Tuesday, May 07, 2002

More thoughts on facial expression:

I’ve been walking to work since the New Year and making it a habit to look at people’s faces. My route is straight through the heart of the City of London. On a good day I’m not wearing a suit, I’ve got Jimmy Buffet drowning out the traffic and I can observe various facial expressions for about 45 minutes.

“In conversation, in non-verbal exchange
we use our faces to convey our feelings
through muscular changes
in eye, brow, mouth, cheek, nostril, forehead, tongue.
Research tells us
That the eyebrow flash is a universal sign of recognition,
That symmetric and asymmetric frowns tell different stories,
Pouting, grinning, smirking, gnashing teeth,
Mouth corners up and down, with and without a tilt of the head
All speak, in a context.
Mouths can speak volumes, non-verbally.”
(Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Looking at Dances. 1998.)

Maybe just projection, but I’ve started to believe I can glimpse people’s thoughts from their faces along my daily journey to the office and I’ve really started to make efforts to relax my own face. Worry lines across the forehead or lines from squinting...are they just habit or thoughts drawn on the face?

And then I look at facial expression in dance—how do you make it spontaneous and real? How do you make your audience believe that what they are seeing on dancers faces is not choreographed or superficial? How do you let them glimpse into the momentary thoughts of the dancers? And furthermore, how do you re-train your dancers to give choreographed movement enough personal content that facial expression occurs naturally, without representation?

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to know the answer to the last part of your entry. I am currently teaching a few amazing dancers with true star potential ... but the facial expressions are just not there!! How do I teach someone to express their "inner dancer" thru their eyes and face??!!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also love to know the answer to the last part. I struggle to give real face expressions in dance, and if there's any way to learn how to do it spontaneously...i would love to know. :(

1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suck too at facial expressions, I'm a good choreographer, I'm good at facial expressions on prac but I suck at performance.

I saw some of my proteges who krump give good emotions by body and facial expression.

We all know we look stupid to the public when we go crazy and do krump, and I think krump removes these inhibitions because it teaches you how to go all out, and at the same time do this free crazy expressions. I think it's gonna be a big help.

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