July 23, 2010

Making Faces

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a colleague who suggested that I treated her differently than others in our group. Her feeling was that I should be fair in my comments, conversations and discussions and equally share my thoughts and feelings with everyone. What kept running through my mind was the fact that I do, indeed, think of her in a different manner than others. As a rule, she is much more guarded, more self-conscious and at times more superficial in her comments and observations. There are the cursory greetings and inquiries we trade regarding each other lives, but rarely do we have what I consider an 'honest' conversation where we both let our hair down and share our thoughts and feelings. So yes, I agree…my conversations with her are different than with others because her guarded nature does not compel me to drop my guard either. It is not a matter of fairness, but rather in meeting someone where they are at. And, until she is ready to go deeper, relax and open up I have no desire to go below the surface either.

And, just like it is okay with someone to keep their feelings and emotions tucked away from the public eye, there is nothing wrong with a dancer who just moves through a performance by concentrating on technique alone. It works, it gets the job done…and often times the audience can really appreciate and enjoy the skill and expertise shown. It does however get much more interesting when instead of feeling guarded, a dancer lets go and allows the audience to share her feelings, fears, joys and emotions in her dance. Those are the juicy moments, the soul-baring, soul-searching, beautiful moments that may not be technically precise but emotionally compelling.

I like to think that when I dance, I try to let my guard down…relax…and let the audience share my experience as well. However, when I stop to look at photos of my dancing, it is rare that I find shots that seem to capture what I think that I am thinking! I would love to attribute this to some terrible childhood trauma where I was chased by some domineering photographer who scarred me emotionally for life….but…I cannot. The truth is, when I see a camera, there is a part of my mind that immediately tries to come up with what I consider a 'game face' instead of staying in the moment. I go to a much more superficial place versus letting my guard down and honestly feeling the emotion. I would love to take an acting class at some point in time, in the hope of really working on those facial expressions, but in the meantime I think I have discovered a new practice for myself.

As you may know, I just got a new computer with a built in webcam. I christened the webcam with my first video blog, which was fascinating to create because you get to watch yourself (even mirror image) the entire time. So, I decided to start channeling Tyra Banks and her advice to practice in a mirror for photo shoots and decided to play with the still shots just to see how they would come out. The hardest part was fighting the urge to go fix my hair and makeup and then practice a few times before taking some pictures to upload. Tonight's lesson plan?

Instead of trying to force the emotion or feeling for the photo, I simply allowed myself to relax, let my guard down and simply 'experience' an emotion to see what would happen. So, here's a sneak peak at my new training tool…no makeup, ready for bed, lights off (except for the screensaver which changes color)…and just me.

So, now that I have let my guard down, what do all of you do to practice and improve your ability to emote while performing? Do tell!


  1. I love the middle picture. It looks so unguarded and natural but funny too. Like not that it's a normal look to make but it looks like something that you could do without thinking "I'm posing for a picture."

  2. Funny you should say that D, I was actually thinking about how funny this experiment was when I hit the button!

  3. Ahhh, the face discussion -- I've had it many times in both acting and dance classes.... :o) Strikes a chord with me, to say the least. Let me know if you ever want to work on a monologue or something -- acting coaching is one of my favorite things! Besos!