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Maximize Your Rehearsal for A Better Performance

Psychological Preparation Techniques

"For Beginners" (reprinted from ZAGHAREET! Nov/Dec. 2003)
by Anthea Kawakib Poole

My article "Total Rehearsal Power" in the July/Aug 1999 issue covered ways to maximize your practice sessions before a show, such as:

Try some of my psychological preparation techniques to accelerate your practices before a show.
Before our last class recital I gave all my students slips of paper that had two short Affirmations on them. They read:

I recommended that they say the Affirmations out loud (while looking in the mirror) at least once a day, and definitely before rehearsing or performing. In fact I don't think you can say them too much! This is "preventive medicine" to keep away the energy-sapping negative self-talk that can happen so easily when we're preparing to "share what we got" with others. Getting up in front of people can be intimidating sometimes - use all the mental power at your disposal! I keep my own set of Affirmations handy so that when I'm putting on my stage makeup I can pull them out and read through them a few times and yes, say them out loud!  

Earlier this year I performed in Janeeda's "Celebrating the Elements" show featuring Morocco and Tarik. My dance assignment was to portray the "Etheric Air Goddess". Not knowing much about that, I asked Janeeda to explain what it was about. She sent me her interpretation, I printed it out and posted it above my desk. It took a couple of weeks before the meaning 'sunk in', which was fine with me - I like to let my sub- and super-conscious mind work for me as much as possible. When I rehearsed and finally performed I kept those thoughts in mind and just let my body "do its thing" interpreting the music (yes, it was improvised). Was it "right"? I don't know, but I felt good about it - in fact, I had a blast! Did I ever think, "I don't know how to dance this", "I'm not going to do it right", "everyone will think it's dumb"? NO WAY! If I thought that way I would never have agreed to dance in the show. To paraphrase that old saying, "what your body finds to do, do it with all your might".

Another easy way to keep positive messages coming at you is your computer's screen saver. Mine says, "Success Happens" and floats around in pretty colors. Whenever I chance to look at it my mind gets a positive message! Since I'm not an optimist by nature I need to keep working at it. Think of other short, positive messages it could say: "I'm confident", "I dance well", "I'm calm and happy", "Peace and love" - think of it as a little blessing or prayer to keep in mind whenever you see it.

So what's on YOUR screen saver? More importantly, what does your "Mental screen saver" say?

Monitor your silent self-talk and notice what you're telling yourself. Make sure the positive statements totally outweigh the negative! Like I said before, "Mental preparation is just as important as putting on your hip scarf and "'sweating it out'." It's even better to create positive mental IMAGES for yourself because your subconscious works better with pictures than words. Need I say I have many nice photos of myself above my desk? There are pictures of myself teaching, performing, with my troupe, in workshop flyers, newspaper articles, etc. It's not the usual "ego wall" for the public - it's in my home office and only seen by me. 
Think all this is silly? No, it's not - NOT helping yourself is silly.

YOU CAN: Picture yourself dancing, IMAGINE it, and it will happen

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