How we deal with butterflies, jitters and big-day nerves...

Once in a while we all find ourselves in a situation where nerves could get the better of us. Thankfully, there are ways to channel these nerves into positive and constructive energy to help you focus on the task at hand. Read how some of our dancers and supporters cope when the pressure gauge jumps.

‘In the run-up to an opening night I do feel nervous. I try to focus myself before a performance and always listen to music on headphones in the dressing room. The type of music depends on what I’m dancing. If I’m going to be a baddy then I might listen to AC/DC and if it’s a love story like Romeo and Juliet then I’ll listen to a love track’.

Christopher Harrison, Principal Dancer

‘I have a three-week mark where I just start waking up in the night before opening night. If I have eaten something before a good show I will try to always have that same thing before each show. In Hong Kong for Romeo and Juliet I went to great lengths to make sure I ate a banana before each performance.’

Bethany Kingsley-Garner, Principal Dancer

‘Leading up to Hansel & Gretel I was very nervous. I was having nightmares that I was going to fall during pirouettes on the raked (sloped) stage in Aberdeen. If I have a good show I will repeat the exact same warm-up before each show thereafter. I’ve known ballerinas to do three-hour warm-ups with a full boxing work-out before a show!’

Mia Thompson, Artist

‘I usually find a VERY loud and upbeat sing-a-long in the car on the way to work does the trick! I probably look hilarious, however the restorative powers of singing along to Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are unbeatable!'

Events Manager, Baillie Gifford & Co (Sponsor of Scottish Ballet dancers Thomas Edwards and Madeline Squire)

‘I worked in the oil industry for many years. Before being allowed to visit offshore installations I had to undergo Helicopter Underwater Evacuation Training (HUET). It was one of the most challenging things I have ever had to do. Accordingly, whenever I am about to go into a challenging situation, such as a difficult meeting or a major presentation, I think back to sitting in that helicopter frame waiting for it to tip into the water and think, “if I could that, I can do this”.’

Keith Ruddock, Board Member, Scottish Ballet

‘I feel that the more prepared I am, the more relaxed I am. Before I performed in Peter Darrell’s The Nutcracker with Scottish Ballet, I would listen to the music almost everywhere I went. I do the same during the weeks leading up to the shows I do with the Young Ballet Company. Ultimately, I have learnt that nerves are a good thing and I hope the butterflies never leave me.’

Caitlin Brolly, Scottish Ballet Young, Friend and Associate

‘Most people feel fear and trepidation when faced with the prospect of coming to visit the dentist. Fortunately, I don’t feel anxious when dealing day to day with our patients. However, I’ve been speaking at educational events and this can make me feel a little nervous. I read a fantastic book “The Chimp Paradox”. I now engage my rational brain before public speaking to calm myself. I make sure I have practised my talk and know my slides. Then I am fully prepared for the task.’

Eimear Keenan, dental surgeon and Scottish Ballet Director’s Circle Silver patron

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