So, you are preparing for a showcase or competition. Your choreography is spectacular, your theme is entertaining and original, and your dancing is clean and mesmerising, but something seems to be missing. When you are dancing in a classique or stripper style the difference between a great performance and a mind-blowing performance can be in something as simple as the faces you make, and the subsequent audience engagement (well, this applies to all dance performances but I will be focusing on the sexy side of pole for today).
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have been filming myself rehearsing, pulling my most amorous faces and staring seductively at the camera, and then watch the video back only to realise that I more closely resemble an erotic potato than a stripper goddess from Planet Sexy.
Do I really look like that?
Is that what I look like when I flirt?!
No wonder I didn’t get any dates as a teenager!
However, despite the blind panic it can induce, this is precisely WHY I film my practice. What feels good doesn’t always look good. The feeling is a pretty good barometer but I just like to double check.
If you are struggling to serve up filthy sex face during your classique performances follow these tips and you will be successfully eye-fucking and engaging the audience in no time!
Tip 1: Be Experimental – And Capture Those Experiments!
Depending on your personality, face and features, certain sexy looks will work better for you than others. This is why it is important to experiment with your looks and expressions.
Start off facing a mirror and practicing how you move and emote your face – try these from different angles to find what works for your particular features. Make sure you try these from different positions such as standing, seated, looking over your shoulder, or lying on the floor, to mimic the different positions you will be in during a performance.
If you are struggling to come up with different expressions you can watch your favourite pole dancers, burlesque performers or singers, and see what faces they make whilst performing. Mimic their looks and see which work for you, and you can begin to build up your own ‘vocabulary’ of facial expressions.
Next, you want to incorporate these expressions into your daily practice and routine preparation. I cannot stress enough how important it is at this stage to film your practice, so that you can see which angles and expressions work, and to double check you don’t have any automatic expressions coming through that might feel sexy but are more in the erotic potato category.
Tip 2: Eye Contact
When engaging with the audience, especially with a classique routine, eye contact is essential to bring them into the performance. With stage lights or a large crowd, you aren’t really making direct eye contact with anyone in particular, but ensuring that you look towards the audience whilst you dance. Taking time to acknowledge them really helps to communicate that seductiveness and make them feel as though you are dancing for them, rather than simply ‘at them’.
You can manipulate and change how your eyes communicate, and what your gaze says. The expressions you make with your eyes can be cute and playful, tantalising, or confrontational. This all entirely depends on your routine and the type of sexy you are communicating (to find ‘your sexy’ read THIS POST) so find what feels natural for your theme and character.
Here are a couple of tricks / expressions you can do with your eyes:
- The ‘Look At What I Can Do’: I have one eye contact / engagement trick I find particularly effective in drawing attention to my floor work, particularly leg isolations and so on. During a move (such as tentacle legs) I will first make eye contact with the audience / camera / my poor long suffering instructor, and then look at the limb or body part I am moving, and back again. It’s an invitation, it says ‘Look at my legs / butt / hips’ and it is incredibly sexy without being too obvious.
- The ‘I’m So Shy’: If your character is coy and alluring a simple trick when making eye contact with the audience can really boost this. Simply look at the audience, blink or drop your gaze to the floor, and then back up again – do this slowly and with intention, and it will really draw them in.
- The ‘I’ll Stab A Bitch’: If your brand of sexy is more fierce than frilly then having a confrontational yet seductive gaze is a great way to communicate this. I call it ‘I’ll Stab A Bitch’ because that’s kinda what you want to be thinking. Look directly at the audience, head tilted slightly down and gaze towards them as though you are trying to make them spontaneously combust with your eyes alone.
- The ‘Peasants Should Be Grateful I Even Grace Them With My Beauty’: This look is perfect for a side gaze or over the shoulder. Gently raising one eye brow you look intensely at the audience with a snooty disposition that says they are in the presence of a true Queen. It communicates confidence very well and along with a blasé attitude to how f*cking fabulous you are makes you seem ‘untouchable’, which is extremely sexy.
- The ‘Smize’: Ahhh, a classic and for a reason. When I first saw Tyra Banks urge her contestants in America’s Next Top Model to Smize (smile with your eyes), it was a lesson I never forgot. Utilising this technique brings a ‘light’ and life to your eyes that brightens up your expression immediately without needing to pull any extreme faces. Tyra explains it perfectly below when she says to imagine something delicious deep in your core:
Tip 3: Your Mouth
Your mouth is very important. You don’t just want to grin at the audience because it can end up looking a little deranged / forced if you hold it for too long, or do not vary your expression.
Here are a few ideas:
- Do not lip sync unless is it a choreographed and purposeful aspect of your performance. I LOVE a bit of lip syncing but it really has to be done well in order to look good. It is great to get lost in the music, but if your mouth is mumbling people will be drawn to that rather than your sensual moves.
- Relax your jaw and tongue – we don’t want to see your jaw clenched as your dancing needs to look effortless. A relaxed face looks much sexier. If you are struggling to soften your jaw, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth or against the back of your teeth, this will force your facial muscles relax.
- As I said earlier, don’t JUST smile. You can do different types of smiles, pouts, shocked O faces, smirks, lick your lips, whatever fits with your character and theme – try these out in the mirror and see what works for you, and again, make sure you record your practice and pay attention to what your mouth is doing and how it looks.
Edit (13/06/2016) Allegra King saw this post and felt one of her clip videos depicting her sensual expression, or as she calls them, ‘facials’ just had to be included, and I can’t help but agree! Just check this perfection out!!
If any of you have seen Anna Frost (catch her on instagram @frostdance and facebook) perform you will know she gives excellent filthy sex face. In fact, some of her feedback from Pole Theatre UK this year specifically commended her on exactly that, so she is an excellent guest comment to have on this piece.
Here’s what she had to say:
“I think the secret to giving great face is all about being present in the moment. Your inner dialogue as you perform makes a huge difference to your facial expression, how you make others feel, and how you yourself feel about performing. If you’re nervous it’s very easy to spend your time thinking about your choreography and what’s coming next, which can make you appear distracted. Be present. Take a moment to survey your audience. Soak in the wonder in their eyes. Own your body, your movement, your thoughts. You had all your rehearsal time to think about your choreo – this, finally, is your moment to really BE you and show the audience who you are. Enjoy the moment. The people who give the best, filthiest sex faces are the people who are unashamed to show themselves to you. They’re showing you power and confidence and truth and that…that’s fucking sexy.”
Anna’s comment really reminded me about something Lux ATL discussed recently. She talked about how stripper style and dancing in a freely-sexual manner really comes from a place of vulnerability, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Vulnerable to critique and to observation. If you worry about being judged, ridiculed or looking silly, you hold yourself back from giving it 100%, and this is especially true when it comes to serving filthy sex face. Just as I said in my piece about stage presence HERE you have to go BIG with your expressions, and this comes from confidence. This comes from the confidence to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Therefore, giving yourself permission to really let loose and enjoy the moment is so important in achieving a performance and facial expressions that draw the audience in.
Whilst a lot of my own advice has been based around rehearsing and practicing your facial expressions, just as with your choreography, just as Anna said, once the show or competition comes around, these should be embedded into your muscle memory to allow you to really let go and enjoy the performance. This is what transforms your performance and elevates it into an authentic expression of your sensual self, and THAT is how you serve face for a classique performance.