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Total Rehearsal Power

(reprinted from Zaghareet! July/Aug.99) by Anthea Kawakib Poole

I remember after a show years ago, I asked my then-boyfriend if he had been present during a certain section of my show, and he said, "Of course I was, you looked right at me and smiled." When I explained that I could hardly even SEE the audience because of the lights and that my warm, twinkling smile was part of the choreography, he was surprised (and a little disillusioned, I think). Oh well, there goes the mystique!

But just because of the lighting situation was I supposed to stare blankly into the void? Of course not. Yet if I hadn't included facial expression in my choreography, preferring to "let it happen naturally," that might have been the result. My show would have been less engaging, less entertaining, for the audience.

Choreographing facial expressions is one of the "total rehearsal techniques" you can use to increase the power of your performance.

When rehearsing your show, use visualization: imagine your audience, even if you have to set up empty chairs in front of you (which I did myself in the beginning!). Keep your head up and "look" into their eyes - two or three seconds is the optimum time for eye contact (less, and your eyes will be darting around; more, and you'll be staring). Now that you can "see" your audience, what do you want to tell them? Don't wear a 'poker face', or worse, a smiley mask! There are hundreds of expressions available to your face - just make sure it fits what your body, and the music, is 'saying'.

Another effective way to use visualization is while relaxing in bed or your favorite chair. Using music or not, imagine your show from start to finish, performed perfectly to an appreciative audience. This method is great for clearing up trouble spots that would be exhausting to tackle over and over physically.

When your show is clear in your mind, including facial expression, then change your rehearsal space: cover your mirrors; or even better, face a different direction. This will really test your concentration! Becoming used to a change in orientation will help you overcome the distraction of an unfamiliar performance area. And of course, the ultimate rehearsal includes costume and makeup! This is really the best way to envision yourself as a dancer - self-confident, attractive, and entertaining.

Try these Power Techniques before your next show - the results will amaze you!

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