5 Ways to Improve Your Stage Presence As a Dancer

By Jazzart Dance Theatre (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jazzart Dance Theatre (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Stage presence is that X-factor that separates the best dancers from the pack. You can master all the technique in the world, but if you don’t own the stage, you’re going to have a hard time capturing your audience’s attention. All dance, but Bollywood dance in particular, is about storytelling. Every song conveys a specific emotional moment in a story arch, and your job as a dancer is to translate that emotion into the context of your choreography. Mastering this art is the key to improving your stage presence. Some dancers have a natural instinct when it comes to storytelling and connecting with an audience, but anyone can build their stage presence over time using the right methods. Here are a few key ways to improve your stage presence - practice them with the same diligence you practice new techniques with!

Learn from the best

Make a list of the dancers that inspire you, and then watch as many of their videos (or live performances) as you can get your hands on. Take detailed notes on their unique styles - what about their performances stands out to you, and what synergies do you see with your own style? While every dancer both has and should continue to develop their own style, borrowing from the best is an excellent source of inspiration when you’re first starting out.

Understand your narrative

Take the time to understand the story you are telling - what is your “character” trying to express in this moment, and how does that expression change throughout your routine? If you didn’t choreograph the piece yourself, ask the choreographer about their intention behind the movements, and what they want the audience to feel.

Expressions, expressions, expressions

Once you’ve got a solid grasp of the story you are trying to tell, plop yourself down in front of a mirror and get up-close and personal with your facial expressions. How many nuanced ways can you convey happiness, coyness, confusion, anger, betrayal? What may seem like a dramatic expression in your head might translate to an insignificant movement in reality, and these muted expressions won’t translate to your audience when you’re up on a big stage. By spending some quality time with a mirror, you can study your own expressions and experiment with different styles.

Take an acting class!

An acting class can help you free yourself of inhibitions and doubts that may be holding you back, and allow you to perform more freely on stage. Acting lessons will also come in handy if you’re struggling with extending the emotions you’re conveying with your body and movement to your facial expressions. Start small with an acting workshop and see if it’s a fit for you!

Perform anytime, anywhere

There is no replacement for feeding off the energy of your audience when performing. Try to perform in front of people as much as possible, whether it’s just in front of a couple of friends, half a dance class, or a full out performance on a stage with an audience of hundreds. Performing outside your studio and away from the mirror will give you a chance to put your skills to the test. You’ll notice the difference in your energy and expression as you perform more frequently, and you can use that momentum to challenge yourself further during practices.