Dance Advice

How to tame your nerves at exam time

ballet exams

The big day is fast-approaching, and you’re starting to feel those familiar butterflies in your stomach – so how do you tame those dance exam nerves? Dance Informa offers some helpful tips on how to stay calm.

Practice, practice, practice.

The knowledge that you have done everything you can to prepare for your exam will go a long way toward easing those exam jitters. Rehearse as much as you can in as many different scenarios as possible. Ideally, practice both on your own and in front of your teachers, peers or a small audience. 

Have a routine.

Knowing what’s ahead of you, both the week before and on the day of the exam, will help minimise distractions and give you one less thing to worry about. It will also help you feel in control and self-disciplined, providing a healthy boost of confidence in the lead-up to the exam.

Try to keep your pre-exam routine as normal as possible. Although exam day is a special day, remember that all that is required of you is to do what you do in class every day, nothing more, nothing less.

Remember that nerves are normal.

Even the most experienced performers deal with performance anxiety, so it would be strange if you didn’t feel a little nervous. It simply means that you care.

Normalising and giving yourself permission to explore your feelings will help you to stop thinking about anxiety as a purely negative sensation. After all, those stomach butterflies are also responsible for that rush of excitement that makes performing so much fun!

Be on time.

You will have enough to think about on the day, so don’t throw obstacles to success in your own way. Be on time or, better yet, be a little early. That way, you will give yourself the best chance of avoiding any last-minute issues or mix-ups.

One word of caution – you don’t want to turn up so early that you give yourself time to start worrying. If you’re at all unsure, speak with your teacher. He/she should have a good sense of how much time you will need to get ready.

Be pro-active.

Is something specific the cause of your anxiety? Take charge of the situation.

If you’re worried about the open section, take as many open classes as possible before exam day to improve your skills.

Perhaps it’s pirouettes that are giving you nightmares? If so, devote extra time to practising your turns.

It’s up to you to be honest with yourself, identify your weakness and work on them to give yourself the best chance of success during your exam.

Remember that the examiner wants you to succeed.

Yes, it’s true. The examiner is not there to trick or sabotage you; he or she simply wants to see you dance!

Remember, the examiner is trying to get an overall sense of your technical and artistic capabilities, so don’t worry if you make a mistake or fall. You will have many chances to show your examiner what you are capable of, and you can be sure they will notice when you get it right!

By Grace Gassin of Dance Informa.

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