It's the day of the show. You've rehearsed countless hours and meticulously developed your character, and you're ready to make it count. It's time to get into the right headspace without "getting in your head." Time to transform naturally without overthinking it. For all the artistry that leads to this moment, getting into character can be an art form in itself, unique to each dancer but resting on some common principles.
Get Grounded<p>The foundation of a great performance starts before setting foot in the theater or on set. It's about finding your (mental) center, whatever that looks like for you.</p><p>While driving to set, Mollee Gray, a Los Angeles–based dancer and "So You Think You Can Dance" alum, loves to turn up the volume and sing loudly to country music. This serves a double purpose, waking up her vocal chords and taking her to her happy place, so that once she arrives she's ready for anything—which is especially helpful when filming scenes out of order.</p><p>For Broadway dancer Morgan Marcell, preshow meditation creates a clean slate. "It's really important for me to be in a mental space that's able to accept new things, because then I'm able to make decisions as the character more freely," she says. If she's in a distracting location, like a crowded train, she might listen to music or a podcast that the character would listen to. "It gives you a baseline, a mood you've set for yourself," she says.</p><p>Viktorina Kapitonova, principal dancer with Boston Ballet, takes quiet time at home before a show. "I lay down and visualize the performance," she says, "mentally playing the role, feeling her emotions, her thoughts, stepping into her mind."</p>
Viktorina Kapitonova in Boston Ballet's Giselle
Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet