by Matthew Johnson
by Michelle Calpe
A significant challenge facing many performers is connecting with their audience with good stage presence, finding your “stage character.” Creating your “stage character” will come with time, practice and remembering a few easy, key points.
Stage presence is just like staging a house for sale, or hanging a painting in a gallery. The painting is the same no matter how it’s hung, but the display of the painting on the wall may highlight it’s unique beauty in just the right way to catch the right buyer. Stage presence is the way a performers highlights their unique beauty to show the audience how truly special their performance is.
The following are simple things to remember as you practice your “stage character.”
Use Your Body
- Chin up/chest open, present yourself to the audience
- If you have a prop in only one hand keep the empty hands/arms activated, your entire body is part of the show, not just the hand holding the prop. Give it energy and poise.
- Close off your inner leg, don’t show the inside of your leg, always the outside of leg. For example, if the audience is to your right side, keep your right leg in front in your lung to show them your right hip and outer leg instead of the inside of the left leg.
- Connect with the audience, smile, smirk, laugh…whatever your expression make it mean something and do it with purpose.
- Look out over the top of the audience, looking out over the audience gives the impression that you are connecting with them. Make eye contact once in a while, do not dance to one person or the floor, dance to the entire audience.
- Don’t hide behind the fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are what make fire dancing great, not the fire!
- If your back is to the audience look over your shoulder or reconnect quickly. Turning away from the audience can be a nice way to vary your performance but don’t leave them too long, you want them to pay attention to you, so pay attention to them. If you are performing in a circle when you move from one side to the next, continue to turn and connect with the opposite side of the circle now and again to keep them engaged in the show.
- Move around as much as possible, use the entire stage. Greet each side of the audience, work with your environment
- Use variety by working different levels (i.e. squat, lunge, jump.) Changing height and levels will add texture to your performance.
- Dance with power from the heart, be proud, let energy fill every part of your movement and performance
- Make sure the prop is at the right angle to the audience, audience sees the full circles of poi or all the wicks on the fan
- Keep straight planes, working vertical and horizontal will give you a crisp and varied show.
- Use the length of your poi chains to create variation, choke up versus extended. This gives texture to the performance
- Vary the speed of the show with movement and music. Just because the music is fast doesn’t mean you have to be
Creating Your Performance
- The show begins when you arrive at the gig, be the performer as soon as you arrive.
- Breathe, Relax, Remember you are awesome!
- When you take the stage seek your space, connect to your environment, claim it, use it
- Greet your audience, the band, etc. this can be with a smile, a nod, a wave, a wink, your personal style when you take the stage. They are there to see you, thank them for it with a connected look or smile.
- Be in the moment
- Dance because you love it, it will show! There is no substitute for confidence which comes from practice, practice and more practice.
|Featured Performance Troupe: Pyro-Klectic
by Michelle Calpe
We're currently running from 7 to 19 performers at any given time. We usually do between 2 and 5 big shows per month.
Also Azzah! and the Flammable TommyB is a traveling duet show featuring hilarious dialogue, crowd interaction, belly dance, and technical fire dancing that is hitting the road in October, traveling through Texas, Louisiana, Florida (Jacksonville, Miami Beach, and finally Key West).
Tommy B from Pyro-Klectic
How long have you been spinning?
I've been spinning for about 8 years, 5 of them on fire.
How did you get started?
I first attended Earth Dance in 2001. I saw fire dancers on stilts. I had to do that.
What tools do you use regularly?
I use custom poi called Octo-Poi, 3.5' Double Staff, 6' Staff, Teddy Cage (cage on a chain with cute teddy bears...on fire in it)
What was the most inspiring experience you have had as a fire dancer?
Burning Man! That experience showed me how awesome fire performers can be the world over. Each time I go I'm amazed at the new levels of talent that performers are achieving.
What would you say to inspire other fire dancers?
Don't quit! We have people in our troupe that couldn't hit their ass with both hands two years ago, who now are in every show we put on and perform technical, choreographed, and interactive tricks. Anyone can get there if you just don't quit. It might take longer for some to get comfortable with a tool....but practice practice practice...and you will get there, and probably sooner than you think.
What has been your favorite performance?
Wow...that's a tough one. Here's a few...
Burning Man Conclave '09
Whiskey Row Street Dance, Prescott AZ
Tims Toyota Center Zoo Dazzles Benefit
Show with Shpongle and Archedream at the Green Room, Flagstaff AZ
My first big paid gig and my first street show that made money
...it's getting hard to remember them all :}