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Research informed practice to help dancers cope with performance anxiety and enhance confidence

Children taking part in a dance class

Sport psychology principles often used by athletes to optimise training and performance experiences are being embraced in dance the world.

Dr Charlotte Woodcock, lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Staffordshire University, has been invited to speak as part of DanceSport Wales’ training programme next weekend (Sunday June 9th). Dr Woodcock, who has worked with dancers at Elmhurst School for Dance, a vocational school associated with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and the English National Ballet School, will be discussing issues of performance anxiety and how it can be harnessed in competition with Wales’ Ballroom and Latin dancers.

Dr Woodcock said: “I am really looking forward to exploring performance anxiety with the dancers. It is one of evolution’s gifts of survival. Research shows anxiety doesn’t always contribute positively to some performers’ competition preparation, but for others it can be viewed as extremely helpful. One of the key discussion points will probably rest on identifying when it is good for dance, and if it disrupts performance preparation, what we can do to change it”. 

The integration of dance psychology in dance companies, schools, and organisations signifies an important role for the discipline in the performing arts. Dance, just like sport, understands the significance of coping with demanding training schedules, harnessing effective motivation, and entering an ideal mind-set for optimal performance.