Within a group of dancers, there will be a variety of personalities. There will be powerful personalities, there will be shy personalities. Some will take a lot of space, some will collapse on themselves. The variety is a beautiful thing to experience because this disparity in personalities is not often reflected on stage.
Within a rehearsal, you will see posturing happen between dancers. It can be more evident during an audition. Some dancers will use power dancing to get the attention of those for whom they are auditioning. They will take the choreography for the audition and tweak it to their strengths. If there is a chance to improvise, they will make themselves bigger, maybe keep dancing for longer than those they are auditioning with so the eye of the judges will be drawn to them. This can be disconcerting to the shyer dancers who dance because they love it. It can be threatening to the shyer dancers who cannot put themselves out there that way. It can help or hinder the power dancer’s chance of getting the part depending on the judge.
Powerful dancers can be amazing to work with because they may have astounding presence on stage. Within most performances, there will be someone to whom my eye is drawn. It is not always the same person to whom my companion’s eye is drawn. I tend to be drawn toward the dancers that have presence. Many people are drawn to dancers that have amazing technique. Presence wins over technique for my attention every time. I am not discounting technique and appreciate the beauty of it. It just does not draw me in like someone projecting their presence on stage.
I used to be a shy person myself. I would make myself small in social situations and I still catch myself doing it. It would surprise people that I was a professional dancer as I didn’t carry myself with the confidence they would expect. That is until they would see me on stage. Then it would make sense. Those who saw me on stage first, then met me after would have the same disparity of understanding about me. They were shocked at how “small” I was off stage compared to on stage. Often, I was told that I appeared four or five inches taller on stage than off. That’s the power of presence as a dancer.
Presence is something that can be learned. It is always nice if you naturally have it. However, we are not always blessed with all the tools to be a great performer. Learning to not look down is a starting point. Learning to be absolutely present when you are on stage is the biggest key. The most magical performances for me are when time slows down when I am on stage. That is when nothing else in my life matters but the music in my body. That is the ultimate power.