If you’re a part of the class of dancers who live for the large floor, sparkling colors and flashy performances, you might go through something like this around an event like Showcase:
The Build Up
You set your goal of being everything you can be. You visualize it. Imagine the music, the storey-telling. Plans are made, excitement is soaring: you look forward to everything about that day (or days) and can’t wait to live in each moment!
Making the steps and the connection feel right is hard, and you may worry that stagnation is creeping in on your piece of art, making it not everything you wished it could be for this occasion, but your partner or teacher tells you it’s going to be alright, that it will all work out. You try not to be nervous.
In the last and final practices of your routines and dramatic finishes, you find those big moments finally making sense! The dips land right, the lifts are smoother than ever before and you finally figured out why that one trouble spot in the routine felt off (and corrected it)! Flying high, you can’t wait to see everyone’s faces as you take your bow and walk off the floor…
This is the part of your event story when you regret that the idea of performing ever even entered your mind and you want to go back on everything you’ve ever said about wanting to get on that floor. Dancers of all levels experience some degree of this emotion before each performance. Even the best can sometimes have it the worst, but no matter who you are, nerves are a part of the dancer lifestyle. The important thing is to remain calm and focus on your work of art! After all, you’ve prepared well. There’s no need to let fears get in your way.
Ahhhhhhhh, the stomach dropping as the music from the rutine before you fades away. The sensation of wanting to run screaming. The embarrassment of being in front of so many people. Being convinced that your routine or show-piece isn’t anywhere good enough for this crowd. Then, deciding to dance for you and your partner and falling into the familiar flow of your chosen music. Getting to the end without breaking anyone’s leg or falling down, and bowing to actual applause! It’s over! Feeling so thankful when you finish with a flourish and everyone is clapping.
So many emotions after its all through! Congratulations from people all throughout the rest of the night, some you don’t even know! Hugs and handshakes from dancers you respect and train beside. Happiness. Joy. Gratitude. Giddiness. The desire to do it again… Everyone laughs with you about how much fun this whole night is and what craziness it took to prepare and pull off! You’re so happy your piece is over and you get to relax and enjoy in a whole new way.
Much as you want to talk about your performance all night and day, your fellow dancers have experienced their own achievements being realized and their own fears faced, some for the first time. You have to come down from your high a bit to listen and support them in theirs. It’s the good-sportsmanship in you, besides; they supported you, too!
After a long and harrowing distance, you’ve achieved a goal, reached a dream, checked something off the list and really accomplished something extraordinary. You feel great, and everyone around you feels great. It’s great. You take a deep breath, as it starts to sink in. It’s over .
The event is in the past. The pictures will immortalize it forever. The videos have already been watched a dozen times in two days. Normal life is pushing in on you with it’s… normal-ness. You miss the lights. The tablecloths. The glamor. Normal life is kind of dull, at least visually. You look around your workplace, but your mind is still glimpsing images of swirling dresses and expanded frames… echoes of catchy quickstep music still replay in your head… You think to yourself that you should have done a quickstep, two… maybe next time. Sigh, but next time seems so far away! You wish fervently that you could have a night like that every weekend! Dazzle the audience every time with your spins and points! Why do events have to be so amazing and then… be over?!
To be perfectly honest, these are feelings every earnest dancer goes through. Whether they dance for a living or just for fun, they have to navigate these emotional peaks and valleys.
Handling these stages might look something like this…
The Build Up : Set a goal that is in your heart. Something you truly desire to work for. Dream with passion and vigor.
The Work : Take this project seriously so as to not waste you or your partner’s time. Be a fervent worker and practice .
The Breakthrough : No matter what, focus on the good. Use the moments when it all comes together to propel you further forward into a better challenge! Always move forward.
The Fear : When you want to quit, say this to yourself: “I’ll quit after.” Works every time.
The Performance : Let go of the people watching, don’t worry about who sees what. Just dance with your partner and love every second of it! This is what you showed up for.
The High : Remember to accept everyone’s words with positivity. Be courteous, thank them, don’t go on and on about how awful you think you were because you’re embarrassed about the attention, just be polite and gracious. Enjoy your personal win!
The Handoff : When your fellow dancers have taken their bows, make sure you give them the same glory they gave you. Tell them what you liked about their dancing, and make their moment in the spotlight as awesome as yours!
The Rest : Once it’s all said and done, you can enjoy the general glamor of the event. Take the time to think about why you love these performance opportunities. Watch the transformation of the dancers around you as they gain in confidence and experience. You were once like them. This is a wonderful way of growing and becoming the dancer you always wanted to be. Rest and appreciate everything around you. Be in the moment!
The Crash : There is only one cure for the depression which follows the end of a big event. One single cure for the sadness, loss of direction and purpose which engulfs a serious dance-lover… Another Build Up, and a new plan for your next performance.
So set up your next plan! A new goal! Don’t let the crash get you, but instead use it as a way to push on towards your next big high… and another great achievement.