how to get in character

This season is going by in a flash. It is incredible that Dayton Ballet’s last shows of the season are this weekend and that there is just over a month left of the school’s season. With the season coming to a close the spring show is too. Dayton Ballet School’s annual show allows for many dancers to perform and try a variety of repertoire. I am very excited to do the sweet and simple wheat pas de deux from Coppelia. I have had a lot of fun learning the piece and can’t wait to perform it. Knowing that many schools do a final spring show that often has characters with a lot of depth I thought I’d share my tips and process for performing a character.

  1. Research- Learn about your role. Look up the story they are apart of and how they are perceived. In addition watch videos of other people performing the same role. Try to find key traits you want to embrace, for me I try to play on Swanhilda’s major mood swings. Bringing joy to my steps and then being able to switch to a whiny girl. Drawing on the jealousy Swanhilda is known for to create a dramatic girl, is what I hope to achieve in May.
  2. Don’t Recreate- If there is another dancer who performed the role you are trying to fill beautifully, don’t recreate it. It is wise to try to implement certain elements of a dancer’s performance into your own, but trying to recreate their work will result in frustration only. You will find yourself frustrated if it isn’t exactly like your inspiration’s interpretation and will lose focus on what matters; the actual dancing.
  3. Subtlety- The smallest of actions can form a character. Don’t try to use grand, over the top acting to create a character, but plan little subtleties. Holding you head a certain way, the timing of a facial expression, or how you look at a fellow character are the small things that can make a major difference.
  4. Be One- This may sound silly, but don’t act like your character, be it. Be silly or sad or jealous or excited. If you think of yourself of being your character rather than pretending to be a character then it will read much more genuinely and feel more genuine as well.

Those are my tips! I really enjoy being a character when dancing and having a story, it gives dancing a whole new level in my mind. I hope you found these tips helpful and check back next week!

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