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Stage Presence: Commanding Your Audience & Why It’s Important

One aspect of any performance that can leave a memorable impression is “Stage Presence”. You know it when you see it….Some people refer to it as a “wow” or “it factor”, others say it’s just something you’re born with!

What is “Stage Presence”, and why is it important in a performance?

We spoke with past Florida Pole Fitness Championship judges and champions, and asked them what they thought.

What is Stage Presence?

Albena Aleksandrova – 2016 FPFC Judge & Performer, 2015 FPFC Pro Division Champion, 2016 PCS Nationals 3rd Place

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Stage Presence is hard to describe but easy to spot!! For me, stage presence is how comfortable the person is on the stage and how much attention they attract.

Rafaela Montanaro – 2016 FPFC Judge & Performer, 2016 USPSF Elite Women’s Champion,  2015 FPFC Pro 2nd Place 

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To me stage presence is being in the moment, completely surrendering yourself to that instant, being present with 100% of your body mind and soul.

Jason Span – 2016 FPFC Men’s Division Champion
In my opinion stage presence is about how strongly you can captivate an audience and tell your story.

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Kennedy Mason – 2014 FPFC Amateur Champion, 2016 FPFC Professional Champion

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Stage presence is when a performer has great technical skills but is also so comfortable in the performance that they really connect with the audience. When the person on stage is completely in the moment and executing it flawlessly – the audience is glued to the performance.

Derick Pierson – FPFC Judge & International Champion

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Stage presence to me is the ability to draw an audience member into your performance either with facial expressions, body language, movement, charisma, or personality on stage. You capture the audiences’ full attention, drawing them into your performance, and making them feel some emotion from your piece.

Is stage presence just something you are born with or do you develop it?

Albena Aleksandrova:
I do think that there are instances of young babies and toddlers recognizing early on how their expressions influence other people’s behavior. Some dancers/performers just have a natural ability to draw people in and change the atmosphere around them. Thus yes, I do believe that it is something you can be born with, but more accurately, I think some recognize earlier in life how to elicit the response that they want. So yes, I think you can teach and develop stage presence as well.

Rafaela Montanaro:

I believe it is something you develop, although some people might find it easier than others.

Derick Pierson:

This is a hard question to answer because yes, some people are born with stage presence. For some people this comes naturally and for others it does not. If you are someone who has little stage presence that is okay – it can be learned and perfected. The biggest thing you can learn to do on stage is relax. Before I ever step foot on stage, I take three deep breaths, and on the last breathe I squeeze every muscle in my body to burn off excess adrenaline and relax a bit more. The other thing I practice is working moments into my routine where I know I am going to acknowledge my audience. Sections where I try to grab their full attention and help them understand my story. Lastly, I study some of my favorite performers and try to duplicate the way they act or behave on stage. These are little tricks that have helped me these past years and I hope they help you.

Jason Span:

For most performers I feel that stage presence is a talent you are born with, but it can also be a developed skill overtime with proper training and guidance.

Kennedy Mason:

I think it could be a combination of both. I’ve seen athletes, musicians, and actors who seem to be born with special gifts, but I’ve also seen people who through practice and commitment, fine tune their skills to the point where they can execute them very comfortably. The more comfortable the performance/performer, the more naturally it comes across to the audience.

 

Why is Stage Presence so important?

Albena Aleksandrova:
Stage presence is important because even if you have beautiful technique, if it is performed at low energy or with the wrong facial expression, it diminishes the perceived skill level of everything else. When combined with skill, experience and hard work, stage presence can create a combination that turns “good” actors into stars.

Rafaela Montanaro

It is important because it makes your performance enjoyable to watch. Some people are so good at it, that even though they might make little technical flaws, they go unnoticed.

Derick Pierson

Stage presence is important for the reason it gives all our hard work recognition. It is our moment to shine and present to the world our dedication to our craft. We should show the emotions we went through creating the piece we are presenting to the world. Our happy, sad, angry, confused moments ect. should be relayed to our audience and hopefully they too will have an emotional reaction to our piece. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day as long as they remember it.

Jason Span
I feel that stage presence is important because it not only shows fluidity through movement, but also keeps your audience engaged.

Kennedy Mason
Stage presence keeps the audience paying complete attention to the performance… It’s more enjoyable watching someone with stage presence.

 

What can you do to improve your stage presence?

Albena Aleksandrova:
Hard Work and commitment are the main keys of improving everything!! Same rules will apply when it comes to Owning The Stage with Your Stage Presence
• Breathe.
• Give yourself to the moment, applying the right amount of intensity for your audience.
• Connect with them, engage them — but don’t overwhelm or distract yourself or them.
• Know your material and your art, but don’t rely on the fundamentals to the point where you lose your passion for the performance.
Understanding what it is that your audience is looking for and learning how to embody that and fully engage them from beginning to end is truly what defines great stage presence. Think of all the incredible performers you know. They all have that “X-factor” in their stage presence, which makes them memorable and successful in what they do.

Rafaela Montanaro

My tips to improve stage presence would be train your routine so that you can do it in your sleep. If your body can do it by itself, you have space to focus on expression. I also like to film myself all the time so I can see through the audiences eyes. People who have excessive fear of being on stage might find beneficial to take some theater/acting classes.

Derick Pierson 
One of the best things you can do to improve stage presence is be prepared. The more prepared you are on stage the more relaxed you will be, and the more time you will have to captivate and focus on your audience.

Jason Span

One of the things I’m currently working on to improve my stage presence is watching various forms of acting and seeing how the actors make their character engage and really express emotions.

Kennedy Mason

Stretch yourself to achieve a higher level of performance…more complex and challenging skills. Practice these skills until you can execute them flawlessly. The more comfortable you are in the performance the more confident you’ll be and the more you’ll enjoy the moment…the audience will identify this as stage presence.

 

Would you rather hire a dancer with tremendous technique and average stage presence or a dancer with tremendous stage presence and average technique?

Albena Aleksandrova:
Its hard to choose one over the other , but If I had to choose between only one of the skills, I would prefer a dancer with …tremendous technique over one with average technique but great stage presence. I think that you can teach stage presence easier than you can teach years worth of technique.

Rafaela Montanaro:

I guess it would depend what I was hiring them for. But I believe somene with strong stage presence can be more versatile.

Derick Pierson 

To be honest I wouldn’t hire either of them. If I was a casting agent for a show I would hire the talent that both has tremendous technique and tremendous stage presence. So sad to say if I am your casting agent get your shit together. lol 😉

Jason Span

I would rather hire a dancer with tremendous stage presence and average technique, because I feel if they have the audience engaged then more than half the battle is already won. Plus their technique will improve over time with dedication and training whereas stage presence isn’t developed as easily.

Kennedy Mason

I would hire someone with great stage presence…the ability to connect with the audience makes a big difference. Technique can be improved over time.

 

 

Here are some more tips for improving your stage presence

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