Welcome to my "Perform with Passion" series, part two. Today's session is for the performers that create art with their bodies; the Dancers.
It is my personal opinion that it is the easiest for Dancers to become master performers: but it is simultaneously difficult. Dancing by it's nature is the embodiment of performance; using one's body to interpret a song, emotion or situation. This is why performing while dancing is one of the hardest skills to master.
Many young, or fresh dancers fall into what I call the "choreo trap." This occurs when a dancer puts all of their effort into mastering choreography or a style. Many dancers believe that in order to be a great dancer, worry about the choreography first, the performance/facials second. This is the biggest mistake a dancer can make.
Let's switch gears here: In a professional boxing class, before you get into a ring with ANYONE, a good instructor will teach you how to block first. Why? At some point, the instructor is going to throw a punch. When that punch comes, you will need to duck and/or block so that you are not hit. By seeing the instructor throw the punch, YOU are learning how to throw the punch.
My point? You cannot jump into choreo with LIFELESSNESS. It affects how you look, how you feel, and to be honest, it will change your body movements...which at the end of the day is what dance is! You must greet every mark, block, and run-through as if you are on the stage doing the gig. Don't have enough energy? At least make sure your mind is in the zone. Here are some tips for you:
1. Make a character.
As we all know, every dance is a story. Stories have characters. Even if you are not the lead, generate a personality for yourself. When the music starts, enter into that person's reality and mind.
2. Be aware of your face.
If you are doing a sexy piece and you have a goofy smile the entire time, it does not read as sexy to the audience. Play the music you are dancing to as you stand in the mirror. Don't do the choreo, and don't move anything other than your face. See what you look like. Do you like what you see? Does this face fit the character you made for yourself? If not, FIX IT!
3. Don't look past people.
One evening, I was in a dance rehearsal performing a piece that I would be dancing the next day for other members of the team. As we finished, we were given the note that no one felt as if we were looking at them. Yes we were looking in their general direction, but we never once looked someone in the eye. Do not make this mistake. Find people in the audience who are engaged with you. Make eye contact.
These are not ALL the tips and tricks of performing dance, but they are a good start. Even if you aren't the best dancer, I promise if you implement these steps, you will see a few eyebrows raise!
Join me next week for Part Three, where I will go over performance for instrumentalists!