Fear, injury and negative energy can be an Irish dancer’s worst enemies. Here’s how I defeat them:
It’s the feeling we all get right before we go on stage. What happens if I mess up? What happens if I fall? What if I don’t place? Fear can paralyze us. It can make us feel like we’re incapable of performing to our potential. The dancer on stage becomes a pale shadow of the dancer that was so confident in class. I think the best way to defeat this foe is to answer these what if questions honestly. Knowing that you’ve practiced your hardest is very reassuring. There’s no chance that I’m going to mess up because I’ve done my reel hundreds of times. If I fall I’ll just get back up. If I don’t place when I dance my best, there is nothing I can do about it. A number next to your name does not measure the love you have for Irish Dance.
Most of the dancers I know have dealt with injury at some point in their careers. Sometimes these are injuries brought on by a specific event such as breaking a bone. Often times these injuries are do to a freak accident and there is nothing that the dancer could have done to prevent it. The best way to defeat this enemy is to let it heal so that you can live to dance another day. The most common injuries I see are overuse injuries. Shin splints, bunions, tendonitis, and pulled muscles start off as small problems and then morph into huge ones when a dancer refuses to take a break. The best way to deal with these injuries is to know the difference between an ache and a pain. We can push through aches but pain is a screaming sign from our bodies to stop for a little bit.
Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. It is very easy to focus on all the things that we do wrong and forget everything we’re good at doing. When you let negative energy surround you it becomes impossible to dance well. The best way to defeat this enemy is to start with yourself. Be your number one fan. There is nothing wrong with being confident in our dance abilities. It is also important to become surrounded with positive people. These people will lift you up and encourage you to be the best that you can be.
Photo credit: Image is courtesy of and belongs to author.
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