Nerves During Performances

At long last, I’m gearing up for another ballet performance! The part I missed most during the Corona Virus pandemic is performing. Looking back and thinking about all the performances I’ve been in over the years has made me think about my nerves before a show.

Nerves are something that I always get, really everyone gets nerves, especially if there is a big role. Now, there is a difference between positive and negative nerves. Positive nerves can be confused with excitement, and often they are the same thing. The feeling of: I can’t believe this is happening, or: I can’t wait to start. This feeling can fuel your technique and help you perform at your best ability. However, negative nerves do the opposite. Thinking: I’m not going to do it right, or: I’ll mess up. Almost every time, what we think of ourselves turns out being true. If we think we are going to perform poorly, the performance ends up looking pretty poor.

The first important thing to evaluate about your nerves is what type of nerves you get. It’s okay if you get bad nerves, but you need to realize that they will not serve you. To get rid of bad nerves, the best thing to do is to get into the mindset of having positive nerves. In my experience, the best way to do this is to distract yourself from negative thoughts by focusing on all the fun parts of performing. Talk with friends while warming up, enjoy being backstage, and remind yourself to have fun. Once you have done this, run your variation/pas de duex/ensemble piece in your head, going through it step by step, and visualize what you want to happen. If you mentally make a mistake, start over and visualize it until your visualization is perfect. During this time you can get out all the self corrections and break down your dancing. This helps you to not think: I’m going to mess up, and instead think: I know what to do.

Once you’ve done this, you are no longer in a negative mindset. Another thing that helps is accepting that nerves are actually helpful. Again, nerves are the same as extreme excitement. This excitement can drive you into a further state of focus, and can help you perform at your peak.

There isn’t much else to say, other than remember when performing, have so much fun. Hopefully we’ll all be able to perform soon!

Kai out!