When The Steps Count!

Author: Alexandra Salerno, MS, NCC

And a 5-6-7-8! . . . For performers and dancers, part of the training process involves learning basic fundamentals in order to build on artistic skills. Basic fundamentals allow a performer to expand their knowledge of the activity they are preparing for (a dance concert) and mold them into becoming experts in their ability (technique; turns). In some ways, the mental aspect can be more challenging that the physicality of the sport.

Here are five quick mental training skills that can be helpful when preparing for your next performance, audition, or class!

1. Gauge Your Fuel – It’s important to receive adequate nutrition and sleep in order to perform at your best. Think about what might happen if you attend a lengthy audition without eating something for the day. How might we perform differently when our body and brain are fueled versus running on empty? Try it: Visualize a fuel gauge – are you empty? full? somewhere in the middle?

2. Take a Deep Breath – Stress is a response the body receives when it is beginning to feel overwhelmed. Taking three breaths can help to calm our breathing, lower our heart rate to a steady pace, and allow us to feel grounded. Try it: Close your eyes and focus on your inhales and exhales. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your nose. Repeat 3-5 times. Place your hand over your heart – what do you notice? 

3. Self-Talk Service – We may not be able to control every thought that comes into our mind, and we are able to control which ones we listen and respond to. Create a mantra for yourself that is reinforcing and positive such as; “trust your training, “you’ve got this,” or “control the controllables.”

You can also use a “power word” to represent a characteristic you believe to be true about yourself. For example, “humble,” or “resilient.”

4. Go for a Goal – Creating a goal can help you to focus on accomplishing a skill, technique, or even hitting a high note. Think about one goal you would like to accomplish every class or at an audition. Keep it small and simple!

5. Connect to Confidence – You’ve worked hard for this moment! Allow yourself to be fully present, regardless of the outcome. Check-in on your confidence level and trust your truth; you have a unique set of skills that set you apart from the rest.

Remember the more you practice, the more engrained and simple these skills will become.   

– Make it Great!