Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Physicality of Presentation

Sunday musings...

Am currently in Toronto, preparing for a Music Theatre Workshop for this afternoon, and have been discussing and working on this concept with singers all weekend.

What is the physicality of presentation? What does it represent? How is it viewed?

We all want to exude confidence when entering the audition room or the performance space.  We want to "take" the space and claim it, so there is no sense of timidity or question.  But even if we want that, how does the presentation of our physicality affect it, and affect the person's view of us or sense of us as we walk in - or begin to perform?

Presentation is not just a mental construct, but rather, a physical manifestation of the emotional and mental makeup we carry.  We are often not aware of this, and ironically, neither are the people who see us! But there is an organic response to this energy that once we consciously become aware of it, can be shifted to a more positive and clearer message.

Energy by its sheer definition is in motion, and so it can be moved.  Where do you hold your energy centre? Where do you 'lead' from?  Some of us carry that energy naturally very high in the body -  sternum area.  Leading from this high position can often give people a sense that you are too assured - maybe snotty or unapproachable or bitchy!!! Often that is farthest from the truth!  Some carry the energy through the abdomen - and this energy tends to create a disconnected or displaced sensibility and creates an apology with the physical presentation.  

Often we go to that "natural" energy when we are nervous - so of course, prior to an audition, walking onstage et al, it would be easy to allow the energy to creep into that natural position.  However, is it always the most positive position for that activity?

Performance or audition should NEVER be apologetic, should NEVER be victimized! Nor should be holier than thou. It should be accessible, pliable and earthy in nature.  

So how do we access THAT organic response and delivery?

By developing first, a true sense of how our energy leads and where it leads from, will allow you an opportunity to be present in your body and aware of it completely.  Then, a decision and a practiced behavior (and I MEAN practiced - you cannot just think about this, you have to DO IT DAILY to ingrain the behavior) to bring the energy down into the pelvis to ground and stabilize fully.

Not only does this low grounding and deep energy change the PERCEPTION of you, it will affect your presentation in stance, walk, physicality AND your voice!!!! There will be deliberate purpose in how you enter a space; in how you greet and take in a room and the people there; in how you breathe and anchor your support to sing or speak; and the energy will create a simmer and a settling that allows a sense of specificity of task, presentation, accessibility and clarity.

The physicality of presentation is the manifestation of a clear energy.  Know your energy! Read it, claim it, shift it! You don't have to say "well, this is what it is, I am stuck with it".  No, it may gather in a certain place that isn't always the most desirable for certain activity!  YOU have the power - literally - to shift that, to be consciously aware to make a change - to NOT be a self-imposed victim in an audition room.  

Self-discovery and honesty with self is PARAMOUNT in becoming and developing as an artist. If we choose to hide, to make excuses, we are not artists: "faux" takes on a new meaning! Honest seeking and discovery remains the journey.  

Rejoice in the physicality of your instrument - claim it each day - notice the shifts, the changes, and recognize your power to make adjustments!  The physicality of our instrument and our artistry to as clear as it is mysterious - so GO GET IT!  Decide HOW you want to be perceived - and then walk in KNOWING you can be PRECISELY what you want to be by working with physical awareness and the mental and emotional connections to that physicality. 

The physicality of a song or aria or a character is as important as the noise you make or the words you utter.  It gives the abstract a place to live! It gives the essence of YOU as artist an opportunity to be seen as you wish to be seen.

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