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  1. #1
    Member Emma_Williams's Avatar
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    Default How nerves affect improv....how do you deal with it?

    When I am at home or in a dance studio alone i can put on the music and dance half decent in fact sometimes i dance to a piece and think wow i wish that i had just been a performance because i really felt the music and it looked good. BUT then....I go to a workshop, a lesson, a private lesson and I cannot improvise....my body goes wooden...i appear as if i know 2 moves at maximum and I just seize up and do a stupid cheesy face instead of doing my real emotions.

    Now if I have a glass of vino....I dance like I dance alone.

    How do you all get over your nerves so that you can relax and improvise well??

    I honestly can do it at home lol....honest hehe

  2. #2
    Member Nath's Avatar
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    I use the Carol Burnett method of relieving tension. I look at my intended audience before I go on and picture them on the toilet straining. Makes me laugh, relaxes me and reminds me none of us look good all the time.

  3. #3
    Member Emma_Williams's Avatar
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    no that doesnt work i have tried it and all i do is nearly throw up hehe. I am not phased by gross stuff or graphic ideas so that doesnt shock me or make me feel better

  4. #4
    Member bellyfester's Avatar
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    I'm in the same position as you. sigh. No help here.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Marya's Avatar
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    there are some breathing exercises that might help, breathe in slowly counting 1 through 6, hold the breath for a count of 6, breathe out slowly to a count of 8 if you can, try and make it to at least 6. This is proven to lower blood pressure and it is very calming.

    How do you do with choreographies? Can you remember them? When I perform, I practice, practice, practice, improvising as I go and eventually a loose structure appears that I can remember and although it is not really a choreography and I don't do it the same way twice, it is enough to help me feel comfortable performing, and I have enough body memory to carry me through the nervousness. Improvising doesn't mean you can't have some guidelines, ie I will shimmy here where the drums are, I will travel in a circle here where the music is faster, and I will do figure 8 here where the accordion is playing

    Marya

  6. #6
    Member Emma_Williams's Avatar
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    I have done one choreography in tribal (yes i know that its meant to be improv) and i messed up at one part.
    Improv makes me perform better but it is nice to have a choreography when stuck

  7. #7
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    I'm much more comfortable improvising in classes and workshops these days because I have been made to do it a lot and the sky has never fallen down. I'm not saying it looks great, but I'm not hideously outside my comfort zone any more, which I think is on the right track.

    I know what you mean - the minute you start to think "I feel like putting this move in somewhere OMG that went horribly wrong help should I carry on with doing this to the end of the phrase even though I HATE it or cut my losses and change to something different now even though it'll be obvious I messed up..." etc etc, you tense up and lose it. Thinking kills it for me.

    To help with nerves I pretend to be someone super-confident. What would <insert name of fave dancer> do?

  8. #8
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    I recommend a little bit of choreography as a frame to hold on to (there is a thread about that here) that would help from falling into the robotic automatic belly dancing. I used to have that with nerves, falling into the same moves and combination's all the time if I'd get to nervous.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    Honestly ask yourself - what's the worst thing that could happen?
    Then ask: 'How likely is that?'
    Then ask: 'Could I handle the worst anyway?' - and work out how you would!
    Deep breathing prior to the performance
    A framework and using 'safety movements' - I got this from Nadira Jamal!
    A big scream (silent of course) to let all the tension out!
    Acting 'as if' you are that fabulous dancer you know you are when you're at home!
    Enjoying the music and the moment - remember why you're dancing! It's not about the people out there as much as the connection between you and the music. Once you feel that connection, it's about communicating that joy to the people watching.

    I love Nadira's DVD on performance jitters - I'll be playing that this weekend to the women who are performing in Kashmir's student production May 8th - given that I'm doing a solo improv, I'll need to follow my own advice.
    Believe me, the anxiety can go down over time if you remind yourself that you've prepared well, you've danced your best - and you've expressed the music. Don't go reminding yourself of past mistakes, or future horrors - just be in the moment and really FEEL that music!

  10. #10
    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emma_Williams View Post
    How do you all get over your nerves so that you can relax and improvise well??
    Good preparation is the main key to a good improvisation.
    A friend of mine studying music once told me that anyone showing up unprepared for the class in musical improvisation didn't get many credits from the teacher. The more you practice certain drills and combinations, the better you will get. Also remember to prepare your mind for the great and positive experience you will have, how great the audience will be and how beautiful you will look while on stage.

    Remember, it's not a question of life or death. Have fun, enjoy the dance and communicate it to your audience.

    Still nervous? Here's my last trick (in the deep breathing category):
    I can't remember in which of the films in the Matrix trilogy this scene comes from, but do you remember how the room pulsates with the breath of Neo when he starts to believe?
    Just before I enter the stage, I take some deep breaths while I visualize the same scene, I raise and lower my arms into position, raise my chin and torso, take on my stage persona and then I'm ready to enter (hopefully doing my best).
    Somehow this makes my nerves go away while I'm on stage, but on the other side my nerves messes me up as soon as I'm finished (some sort of post-reaction I guess). Have you ever heard about other dancers with the same sort of post reaction before?
    --
    Daim.

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