The 5 biggest mistakes dancers make when preparing for majors
Preparing for majors is hard work. There are a few times a year when dancers are balancing classes, school work, a social life, and extra-curricular activities, and something has to give. Same goes for parents – you’re driving to extra lessons, managing a schedule, and usually caring for a stressed out dancer who is working their hardest for those few minutes on stage. It’s also the time when every little stressor is amplified, nerves run raw, and silly mistakes happen.
These are the five biggest mistakes dancers make when preparing for majors.
Not having a balanced fitness plan
Going to class twice a week and then vegging out at home is not going to leave you in tip top shape. According to Conor Ayres, ADCRG at the Christine Ayres School, “It’s not enough to exclusively practise your dances and perfect your steps.” Ayres adds, “Dancers should be listening to their bodies and making sure they are healthy – this includes regular physio/massage, eating properly, going to the gym/pilates/yoga.” It might add something to your packed schedule, but it will be worth it.
Many dancers are working so hard and pushing their bodies so much that they burn out before the big day. Irish dance fitness coach and personal trainer Frances Dunne of Fitness Formula Irish Dance has seen it all too often. “Many dancers will keep working themselves into the ground and not allow themselves enough rest. They forget that recovery plays a crucial part in getting stronger and fitter!” Regardless of what your class schedule is like, you need to carve out recovery days to keep your body, and your mind, in good shape.
Comparing yourself to your competition
Countless hours have been wasted thinking about what your competitors are doing, but Ayres sums it up perfectly when she says, “Just think about you.” She goes on to say, “Think about your own preparation and how you are dancing. No one else you are competing against should matter. If you have done your own preparation that is right for you, and have the confidence that you will dance the best you can, that’s enough.”
Putting too much pressure on themselves
Putting too much pressure on your performance or result is the fastest way to get inside your head and turn competing into a stressful, negative experience, rather than a positive one. Dunne points out, “This has negative effects both mentally and physically, and will stop you from getting into peak condition!” This is where having positive forces around a dancer, like supportive parents and a great teacher, are really important.
Assuming it will be right on the day
The opposite of putting too much pressure on yourself is taking a laissez faire approach to competition. Not putting in the extra work, or fixing corrections is just as damaging as overworking. “Dancers can’t just “wing it” on the day of the competition, so when your teacher gives you a correction to work on…work on it til it’s competition ready” says Ayres.
So there you have it – now you know what not to do before a major. Have you ever found yourself making these mistakes? Did your results suffer as a consequence? Share your experience and the lessons you’ve learnt in the comments below.