Some dancers seem like natural performers when they get on that stage. They know how to “work an audience,” they dance with energy, and seem to move naturally and with joy. Of course, the more years you are on that “big“ stage and gain experience as a performer certainly plays a big part in how you react to your audience. Just like all things in life, practice in what you love to do, brings excellence in the outcome. The same goes for stage presences. Practice in performance allows you to learn what works on that stage and what doesn’t.
“Natural” performers, seem to know something that others don’t. Here are some suggestions and my view points of dance you most likely haven’t put much thought into before. As you are working to your final performance, be sure to put some thought into practicing not only your technique and choreography, that you have been working so hard on all year long, but some thought on how you will present these dance room accomplishments on that stage.
Never dance alone, not even in a solo. Always include the audience in your presentation. Never forget that they are there with you. Smile at them, look at them, even try to locate a stranger in the first row and catch their eye. Let them know that you are up there on the stage to entertain them. Make eye contact and direct your energy to one person in the audience to project to. While dancing in a group, be aware that there are others in your group. If in a story ballet, make eye contact and expression to other dancers in reference as to what is going on in the story. When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the stage but to enjoy each step while getting there. This is a part of being “a natural” as a dancer.
Facial expression is important in dance but it’s more than just smiling. Real or sincere facial expression often has more to do with your eyes than with your mouth. So, instead of just focusing on a “smiling” mouth, dancers need to practice an “open” expression with their whole face and especially the eyes. Practicing facial expressions in the mirror is good practice. In my Musical Theater classes, in the beginning of the season, we add facial exercises in the mirror as part of our class warm up. By facial expressions we move one part of our face at a time. Sound silly? In class we have fun doing this, but it allows us to be aware of our facial muscles. What I mean by moving one part of our face at a time, is sort of like doing body isolation exercises in a jazz class. You know the concept, only moving one shoulder or hip and not allowing any other part of your body to move. Practice moving one eyebrow, then one eyelid, then one cheek and so on……
As you perform on the stage, use your facial muscles by slightly lifting the eyebrows, to give you a happy appearance. As for the rest of your face, be natural. Relax the lower jaw and make a smile that comes easily but in not plastered to your face.
Your facial expressions have so much to do with keeping an audience interested in you while you are up there. Remember, the audience is there to be entertained, keep them entertained by adding them to your performance.
We will add to Stage Presence in our series of Performance Preparedness…there is so much more to add…..