How to give a great performance.
April 19, 2015 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I have recently started performing again. How do I develop a kickass performance?

I loved performing as a younger person. I did theatre, dance, and some improv. I always enjoyed it but got away from it after I graduated from high school. I started taking dance classes in the fall and we just did our annual student showcase and I really enjoyed being on a stage again.

I have also been hooping for a few years and a friend and I are performing in a dance show in a few weeks. We have our piece almost completely choreographed and we have a good handle on our moves and tricks. This is a more general question about how to take it to the next level. That could be tips or resources about improving stage presence, choreography, makeup, costumes, lighting, collaborating with others, etc. MeFites, what are those things that make a performer and their performance great? What are the little things that set someone apart from the rest?
posted by futureisunwritten to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Record yourself! We now live in a world where this doesn't require film development and expensive equipment, so you are blessed to be able to see what the audience sees. Great athletes do this with their game tapes, so do this with your rehearsals. See the little things you can improve on, and the great things you can enhance and then watch what happens when you make those tweaks to see if it helps or not. Be ruthless! You're going to cringe at first, but the more you get used to being critical of your own performances, the less often you'll make the errors that distinguish between amateurs and pros.
posted by xingcat at 7:09 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

So, I've never been to a hooping performance so if this is not normal, apologies. I love it when the performer connects via actual eye contact with the audience. Having a good costume that's appropriate for the show and won't fall apart. Make sure have an expressive face and look like you're enjoying what your doing. Don't have stage grimace, the plastered smile gets weird
posted by Attackpanda at 7:14 AM on April 19, 2015

Some things to think about are:

Use of the space. Firstly, it's more interesting if you don't remain clamped to the centre of the stage. Secondly, what does it mean for your character to be in different parts of the stage? Think of your piece like a film director would - does each moment look visually compelling?

Pacing. If an act has the same pace all the way through, and you don't stop for breath, your audience will get bored. Build tension, then release it, and the audience will stay with you. Use your music!

Applause points. If you're any good, the audience want to applaud you. Structure your act to give them space to applaud.

It is not mandatory to end the act with a million hoops, or with your hardest trick, or even the hardest trick you can reliably do on stage. End with an end.
posted by emilyw at 8:31 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor (James Taylor's brother, incidentally) is a beautiful book about, well, stage performance. He talks specifically about being a musician, but it may as well be a zen treatise on living life in relation to others. I recommend it to anyone, even if they never intend to get up on a stage, but especially to anyone who does.
posted by cmoj at 8:31 AM on April 19, 2015

Best answer: Think about the visuals from the audience's perspective.
What colour backdrop are you performing against? Wear something that contrasts vividly.
What colour hoop are you using? Does it work with your clothing and the backdrop?
Can you wear any clothing or hair accessory that will help intensify the movements you make (the way a bellydancer's fringey belt or a puppet's floofy bouncy hair helps amplify and emphasize movement)?
Are all your moves staged on a plane that makes them look most impressive (for instance if you were doing pushups, think of how facing the audience head-first makes the pushup look small, where as turning parallel to the audience so they see your entire body length will make the pushup look long)... Make sure poses that have a cool silhouette are turned so the audience sees that silhouette for maximum effect.
How well is the space lit? People look at things that are light. Can you use the space's lighting effectively? Can you add or subtract light from the space so your performance is the brightest thing?
Can you underscore cool visuals with cool sounds, like stomping, jangly clothing, clapping, yelling? Synchronized sound and visuals are awesome.
Agree that videotaping rehearsals, watching the tape, and making adjustments will help a lot! Make sure to put the camera/phone horizontally, and place the tripod so that the footage you're capturing mimics the height, eyeline, and placement of the audience, so it's the most useful.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:43 PM on April 19, 2015

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