How To Embody A Character

So, you’ve got the role, you say? Congratulations! It looks like all of your hard work and determination has paid off this Nutcracker season! Now that you have the role, costume fittings are underway, rehearsals are a constant factor and now you must begin to get yourself settled into the character that you’re playing. But how do you go about this, exactly? How do you fully become the character you’re portraying? Well, we here at From the Top would be delighted to help you answer this question! So, grab your pointe shoes, Snow Queen and Mouse King, go get that sword of yours because today we’re going to talk about a few ways you can completely embody your character and bring them to life. Let’s get right into it!

“Music Is The First Step In The Right Direction”
When you’re casted in a production, it’s always important to identify what kind of personality and aura you must convey to the audience. Every character has a story, a demeanor and that little ‘something’ that makes them, them! One of the best ways to identify what type of energy that you will have to bring to the role is to listen to the music that you will be dancing to. For example, the music for the Spanish variation in the Nutcracker is mid-tempo with a sharp, Latin flair and a crescendo that builds as the song nears its ending. Drawing from those elements found in the music, the type of personality that you could bring to this piece is one of confidence, light heartedness and elegant strength. This will ensure that the energy of your performance will completely complement the energy of the music. So, always keep in mind that listening to the music is first step in the right direction of embodying your given character.

“Becoming The Part”
Now that you have listened to the music and you now know what type of energy and attitude that you must embody, the next question is, how exactly do you embody it? The answer to this question is to put yourself in the mindset of that character. For example, one of my very first character roles was in a jazz production where I had to dance to a song by the Andrew Sister. All of us that were casted for this part in the production knew that it was very important that we accurately convey the energy of that particular day in age. So, by listening to the song and getting acquainted with the upbeat, swing-like feel of the music, I put myself in the mindset of a jazz dancer living in the 1940s. I would tell myself before every rehearsal, that I am upbeat, bubbly, vibrant and completely overflowing with personality. By mentally telling myself this, I was able to completely convey the energy and attitude needed for this dance. As I have mentioned numerous times before, our minds are a very powerful tool in all things and if we feed our minds with the things that what we want to be, what we can do and how we can do it, the results of what you exercised mentally will manifest themselves physically. So, if you’re dancing the Spanish variation (because that seems to be the theme of this conversation thus far), tell yourself something along the lines of “I am confident, strong and bold.” I can guarantee that it will get you in the perfect mental space to completely get into character.

“Interpreting The Choreography”
Lastly, movement articulation and range of motion is also a very important part of having a character down pat. The same type of energy that you put into the personality of the character is the same type of energy that you should put into your moves. Even look for sources of inspiration to draw from to help get a sense of what type of energy you should bring into your dancing. Let’s stray away from the Spanish variation and use the Arabian Variation for this example. The Arabian variation has a very slow and soothing feel to it and the “sweet” that this character represents is coffee. In a literal sense, coffee is smooth, rich and it flows with ease. These smooth, flowing elements that you find in a cup of coffee are great inspirations to draw from to shape your articulation of movement, range of motion and brings a wonderful interpretation to the choreography. There is no better way to embody a character than by allowing personality and choreography to go hand in hand.

I hope these tips were able to help you as you prepare for this exciting time of year! Wishing you all the best of luck this Nutcracker season and I’ll see you right back here next week for another blog post.

Keep Dancing!

The Nutcracker Series Pt. 2!


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