Wellness Tool: Program Your Brain
We know that dancers rehearse in order to build muscle memory, master choreography, and to be prepared to perform onstage. And, the better the quality of the rehearsal, the better the quality of the performance, generally. We wouldn't expect anything stupendous out of a piece that had scant rehearsal time.
But when it comes to the mind, there's rarely any rehearsal time allotted. Instead, the mind is left to wander aimlessly and it usually dreams up catastrophic failures and drama. That barrage of worst-case scenarios then leads to heightened anxiety and fear, which will not help deliver the beautiful performance that your dancer has been rehearsing for weeks. In fact, an unleashed mind can undermine all of that hard work.
Let's agree on a shift: pre-performance is a time for the mind to focus as intently as the body and to replace worst-case scenarios with the exact opposite. How do you do that?
Mental rehearsal is one tried and true method. Michael Phelps, the gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer has been "playing the video" of himself winning since he started competing years ago. His coach taught him how to mentally rehearse his swim meets, from the night before, all the way through to the win.
The result is that leading up to the meet, as well as on the day of, Phelps is not worried. He knows exactly what to do in his mind and body. He's not looking around at the other swimmers or letting his mind wander. After going through his pre-meet physical routine, he puts his music on and plays the videotape in his head. In every video, he moves through the water exactly as he has been trained to do. He keeps his mind calm and focused. And he wins. He always wins in his mental video.
Dancers can use this tool to envision themselves dancing their upcoming roles, from backstage preparation all the way through to the curtain call. Every moment should be "seen" in the mind, as if it's happening in real time. If mistakes are made, they can be "erased" and done again until the choreography looks the way the dancer wants it to.
In so doing, your dancer is programming her mind for the best possible outcome- a performance as close to what she desires as possible. Onstage, her body is able to execute on her training without her mind getting in the way with self-doubt and distracting fears.
Now *that* is being fully prepared for success!
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For a personalized talk-through of mental rehearsal, as well as access to all of my mental fitness tools for dancers, please schedule a Discovery Session with me. We will talk about how I can work with your dancer to combat performance anxiety and get ready for winter auditions.
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