3 Ways to Use Audition Nerves to Your Advantage


t doesn’t matter how long you’ve been performing, every dancer gets the jitters here and there—even us Rockettes! Nerves can really take center stage when you audition, and the stakes seem higher considering a positive result could put you on a fast track to accomplishing your dreams. But a little extra adrenaline from your nervousness can actually give your performance a beneficial edge. Here are three ways you can use your nerves to your advantage during your audition:

Visualize. Imagining yourself giving the performance of your life in the role you are auditioning for may seem a bit over-the-top, especially if you’ve never tried visualization before. But elite athletes and sports psychologists swear by this technique.

The key is to block out distractions to use your mind’s eye to visualize. Envision the stage and the audience in as much detail as possible. Think about how you’re feeling before the audition and how you would feel standing on the stage during the show. Give yourself the confidence to know that you can and will captivate the audience.

Breathe. Most dancers are given orders to “breathe!” all the time. When it comes to relieving nervousness, it’s not about controlling your breath but letting your breathing send your brain the right kind of signals.

Take a few moments to just breathe before you take the stage for your audition piece. Focus only on your breath. Relax your face, your jaw, and even your tongue. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth about 10 times. Drawing air nasally triggers the parasympathetic nervous response—fancy words meaning it brings your stress levels back to normal—allowing you to think more clearly. Without forcing it, let your breath get slower and deeper each time so that both you and your brain can make an entrance.

Be optimistic. Whether you’re out there dancing in a group audition or in a solo performance, knowing you’re being evaluated by the casting staff, other dancers and whoever else is in the room is a recipe for anxiety. If imagining them in their underwear isn’t exactly working for you, here’s a little secret: the casting staff wants you to do well.

Too often we think about adjudicators as ogres with a recording device and a red pen, ready to slash points from your score if so much as a bobby pin is out of place. Actually, they’re performers like you with feelings and emotions. Picture them as your own, personal cheering squad and suddenly they’re not so scary after all. In fact, even if everyone in the audience isn’t rooting for you the way the staff is, pretend they are. This little trick will not only calm fears but boost your confidence.

Audition now through February 3!

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