by Grier Cooper
Spring is nearly upon us and for many dancers this means it’s time to audition. *collective groan*. However much you may not like them, auditions are a fact of life for dancers and even though they can be incredibly stressful, they also offer incredible opportunities. So why not prepare yourself to shine in your best light and take advantage of those opportunities? The first logical step is preparing yourself mentally by building your confidence.
So how do you “get” confidence? I mean, it’s an intangible thing, right? It’s not like you can hop in the car and pick up a little extra whenever you’re running low. Actually, confidence is the gift we give to ourselves. How? By changing your mind.
1. Rewrite your story.
Oh sure, you say, if it were that easy I would have already done it. But what if it was that easy? Think about it: we all wander around with an internal tapes about our lives playing in our minds. Every waking minute we are telling ourselves a story. Have you ever stopped long enough to tune in and see what kind of story you are telling yourself? It’s usually not pretty. For most of us, the inner story sounds something along the lines of, “I’m not good enough” or “I could never do that”.
But if you are telling yourself a story all the time anyway, why not make it a good one, right?
It’s time to write a new story. A good story. An empowering story. And once we get that story straight, guess what will follow? Yep, you guessed it. Confidence.
So, take a moment to get clear about what you want. It may come to you as a vision or a feeling. Then begin to write your new story (also called an affirmation). There are only two rules to follow: your story must be written in the present tense (as if it is already happening) and must be simple, short and easy to remember, so it will stick. Let’s say you want an apprenticeship. Your new story might go something like this: “I am clearly and easily guided to take steps that move me ahead in my career.”
Once you’ve re-written your story it’s time to glue it in your brain. Repetition is key. Write your story on a piece of paper ten times every day. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day (although not while riding on the subway because people will think you are a crazy person). Sing it in the shower. Wash, rinse, repeat. Over time it will become your new story.
Affirmation queen Louise Hay on the power of thought:
2. Dress Sharp.
When you take the time to look your best you will naturally feel your best. Make no mistake – first impressions are hugely important during auditions – and may be your only shot at avoiding the cut. So gear up to impress from the get-go.
It’s very easy for the mind to get caught up in a vortex of worry about the things you don’t yet have. Allowing the mind to live there keeps us in the feeling that we don’t have enough, which leads to further insecurity and… yep, lack of confidence. Practice daily gratitude, even if it’s just by silently considering the blessings you already have. If you catch your mind slipping into that dark not enough hole, pull it out by reminding yourself how much you do have.
4. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s.
Just knowing you’ve assembled your paperwork and followed directions carefully is a huge relief – and another huge piece of being prepared. If you don’t like paperwork, think of it as a necessary evil… it’s another one of those first impression things, so do it early in the game and do it right.
5. Bring your best you.
Your next audition may just be the most important day of your life, so do everything you can to be at your best. This includes the obvious, such as sleeping and eating well, arriving ahead of time and warming up thoroughly. It also includes more subtle actions like keeping focused on your process (by not comparing yourself to others) and reminding yourself to smile and enjoy.
Confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Not only is it empowering – it’s also incredibly alluring. It may even be contagious. Take these steps to give your confidence a boost and let it fly.
Grier Cooper has been a dancer, teacher and performer for more than 30 years. She trained at the School of American Ballet before performing worldwide with Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Miami City Ballet. Today she writes dance-related fiction and non-fiction. Visit her at http://www.griercooper.com.