Leg swings? check
Head rolls? check
Costume? Make-up? Tongue-twisters? Instrument tuning? Hand squeeze circle with your fellow performers? check, check, check, check, check, check, check
Balancing breath preparation before you step onstage? . . . . .
It’s the end-of-the-school-year performance season for many universities and performing arts programs. We have spent months and precious hours in rehearsal preparing for just a few performances. Every show night is measured by what went wrong, what went right, and how well it was received. Yet after those measurements are analyzed and picked apart, what are you left with? What was YOUR experience onstage?
In traditional performance training, there can be a gap between mind and body that follows us all the way from studio to stage. We might notice the butterflies in our stomachs before we step onstage. We may even feel the endorphin high when we step off stage. But wouldn’t it be remarkable to extend our performance experiences by savoring each moment we are doing what we love, from curtain up to curtain down? We may even find ourselves sailing through the “trouble” spots and finding new connectivity with our fellow performers.
When we take time to balance ourselves using the breath, the gap between mind and body narrows and we see each moment in the present tense. A welcome grounding and overall awareness can also accompany this. And who doesn’t want to feel that they can step onstage with confidence?
Here is a simple balancing breath practice to try out:
- Find a quiet place backstage or in the green room.
- Either sit or stand with a long spine and both feet or sitting bones firmly rooted into the ground.
- Notice your breath and the length of your inhales and exhales. (Breath in and out through your nose).
- Imagine your inhales traveling from your head to your feet along the spine. Imagine your exhales traveling from your feet to your head along the spine.
- Once you get a sense of how you are breathing, take a few breath cycles to even out the inhale and exhale lengths.
- You may count the length of the breath in and out, if that is helpful.
Add this practice to your pre-performance regimen and you will find yourself connected, mind and body, when you step into the spotlight! Before you perform, BALANCE.
Photo by Sophie Kuller