BWW Blog: Back to School - Breathing 101
So let's get right to it!
You survived your first week. And I'(M) Willing to bet money that you were told at least 20 times this week how to breathe. Because breathing is sometimes the hardest feat an actor has to overcome. Your teachers are going to do a very good job about explaining why your breath is important in the context of acting, so I'm not going to even try to go there. Instead we are going to talk about breath in terms of stress. Because whether you feel it right now or not, it is something you are going to deal with at some point in your quest for the BFA.
You've just met all these new people, your new family for the next four years. You may have performed in front of your classmates for the first time.
Were you nervous?
I sure was. Throughout my entire first month of school, I wasn't breathing. I mean of course I was in the physical sense otherwise I wouldn't be typing this. What I mean is, I was tense. I was anxious. And I was not relaxed.
I wasn't breathing. I wasn't allowing myself the time or the thought to just take a deep breath, and give myself a reality check.
You may get anxiety over perhaps hitting a wrong note in your first showcase in front of your peers, or messing up a step in ballet, or choking on a monologue in acting. Especially since the first week, and even the first month of school, is spent trying to put your best foot forward in order to impress your peers and your teachers. With that comes a lot of pressure, and pressure brings anxiety to the average insecure eighteen year-old.
So how can we combat these nerves? How can we keep ourselves from self sabotaging by not letting go and allowing our bodies to live and breathe in these moments?
This summer I did a long contract where I did four shows and had roles in quite a few of them. I was a ball of stress. My best friend said to me multiple times, and I'm going to say it to you:
"This is Musical Theatre, not brain surgery. If we don't do our job, nobody dies."
Every day I say this to myself.
As a freshman, you hear these phrases such as the BFA bod or you hear about nodes for the first time and suddenly there is all this pressure to be fit, healthy, talented, and Broadway ready at this very second. But let me give it to you straight. Yes, health and fitness are important. Grooming your talent is important if you want to succeed. But guess what? If you hit a wrong note, or don't go to the gym one day, the world is not going to end.
It is okay to expect and want a lot for yourself. DO NOT be unkind to your body and your wellbeing by telling yourself that everything has to be instant.
Everything happens in its own time.
So take a second whenever you feel overwhelmed this semester and just breathe. It's just school. It's just Musical Theatre. I promise you will be okay. If you trust your training, and the signals your body gives you, you are going to go down the correct path. With that will come success.