Last week, I wrote a post about my anxiety when it comes to dance competitions and how it affects me. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out here…When anxiety hits…
I thought I’d post an update on the comp and how I felt I coped with my nerves!
Mentally preparing for competitions is pretty much just as important as physically preparing. Having experienced the nerves, dizziness, palpitations and so on at the side of the competition floor, I have been determined to find a way to beat the nerves despite the fact they seem to be caused by this ‘general’ anxiety as opposed to situational …. there’s nothing tangible to try and sort out or get over….my anxiety happens without warning and sometimes without logical reason.
On Sunday, I attended the ISTD regional qualifier event in Lymington. I have danced at this venue before and won the ballroom round but wasn’t too happy with how I danced. When anxiety kicks in I lock up in my arms, neck and my body doesn’t move how I want it to. In the past, I have been guilty of saying ahead of an event, ‘Oh I was 5th at that comp, I MUST come 4th or above at the next one’ and so on. Reality is, that puts unnecessary pressure on me which does not help at all. Yet another thing to stress about doesn’t bode well for a positive mindset on the day! I want to go out and dance to win, but I accept that I cannot control who else is on the floor that day and whether the judges at that event will notice me or like what I am doing. That doesn’t make it easier initially at the event when the recall doesn’t happen but you get past that or give up! 8 years on and I’m still dancing!
We arrived at the competition early as I usually do as I prefer to know we’re not sat stressing in traffic or searching for parking and so on! This time, my Mum and youngest Sister were in tow as cheerleaders – neither of whom have seen me dance at a competition before so that was good!
After getting changed, getting my number on my back and having a quick practice I tried to keep the nerves at bay by not sitting still for too long or standing in one place for too long either. This sounds odd, but moving around obviously keeps the legs warmed up, but it means I wasn’t sat stressing. As my Silver, Over 35s round approached I stood at the back of the hall, looked at up to the ceiling, closed my eyes for a second and took a few long deep breaths and visualised my last dance lesson. I opened my eyes and actually felt pretty calm! I was on my own and focused and that’s all I needed. Don’t get me wrong….I was full of excitement and good nervous energy but ready to Quickstep!
As I walked onto the floor to lineup before the start of the round, it was instantly apparent that there were three competitors! All three from DanceRite and one being my husband!! Quite a funny situation to be in and with a partner change between myself and another Dancer, Camilla, to share our Teacher, my hubby had to continue dancing whilst we danced half a dance each! Haha! See my Instagram video here!
I must admit, the nerves did kick back in a little as we awaited the results….I placed First which I am thrilled with as I felt I actually danced better than I had previously at a competition…..still with plenty to work on, but enough to be happy with on the day.
The couples Ballroom event was a Waltz which I danced with another DanceRite Dancer, Jess, with me dancing the lead. It was a pretty busy floor and we weren’t recalled to the final but we still held our own in the first round and it’s all good practice for next time!
I was really looking forward to the Latin section as I have been enjoying dancing Rumba recently. It has come up at a few competitions this year so have been putting a lot into it.
Walking onto the floor to line up, not knowing if anyone else would be joining us…..Camilla and I stood there…..with NO other dancers walking on!
So….a final with the two of us…..but needing to share the Teacher! This meant one thing….DEMO! Dancing Rumba with no other couples on the floor is something I have always said ‘I dread the day I am the only one on the floor as I’d totally freak out!!‘
Well….I danced Rumba…..and didn’t freak out at all! I felt completely confident and absolutely loved it! I could hear cheers coming from where the rest of the school were sat, which in the past, would have me embarrassed and shaking with nerves, but it had the total opposite effect and I remember feeling braver. The Judges don’t really need to see much to decide between the two of us so I danced for just over 30 seconds … may not seem like a lot but it was so much fun!
I placed 2nd in that but I take from that round the positive mindset I had and how it felt when I danced, to come off the floor knowing that I had danced well under the exact circumstances that would usually cause extreme anxiety! I would have been annoyed and frustrated had I come off the floor and been cursing myself for mistakes and could have done this…should have done that….nope! I may not have won, but on a personal level I also did. I beat my nerves so that is a personal win for me…..potentially being even more important as that is hopefully something I can take forward to the next competition. I watch the video and spot things that need improving but again, on the day, I’m happy with how it went.
The whole event left me with a really positive outlook for Blackpool in November. I will go there wanting to win…who doesn’t want a sash and trophy??? However, if I can go out onto that beautiful, grand Ballroom floor in the Winter Gardens and dance my absolute best without the usual nerves, I will be happy with that. Right now, for once, I honestly believe that part at least is achievable.
In my previous post I said ‘Dance lessons can prepare me to dance, a spray tan can prepare my skin, makeup, dresses and jewellery can prepare for my appearance on the floor but only I can prepare mentally for the day.’ I’d say this is totally true!
Do you have any methods for overcoming your anxiety?
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