Being Prepared: How to Beat Those Pre-Competition Worries


Staff member
Used with full permission by Rachel Holland (also meaning: you can't reproduce this elsewhere without her permission!)

Rachel Holland said:
Dance Today![/i], Jan. 2004]Being Prepared: How to Beat Those Pre-Competition Worries

Competition day approaches and the pressure is starting to mount. Whether you are hoping to repeat your championship status or are competing for the first time, pre-competition jitters will pester even the most experienced of dancers. As you are waiting to perform, are you the dancer whose carefully made-up face is unattractively contorted with tension as your train of thought hurtles along the lines of “If only my shoes weren’t so tight/so big/the wrong colour?” Are you worried if your “bum really will look big in this”? Or dread stepping out on that freshly waxed dance floor that is looking as slippery as a bucket of eels in olive oil? Let's face it, some dancers can handle competitions better than others. But the seasoned dancer has discovered that good preparation is the truly effective way to beat those fears in one's quest for the gold. Learning your routines is taken for granted; your routine should be rehearsed enough to go on stage. And, thankfully, the worst fatalities you can endure are a sprained ankle and ego. However, there are a number of things that you can do to be well prepared for that all-important competition. Failure to prepare is to prepare for failure.
Rachel Holland summarises some tips

:arrow: It’s the attention to detail that can make the difference. At least one week before the big day, ensure you feel completely comfortable in your costume, hair style, make-up and shoes. This will enable you to remedy any small glitches that may come up, such as fixing hemlines, lengthening straps etc
:arrow: Work on ironing out and perfecting those basic technical skills that you’re always corrected on. The more experience you have with competitions, the more corrections you’ve already heard from the judges.
Before your event, try to arrive early...maybe the day before so you have a chance to get your bearings. The need to get used to your surroundings is time well spent.
:arrow: Once you're there, it's a good idea to spend some time in the arena in which you will be doing battle in. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is not seeing the ballroom until the moment they walk onto the floor to compete. Sometimes, due to availability, it is not always possible to be able to practice on the floor. So, during a break, or maybe when the competition has a few general dances, take advantage of this opportunity and step out onto the floor to see what the playing field conditions are like.
:arrow: Always bring a spare costume and, while you're at it, bring it down to the ballroom just in case. The organizer is on a tight schedule and can't always wait for a competitor with costume problems to run up to their room to change. Advice to the gentlemen: black trousers and black underwear will mean less embarrassment, just in case a seam decides to break.
:arrow: Bring along a dancer's tool box, a small container with all of the just-in-case essentials... like an extra pair of tights, safety pins, shoe laces, needle and thread, glue for your shoes
:arrow: NEVER try on your costume for the first time in your room at the competition! This is a set up for sheer disaster! Never try a new look at a major competition. Go with what you know looks good on you and what others have told you looks good on you.
:arrow: Everyone has a different way of getting ready mentally to compete.
Some need to reflect before they compete, review their routines in their head and picture themselves having a perfect performance. They usually are not inclined to socialise much before going onto the floor. For others, they like to relax by being a bit more social, talking to the other competitors and keeping things light before going onto the floor. This is what you need to discover if you haven't already. You need to do whatever you personally are most comfortable with.
X Never purely focus on winning. Instead, concentrate on the experience!
X Don’t forget to rehearse in your performance shoes!
X Never expect the competition schedule to be on time. Timetables set by the competition organizers can be tentatively arranged so you may face small delays
X Don’t wear a “competition face”. Your facial expressions should reflect what the tone of the dance is. No mechanical mouth!
X Never skip a full dress rehearsal because of “lack of time”. This should be a priority.
X Don’t lose your sense of humour! Things will happen; laugh with them. Remember to have fun. It’s all over in the blink of an eye. These are some of the greatest moments of a dancer’s life. Enjoy the experience!

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