Showcase was a good time this year. Since I was not performing, I could relax (something I didn’t do last year) and take in everything. There were almost a hundred acts scheduled that night, which was much bigger than last year’s event. Because of the sheer number of performances they wanted to get through that night, everything ran quickly – each act went on as soon as the previous act started walking off, and they only took a short ten minute break in between each of the four acts. The performances covered almost all the styles of dance in both the American and International categories, so there was something there for everyone. The sheer winner for the night, as far as dance styles go, was the Tango. Out of all the acts performed, Tango came away with 18% of the slots. The only other style that came close was the Cha-Cha with 13%. At the bottom of the list of styles represented was West Coast Swing, with only one act brave enough to attempt a routine in that style. The next would be Jive and Pasodoble, which both had only 3% of the acts. Those of us in attendance from the Land of the Loft were collected in the back of the room around a table. That was probably the best place for us, since we had gone there planning on being obnoxiously supportive to our studio-mates who were performing.
What did I take away from the showcase, since I got to be on the other side of it this year? The main point that I feel is the most important is: to perform for an audience like this, you have to come across as being confident, energetic and fun, and engaging the audience doesn’t hurt either. To premise this, let me say that there were a lot of performances that I watched were you could tell it was their first time being out on stage and dancing in front of everyone. I did like watching those routines, and I was very proud of them for having the courage to do that. I remember what it was like when I was talked into dancing in front of an audience the first time, and it was terrifying. If I were to go back and watch the video of that performance, I would probably see that I was nervous, and my movements looked timid and stiff, and I probably wasn’t very interesting. Seeing that would also probably only further emphasize the point I learned and am trying to start relating here, actually…
It was fairly easy to tell which acts appealed to the audience the most – they provided direct feedback in the form of applause. Based on those reactions, it was easy to see that the acts that people responded to the most had something about them. Some kind of… pizzaz, for lack of a better word. The acts most people seemed to enjoy contained at least one of a couple of elements that people responded to: some had a theme that made them stand out, like the Tango that was done to the theme song of, and with the performers dressed up like characters from a popular fighting video game (I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about). Others had exciting athletic movements in them, like figures where the male would pick the female off the ground in some kind lift, and the more difficult the lift looked, the more the audience responded. These two elements, as they caused a reaction from the audience, seemed to feed the energy from the audience into the performers. The more the audience responded, the more the performers would smile, and the broader their movements would seem.
The third element that seemed to elicit the most response from the audience is harder to place. It involves confidence on the part of the performer. Some performers just look like they were in control out on the floor. They have that air about them that makes you want to watch them, that holds your interest with every step they take. The confidence, for many people, comes from experience. The more one is out on the floor, the better they feel about going out there without freezing up. People who have never performed before don’t have that. I remember the first performance I was in… for most of the entire two minutes of that routine, I was so worried about messing up the steps. I had practiced so much, and could run through it in my memory in my sleep. I spent most of the act my performance I was in warming up, going through the steps over and over to make sure I wouldn’t mess up. Even though I didn’t misstep, because I was nervous the movements probably looked a lot like some of the other newcomers I saw performing at this event – pretty tepid. I think that the more I’ve done competitions, the more I’ve danced with people, the less timid I look when people watch me. Performances without that confidence, without that energy, they did not elicit the same response from the crowd.
So that’s why I took those things away from the performance. For future performances I do, I’m going to have to work on making sure that I look confident, and try to draw the eyes of the crowd with the energy that I put forth during the performance, so that I can get the most applause. I get the feeling that in some ways it would be much better to be interesting to watch than technically perfect, even if you are being judged for your technical skill. Maybe the more interesting you are, the more the judge would want to watch you, and the better your overall scores. Maybe. I don’t really know for sure. But it gives me something else to strive for while I’m learning. And this is something I can practice anywhere, even while on any of the random dance field trips that I take with people, so I can start working on it right away. Even this weekend, since there’s a good chance a bunch of us will be going out on a dance field trip on Saturday night!
The event also allowed them to make some announcements to the general public who was in attendance. The major announcement heard that evening was that Tall Steven and Arcee had decided to move out of the Dance Kingdom here in Charlotte and go down to claim lands for the King and Princess in Florida. His students, many of which he had been training and competing with for quite a long time, were very sad about the news. One of them remarked that the performances were “bittersweet” as she did one of her showcase dance routines with Lord Bradley, whom she would start training with once Tall Steven leaves. This is now the third state that the King has claimed land within. They made another announcement that night that the battles they had been waging within Georgia had been going well, and that they had opened a second studio there to help more peasants become acquainted with the Dance Lords and Ladies that were trained by the King here in the Dance Kingdom. But something tells me that Florida is very important to them, if they are sending one of their greatest champions down there to start the siege. He will be missed.
In other news, there is a rumor starting to whirl around in the Dance Kingdom that is very exciting, and could change some things up if it’s true. I heard the rumor from someone I consider a reputable source, who told me that she heard it from a reputable source, so there’s a good chance it is true. Once I manage to verify it myself and decide what to do about it, I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it. Until then, you’ll just have to wait and guess!