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Ballet Talk for Dancers

I can't Act!


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I am in this end of year preformance and one of my dances in it involves acting. That would be fine if i actually could! My teacher yells at me to put more feeling into myself, and on stage i do. The problem is that i have to do it in rehersal and i know it! I just get really embarrased and worried i will exaggerate it too much. :unsure: Any advice :)

Edited by homer4263
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What are you being asked to act? There are limits to classical mime and also to "natural" acting. Balanchine is frequently misquoted, but what he actually wrote was, "It is very difficult to express, say, your mother-in-law in classical mime." It is the responsibility of the choreographer to set action on you that you can express. You aren't supposed to think it up yourself!

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Well, she's making us act like we are crying or frustrated. The song is about going off to war (I'm not nuts aout the choreography at all) :) We have to stand in this straight line at the front of the stage. We have to make up what we do.

Edited by homer4263
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Ask her what to do. That's her job. Doing improv like that without a preparation is just cruel. Keep in mind that simpler is better.

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i have a question among the same lines.


I am doing a ballet to Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack, and in between sections ( a section with many jumps and fouettes that i am in, and then a section with the whole group.) we have 30 seconds of silence, where we are supposed to act "pirate-like". I am already exhausted, but i need some acting tips!

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Is it supposed to be really genuine and serious or can you be caricatures of pirates?

Because, if so..... :wink:


For pirates, it is important that you look heavy and grounded. A deep plié in second position with your arms angularly propped on your knees is always good, I find. ;P Or, anything diagonal/off-balance is interesting for the audience. (Leaning to one side, one foot flexed, arms folded... or so...)

If allowed, I always find it great to interact with others on stage. That could be, for example, arm-wrestling, or toasting with imaginary bottles of rum, or getting in a fight, or getting sea-sick or... oh there's so much you can do for pirates! :lol: Take some time to think of something together. Improvising on the spot is never easy.


Anyway, I hope I could help you a little. (I did Peter Pan this year by the way- which also has pirates in it... :thumbsup:)

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Just stand there, belch and scratch certain areas of your body. :) Your teacher will figure out something else for you to do right away!

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I second what Malaika said—interact with your fellow pirates! Maybe it's because musical theater is my focus, but I get such a kick out of doing that kind of improv. I agree that "be piratey" is a little vague, but I don't see anything so terrible about a choreographer asking for a couple of eights of improv. I've always found that even if you're just goofing around, you'll find something that works and you'll end up doing some variation on that every time.

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A few rules about turning into improv onstage:

  • Pick a spot to stand in where nobody else is.
  • Make sure you are in the light.
  • Do not cover any other actor
  • Don't let any other actor cover you.
  • Do whatever you do with conviction, even if it's standing still.
  • Try not to trip over the furniture.

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What about scenes where you have to remain completly still, and not smile or make any expressions. I am a toy solider in Coppelia and I tend to laugh because the friends are waving in our faces.


Any advice?

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Turn off your brain, let your eyes go out of focus, and just do NOTHING with all your might.

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