Monday, February 27, 2012

I spy...

When you watch a performance, where does your gaze go?

Maybe you tend to focus on the people that really project ki, or the shortest people, or whomever has the craziest solos. There's nothing wrong with any of that; we all have preferences for who and what we tend to look at.

How often do you look at what you normally wouldn't? When someone is having a great solo, even if it's a lot of fun to watch, it can be REALLY telling to look at the other players in the group. Are they supporting the soloist? Can you see it in their body language, faces, projection?

The "dead spot" is really easy to see and it's often distracting to the audience. When you have everyone onstage giving all their energy except for one person, that's what people will notice. Even if they don't continue to look at that person, their attention has been divided and it somewhat takes the joy out of a performance. Think about it this way - you can have 99 people in togas all doing jumping jacks and 1 person in that crowd in a toga standing still. Who are you going to look at? Exactly. On top of that, instead of thinking why 99 people are doing jumping jacks in togas (which is pretty rare, let me tell you), you'll be thinking, "why isn't that one doing jumping jacks?"

So let's flip the lens around. If you're doing the performing, do you try to be the one being looked at? Why? Does that add to your group or distract from it? There is a definite difference between expressing yourself through the art form and just trying to get attention.

Conversely, maybe you're not comfortable with the attention or feel that you're not "good enough" to deserve it, so you withhold your presence on the stage to let others shine. Well that's almost laudable...except doing this turns you into the dead spot! You can't hold back when you perform - it pulls attention away from the performance and it does your group a disservice. Hell, it does YOU a disservice!

This shows you that by trying to be something not seen, you effectively make yourself very visible. Ironic, no?

When you watch a performance, especially if it's a recording, do yourself a favor and look at what you usually don't. What do you see? And when you're on stage, sometimes you have to take a second to "scan" what you're putting out there. You might just be doing the very thing you're trying not to do!

Awareness is a skill that comes in multiple flavors and situations. We usually see what we want to see but being able to view things from the audience's point of view can open up a completely different perspective.

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