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The Dancer's Face - Keeping the Audience Involved

Svetlana Zakharova - Giselle

As a performer, stage presence is a must! You want to keep your audience interested in what you are doing up there on the stage, so it is important to be aware of your face.

Some dancers are natural performers. They dance with energy, and seem to move like they love being up there on the stage. Experience in performance, of course, plays a big factor in how you keep an audience interested.

Make eye contact with your audience and members of your group. Don’t ignore your them. Direct your attention to one person in the audience and occasionally glance at members of your group as you pass them in the choreography of your routine. Think about this….when you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to love the way that you get to it.

Your facial expression is important in dance but there is more to it than just smiling. To draw in an audience, sincere facial expression often has more to do with the eyes than with the mouth. So, rather than focusing on a “smiling” mouth, dancers need to practice an “I love what I am doing” expression with their whole face, especially the eyes.

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 keep. 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 dancers who utilize this technique. Your face will keep the audience involved. Truly see, look, and take in the world through your eyes as you dance.

As for the rest of the face, be natural. While a smile can be important during certain types of dances, it will not match the mood in all your dances.

Relax the lower jaw. This will improve any type of expression and, if fitting, make possible a smile that comes easily but is not plastered to your face. Sometimes the tension of performance causes dancers to bite down on their molars. Don’t let this type of pressure get to you. Keep the facial muscles relaxed and show people that you are comfortable and have true peace in what you do.

When participating in a story ballet, different expessions are required depending on the mood of the story. Ballet dancers tell stories by using different facial expressions. Instead of using words, use your body and movement to express yourself. The following facial expressions will help tell the audience what you are feeling. By practicing different positions of your head, eyes and mouth, you can convey your feelings to the audience.

To look scared or afraid, open your mouth and eyes widely, and place your hands on your face.

To appear angry or mad, purse your lips together and squint your eyes to make a grimace.

To appear sad, expose your bottom lip, open your eyes widely, and draw the corners of your mouth downward.

To appear happy or excited, smile widely as if you are laughing.

People come to see beauty, so when you dance try to give it to them.

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