Today I thought I’d discuss one of the biggest struggles of a solo dancer – using the stage.
In order for a performance to be visually appeasing, there must be variety in movement. And that doesn’t just mean the dance moves, but also positioning.
One of the best ways to be interesting is to move a lot. There are certain steps in Bharatanatyam which sort of force you to leave one spot. Take advantage of those steps and make them bigger, so you scale more of the stage.
One thing I really made myself do was before a performance, if I knew where I’d be performing, I’d mentally mark where I wanted to be for certain parts. For example, during one of the most tense scenes of my Varnam, I knew that I wanted to be towards the apron the stage, because that was a point that I otherwise never reached until that scene in the Varnam, and so it emphasized the importance of that scene. Additionally, it worked out really well because this was the scene where Queen Kaikeyi is convinced by Mantra to exile Ram. Thus within the next couple scenes, it was much easier to establish the characters from the kingdom on the right side of the stage, where I had set up Queen Kaikeyi, Mantra and later (although much further back) King Dashrath, and the characters in the forest on the left side.
And one last note: in order to be able to cover a lot of stage, although it may seem otherwise, you actually don’t need a lot of space to practice. It definitely does help to have a lot of space, but for me I used to practice in my living room, and once a week at my teacher’s studio, which was still not as big as the Irving Arts Center stage. But mental marking in the studio, at the temple during our performances there, and on the real stage, along with enlarging steps with some movement made a big difference.
I hope this helps ya’ll out a bit. See you next week!