Entertainment Performing Arts Facial Expressions During Dance Competitions How to Connect With the Audience Share PINTEREST Email Print Performing Arts Dance Basics Styles Gear Singing Acting Musical Theater Ballet Stand Up Comedy By Treva Bedinghaus Treva L. Bedinghaus is a former competitive dancer who has studied ballet, tap, and jazz. She writes about dance styles and practices and the history of dance. our editorial process Treva Bedinghaus Updated March 27, 2017 Do you smile during a performance or competition? Does your smile feel natural or do you find yourself forcing to look relaxed through every pirouette? Since a dancer usually strives to convey a story through movement, smiling and using facial expression help your audience connect with you. Besides, most people enjoy watching dancers who appear to be relaxed and enjoying themselves. But how much facial expression is enough? Is it possible to smile too much? Here's how to use facial expressions to take your performance to the next level. Dance From Your Heart If you truly have a passion for dance, that passion will show all over your face. Your love for your chosen art form will be apparent as long you relax and dance from your heart. An artificial smile looks painted on and is apparent to an audience. You shouldn't appear as though you are faking it...an audience longs to see an authentic smile and true emotion. Be genuine and natural, letting your emotions spill through every movement. Practice Smiling Even though your smile should appear natural, practicing that smile in the studio is absolutely necessary for it to happen on stage. Facial expressions will happen more naturally if they are practiced repeatedly. Just as the muscles in your arms and legs, your facial muscles have muscle memory. Muscle memory takes over on stage when nerves seem to get the best of you. You need to practice a routine exactly how you want to perform it on stage. Try Different Emotions An expressive dancer has more than one expression. Depending on the style of your dance, you may wish to convey several different emotions to the audience. The emotions and expressions you try to convey through your facial expressions should be determined by the following: Tone and genre: The overall tone, as well as the genre of your music in large part, determine the type of emotion you should convey. An upbeat, quirky tap dance may call for wide-open-mouth smiles and cheeky smirks, while a classical ballet piece requires a confident but whimsical grin. Age: As a general rule, it seems more natural to see big, expressive facial expressions in younger dancers. An older, more mature dancer may come across as silly if her expressions are over the top. Use Eye Contact If you can establish eye contact with your audience, you will make a memorable impression on them. Even if it may seem difficult at first, try to locate the audience or judges and look directly at them. If you have a hard time looking at the judges, look directly above their heads. They won't know it and it will be easier on you. Sometimes it's difficult to make eye contact at all, with the house lights turned off and the stage lights shining brightly into your eyes. But the more time you spend on stage, the easier it will become. Tips for Perfect Facial Expression Remember that the emotion you display comes from deep inside. If you allow yourself to relax and enjoy your dancing, the expressions you convey will be natural. Let the energy of the music fuel your enthusiasm. The following tips will help you put on your best face: Relax your jaw. Allow your tongue to relax inside of your mouth. Slightly lift your eyebrows...this will make you appear interested in what you are doing. Use your eyes. Look around at your surroundings, especially when you need to spot. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Smile as if you are having the time of your life!