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DancingDawn2011

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Reply with quote  #1 
You know those dancers who can really go on stage and perform a piece? I'm not talking about having the best technique but they have the faces and confidence that shines on stage? Well, 12 yo DD isn't one of them. She lacks confidence and is on the shy side in general. Anyone BTDT and have any advice or words to soothe me? DD had a comp this weekend and came away very disappointed in her self. We have 3 more comps to go and I would love some tools or tricks to help her and me. TIA.
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dancedaughters

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Reply with quote  #2 
I think it depends on the reason that she doesn't have that performance quality.  If it's because she's concentrating so hard on the dance that she has nothing left for performance, than the answer is tons of practice.

If it's because she's self-conscious, then it sometimes works to ask the dancer to play a character (not herself) during the dance.  During practice, ask her to aim for a performance that she thinks is so over-the-top that it would never belong on stage.  My DD and I used to call it "wanna-be" style.  It was an inside joke but it totally worked for her - she based it on some of the very over-the-top things she saw at theater auditions.  Then point out the good stuff and help her dial back where it's too much instead of trying to ramp up where things are not enough.

The other suggestion, which also has to do with playing a character, is aimed at helping her display sincere emotion on stage rather than just putting on faces.  Have her really think about her dance - what's happening, why is the movement the way it is, what's the emotion.  One of my DD's favorite performances happened after she spent some time on her own coming up with a character and a backstory.  She never shared either of those things with anyone, but her performance was amazing after that - she just really connected with the music so much more.
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jazzminesun81

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Reply with quote  #3 
My DD is kind of the opposite. She's shy and reserved in class but a total ham once she gets on stage. I second what dancedaughters said about getting into character. DD always gets into character when she's on stage, and often creates little back stories for her characters, an exercise she learned in aerial camp one summer. If she has a hard time getting started with that on her own, maybe a few acting classes couldn't hurt?
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rubydancemom

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Reply with quote  #4 
I have a DD who has beautiful technique and can perform lyrical/contemporary characters well, but wasn't a good jazz performer (clean and sharp, but no face). When we talked, she said that they are always being told to be "sassy" in jazz. Well, in our house, being sassy means you're being a brat and about to be punished, so DD had been making this weird brat face on stage. I told her about the "ooohs" and "aaahs", which help in "sassy" jazz numbers. She has been SO much better this year, and all she has to do is say to herself "ooh" on cutesy poses and "aah" on leaps and high kicks, and keep alternating "oohs and aahs" throughout the dance while maintaining a smile the whole time.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #5 
Getting "into character" on stage isn't enough, at least not for your DD.  She needs to get into character in rehearsal as well; it needs to be part of her practice and muscle memory.

I have a shy DD, and when she was 10-11 her dancing was really reserved.  She could turn it up on stage, but there was no doubt she was reserved in class or in workshops.  I'll never forget the speech Francisco Gella gave her after class at 24/Seven one day.  Something along the lines of "you are beautiful, you are a beautiful dancer ... but you can't be reserved and shy.  I didn't notice you until the second or third pass!  You can't make me or anyone else wait; we might never see it.  You need to put it on display with confidence, and show your joy of dance and your beautiful confident self on every pass."

I'm sure that some of has to do with confidence and knowledge that she possessing the underlying technique for what she's trying to execute, some of it may be simply part of the "growing up" and maturation process, but her artistry has really emerged over the past few years.  So ... have patience.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #6 
Not trying to be difficult, but for whatever reason my gut said, "maybe not really amping it up at competition is simply the dancer she is meant to be right now, and maybe right now knowing that her technique and precision are firing on all cylinders is enough." There's just a part of me that feels like, yes, you can fake it, but wouldn't it be great if she could genuinely express it on her own terms and in her own time?

That said, you posted this in competitive dance, and she wasn't pleased with her competition results with regards to this, and I should not ignore that. Telling you to let it be is hardly answering the question you asked so I'll add my two cents.

Maybe I am reading too much into your words, but it sounds like this is more of an "in general" lack of confidence than simply an on stage lack of confidence... coupled with her age it's a delicate situation as insecurity may possibly be approaching its peak for all kids around that age (with some earlier, some later)... so one suggestion I have not seen yet is to work holistically on the issue. Try to get to the core of what gnaws at her self esteem, and what she draws confidence from and help her to get that in general out in the open. Try to help her draw a parallel between what she truly feels confidence in and how that feels and how to channel that same attitude into her performance.

I would ask her if she feels there is more emotion inside her and if she feels herself actively holding back. If the answer is yes then this is far more easily addressed, but if she truly just doesn't feel the emotional side of the performance yet it will take a longer approach and I would think about making short and long term goals to work towards. Short term goals for this season and long term over the next year. An example of a short term goal would be to pick just two or three parts of her routine that she herself agrees should be easy to match with an emotion and to simply improve on those two or three areas. Kind of like training wheels. Let her get the feel of expressing the emotion and emoting with the performance on a small level without trying to address the entire routine. I would hope that once she tries it out on a small scale she'll be able to perform it on a larger scale with time and practice.

