It’s normal when starting nearly anything new to feel like the ‘odd man out’ or to have temporary doubts and feel nervous and anxious about something you were looking forward to. Even when something isn’t new – maybe you’ve done it for years – but now you are taking it up a notch, or are about to perform and have all eyes on you…it’s normal to feel jitters then, too.
We’ve compiled a list of common thoughts we hear expressed from time to time, and give you some advice to help you through.
Tips to combat those jittery new class thoughts:
“I have no idea what I’m doing and I just know they are all whispering about me.”
- Every dancer – every single dancer – feels this way at some point, in some class. Even that girl with the long, lean legs who can développé up to her cheek in ballet – she may feel out of place Hip Hop class and feel unable to make her moves look funky. Instead, she thinks she just looks weird. At some point – everyone feels as though they are the clueless one. The ability to conquer fears is one that will aid you over and over in life. And success breeds success – the more you face your fears – the stronger you become.
“I don’t understand all the words in ballet class…why does it have to be in French?”
- Ask the teacher to explain what “Tendu” means. They’ll happily say, “To Stretch” which then will click with you right away when you think about the movement and connect it to the word.
- Keep a Terminology Notebook and write down what they describe the words to mean in French.
- Feel proud that no matter what country, what studio, what ballet class you take anywhere – you will know the language of ballet. Even in Russia – ballet class uses French words. Even in China – ballet class uses French words. Ballet is not just good for the body, it’s good for the brain.
“All the dancers already know each other, I feel so awkward standing here alone at the barre.”
- First days are part of our journey through life. It starts with your first babysitter, first school elementary teacher, first date, first room-mate in college, first interview and on and on. Life is filled with many firsts. It gets easier the more you practice three things:
- Smile at new people
- Ask their name
- Use their name often – they’ll feel valued and you’ll have a new friend
“I’m clearly the admission mistake. Yup. Me. I’m the one they didn’t really mean to promote. I’m probably going to be embarrassed any moment now when they realize it.”
- Trust your teachers! Here at Northland, Teresa has done this for 45+ years – she’s very, very good at knowing talent when she sees it. If she believes in you and puts you on a certain line – be confident and know you earned it and you are where you should be. Don’t waste a second of your life doubting yourself – your teachers didn’t doubt you and that’s why you earned the spot you did!
“I don’t have trendy dance clothes. My outfits are boring and not brand-name, and they’ll never notice me.”
- Think about the strongest dancer you know at your studio. Think about him/her in the last class you saw them in. What was he/she wearing? Bet you can’t remember. It didn’t matter. You saw THE DANCER – not their clothes. People feel the same way about you. It’s your heart, soul, spirit and talent they care about and are drawn to – not the logo on your jazz shorts.
“I am nervous and embarrassed to try those new leaps – what if I look dumb?”
- In some classes – there is a practice of applauding when a dancer falls onto the floor when attempting a difficult turn set or new leap. As in falls onto the floor – imagine applauding!! Why do we applaud? Because we recognize and celebrate that she went for it! She was ALL IN! She gave it 100%! Yup, she fell on her backside but she’s a braver, stronger girl already for trying. Next time – she’ll do it better. Remember – you’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!
“I am just not flexible! I give up, I’ll never catch up with the girls who clearly have rubber bands for muscles”
- Ever seen the Grand Canyon? Pretty big huh? Pretty deep? Guess what – it took an extraordinary amount of time to cut through all the rock and make the canyon through which the river flows. And it started with a tiny stream of water. But year after year, decade after decade, century after century and so on and so on – that water flowed through and got bigger and stronger. Over time – it cut through the rock. It happened because it never gave up and it was willing to do the work – every day – even when it was just a stream with a dream. Your splits can be flat, your turns can be solid, your leaps can be high. But not in one class, or one week or it might even take months or longer. But if you decide you’ll get there no matter what – you’ll get there. Sheer force of will is stronger than any tight muscle! Be a stream with a dream!