Monday, March 5, 2012
PLEASE WELCOME TO THE STAGE...
We all hope for great introduction before we hit the stage, right?
Well, in order for this to happen, the dancer has to supply one- but that also means the dancer has to write up an intro to give to the emcee. Strangely enough, many dancers dread undertaking this simple task. Whether it happens to be the last thing they think of when preparing for a gig, or that the performer is unable to toot their own horn, many dancers don’t even think of including an introduction along with their music, no matter how many shows they do… And then when the emcee mispronounces their stage name, omits facts, or gives an intro completely unrelated to the piece, then she get stressed out… which is certainly not a fantastic way to begin a show!
The first common mistake dancers make is not submitting an introduction, or to hand in an intro that has only the most bare bones basic information- like the dancer’s name and the title of the piece.
If the dancer hasn’t handed in any sort of information on her piece, odds are that the emcee will probably be at a complete loss for what to include in the introduction. Though there are some very professional emcees out there, who not only delight the audience but can make any performer sound amazing, many emcees may have wound up with the job because they are volunteering at the event, or simply because they speak well. This does not mean that they know who is performing, or what the specific dance pieces are about.
You may not be aware of this, but the emcee has the hardest job in any show.
The emcee is on stage more than any of the performers, and is basically working all night! Even if he or she has a photographic memory, there is NO WAY that they will remember little detail about every performer… or the number they will be doing that night. So when a dancer doesn’t hand in the necessary information, odds are that her intro will be curt and off-hand at best! Sure, someone who is a superstar or at least, a well-known headliner can expect an emcee to say something on the money about them and their performance…however, most professionals don’t leave this up to chance- without being asked, they routinely supply an introduction, as well as stage directions, such as “Bring the lights down, do the announcement, start the music, and I will enter onstage”. That way, everything is completely spelled out, and nothing is left to chance.
The second mistake dancers make is to furnish way too much information.
Nobody attending a wants to sit through an exhaustive, rambling introduction for a five-to-fifteen minute dance piece! By the time the second paragraph is finished, the audience is getting antsy; by the time the third paragraph is finished, you can bet people are rolling their eyes!
We’ve all suffered through that long-winded, self-important introductions- you know, the ones that sound like a Wikipedia page?
“ Miss Dancer comes from a fifth generation performing family and exhibited a precocious talent by the age of two…. At the age of four, she learned to love and excel at (insert any of the following: ballet, tap, jazz, baton twirling, stage combat, acrobatics etc.)
By the age of nine, she was (insert some long winded anecdote about: appearing at the State Fair, soloing in a recital, joining a production of “The Nutcracker”, featured in a Junior Beauty Contest, accepted at some prestigious dance school, etc.)
When she reached age sixteen, she was asked to (insert any or all of these options: appear on local television, sign a talent agency contract, go on a world tour, dropped out of school to study dance, etc.)
As an adult, she has performed for (list as many organizations as you can; mention as many z-list, unheard of soap opera stars as possible) as well as won recognition and acclaim by (write down the name of every teacher you have studied with, even if you only took one class with them; add a huge list of places you have performed, and make sure to include the name of every dance contest ever entered since pre-puberty even if an award wasn’t won)"
Ok, I know I’m being a bit mean spirited here, but come on! Can you say “TMI”?
Half the time, after such a long and illustrious intro, the dancer’s set seems like a letdown…. so don’t set yourself up for that!
A great introduction should be concise and to the point, furnishing pertinent information about you and/or your piece.
It should include your name, the style of dance you are about to perform- and possibly a short explanation about the style of dance you are performing, especially if you are dancing for the general public. Example: “Tonight, Miss Dancer will be performing a Thingamajig, the traditional folk dance of Some Very Obscure Lost Tribe From A Country You Have Never Heard Of”.
It should also contain one or two pertinent pieces of information, such as “Miss Dancer recently won first place at Some Outrageously Famous Dance Contest” and/or “Miss Dancer will be teaching Bla Bla Bla next Saturday afternoon at Some Nearby Studio”.
If you are a relative newbie, it is certainly fine to tell the audience that this is your first performance in a certain genre, or to thank your teacher for giving you the opportunity or to make some other acknowledgement, perhaps to the show’s headliner for inspiring you, or maybe even dedicating your piece to someone in the audience.
If you have an exotic stage name, spell it out phonetically so that the emcee doesn’t mangle it. Don’t assume that your emcee will immediately know how to pronounce your name!
On my introductions, I always write in large letters:
(Pronounced “ Far—HAH—nah”)
And I do the same for the title of the song I’m using- especially if I want the emcee to mention it, and it’s in a foreign language!
If I’m doing a dance that tells a story, I don’t like to give the entire plot away to the audience- I usually will just put a sentence or two alluding to what the dance is about.
It’s also fine to include something cute or humorous.
Once when I was performing at Gothla USA, I was kind of at a loss for something to say about my dance piece. It was a retro piece, and it certainly wasn’t Gothic by any stretch of the imagination. But since most of the people at that event already knew who I was, and were familiar with my dancing, I went for trying to get a giggle out of the Dark Audience, and included this in my introduction:
“Most people who know her think Princess Farhana is way more scary offstage than she is onstage!”
It worked, it got a laugh.
If you really can’t think of anything else to put down on your introduction, it’s always gracious to thank the event producer for having you, or let the audience know it’s an honor to be performing for them.
So remember: your introduction should contain pertinent info, and be short, sweet and to the point.
Now, go and git ‘em!
Photo: Joel Gray as “The Emcee” in the 1972 film “Cabaret”