Why it's hard to FOCUS when you perform
"How'd we do coach?!" she asked eager to hear my feedback.
"We have to run it again" I announced to the group of photographers & videographer surrounding the dancers at a Wedding Styled Shoot I was at this past weekend.
Did they do a good job the first time? Yep.
Was there much to improve? Not really.
So why do it again? Because they're going to feel more confident now that they're familiar with the space.
We often think it's ONLY our memory or how conditioned we are that's going to effect our performance but our surroundings are just as important.
When we're in a controlled environment (i.e. our studio), we're familiar with what's around us. But when we're in a new environment that's NOT our usual stage (competition, showcase at another studio...) we suddenly have more stimuli, consciously and subconsciously, into our minds.
Things like the size of the room (small studio vs. huge hotel ballroom), amount of people, the lighting, and the volume of the music can get in the way of being present in our performance.
Luckily there's a few things you can do to help ease your nerves:
Familiarize yourself using your five senses. Observe the space looking at the size of the room and what's in it. What's the temperature? What does it smell like? (Yes, even that!)
Walk through your dances in the space you're performing in. This isn't always an option, but when possible - dance in the space without the pressure of judges, a cheering crowd or pleasing your teacher.
Plan where you will dance. This is something you can do with your instructor if you can dance to the four corners of the room like in competition. When you know where you're starting each dance, you'll have an easier time performing to space as you know what to expect.