Have you ever been mesmerized by a performance and wondered what made you feel so captivated?
I was so amazed when I saw the Ballet Folklorico de la Universidad de Colima on video and even more so when I saw them live at Bellas Artes in Mexico City. My jaw literally dropped. There was something about their performance that made me want to get off my seat and jump on the stage with them.
My dream came true a few years later when I was able to travel to Colima and study folklorico with this extrordinary group of dancers. When I was there I realized that performers have to do more than just dance if they truly want to captivate their audience. You have to master several tactics before you can do so. I had been practicing these tactics my entire life in Los Angeles, especially when I started dancing at La Fonda with Los Camperos, but never stopped to realize what it was that made our performance so intiguing, until I had to teach my students to bring that "pazzazz" to the stage.
Take a cue from me and incorporate these 9 tactics to captivate your audience. I guarantee that they'll work every time.
1.) Absorb the energy!
Absorb the energy of the room. If the audience is into your performance and energized, use their energy to enhance your performance. Respond to their energy!
2.) Give yourself to the audience.
Don't worry about what the audience thinks. Go out there and give 110% to the performance so that all the audience can think is, "WOW."
3.) Play well with others.
If you're in a group you want to be be a part of the community on stage. You don't want to look as if you're dancing a solo. Have fun and make eye contact with your partner and with the other dancers on the stage.
4.) Make eye contact.
Even if you can't see every face in the audience, make eye contact with the people you can see or make eye contact with your imaginary spectator and give him or her your best performance, convincing them that you are the best. Like I said in #3, make eye contact with your partner as well. When you dance with a partner, you should think of eachother as a team. Show the audience that you love dancing with eachother. Make eye contact with the other dancers on the stage and with your musicians. This will create a beautiful ambiance on stage. A sense of unity.
5.) Be dynamic.
Your performance has to be dynamic. In other words, it has to be powerful, energetic, spirited, and vigorous. If you are dancing to an energetic son, like "El Son de La Negra," you want to your movements to be just as bold and fiery as the music.
6.) Get into character.
Play the part. Men, if you're dancing a suite from Jalisco and you're dressed in a traje de "gala," act like you're a wealthy "charro" who owns an Hacienda. Walk onto the stage with the same pride that an authentic "charro" would portray. Ladies, if you are asked to dance a Revolucion suite as an Adelita, pretend you're an Aldelita who fought in the war. Convey the same fierceness! Make believe! Performers are actors too! Oh, and one more very important thing to remember is that you are in character from the moment the audience sees you, until the moment you disappear backstage. Never break character in front of your audience.
7.) Feel the music.
Whether you're dancing with live music or not, feel it! Remember, that your feet are an instrument and should always be in sinc with the music. If you listen to the music and feel it, you will most likely be in sinc. Timing is everything. Trust me, if you are not in unison with the music, your audience will be able to tell and the musicians will most likely give you or your director a hard time after the performance. 8/
8.) Don't forget your "gritos."
Folklorico is the dance of "el pueblo." It's the dance of the people. You want to create a festive ambiance on stage if the dance calls for it, especially if you are dancing to lively music. Most of the songs we dance too call for flirtation, so wink a your partner and flirt! Men, it's okay to whistle at your partner on stage once in a while or cheer her on by saying something like "Echale bonito chiquita!" Ladies, do the same by flirting back and cheering your partner on too. Something that I would suggest doing is looking up sayings or ways people talk in the various regions of Mexico so that you can use the phrases you find on stage.
9.) Go above and beyond.
You've got to dance beyond yourself! Give the audience everything you can possibly give them. It doesn't matter if there are three people in the audience or a thousand, you should always give your best performance. Dance like it's your last time!
That's it dancers. Now go out there and start captivating the world!
Don't forget to let me know how it goes.
P.S. Make sure you read my previous blog post, "12 Inspiring Quotes for Folklorico Dancers."
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