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