Why Should Actors Take a Dance or Movement Class?
Actors are notoriously “in their head,” whether it be analyzing scripts or mentally getting into the mind and body of their characters. What is the best way to get back into your body and feel the immediacy of the action while still developing skills that improve your overall performance – a Movement for Actors Class.
Chryssie Whitehead, whose credits include the role of Kristine in the 2006 original Broadway revival cast of A Chorus Line and the documentary film Every Little Step, Kathy in the New York Philharmonic production of Company with Neil Patrick Harris, and who can currently be seen in the recurring role of Dana Nelson on ABC’s Private Practice, is also a movement coach who loves helping actors get out of their heads and into their bodies. Her successful dance career includes everything from being a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall to touring with Fosse, as well as transitioning into a successful acting career. This career path led her to discover her love for teaching, primarily her love for teaching movement to actors.
In the beginning, as a trained dancer, she admits to being unsure of how she would go about teaching people who had never had a ballet class, or who had never known what it’s like to be in their body in the way dancers are so comfortable with. In turn, many actors are reluctant to join dance and movement classes for this same reasoning. What Chryssie found however, was that actors were the most willing to come in and transform and get into their bodies in a new way. This led to her realization that she had a knack for helping actors and singers get out of their heads and develop their craft through movement and dance.
After all of the homework actors put in “in their head” in analyzing the script, the character and where it should go, they then have to get on the set or stage and “do.” That’s where dance training develops a different skill set. In dance you start with the “doing” and less “in your head” thought. It’s all about the movement. In her classes she want the actors to take risks. She doesn’t care if you’re getting the right step. Her preference is to see you doing something out of your comfort zone, trying with all your might, and going for it. Watching you realize that every posture, gesture and mannerism will help you enhance the character to open up the performance, and what better place to take these risks than in the safety of a dance class. This risk taking in class translates into an actors willingness to then take risks in their acting.
From the moment performers step into the audition room, it is obvious who is not comfortable in their bodies. A dance or movement class can help you develop the ability to develop this comfortable and know how to utilize your posture and movement to your best advantage. This comfort is the difference between just walking into a room or bringing your presence into a room and filling it up with your “Here I am. Take it or leave it.” confidence.
If you’re in Los Angeles, check out Chryssie’s ongoing class at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, www.EdgePAC.com, or find a dance or movement class in your area.
Learn more about Chryssie Whitehead at www.ChryssieWhitehead.net
WORDS OF WISDOM
Have you ever wondered:
- What do other Dancers wish they would have known when they first started?
- What did that successful working Dancer learn along the way that helped boost their career?
- What does my Agent need most from me to help them get me the jobs I really want?
- What was that Choreographer thinking during the last audition?
Joe Tremaine of Tremaine Dance Conventions interviews dance agents, choreographers and dancers of all ages who contribute to give you tips on pursuing your professional dance career. Advice from Keri LaGrand, Lindsay Webb, Jerry Evans, Shelli Margheritis, Tim O’Brien and Zach Woodlee.
Agents and Clients Working Together
By Joe Tremaine
Two Dance agents, a dance choreographer and dancer discuss the agent performer relationship. Great insight and tips in dance training from agents Shelli Margheritis and Tim O’Brien, choreographer Zach Woodlee, and dancer Tony Bellissimo.
Julie McDonald is the pioneer of Dance Agents! She began as a professional dancer and eventually owned a professional dance studio in Los Angeles. After a debilitating injury, Julie was looking for a different career path. Through research and hard work she dedicated herself to dance and decided to become an agent for dancers because they needed representation and a voice in the industry. Prior to this, that simply did not exist. The first Dance Agent! She now represents Choreographers which was an easy transition as many dancers are excellent choreographers. She helps them share their creativity with her vast knowledge of the business.
In part 2 of this video Julie McDonald shares a great deal of insight about all things dance and the business. Take a look!
“There is no real school for Choreographers. The art of Choreography is passed down from generation to generation.” – Julie McDonald