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Feb 9, 2010

Being Your Character



Getting “into” your role is a tough task to accomplish. Everyone interprets a character differently and no two people will perform a role the exact same way. Sometimes understanding your character and interpreting the character in the way you would like seems impossible. Here are some tips on how to understand the person (or creature) you’re playing:

1: Notice all of the character’s physical attributes. Are they beautiful and long or awkward and crippled? Are you playing a swan or a fairy? A witch or a princess? Characters vary an incredible amount!

2: Know the story of your ballet. It helps tremendously to read the tale of the ballet you are performing or research it. Whether it is a Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cinderella, Swan Lake or The Nutcracker it’s always good to understand the story.

3: Analyze the situation your character is in. For example: Odette, one of the most complex characters in any ballet. She is sad, depressed and distraught as she believes she is forever cursed to be a swan. When she meets Prince Siegfried, she has a sudden spark of hope within her. Go down into the deepest parts of your character and connect puzzle pieces that may not particularly even exist yet.

4: It helps to also thoroughly understand the characters around you. By understanding them you can see deeper into relationships and how your characters would truly behave around others.

5: See what goes on around you and be aware of how you are using your space. Have a friend videotape a scene or performance so you can make self-corrections. Personally, I think this is the best way to improve your performance.
6: Perform the performance in your head and act out emotions in front of a mirror at home. Try to be conscious of all your facial expressions during any time of the performance.

7: Think the thoughts of the character. For example, in La Bayadere when Nikiya sees Solor, her love, with Gamzatti at the betrothal celebration, she is heartbroken. You could be thinking: “How could this happen?” “How could he do this to me?” She just lost the love of her life, she is devastated. Use your imagination to envision what you would be thinking if you were actually in that situation.


Knowing your character's personality and mannerisms can make performing that much easier. It helps you mix up the performance from night to night because you have a better sense of how that character would behave. Many professional dancers use these techniques to feel as though when they are on stage, they truly are their character.

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