Blackpool Dance Festival 2015 is almost here. In a few weeks what for many is the most prestigious dancesport festival in the world, will begin. If you are going to take part and dance, maybe you would like to know how to prepare for it.
What if you knew the key to achieving success in Blackpool? Unfortunately I do not have this secret key, however I have three simple but powerful steps that anyone can follow to enhance their chances of performing their best in this competition.
By the way, if you are going to compete at Blackpool, let me first wish you all the best and more important than everything else, to have fun and enjoy every single moment. You will remember this experience for the rest of your life because it is like no other.
So, what are the three steps that you can follow to perform at your best in the Winter Gardens?
1) IMPROVE YOUR STAMINA
The first thing that I want you to remember is that at Blackpool you will find many more couples competing than your average dance competition. There may even be double the amount of couples than you are used to.
If you are used to dancing three to four rounds, there is a good chance that you will dance seven rounds in the Winter Gardens. It is imperative that you start by improving your stamina. Do not cheat yourself by believing that dancing one or two more rounds more than usual is enough. Your body will crash and your performance will too. Work hard on your stamina and practice dancing many rounds at every single practice.
Imagine how frustrating it would be knowing that you have the skills to get to one more round but your body will not allow you to.
So what can you do? Focus on doing finals every single day. Try to do five to six “finals” each practice session. This is a tip that I pass on to all of my couples when we are preparing for a competition. If you can do this easily then you will be physically prepared for a big dancesport competition such as Blackpool. At the same time you are preparing your brain and nervous system for what is going to happen (to dance a lot). Get used to that and then, on D-day (Dance-day), you will feel relaxed and your brain will not react (with negative thoughts and feelings) because is used to that same level of dancing.
Do not forget to take care of your nutrition and sleep both during the days of the competition and the days and weeks before. Bring the right food to your studio, the venue, and drink lots of water. Sleep at least eight hours every night and try to practice at the same times that you will compete (if possible).
2) PRACTICE WITH ORCHESTRA MUSIC
If you have already been at Blackpool before, you know that their music is very peculiar, and in my opinion, beautiful and inspiring! You will find a live orchestra (the Empress Orchestra and Dance Band) playing all day. This music is very different from the others that we find in almost all other competitions around the world. It is live and very rhythmical (I personally love it).
Find music that is similar. One way to do this is to buy their new CD (Click Here) and start practicing with their tracks. Again the goal here is to get yourself and your brain used to the real environment that you will find at Blackpool. Practicing every day with this music will put you one step ahead of the rest of the dancers that are not used to it. When you arrive at the hall you will feel comfortable with that music and your brain will not react as much as if it were all new. You will feel more in your comfort zone and will be able to relax and focus on your performance.
3) DO VISUALIZATIONS
This is a very strong and powerful neuroscience technique that is proven to improve your performance on D-day. This technique has been proven to work similar to a legitimate practice session, making you feel more prepared when your visualized performance actually happens. The goal is to imagine in your head while recreating the emotions and actions that you want to feel. In this situation you would picture all of your desired physical movements such as your routine.
Close your eyes and simulate all of your dancing at Blackpool. See the people, the colors, hear the sounds and the music, and watch yourself, through your mind’s eye. Imagine dancing with your partner, feeling good, relaxed, focus, energized, and in control every single time. During this process enjoy the moment! Do it in a positive and happy state, the same state that you will want to recreate on D-day.
To start, breathe deeply three times and do the visualization for about 10 to 20 minutes. The goal is to recreate everything that you will do at Blackpool, even the challenges and obstacles, and how you can always react and keep good posture and a positive mental and emotional state. It is most important to use your emotions (use your brain’s right side). If you do this only from a logical approach, going through your choreography without any emotion, the visualization will not work. You need to put feelings and really feel that you are there, having fun and dancing..
There is another kind of visualization that I call the Real Visualization. This is when, for example, you watch videos from Blackpool Dance Festival. You have no idea how this is productive to your brain. By doing this, you are assimilating the physical space, the sounds, the people, the music and the dance, almost automatically. You are setting your brain to get used to the environment. The more you watch, the more ingrained it will be in your nervous system. This way when you arrive there, everything will be much more natural.
For example, when Tiger Woods was only two years old, his father made little Tiger watch him practice for hours, never allowing him to take the club and swing. This way Tiger Woods was assimilating visually how to do a correct swing. Do the same by watching videos of great couples in Blackpool.
My last tip is to do as Donnie Burns does and go two weeks before to the competition place and practice there all that time. I know that this is impossible for almost everyone, but if you have that opportunity, go for it. There is no better preparation than the one where you can practice in the place where you will be dancing.
Do not forget to work on your stamina and do finals every single practice session using orchestra music. When you arrive home take some time to do visualizations, preparing your nervous system for the right state. Get obsessive about Blackpool, talk about it, dream about it, and put yourself in your best position for success!
This way you will have a… Blackpool On Fire!
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