Cheeks deepening, heart thumping. Nope, you're not feeling the adrenaline rush of getting ready to perform – you done goofed.
As dancers, we go through a lot of embarrassing moments.
(See Related Article: Dancers Share Their Most Embarrassing Moments)
But, these moments aren't the end-all and be-all for our dance careers! It's important to utilize those mishaps to propel our growth instead.
You can practice again and again for a piece you are about to cast, but as prepared as you may be, your nerves can overpower your hours of practice, causing you to draw a blank while casting (seriously, brain? You just had it).
When this happens, it becomes an immediate, futile struggle of figuring out when to catch up to the choreography. Choreography, 1. Me, 0.
Make sure you have ample time to review and practice performing the piece, by improving your pickup.
(See Related Article: 5 Dance Tips For Picking Up Choreography Faster)
Your choreography pickup speed is important, because once you have a good handle on the moves, you can focus on feeling comfortable with it.
Make the piece muscle memory and focus your energies on performing!
Similar to that of blanking while casting but worse, this is when remembering those 4-counts suddenly becomes an immense difficulty, despite you being able to do the choreography backwards and in your sleep.
You begin rationalizing with yourself, in hopes it wasn't obvious to begin with, but your teammates are the first to point out what is already blatantly noticeable to you when the performance video is released.
I've gone on autopilot on stage after this happened to me once, going through the motions for the rest of the performance (but mostly just focusing on the fact that I had just completely forgot 3 counts on stage). Choreography, 2. Me, 0.
Similar to feeling comfortable with the piece/set, you can help yourself perform optimally by getting rid of those pre-performance jitters.
(See Related Article: How To Deal With Pre-Performance Jitters For Dancers)
There are a lot of ways to not feel stressed about the movement.
You can listen to the set mix a million times, each time consciously imagining yourself on stage, performing your best.
And every time you do a run-through with your team, (or when you practice on your own), execute each time as you hope to do so on stage.
Unless you’re an amazing dancer from the get-go and get placed in the front constantly, the majority of us have had our dance careers begin from the back corner of a formation.
While we should be thankful to be casted in pieces to begin with, the immediate thought that comes to mind at times, is that being back corner means you’re unseen, and makes you feel ‘unnecessary’ to a formation. (#backcornersolidarity)
Every. single. person. on the team plays a huge role in the set.
Whether you're front and center or touching the back of the stage, you play a piece in the big picture that the set is creating at that moment.
And if you think no one can see you – trust me, they can! In fact, judges often watch the dancers in the back/corners for their scoring.
If this knowledge isn't enough, you should talk to the choreographer/whoever blocked the piece and ask for tips on how to execute that type of piece better, for the next time you cast.
Whether it was implied or said explicitly, the aftershock of this is possibly the most intense. As dancers we already have an idea of what we need to improve on, but it’s never pleasant to find out someone agrees with you, or worse: that they see faults in something you thought you were excelling at. Oh, the harsh subjectivity.
How can you be "not good enough" when you're the only person doing what you're doing?
There's no one to compare to but yourself – every dancer, every individual has a unique and personal style and set of goals.
A lot of this negative, self-deprecatory exists in your head, and in your head only. Fight those thoughts with these quotes:
(See Related Article: Quotes To Help You Overcome Your Dance Fears And Live A Creative Life)
This one can be pretty rough, especially for those who are trying to actively pursue dance as a career and are waiting for their ‘big break’, or those who are turned away from teams they have idolized.
Regardless of how significant this opportunity was for you, feeling rejected requires time to recover from. (The sad reality is that some of this time spent recovering from rejection is also spent subconsciously feeling bitter.)
Hey, not every team is for every dancer. And not every opportunity is good for you.
Keep things in persepctive, with these points:
(See Related Article: How To Cope With Not Making Your “Dream” Dance Team)
Ah yes, the all-too familiar feelings of inadequacy. I feel as though I've spent more time in this space than I have feeling like a decent dancer (which I think is an important learning tool), but most of us have felt this before, and it is undoubtedly uncomfortable feeling the weight of this ‘inadequacy’.
Take note of what your insecurities are, not as things to cry about, but as things to work on.
If you view every weakness as an opportunity to get stronger, not only will your self-image improve, it'll offer you tangible goals to target.
(See Related Article: How To Get Out Of That Weakest Link Mentality As A Dancer)
Clearly a hyperbole, but you get the idea - sometimes taking classes can make you feel so incredibly small. Motivated as heck, but still...so very small.
The first time I sauntered the halls of Debbie Reynolds, I (got lost looking for the restroom) felt as though I was in way over my head; how could I take class amongst these individuals, the laissez-faire regulars that seemingly treat the classes I was struggling to keep up with as a class to 'brush up on basics'? Choreography, 3. Me, 0.
Get familiar, get comfortable, in every setting. Get to know the dancers around you, the staff, the choreographers, etc.
Feeling supported by the environment you're in will not only make the process more fun, it'll remind you that every single person you come across is trying to learn and grow in some way.
Though you may feel defeated and insecure at times, even the most challenging choreography will seem like a task worth tackling if you have the right people cheering you on.
(See Related Article: If Your Dance Team Was A Woman…This Is How She Would Make You Feel)
Dance is a craft. Hours must be put in to fine-tune our craft, but the reality is, we spend our time practicing to prevent the embarrassment of forgetting choreo, making mistakes, or even feeling inadequate along the way.
Thus, we feel handicapped when faced with a spontaneous moment of discouragement. And while we cannot change nor prevent whatever embarrassing situation we face, we can change our attitude towards it.
I’m not saying we should go about forcing a smile on our faces, suppressing lingering feelings of humiliation after we go through any of the above.
Give yourself a specific time frame to acknowledge the situation and how it really made you feel. In this space, you don’t have to make excuses for yourself - feel what you want to feel.
Then allow yourself to realize that life can be backwards and sometimes, in order to progress, you might have to take several steps backwards.
Feeling like you’re in retrograde is never a great feeling, but to channel the moments where you may feel downtrodden into fuel for self growth is to choose to make the best of whatever situation comes your way.
I mean, if at first you don’t succeed, right?Did something specific happen that was embarrassing, funny, or embarrassingly funny? Share your story and leave a comment below! Still uncomfortable with taking class? You can learn from lots of dope instructors at STEEZY Studio.. straight from your living room!