My last suggestion is a method I had my DD use when trying to work out how to approach expression with her lyrical routine this year. I had her listen to her music, sitting still, and asked her to develop a story, a beginning/ middle/ end (she was 9 at the time). I then asked her to write down what emotions each part could involve. I asked her to take some time, on her own, no judgment, to attempt to express those emotions using her face only. Then to do the same but with the music, and at the point in the music where she felt it belonged. Giving her a literal road map from beginning to end, a story to follow, and practicing telling that story with her face alone, really translated to her entire body fairly well.

Best of luck on the remaining competitions.
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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #7 
I have/had 4 daughters who dance and my 2nd oldest had excellent technique and great leaps but she struggled with performance and emotion.  She never was able to overcome it and ended up deciding not to pursue a career as a ballet dancer because of it.  I'm not trying to discourage you or your DD at all, I'm just saying that for some dancers "performing" does not come naturally.   You mentioned that your DD struggles with confidence as mine did too.  Thankfully my DD outgrew it finally when she started college and she's actually now on her college dance team and doing great - although she will never be one of those people who totally "light up" the stage - but she wasn't able to work through it while she was still in junior high/high school.  Just continue to do things to try to build her confidence and keep encouraging her.  You might want to mention it to some of her dance teachers so they might be able to give some positive reinforcement to her too.  Taking classes in musical theatre and jazz and having her put on "shows" at home for family and friends might help a little too.
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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #8 
The two pictures on the left are before and the picture on the right was a few months ago at a college football game.  Before this year you would NEVER see her smiling while she performed.  Sometimes it just takes longer to build that confidence.  Keep helping her and she'll be great!

a.jpg 



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nyklane

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Reply with quote  #9 
Wow, great advice in this thread!
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EvryDayShufflin

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Reply with quote  #10 
I think for those of our children that are less inclined toward dramatics this can be a skill that just develops with time and confidence. I have one dancer who can't help but become a huge character on stage and one that has always been more reserved. But this year at 15 she has developed a confidence and stage presence that is shining through - and finally matches her technique level. And the SO and DTs have noticed! She had to find this place on her own however and yes disappointment came along with that - solos need full package. I tried everything but it was simply when she was ready to bloom. She will never be an over the top showman, but she's found the right blend for who she is. Best wishes to your daughter!!!
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DancingDawn2011

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thank you for all the very kind and thoughtful responses.  
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jazzminesun81

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Reply with quote  #12 
Along with Joriebelle, here's a before and after. The 1st is from lyrical from last year, note the lack of facial expression (though she's good at smiling for the jazz/mt routines). The 2nd, she's supposed to be an underworld minion, and cirque showed her clips from the movie The Grudge for inspiration... it's just about finding your character (though I'll admit that it scares me that she's so good at looking scary).
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154395811172122&l=d4074da0f2
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155005576682122&l=8552217dea
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dmjrm4

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzminesun81
Along with Joriebelle, here's a before and after. The 1st is from lyrical from last year, note the lack of facial expression (though she's good at smiling for the jazz/mt routines). The 2nd, she's supposed to be an underworld minion, and cirque showed her clips from the movie The Grudge for inspiration... it's just about finding your character (though I'll admit that it scares me that she's so good at looking scary).
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154395811172122&l=d4074da0f2
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155005576682122&l=8552217dea


First link worked, second one didn't.  You probably have 2 different privacy settings.
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PastrySugar

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Reply with quote  #14 
I have one of those DD too. Its so frustrating for us the watchers.
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crafty1

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Reply with quote  #15 
My dd was the same way. She was doing a tap solo to "So What" by Pink (I think she was 13). She was dancing fine but was not performing.

I told her that she needed to play a rock star, and had her watch music videos of female rock stars (like Pink and Joan Jett). We watched "School of Rock". I had her practice making "rocking out" faces to music in a mirror. Finally she got it and came on stage like a rock star and owned it! It took a while to bring it out, but she has performed every single dance since then. I am including musical theater she did at school, since she is no longer dancing.

Remind your daughter that this is dance, and it is supposed to be fun. Relax and enjoy. Lose herself in the music and the performance.

What type of performance is your DD doing? I know you said she is 12. Is it MT, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, or Lyrical? That matters. We can give more personalized help if we know.

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Rydancer24

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Reply with quote  #16 
There are many types of dancers... you have the technically savvy ones, the ones that can count music (and prob do very well in academics), the natural born performers but have to work really hard at technique and flexibility... my daughter is a performer.  she had a duo with a very tech savvy girl so each of them had to work on opposite skills.  What helped her duo partner perform was to listen to the music over and over and even practice singing the lyrics in a mirror.  know the song until it just becomes natural.. and practice performing at all times.  
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DancingDawn2011

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Reply with quote  #17 
DD is doing a lyrical dance to an instrumental piece.  She is supposed to look happy and joyful.
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