Even the most veteran of performers can suffer from nerves before hitting the stage. While most of us feel most at home in front of a crowd once we're there, sometimes the wait to go on can be uneasy.
Breathing with intention is a simple way to calm this stage fright. According to Psychology Today, deep breathing, specifically through the diaphragm, can activate the vagus nerve, and trigger the "relaxation response" of your parasympathetic nervous system and lessen anger, anxiety, stress and even inflammation.
Your pulse is racing. Your mouth feels dry. You can't stop sweating even though you feel cold. But what's most worrying is that you can't stop your hands and knees from trembling, even though you're only moments away from stepping on stage.
Performance anxiety can sabotage even the most talented dancers. Studies suggest that at least 50 percent of all performing artists—regardless of experience level—suffer from serious stage fright.
Which is why we're excited to hear that, in collaboration with edX, Juilliard just launched a series of online courses, and one of the first is "Conquering Performance Anxiety." Taught by Juilliard professor and sport psychologist Dr. Noa Kageyama, the class will cover mental techniques used by top athletes and musicians: strategies for staying in "the zone," insight on how to overcome mistakes on stage, tips for silencing self-doubt and more.
Unfortunately, unlike regular edX classes, the course is not free: It's a steep $497 for six weeks. But although it's targeted to musicians, the syllabus looks very much applicable to any performing artist, including dancers.