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Home > Dance Performance

Just Face it: The Importance of A Dancer’s Facial Expression

Each and every dance created and danced only comes to life when a dancer fully adapts it and becomes it. Every dance needs to be interpreted and communicated to the audience. It’s a dancer’s job to breathe life into any choreographic piece. The only way to do this is through true emotion, personality and expression. Early in performing training, a dancer forgets about their face expressions or lack thereof. As the performing skills progress a student becomes aware of their face and begins to experiment with it. Some choose to just smile…

The soul of a dance is in the face
When performance training starts to mature a dancer learns to use facial expression as the soul of their dancing. It becomes the very gesture that sells the dance to the audience as an actor sells his acting to theatre watchers. It’s the true emotion of dancing that makes it an art in the first place, without it it’s just athletics. A dancer who does not express emotion and expression during dance performances becomes uninteresting and dull.

Face expression draws attention to the dancer
One of the best tools of the trade is learning to facially adapt to the dance. Audience eyes are drawn to those dance performers who learn how to master the emotion and expression within the set choreography. The mood of the dance is what audiences interact with through interpretation, reciprocal emotion and psychological illusion. It is the actual connecting factor between the dancer and the audience, and one of most importance.

Tips on face expression
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help with expression development:

  • Let the lyrics and music guide; let the music move you!
  • Give a genuine emotional response.
  • Let yourself go! Just allow yourself to physically feel an emotion on stage.
  • Practice emotion and facial expression during practice and class time.
  • Don’t overdo it! This is not cheerleading.

The face defines the mood of the dance
Some dancers who learn how to express themselves well can sometimes go a bit overboard. An audience or a judge who sees a dancer overdo it seems to view them as acting fake. It can really interfere with the message of the dance. In cheerleading it’s another story, but in the dance world the expressions have to be natural looking. That is a part of what institutes dance an art. The artistic value of a dancer is in presenting expression and emotion, a dancer makes the choreography concept come to life by giving it true life. The body does a lot of the expressing, but the face is 50 percent of it.

Don't overdo it!
An expression cannot be mimicked. If true emotion is not flowing from the dancer, chances are, the performance is not believable. It is up to the dancer to find a true connection with the piece. Let each facial emotion portrayed, be one of true nature. With practice and courage, facial expression will boost a dancer into the next level.

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