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Episode Info:

By Opening Your Teeth…

Because I don’t have backyard neighbors, I can get away with just having sheer panels on my windows.  I can wind down by looking at the twinkling lights of our small town on the valley floor below.

In the morning, the rising sun helps me wake up gently.

But during winter when we’re on standard time, it’s still dark when the alarm goes off. It’s like I have seasonal shutters on my windows.  Then it’s a little harder to open my eyes and wake up.

A closed expression may be shuttering your stage presence, and preventing it from shining on your audience.

Listen now: Or Read the Transcript...

How Opening Your Teeth Brightens Your Stage Presence

This is an article by Nadira Jamal that first appeared on Belly Dance Geek.com on Nov. 25, 2009.

My bedroom windows face a canyon.  Because I don’t have backyard neighbors, I can get away with just having sheer panels on my windows.  I can wind down by looking at the night lights of our small town on the valley floor below.

In the morning, the rising sun helps me wake up gently.  But during winter when we’re on standard time, it’s still dark when the alarm goes off.  It’s kind of like I have seasonal shutters on my windows.  Then it’s a little harder to open my eyes and wake up.

Just like shutters or blinds on a window, a closed expression may be shuttering your stage presence, and preventing it from shining on your audience.

Why Is An Open Expression So Important?

Belly dance is personal.

You aren’t playing the snow queen or just a body moving in space. You are a real person with a relationship to the audience.

An important part of the belly dance aesthetic is to share the joy and inner light that bursts out of you.

A closed face shutters your light.

And yet many of us wear closed expressions, even when we’re smiling.

But How Do You Open Your Expression?

Cracking the blinds on your light is simple: separate your teeth.

Really.

Just open up your jaw enough to fit the tip of your thumb between your front teeth.

Now You Might Be Thinking…I Don’t Want to Smile For the Whole Show

This technique is not just for smiling. Separating your teeth will make any of your expressions more accessible and inviting to your audience:

  • Your smiles will seem happier and more welcoming
  • Mysterious or smoky expressions will be more enthralling; it invites your audience to guess your secret
  • Sad expressions will lay your heart bare and invite them to share in your heartbreak

And now you might be thinking that It’ll Look Fake!

Separating your teeth may feel awkward or fake at first, especially if you usually keep your teeth clamped together in your day-to-day life.

But remember that being a performer means being larger than life.

Your costume, the music, and even just standing on the stage or dance floor creates a larger scale.

Scaling your expression up to performance proportions is fitting, not fake.

Your audience is more likely to notice an expression that is too small, rather than one that is too big.

Dos and Don’ts

Here are a few tips to help you make this technique work for you:

Do: Breathe

It keeps the expression alive.

 

Don’t: Freeze your expression.

It’s common to tense up while you get used to the mechanics of holding your teeth apart.

 

Do: Try laughing.

That instantly relaxes and opens up your face. And you can’t say “ha ha ha” with your teeth clamped together.

 

Don’t: Be a cartoon.

We’re not making faces; we’re just opening up our natural expressions.

Summary

An open face makes your stage presence shine.

This makes any type of expression – whether it’s happy, sad or mysterious – more inviting and accessible to your audience.

You can accomplish this just by separating your teeth.

Relaxing, breathing, and laughing can make this feel more natural.

Just beware of making faces; you want to open up your natural expressions, not create false new ones.

How To Get Started

Make separated teeth a new requirement for your practice routine.

Resolve to keep your teeth apart during classroom and video drills. If you make it part of your practice routine, it will become second nature, so you won’t have to think about it during performance.

With that habit, you’ll throw open the shutters on your stage presence, so the audience can bask in your light.

 

Expression is something that is covered in Nadira’s Expression In Improv video.  If you’d like to learn more ways to bring your stage presence alive, check out Expression in Improv at BellyDanceGeek.com/expression

Your Turn

Do you usually smile with open or closed teeth? (In every day life? On stage?)

What are your biggest challenges with stage presence?

Do you have any tips to share on expression?

Got a question or topic that you’d like us to talk about on the show?

We would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below, or better yet, leave us a short voice message. Maybe we’ll even play it on the air!

Want More?

To learn more techniques for improving your stage presence, take a look at Nadira’s Expression In Improv video:
Check It Out

The post How To Un-shutter Your Stage Presence appeared first on Belly Dance Geek.

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