The Importance of Expression

Miss Dance By Miss Dance, 22nd Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Art>Artists

The essence of a piece of art, music or dance is its message. But how is this created? And how can we teach young artists to develop artistry?

Frozen Images, Fake Smiles

Today there was a student performance at the local studio. The choreography was nice, the costumes gorgeous and the dancers fairly talented. There were some sky-high extensions, multiple turns and beautiful feet. And yet, there was something lacking. The whole thing almost seemed like a succession of frozen images, with fake smiles tacked on the girls' faces. It was art without expression - without a meaning.

Expression in Art

So what does expression even mean? And how can we teach this to budding artists? This is not just relevant to dance. Indeed, every artform is a way for us to express ourselves - be that through painting, music, acting, or dancing. 'Expression' has a different meaning for everyone - it is not tangible. My understanding of the term is that it means what comes from within; it is what a person wants to communicate through art, the actual reason why they are performing at that moment. If that is missing, what is left?

This is maybe one of the hardest concepts to teach to young artists. Technique can be learned, but artistry must be present within a person, it cannot be forced. However, in dance, there are certain steps that can be taken to help children develop their expressiveness:
- Always tell a story with the dance. If it is a classical repertoire piece, then tell the dancer which ballet and which scene it is from, as well as how the character is feeling. If the piece is choreographed specifically for the student, let him or her help create a story for the piece.
-Put emphasis on this in class. Of course, flexibility, strength and multiple turns are things to work on, but sometimes it is important to focus solely on artistry, without striving to get the leg higher.
-Be an example. Never show the students 'dead' poses, always show how to extend the line, give the step a meaning, even if it's only a simple plié.
-Tell them to refer to past experiences. If they're working on a joyful role, tell them to think of something that really makes them happy. If the role is angry, ask them about something that makes them furious, so that they can relate to the role.

Finally, just let them have fun! In a healthy environment where children are made aware of it, artistry will develop over time!

Want to read more?
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Meet the author

author avatar Miss Dance
I currently live in Switzerland, my passion is dance, especially ballet. In my articles I will try to share this passion with both established dancers and newbies :)

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
23rd Jun 2013 (#)

I always believe dancing is acting using the body to produce and show the fact of the musical emotion, lyrical depiction, the theme and the storyline that it is trying to portray. It all part of the choreography that is needed to make a dance sequence what it is to convey the intended meaning to the audience wherein the performance on stage is live with no second takes. Not talking music videos here but live performances which take months and weeks to rehearse and perform depending on the choreography and the theme. Say this as a certified dance choreographer.

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