And Don’t Forget to Smile!

You’ll hear an instructor yell this out right as a student is walking onto stage!


While this can be a quick last reminder, I’m a firm believer that smiling on stage does not necessarily mean a distinguished dancer. Even behind a frozen smile, it is quickly obvious if a dancer is thinking about the next move instead of enjoying the experience of being on-stage and the art of dance itself.

Dance is one of the most expressive art forms; regardless of style or origin. A dancer that can invoke an emotion out of the audience, whether it be to get up and start dancing, or to feel emotions of sadness,curiosity, happiness etc., is a dancer in his/her truest form.

So how do we get to this level?

It’s nothing new and its nothing exciting – PRACTICE!

I can tell how much a dancer practiced their routine 30 seconds into their performance. And, yes, you might be thinking, “well you have a trained eye, you do this day in and day out.”

Nope – not necessarily true!

Few tips on facial expressions when it comes to performing:

  1. Use your EYES!  – They say people tend to flirt with either their smile or their eyes. When it comes to performing, BOTH are of equal importance! You’ll see dancers sometimes pick a spot to look out far out in the audience and have their eyes glued to it! Nope! The most enjoyable dances to watch are when your face is natural and expressive! Your eyes are taking in the surroundings and, technically, flirting with the audience!
  1. Relax your Jaw! – Yes, you need to smile on stage! You want the audience to know you’re having fun and that includes portraying yourself as natural as you can on stage (even if you’re not!). You want to make it seem as if this is second nature to you as having a conversation with your best friend!
  1. Use different expressions – performing is not about just having ONE expression the whole time you’re on stage. Think about when you’re hanging out and having a good time with your friends. Do you just have one frozen expression the whole time you’re with them? God,I hope not. For instance, raising your eyebrows could portray a pleasant surprise, a head up with a small smirk can be a dancer showing confidence, eyes darting to corners can represent mystery or confusion etc.
  1. Choreographed facials – I’ve had some instructors choreograph the expressions in routines. This strategy has produced amazing results! During practice sessions, the dancer might feel shy and embarrassed doing this, but, on stage, WOW! It’s like a whole different person; like an alter ego just emerged (can we remember Beyonce’s Sasha fierce real quick?!) ! You’ll be surprised what a choreographed wink or a small air kiss will do!

Just like you can tell a lot about how a person is feeling by their face and body language during a conversation, you can tell a lot by a dancer’s expression during a performance. It’s not just about us looking good on stage!