There are many different skills for every aspiring performer to learn in order to become a successful performing artist. Some come more naturally than others but when all the fundamental techniques come together, we are able to create a powerful performance capable of impressing any audience.
As a performing arts teacher, Helene Goldnadel often asked ‘what makes a truly outstanding performance?’ Her answer always begins with being inspired to perform on the stage and goes onto highlight the importance of specific performance skills and techniques. If you’re an aspiring musical theatre performer, you will always need to have excellent dramatic skills and strong singing technique. Without these, you are unlikely to get the opportunities to perform in the first place.
However, Helene believes that what is most important is how all of the elements of performance come together. The combination of inspiration and strong performance skills and techniques has the power to create an exceptional performance with a number of fundamental performance principles. Each of these fundamental principles can be observed in the performance of the professional performers playing in the most popular stage shows around the world.
Therefore, as we go onto discuss three of these fundamentals, Helene Goldnadel recommends you consider them carefully and the next time you watch a performance, think about each of them in turn. How does each performer use each fundamental principle to greatest effect and how does the combination of these fundamentals help the performer to achieve their best possible performance?
1) Stage Presence: This term is widely used and discussed across the performing arts and among aspiring performers alike and often asked ‘how do I create stage presence?’ Again, rather than giving step by step instructions on how to create stage presence, Helene Goldnadel’s answer is that it is the combination of inspiration from other performances and crucial performance skills and techniques which will help you. In addition recognizing the significance of what you are performing and who you are performing to, is also crucial for success. Spend time in your performance space, immerse yourself in the sentiments of the material you are performing and understand the size, age and perspective of your audience.
2) Emotional connection: Personally, Helene Goldnadel thinks this term is far too heavy and gives the impression that every performance needs to be loaded with emotion. This is not true. Of course, it depends on the material you are performing. The context of your material could range from a young child spending time in a park on a Sunday morning to a dying man taking his last breaths of life. One clearly requires more emotional depth than the other. However, both performances require the performer to make a strong connection and association with the characters. This is crucial for a successful performance.
3) Pacing: Helene Goldnadel often works with performers who are preparing for short plays, showcases and concerts. In these performances, they may only be performing for a fraction of the event. In these cases, there is always the desire to deliver a powerful performance which will make an impact on the audience in a short period of time. When Helene subsequently helps these performers prepare for more substantial roles which involve longer performances, the performer must learn the art of ‘pacing’. Every great moment must be balanced with softer, more reflective sections which provide periods of anticipation and contemplation. The next time you watch a great performance, watch to see how the performer paces their performance and try to understand how they achieve this.