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Nervousness and Partner Dancing

Do you ever feel nervous when you're about to dance? It might be for a competition, it might be for a grading or it might be when you just feel that you're being watched.
Sometimes it is because for whatever reason, we do not want to dance poorly right now.
Nervous energy can help when you need to dance well.
It can give you that extra energy to push your body a little harder so that you can have fuller movements while moving quickly enough to stay in time.
It can also give you that extra focus so that you dance precisely as you wish and quickly correct for any unexpected events that might occur.
However, it can sometimes make your body hunch, make you feel stiff so that you can't move properly or cause you to have a mental blank and choke.
Clearly nervous energy can help, but nervousness also has the potential to prevent you from reaching your maximum couples dancing ability.
In this article I am going to talk about how nervousness can be used to your advantage in partner dance.
So why does nervousness bring you undone? Typically when you're nervous, you brain shifts into the more animalistic mode.
This means is sort of shuts down the frontal intellectual parts of the brain.
The parts that can perform logical tasks, do maths and reason.
If your grasp on couples dancing is not deep, then you will often use this part of the brain when dancing.
It's also one of the reasons why you might hear of people having a blank in a maths exam and not really remember what happened.
There's little that's instinctive about maths.
However, there is a lot that's instinctive about dance.
This means that if you can practice your dance enough so that it relies more on parts of your brain that are more instinctive (the areas that some people associate with muscle memory because it feels like the body remembers, and not the brain), then even if you are nervous, you will still be able to dance.
Even if you can't recall doing it.
In fact, you might dance better.
Sometimes when elite athletes do amazing things on the field, they will say that they are unable to recall what they did.
This is because the high level parts of the brain took a back seat and allowed the automatic, well trained and instinctive parts do their job without interruption.
In just the same way, if you can make your dance a natural part of you such that your body naturally responds to the music as it should, then nervousness can be a help.
However, sometimes we are not at that stage.
If you're looking to dance at the optimum level, then often your body needs to do things that are not that easy to drill.
This is either due to difficulty or time required under strict supervision and tutelage to make it natural for you.
Under these circumstances, you need to get used to nervousness.
One of the simplest ways to get used to nervousness is to expose yourself to it when you're dancing.
You can do this a few different ways.
Try some of the following: · Think about a dance event coming up that makes your nervous.
Really imagine you are there doing it so that the emotions are induced.
Now start to dance.
By dancing under these conditions you will desensitize yourself and get better at focusing while feeling this way.
· Dance with other watching you.
Simply knowing that people are watching you, and you might assume judging you, will induce similar feelings to nervousness.
· Introduce an artificial challenge.
Your dance teacher might be able to help with this.
It could be something like: - If you make one mistake in the next routine, then you will need to do five push-ups - If you do not remember to keep your foot on the floor for the next 5 back rocks, then you will owe the dance teacher a chocolate bar - If you do not hold on the fourth beat for any of the next 10 Salsa basics, then I will tell everyone about when you slipped and grabbed your dance partner in an embarrassing place In each case, the consequences of a mistake are amplified.
This will emulate nervousness.
By making your dance as natural as possible and conditioning yourself to dance while nervous, you will get the benefits of the nervous energy without the issue of choking when under pressure.
You will then be a much better partner dancer regardless of the situation.
Just so you know; I have found that this conditioning can wear off so try to induce the nervousness regularly to keep yourself conditioned.

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