Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Being on Stage - Could You Please Get Your Hair Out of Your Eyes?!

Musings mid-week after several weeks of attending singing performances of many different kinds...

When I speak of performances, I am NOT talking about playing a role in a show, but rather, playing YOU on stage in performance, not an audition, but an actual performance!

I write this BEGGING YOU, the performer to PLEASE begin considering your performance.  We don't come out of the womb knowing these things, they need to be taught and rehearsed, and I humbly ask you to begin exploring them for yourself, and if you don't know ASK! ASK ME!

Could you please learn your material?  Do I have to ask that? ehem, yes I do...Learn how to practice - technically, musically, linguistically, dramatically - so your material is SOLID.  Don't assume it will be, practice PERFORMING it.  

Learn how to take stage.  I mean PHYSICALLY take stage.  How do you claim your space? How do you stand? How do you move? If you can't answer it, you can't do it; if you can answer it and can't do it, you need to PRACTICE it!

Dress appropriately.  Please. Know the venue, and the occasion and figure it out.  This isn't an audition, and you aren't going to the hardware store, or meeting friends for drinks.  You are performing and you are presenting the best YOU for public consumption.  My dear colleague, Cindy Sadler, has written some marvellous findings on proper dress for opera auditions - please check that out!

So I add to that in performance setting, be it orchestral, recital, concert, cabaret settings...

Being on stage is about creating LONG LINES - exaggerating line to draw the focus up to the face and eyes and the narrative that is perhaps happening...create those lines with color, cut, fabric, heel height (and don't get me started on footwear!!!) Guys as well as girls!

Find colors that complement you - don't wash yourself out!  

Make sure your clothes FIT! Too loose is just as bad as too tight.  
Taffeta is not necessary...especially if you are more curvy than you are willowy...My rule: if it makes noise when you move, leave it in the closet!

Footwear:  don't wear character shoes!!! Ladies, LEARN how to walk in heels no matter what height.  PRACTICE!!! Guys, polish your shoes - scuffs are not necessary on stage.

Dressing for stage takes THOUGHT and TIME and INVESTMENT. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it has to work!  DO IT!  If the outfit you've picked would be comfortable at McDonald's, it's time to rethink that outfit.  

Ladies, a little makeup would be nice.  Seriously.  And if you are under lights, maybe a little more!  Oh, and about those lights, check your undergarments.  If these don't fit well, or are not the correct ones to wear under a certain fabric, we are ALL going to know...

And please please PLEASE - get your hair out of your face!!!!!!!!!!!!  DO something with it!  We want to SEE you!!! Including a trim and a wash maybe...did I have to say that? Yep, I did.

I encourage you to invest some TIME in how you present yourself in performance.  Obviously it's an issue, or I wouldn't be writing about it, because I see it so often.  If you've taken the time to prepare to be on stage, why wouldn't you POLISH that performance by creating it further in your physical presentation?  If you are trying to be taken seriously, YOU must take yourself seriously.  

You don't have to be a professional to present in a professional manner.

Learn and PRACTICE getting to the stage, being on stage, leaving the stage.  Graciousness is HUGE.  Learning how to walk is great start.  Seriously.  You can't assume these things - PRACTICE THEM!  Learn how to bow - seriously.  Practice that too.  

Practicing being on stage is JUST as important as your singing.  Don't assume you don't have to practice it - because that shows!!  You might sing like a god, and behave like a geek.  Guess which one is talked about? hmmmm.

Don't be ashamed to ask someone who KNOWS what is appropriate.  Again, I don't assume anybody knows these things!  We have all had to learn how to present ourselves. 

 Please invest some energy in that so you can present an ENTIRE package on stage and your performance is memorable for the true artistic reasons and not for something else!

YOU CAN DO IT!!! So, do it.


  1. I think a big reason for the almost studied lack of polish in the appearance and manner of many performers stems from a sense of false humility. It's as though they are not quite convinced that they have anything unique to offer and don't want to stand out too much, so they slosh around in sloppy clothing with rounded shoulders like "one of the guys, or girls." Authenticity begins from within, and must be reflected by your appearance and manner, on and off stage. I also believe that when people attend a concert event they are expecting something that is polished, unique, exciting, even magical. There is a lot of turmoil and trouble in the world today, but we as artists have the unique ability to bring beauty and humanity to the world through our performances. It seems that too many performers today don't pay enough attention to the total picture of what they are offering. Your comments here should be considered by all artists, including instrumentalists.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Beautifully said. I have to acknowledge that in some cases this false sense of of false humility could very well be part of it, but in many of the cases in which I found myself,sadly, it is not. It is a simple not knowing/not caring/not having a clue. Rather than showing a "one of the guys/girls" it shows amateur.

    "Authenticity begins from within" - again, beautifully said!

  3. Thank you for your wise advice and inspiration! I had my very first recital ever tonight. Your fabulous posts here and your support on FB and my blog have been invaluable!