Anxiety and self-doubt are common before a performance. Even your most seasoned performers continue to experience it, especially presenting a piece for the first time. Why? It means we care. It means that the performance has significance to us. These are all good things.
So how can we parlay our anxiety and doubt into something useful that will help us on stage? It’s about mindset. We have to use these things to help us get that slight edge to get to the finish line at our best. This is eustress which is a good kind of stress. Use it to help motivate you to get a better grip on your choreography. The more you practice the more you can just dance and not think about the counts. The more you practice, the more you can just feel the rhythms and story.
Most of us, when we practice, spend a lot of time counting – especially for group performances. Counting helps us to be on the same page so we can create synchronicity and clarity in the piece. As you are playing the music and counting, you are also training your brain at the same time to hear the rhythm in the music so that when you stop counting, your body will dance on time.
It can be hard to let go of the drive to count and to do a piece perfectly. Once you do, a lot of the anxiety will dissipate. Know that mistakes may happen. This is part of the live performance. Give yourself a break, a little love and forgiveness as well. You are going to do your best. Get out there and perform your ass off and let the cards fall as they may.