Isabella Boylston, photo by Gene Schiavone

Our Best Tips: Boost Confidence

From competitive auditions to performances to the challenges of mastering each technical and artistic feat, dancers face many nerve-wracking situations. Sometimes, though, confidence eludes us when we need it most. But there are ways to practice giving yourself a boost when you need it. Here are a few of our best tips for beating self-doubt and holding your head up high, no matter what the situation:

Watch your stress levels. In high-pressure, competitive situations like auditions, your stress levels tend to be heightened—and a Swiss study found that that this could lower your confidence and affect your decision-making skills. When we're feeling uncertain, we tend to take fewer risks in an effort to avoid feeling like we've failed. It's worth making stress relief part of your typical audition and performance preparations, so you'll be empowered to really go for it.

Strike a pose. Sometimes simply acting more confident is all it takes to give yourself a boost. Research shows that holding a high-power pose for two minutes can increase your confidence and lower your cortisol levels (making you feel less stressed).

Know your worth. It's no secret that dancers are perfectionists, but make sure you're taking the time to acknowledge your accomplishments too, from getting a role you wanted to finally nailing a tricky turn sequence. Remember: If you're doing well, it's the result of your hard work.

Dress for success. Though it may sound silly, even your outfit choice can do wonders for your confidence. Whether you need a flattering audition look, or just want to perk yourself up for a difficult class, choose comfortable pieces that you feel good in.

Know you're not alone. Take it from ABT principal Isabella Boylston: "I don't necessarily consider myself the most confident performer. Like everyone else, I deal with nerves, anxiety and self-doubt. But over the course of my career so far, I've learned how to work with those negative emotions—and even how to use them to my advantage."

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