Overcome fear, self-doubt and elevate your performance
What would you do if you could fail?
12 Tips to Survive Nutcracker Season [with Printable Countdown]
It’s that time of year again… Nutcracker season (cue imaginary Overture playing its merry little tune in your head).
It’s the time of year when Ballet companies stocking-stuff their schedules as full as is humanly possible with this wonderfully magical ballet. Nutcracker is an almost universal holiday staple, punctuating the ballet year, strung like fairy lights all across the December calendar.
Right now, right the way around this globe of ours, Spanish, Chinese and Arabian roles are being rehearsed. Studios are wafting with dancing candy canes, waltzing flowers and spinning sugar plums.
[pullquote position=”right”]Like an unofficial rite of passage, Nutcracker season initiates new company members into the heart of life as a dancer.[/pullquote]
…Perhaps this is your first year and you are spending the best part of the silly season sitting on the sidelines, learning the places of 5 different snow flakes and your heart might just melt if you could be on stage yourself in this beautiful ballet…
…Perhaps you are a seasoned Nutcracker-er, juggling so many different roles in so many different casts that you can’t even remember if you’re dancing the Rat King or the Snow Queen tonight…
…Or maybe, you have cracked one-too-many a nut and have had all the magic drained out, so that it just feels like you’re going through the motions evening after matinee, day after day, year after year…
So how do you keep on keeping on in the relentless repetition of Nutcracker season?
I’m so glad you asked 😉
Here are 12 tips to help get you through!
What if you’re already enough?
So many dancers focus so much of their energy on all of the ways they are not yet enough:
I’m not good enough, flexible enough, strong enough…
I can’t get my legs high enough, my turns fast enough, I can’t balance for long enough
[pullquote position=”right”]Focussing on what you’re not is one of the most effective ways to not get where you want to go and not make the improvements you want to make.[/pullquote]
What if you focussed on the ways you are enough instead?
How would that affect your confidence?
Your willingness to try new things?
What the ballet world really needs [on World Ballet Day]
Today is the first ever World Ballet Day!
I’m looking forward to the glimpses I’ll get of that rare blend of focus, fun and fragility in these beautiful people, the similarities and differences in the ballet world the world over and the stirring of the memories and stories and experiences I hold in my own heart being part of this world of ballet.
In my work now as a counsellor and performance psychology teacher, I get to see another very personal side of the behind-the-scenes dancer. I have the very humbling privilege of walking with dancers in their real-life-streaming realities – sometimes tears stream, sometimes it’s untapped thoughts and feelings, at other times life begins to stream again after burnout, injury and loss.
In holding the hopes and hearts of these precious dancers closely, here are my three biggest dreams for the Ballet World today…
So, you want to be a ballerina?
You hear it from countless little girls, twirling in satin and tulle:
I want to be a ballerina when I grow up!
Their eyes fill with wonder and joy and their bodies lilt and sway as they say it. But as little kids get bigger and dancing becomes more serious, the pursuit of this dream can add layers of complexity to the wide-eyed wonder of childhood.
The stakes get higher, the competition gets tougher – all while you are growing up and just starting to work out who it is you really are and what you want for your life!
This can make for some confusing times, when you wrestle with the big question:
Reframing Failure in 5 Baby Steps
So, you’re in ballet class, pirouettes from the corner. Chasse pas de bourree, prepare…
You almost do a nice clean double, except for an annoying little hop at the end. Slightly frustrated, you grit your teeth and tell yourself “get it right next time” as you chasse pas de bourree and prepare for the next turn.
More of a hop, plus you lose your placement.
You sneak a sideways glance at your teacher to check if they noticed your blunder… Phew, you got away with it.
Chasse pas de bourree, prepare…
This time you fling way off balance and your turn is a total write off. You walk away with your head down, pretending you twisted your ankle to avoid facing the terrible reality that… (gulp) you failed.
Your teacher calls out a correction to you. You feel even worse. Nod pathetically and hope they won’t make you repeat it.
Inside, you’re frustrated and angry at yourself, “Why can’t I do this? I’m so crap at turning! This is so humiliating! I’m never going to be able to turn!”
Eventually, you become so afraid of stuffing up your turns that you get all tense and edgy even just thinking about doing a pirouette!
The trouble is, you’re looking at failure all the wrong way.