    emanuela New Member

    ... oh, sorry ... :( ... does that happen frequently? And does it influence the score?
     
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. It was a beautiful recovery. 8)

    When I'm doing public speaking, I like to arrive early and practice, if possible, in the room where I'm scheduled to speak. Or, if that's not possible, I like to :press the flesh" a bit -- meet people and chat to work off some of my nervous energy.

    Does that work for dancing, as well, in your experience?
     
  9. emanuela

    emanuela New Member

    Uh? :? ... were you two dancing together?
     
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    :? No. If only! *swoon* 8) I just watched the video.
     
  11. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Porfirio Landeros . . . great recovery!!!
     
  12. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    Thats why I need to do rounds and go to LOTS of comps (like a comp every month!).

    I used to completely blank out when I would get to the competition floor. I just couldn't think of the all the things that I need to think about while dancing. I was not able to feel the music, or have any kind of feelings at all (besides fear). My brain would just turn off.
    I would have a ver minimal performance - showing whats left I after I mess up everything I possibly can:).
    I don't know how I'd do if I was a guy: I wouldn't be able to think about floorcraft.

    I'm doing much better now. Experience.

    One thing that helps is concentrating on communicating with my partner and trying to notice only him and no one else in the room.
     
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I've often wondered how you deal when you're the one leading. Muscle memory? :?
     
  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I'd like to pass on something that I learned a very long time ago . . .

    What you will learn is absolute coolness in a split second. Learning it takes less than a minute. Practicing could take days, weeks, months, or even years until you believe that it works.

    I went from absolute peeing my pants just before a comp to the coolest of cucumbers!

    This is mind-visualization, so you may want to close your eyes while you learn. After some time, the coolness will arrive in an instant.

    Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and relax. Read carefully, because at a specific number, you will do something different.

    You will slowly count backwards from ten to one:

    - at 10, think of the hottest color you can imagine. Dark, dark red works great. Feel the great heat associated with that color in your mind. See it!

    - at 9, decrease that dark, dark red, to a vivid red (what ever color you make up). Feel the heat, slightly less that at 10. See it!

    - at 8, go to a dark orange, but lighter than that of the above color. Feel the associated warmth with that color. See it!

    (Getting the idea of this yet? Don’t go down to a cooler color shade until you actually feel each color decreasing in temperature.

    - at 7, lighten that orange, real light, and feel it. See it!

    - at 6, really lighten that color . . . Yellow-orange works good. Feel the warmness. See it!

    - at 5, lighten it more, moving to a shade of green maybe. No more warmth, start feeling just a normal green-grass feeling temperature for you. See it!

    - at 4 , go to a blue-green color. Feel it. See it.

    - at 3 go to a blue, AND AS SOON AS YOU SEE THAT COLOR . . . PUT THE TIPS OF THE THUMB, INDEX FINGER, AND MIDDLE FINGER TOGETHER (anyway you like). . . Ring finger and little finger is rolled lightly into your palm. Keep this hand like this until the exercise is over.

    - at 2, go to very light blue. Feel that coolness. SEE THAT COOLNESS.

    - at 1, go to the coolest color that you can muster up, the thought of ice blue, almost white, works for me. Feel the absolute coolness. See it.

    Hold this for a few seconds as you visualize the coolness. Open your eyes.

    Now, I said that it takes a split second to be cool, and it does. If you practice this several times a day, over a few months, pretty soon all you will have to do to get cool is . . . HONEST . . . “Put those three fingers together.” This mental note to your brain will take your brain through the ten steps in an instant without actually doing it. It will immediately take you to 1 . . . And take you to coolness. You will actually feel a lightness associated with the coolness - it’s you relaxing!

    With practice, you’ll be able to walk out to the floor to compete, and as you are being introduced, you secretly put your fingertips together, and you will relax. You can use either hand. But be consistent. You have to visualize all of this wile learning. Believe in it, because it works.
     
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    This is great, Vince! :D You rock! :notworth:
     
  16. Kuriin

    Kuriin New Member

    Rehearsing what you're going to perform over and over will usually defeat the nervous thing. The reason people are nervous is because they think they might forget something.

    When I took my Introduction to Dance Composition (creating choreography), I was so nervous because I hadn't rehearsed my studies much. Eventually, later in the semester, I started to rehearse quite a lot, which scored me perfect grades on every study after. :p

    You can also center yourself. I do suggest for any dancer to read: An Intimate Act of Choreography because it will teach you so many things.
     
