What do I want? Actors have asked themselves this simple question for decades. Stanislavski, a famous Russian director and actor knew that by discovering a characters motivation, an actor could more easily tap into his own emotions and develop his own inner monologue. What would he personally do if he wanted X? How would he go about getting what he wanted in his own life? As belly dancers, we can use motivation to develop our own inner monologue in a way that will add depth and complexity to our performances and choreographies.
First when looking at a dance piece, ask yourself “What do I want?” Your goal could simply be to entertain or maybe you’d like to make your audience feel sad. You could also have more specific concept. In fact, more specific motivation is almost always more interesting. Perhaps the lyrics of a song have made you decide to portray a character who wants to make her ex lover regret ever leaving her.
Taking the last example, now that we have our goal, this being to be make our ex wish they had never left us, we must now decided HOW we are going to accomplish this. Should we dance like a fiery vixen adorned in red? Should we dance slow as if our pain is weighing us down, making it difficult to move? Your goal will inform how you move and interact with your audience. It will give you an inner life and make you infinitely more interesting than a dancer who has no motivation in mind.
Simply defining your motivation in a piece will help you maintain an internal monologue while you are performing. We all have an internal monologue as we go throughout are daily lives. As dancers, our job is to communicate our inner monologue to our audience with our bodies. So while you are dancing the “you never should have left me” dance, think what movements communicate “I am so sad since you left that I want to sink into the earth and disappear forever” or by contrast “Ha! Look how hot and happy I am without you! You missed out BIG time jerk face!”. If you actively create an inner monologue while you perform you will be shocked at how much is communicated to your audience simply through expression, timing, and movement.
Stay tuned for more Acting for Dancer blog posts!