While dance studios in Port Orange want to teach excellent technique, teaching dancers to perform is just as important to developing well-rounded students! But can performance quality actually be taught?
At The Legacy Dance Studio, dance teachers strive to instill the skill of performing in students by encouraging practicing away from the mirror, being a good storyteller, and staying consistent.
If dancers commit to these practice habits, their performance quality will develop in no time!
Practice Away From the Mirror
One thing that many young dancers struggle with is self-confidence when confronted with their image in the mirror. While it’s true that a few dancers love being the center of attention, hamming it up on stage and in class, that is not the majority of dance students.
Having the mirror as a constant presence can be intimidating and embarrassing for some dancers, which will affect their willingness to give 100% to their performance quality. If a dancer is expected to demonstrate extreme emotions on their face and in their movement, it may be difficult for them to do so with the mirror in front of them.
In order to help dancers really dive into big emotions, try having them practice the dance away from the mirror. It may still take some time to draw them out of their shell, but sometimes just not being able to see oneself helps take the fear out of it.
Most dance studios don’t have curtains installed over the mirror, so the easiest way to eliminate the mirrors is to turn the dancers around. This also helps with memorization and spatial awareness!
Another helpful tip is to dim the lights while practicing. This is another way to limit the anxiety that can be produced by seeing yourself in the mirror. Of course, take care not to turn off the lights completely – we can’t have a pitch black room and dance safely!
Tell The Story
A common problem for dancers who lack performance quality is that they may not even know what emotions they’re supposed to be portraying! While some dancers just perform naturally, many dancers have to be given cues so they know what emotion to express at what point in the routine.
An easy fix for this problem is to have dancers physically write the story of the routine. Just like any story, a dance has a beginning, middle, and end, all with corresponding emotions. By creating a clear story line for a dance routine, and taking the time to write a narrative, dancers will be more connected to the emotions of the piece.
Even if a routine doesn’t have a storyline, like a jazz piece, you can still use this tip to tell the story. Instead of a narrative, have the dancer write an emotional timeline or create a mood board.
Use descriptive words and feelings to describe the piece – does it start with a dark, creepy energy? Then it moves to surprising and exciting! Finally, it retreats back to dark and creepy but with a cheeky wink at the end. There is no limit to how creative you can be when coming up with ways to tell your story or get your ideas across.
Practice Performing Consistently
Dance Studios in Port Orange, like The Legacy Studio offer many opportunities for dancers to perform, from community events to competitions. But, dancers should be practicing performing even in the studio!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to practicing performing. One is to start practicing with performance quality as you learn the steps. This way, the emotions and facial expressions that go with each section are learned alongside the technique and choreography, and won’t have to be taught later.
The second idea is to have the dancers learn the choreography first, without any performance quality, and add the facial expressions later. This way, dancers can focus on the steps and the sequence, and add the “icing on the cake”, so to speak, when the “cake” is ready.
Either way of incorporating performance quality is valid – you just need to decide what works for your dancers!
How To Take Performance Quality To the Next Level?
Performing is a skill that takes consistency and dedication, and contrary to what some people might think, performing is not just smiling. To be a consistent and exciting performer, a dancer has to have energy and stamina, as well as the ability to keep their performance fresh!
Many Port Orange dancers learn multiple routines per year, but might only perform them a few times. But, when dancers go on to the professional world of dance, they might perform a routine hundreds of times.
Broadway performers, cruise ship dancers, and touring dancers will dance the same routine over and over again (if they’re lucky to keep a job for a while) and they have to find ways to keep their performances fresh.
Ways to keep performances fresh include slightly tweaking the intent behind a movement, imagining a friend or famous person in the audience and performing just for them, and giving yourself small goals for each show, like trying to learn another person’s part when you’re off stage.
By practicing these performance quality tips, dancers in Port Orange should eventually feel more comfortable with fully expressing themselves on stage and in the classroom. After all, the best dance technician in the world isn’t very much fun to watch if they’re not performing with their heart and soul!