  17. randomMysh

    randomMysh New Member

    For me, itt helps to shut out the audience and focus on my partner and the music.
     
  18. Yliander

    Yliander Member

    no matter how much i have practiced and rehearsed i still get horrifically nervous when competing at in competitions, for performances I get less nervous.

    in addition to lots of practise and training leading up to the event.

    On the day, i repeat the mantra "It's all good if we don't fall over" and just before going onto the floor - take a minute to just breathe and as we make our way onto the floor I focus completely on my partner and the music, blocking out the audience and focus on the dancing and enjoy the best thing about comps - having so much more floor space than on a social floor :D
     
  19. johns

    johns New Member

    For me, I have found a combination of attitude and experience removes most of the jitters.

    First the attitude part: When I enter a competition, the only person I'm competing against is myself. My goal is to perform well, and I have absolutely no control over who shows up in my heats or how they dance. Hopefully I'll do better each time I'm out on the floor. Sometimes I learn something instead :) At the end of the day, I enter competitions for the enjoyment of the experience. So I relax, do my best at that moment, and have fun.

    Now for the experience part: Over the years, I've participated in various activities that put me in front of an audience. I studied classical piano when I was younger, so there were piano recitals. I sang in choirs, then singing groups, and studied solo vocal performance for a little while. In graduate school, I presented papers at research conferences. As a practicing engineer, I give technical presentations. And, now, as a relatively new ballroom dancer, I dance in front of judges and audiences at competitions.

    One of the common threads through all this experience is that I make mistakes - sometimes big ones. I've lost my way during a piano recital. I've hit wrong notes, even babbled nonsense words without knowing it, when singing. I've said some stupid things in technical talks, or inadvertently lead an audience to a wrong conclusion that takes a long time to correct. I've forgotten choreography, lead a partner through out-of-syllabus steps in syllabus competition, even blanked out on what _were_ the legal, more advanced steps for a particular dance.

    While I felt mortified at first, the reality is I didn't drop dead on the spot. Nobody criticized me. My friends didn't leave me, my family didn't disown me. There weren't really any adverse consequences other than what I did to myself.

    All of this helps me to relax and not worry about the small, or sometimes large, errors. Mistakes will happen. Sometimes they're within your control, sometimes not - such as couple crashing into you. All you can do is try to recover quickly and cleanly and move on.

    Here's a little example. While dancing Salsa recently, a partner inadvertently knocked my glasses askew, nearly sending them to the floor. What to do? I needed both hands to quickly straighten them, and one was already free. What can you easily dance with no hand connection? We transitioned into something like a chase in Cha Cha (really just a basic that moved forward and back), I put my glasses back on right, lead a cross body lead, and we moved on. This wasn't the result of a lot of careful analysis on the spot, just a quick reaction and recovery, both of which are easier if you're not stressed too much. Experience helps here too - lots of things happen at the practice parties at the studio, and each time you try to handle them you get a little better at it.

    Do I still get nervous on occasion? Yes. The most notable case was at a competition last summer, which was a couple of weeks after the most gruelling coaching on technique I've ever had. As my partner and I positioned ourselves on the floor for the second dance in a two-dance competition, I looked up to see that we'd just set ourselves up right in front of that coach. My partner sensed I was getting nervous, smiled at me and told me to relax and just dance as we had in practice. We did, and when reviewing the video after the competition, saw that we performed our Swing better in this instance than elsewhere in the competition.

    One other approach I take to competitions: about a week before the event, I mark out in my head all the things that I know I'm not doing right but that I can't reasonably correct before the competition. Once I've come to terms with the fact that they'll be room for future improvement, I stop worrying about them and focus on doing what I do know as well as I can.

    I don't pretend to think that any of this will help, but it's what I do.

    - John
     
  20. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo New Member

    I have performed a faux "flamenco"(it was actually a combination of very fast salsa shines!) in front of 600 people, modeled in front of an audience of hundreds, and sing in front of groups large and small every month with my current band. The secret to me relieving the initial jitters is to just get into it and start having FUN! I find if there is an audience of people who just aren't getting into it(and this does happen!), I focus on something far away from the audience(a poster in the back of the room for example) and just try to enjoy myself!
    And Johns is absolutely correct about attitude and experience! :D
     

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