Bettina’s Out-Box: correspondences about everything show bizFebruary 16, 2011
What a real victory–your daughter getting that very featured role! But after reading your email, I feel she doesn’t relish or enjoy the wins. She tends to focus too much on the failures. This will not work in a business where failures (if you choose to look at them that way) outnumber actual wins by about 30 to 1…and THAT is optimistic. I’ve tried to explain this to her, as I know you have.
In response to your question, yes, stage presence can definitely be learned. But I emphasize the word “learned,” which implies studying something. It won’t just occur on its own. Your daughter has a tendency to think that learned or rehearsed moves and gestures are “silly” and “not her.” As long as that attitude prevails, she will indeed feel silly doing choreographed moves. I want to reinforce that this is called “show” business for a reason: We are putting on a SHOW! As entertainers, we are expected to do things that most people cannot do themselves. Our audience comes to the theaters, the symphony, the clubs to live vicariously through us, the entertainers. Your daughter needs to stop fighting her instructors and heed the Nike motto…JUST DO IT.
There was a time when I, who was always a pretty natural performer, felt “fake” doing choreographed or “planned” movements while singing. I thought I should just stand there and let the moment take over. I was actually singing regularly at L.A.’s famed Improv that fostered the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman. Well, I came off like a stick. Not interesting and definitely unpolished. I forced myself to watch other performers (does your daughter watch videos of the greats?) and take notes and start imitating them. I still feel a semblance of “weirdness” when I make big gestures, but I commit to them, and the audience LOVES it. When I remind myself that I am up there FOR THEM, not me, it makes it all that much more doable.
Lots of love,