There is little more stressful than the sight of your child getting anxious before a dance competition. Especially when, just days ago, you couldn’t stop them from dancing round their bedroom until you thought the ceiling was going to cave in. Stage fright can affect dancers of all ages, and street dance competitions can be tough to take when a dancer suffers from this. Sometimes, it’s not enough to remind them that it isn’t all about winning; it can take a little more to truly calm a worried dancer. Here are our top tips on how to deal with dance nerves.
Whether your child is 5 or 15, their focus is key. Remind your child that, ultimately, they are dancing because they enjoy it. What’s more, by dancing at a street dance competition they enrich the overall event; each dancer adds value, by bringing joy to their audience. If they’re a visual learner, why not encourage them to visualize the routine as they’ve learnt in in class? It will help to keep them calm as they walk through each step in their head.
Dispel any thoughts of self-doubt through reassurance and relaxation. You know what they say in yoga class: breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Long, calm breaths can help to relax the body, and focus the mind. Keep reminding your child why they love to dance, focusing on the positives of the event, and why they’ll do well regardless of the outcome.
Within the studio, this means maintaining a strong work ethic leading up to a Regional, European, or World Championships. To help at home, try asking a teacher to record a routine in rehearsal, so that your child can repeatedly watch the dance if they start to feel stressed. On the day of competition, try to avoid too much sugar or caffeine, and instead opt for plenty of fruit or veg-based snacks to fuel your child’s mind and body.
Anxiety -- Excitement
Many people who suffer from anxiety and performance nerves can find that channeling that energy into excitement actually helps their performance, and this was supported by a study from Harvard University in 2013. Try and change their perception of nerves to be excitement, encouraging them to embrace and overcome their feelings.
Nerves can never be avoided, and we’re always on the lookout for the best ways to cope with nervous energy. Championships are such exciting events, and we would hate for any child or young person to miss out due to nerves. If you have any advice that you’d like to offer, let us know on social media!
Author: Hannah Evans.
Hannah has taught dance classes to children and young people of all ages, organised full-scale dance productions, and helped many an anxious dancer deal with stage fright.