So, you’re getting ready to do a show and you want the passion of Carmen Amaya to flow through you.
Maybe you’ve been dancing a while and you feel that you’ve known your choreography and you feel like you’re having fun. Then you see the video of yourself and you’re left feeling disappointed.
Why do I look scared?
Why do I look bored?
Why do I look so soft and my movement mushy?
I know. I’ve been there, too. I still go through that when I watch myself on video.
When performing Flamenco, it’s not all about perfect technique. It’s about confidence, expression and passion.
It’s important to have impeccable compás, and if you’re doing a choreography, you need to have it IN your body so the movement is on autopilot. If you’re dancing a solo, then you need to truly understand the structure so that you can improvise here and there.
But THEN, and only then, can you can truly express yourself and here are 4 ways to develop your stage presence
1.UNDERSTAND THE “AIRE”
What is the aire of the palo and how do you want to feel while dancing? Is it Solea? Then the aire is intense and somber. Is it Guajira? Then it’s feminine and languid.
Ideally you would be thinking of the aire, the feeling of the dance while you learn it and have that be expressed in your attitude and facial expression throughout the process.
Then every time you practice your number, you should think of the aire and the feeling FIRST BEFORE concentrating on any of the technical aspects.
Go through your dance and visualize every aspect of it. Hit the accents, feel the moments of intensity, see yourself dancing with confidence, strength and passion.
I do this while I fold laundry or walk my dog. It’s easy to do. I concentrate on any accents I want to hit and my overall feeling while dancing. How do you want to feel while dancing? Elated? Strong? Joyful? Anguished?
This technique is nothing new since top athletes do this all the time to increase their high performance.
Of course, it’s easier to be confident of your dance if you’ve practiced it enough and you feel comfortable in the compás. But one way to have confidence with your self expression is to think WHY you love flamenco so much. It’s the passion in the dancing, right? That intensity comes from an inner confidence that you have something of value to express. Those qualities trump “perfect” technique each and every time.
I wrote about it here about a wonderful exercise to do to gain more confidence to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am a sexy BEAST!” Ha ha, love it! Basically, before you start dancing at the studio, connect with yourself by looking into your eyes. If you can be comfortable with looking into your eyes, then you’ll be more comfortable expressing yourself on stage.
When you’re on stage, you’re there not to show off your technique but to share your love of flamenco and dancing, so let it rip!
Try dancing the whole choreography while looking at yourself in the eyes with the aire of the dance. There are always moments of emotional lightness or heaviness that are expressed not only with the body but with the face. Looking at yourself in the mirror expressing that attitude will allow you to come out of your shell and be a performer as well as a dancer.
Before I do any solo I do my instant warm up. I’m sure I look ridiculous doing it but it helps me to instantly turn on my fire. I first bounce and shake to get the blood moving. I then stand with my feet hip width apart and inhaling deeply while lifting my arms up. Then I exhale forcefully while bring my arms down and really pushing my abs in towards my spine. I finish it by visualizing that my body is rooted to the earth and my roots go deep, deep down into the earth and I draw up the earth’s energy into my body. Before I step out onto the stage I remember how I want to feel while I’m dancing: flamenco puro, electric, firecracker, etc. and I try to feel it right then and there.
Remember, flamenco is a long journey. The more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. LOL! But tapping into the emotion of the dance, being comfortable with the compás and/or the palo, being brave to step and be seen and know that you deserve this moment. These will help you build your stage presence, which is just you allowing yourself to fill up the room with your energy.