Find out the Secrets of Super Performers (get audition ready)
Some students seem like natural performers. They know how to “work a crowd,” they dance with energy, and seem to move with joy. Certainly, experience as a performer plays a big part in this. Like anything else, practice in performance allows you to learn what works and what does not.
“Natural” performers, however, seem to know something that others do not. Here is a list of some of these secrets.
Actually, I’m not sure there is truly anything “secret” about thes, but perhaps these are tips and aspects of your dancing you haven’t put much thought into before. As you work toward your final performance be sure to put these skills into practice with as much (or more) diligence as learning your steps.
Never dance alone, even in a solo…
be sure to Include the audience in your performance. Do not forget or ignore that they’re there.
Be aware of other dancers in your group.
How can you involve the audience or the other dancers on stage with you in your performance?
Make eye contact, direct your energy to one person within the audience or project your energy to the others around you, and use or respond to the energy of others give to you.
Super performers know… the eyes have it
Facial expression is important in dance but it’s more than just smiling in a performance.
Real or sincere facial expression often has more to do with the eyes than with the mouth. So, rather than focusing on a “smiling” mouth, I suggest that students practice an “open” expression with their whole face but especially the eyes.
You can DO some things in this case. As you perform, engage the muscles in the face by slightly lifting the eyebrows – not to a comical extreme, but in a way that is comfortable and easy to maintain. It is the same expression most people use when making eye contact with or really listening to a friend, or when they are speaking excitedly in conversation. Audiences respond well to performers who utilize this technique.
Super performers understand their music
Everyone has a different way of thinking about the concept of musicality and. Here are a few thoughts:
While counting helps dancers to be precise and together in their movement, musicality in performance is expressed through more than just counting beats.
When counting, it is easy to forget that a beat includes not only the sharp “tap” of a particular rhythm but also the space between those taps, just as all movements include transitions and shifts of weight between desired “shapes” of the body.
Exciting and musical performers fill these spaces in the music and movement, not letting the energy or intent drop between shapes or between counts.
Super performers ooze confidence
Don’t confuse attitude with confidence. Attitude is something which is acted or portrayed. Just as any role would, attitude requires a level of confidence to be played well but, it is simply a layer or a persona the performer wears in his/her performance.
Confidence is trust in you and in the situation but, it is not centered on the self.
Trust in yourself and your fellow dancers is the practical side of confidence and comes from preparation and experience. The work you put into the dance steps and sequence, the time and effort you put into class and technique, the buildup of experience on stage or of situations in which you must improvise or think on your feet. These things allow a performer to trust.
Exuding confidence does not require one to act in a self-centered manner. In fact often it is quite the opposite. Dancers with confidence give a lot of themselves without dwelling on what the audience is thinking of them.
Super performers are actors as well as dancers
I talked about acting when I mentioned attitude above. Just as musicians understand the music, actors understand the context (the situation, the scene, the conditions, and background) within which they are performing.
Dancers, as actors, should be familiar with the time period or origin of the dance, understand the emotions of a piece or have an idea of what the choreographer is trying to express or intend.
Like actors, engaging performers, also “suspend disbelief” or, make the audience believe something even if it is not true or actual. Dancers pretend to be happy, curious, confused, or angry even when they are not. Much of being a convincing performer is making something seem real even to yourself – evoking emotions that were not present a second ago.
Being real in acting also involves observing and discovering what is natural or of human nature. If a prop accidentally falls to the floor during a performance, an actor who is being “natural” would not ignore it. What do you really do when something falls – do you try to catch it? I’m not saying that in a dance you should stop and pick up a prop when it falls (because timing can be crucial in a dance) but becoming an excellent performer requires investigation of and experimentation with different kinds of behavior (guided or otherwise).
Super performers dance beyond their personal space
Personal space is a term used in dance that describes the space surrounding the body. The imaginary bubble encircles your frame in stillness and as you move. Again, dancing beyond this bubble is something that you must IMAGINE as you dance, not necessarily something that you DO.
Moving with a sense of directing or expanding your energy beyond your personal space will not only make you a more engaging performer. If practiced throughout your classes as well, projecting energy beyond your fingertips and toes, out through the top of the head, from your eyes, or even from every cell in your body, can improve your execution of the movement as well.