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Author Topic: Improving your presentation  (Read 444 times)

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Offline LunarSkater

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Improving your presentation
« on: April 27, 2017, 04:01:41 PM »
I'm having a lot of trouble emoting on the ice. I get so focused on doing everything correctly that I forget I also need to perform the piece. My face gets very, very set in concentration and smiling isn't a thing that even crosses my mind. Likewise, I go through the motions with the choreography. I do it, but I feel like I'm having trouble communicating the "theme" of my program.

What do you do to focus on that aspect of your skating? How have you improved it?

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2017, 01:07:54 AM »
I don't know if you have ever done acting or drama, but it helps on the ice. My husband and I both did high school theatre and recently got back into community theatre, I also did some modeling when I was young with still photos, and that helps too. My most recent theatre role involved a ton of facial expression, it was my primary communication with the audience and I could tell by their reaction if I was doing a good job or needed to step it up.

True facial expression means you put yourself out there and let the audience into your head. It is a risk, for some people much scarier than the physical aspect of skating in front of an audience. The same can be said to some extent of arm position, posture, ie-body language. There is a huge difference in arms that lift because your spirit is flying high with the joy of the music and your skate, and arms that lift because you and your coach put it in at some point. There is no program so boring to an audience as "smile here", "arms up here" I am yawning just thinking about it, and I see it constantly, even in very high level skaters.

For me, in acting as in skating, using previous experiences pulls out that emotion and hence, the expression. Often when I skate with my husband and we are comfortable with whatever we are practicing and are able to focus more on facial expression, I turn on my ipod and bring up past emotions in my mind with the music to practice my facial expressions.  Those around me (including sometimes my husband) often give feedback that I looked joyful, lusty, filled with deep longing etc. I allow the combination of the music, the elements, and my memories draw out my expressions. I use my eyes a great deal. I use my mouth as well, it is not just a smile, it is "come hither" smile or an "pure joy" smile or "I am going to miss you" smile.

An excellent facial expression skater IMO is Katia Gordeeva, even when she was pretty young. Watch her eyes, they draw you in and her expressions are a brilliant combo of 1)Joy of skating and achieved elements 2) Interpretation of what the music means to her and some pre-planned expressions with the choreographer  and 3) A seduction of the audience.

Seduce your audience. Draw them into your skating experience. When you listen to that music off the ice, let your face start to tell the story when you are alone and not skating. Then at the rink let go and take the risk. To do this you do need to have decent comfort with your program elements, but I often even find that emoting while listening  to music really helps me relax enough to perfect elements as I learn them (ie-not over think them) Everyone has a different point I guess where they are comfortable enough physically to emote, but if someone has not reached that point and only has the physical down, then I don't really consider that program complete. Skating to me is silent acting, with the physical difficulty amped up by a thousand. Not easy, but it feels so good when you get to do it or see it done truly well.

Offline RoaringSkates

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2017, 01:56:28 PM »
Yea, God, I suck at this big-time. The very idea of "seducing my audience" is just not going to happen. I'd be glad if I could occasionally crack a damn smile out there. :lol:

Of course, my husband is a professional actor. He's the opposite of me. I keep telling him he should get into something like ballroom dance. He'd be great. No matter what his feet are doing.


Offline Seren

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2017, 08:45:35 PM »
I think everyone has a different presentation style, find what you are comfortable with first- if you are skating to something that doesn't fit you it will feel awkward. For example, I am an introvert and do not do well with certain types of music. You wouldn't see me skate to an upbeat musical (no 'All that Jazz' for me). I tend to gravitate towards either more balletic or tango style music- either of which can be more subtle, but subtle doesn't mean empty. Feeling comfortable with your music is the first step.

I have found taking ballet really helps me. My arm movements can be awkward and I found that taking dance class really helped me refine them. Practice choreography in the mirror. You'd be surprised how much even working on your posture can help.

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 03:46:03 AM »
I think everyone has a different presentation style, find what you are comfortable with first- if you are skating to something that doesn't fit you it will feel awkward. For example, I am an introvert and do not do well with certain types of music. You wouldn't see me skate to an upbeat musical (no 'All that Jazz' for me). I tend to gravitate towards either more balletic or tango style music- either of which can be more subtle, but subtle doesn't mean empty. Feeling comfortable with your music is the first step.

I have found taking ballet really helps me. My arm movements can be awkward and I found that taking dance class really helped me refine them. Practice choreography in the mirror. You'd be surprised how much even working on your posture can help.

 I would like to add that the same goes for facial expresion. You may feel as though you are expressing tons of emotion and you look in the mirror and it looks kind of "meh". Also, due to the distance of the audience and ongoing movement with skating, it means your face is even more difficult to see, what appears to be over-emoting in some instances can be just perfect for performance. 

Funny story- I was in a melodrama last year that required a great deal of facial expression. I get botox regularly, for the frown lines between my eyebrows, I have been getting it for five years and it has worked to remove the small wrinkle I had been developing there. In no way is my face "frozen" just that one small area. Anyway, I spent several months projecting emotions to my audience. My character did a lot of frowny   >:(  "I cannot believe this behavior" type of expressions.

I started to notice that my little wrinkle was coming back, and I had not seen it in  years! Not to mention it was way to early for my botox to have it wearing off, and weirdly, I still saw very little movement between my brows. When I went to my follow up appointment and discussed it with the nurse we figured out that I had been working so hard on my expressions that the peripheral muscles that are not normally much involved in creating frowns, had basically overrode the botoxed muscle groups and started to create pretty major frowns. Fortunately for me the problem stopped when the play stopped running. That was by far the hardest I have ever worked in the name of facial expression!  ;D

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 06:53:04 PM »
I consider the facial expressions and arm/body movements part of the choreography.  I program facial expressions and eye contact into the choreography whenever I am facing the judges and not in the middle of a jump or spin.  What this means is that I also need to do those facial expressions every time I skate my program in practice.  Just like every other muscle in my body, my facial muscles have something they are supposed to be doing at every given moment! :)

Offline LunarSkater

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2017, 07:06:33 PM »
Long response post.  :)

I don't know if you have ever done acting or drama, but it helps on the ice. [...] Seduce your audience. Draw them into your skating experience. [...] Everyone has a different point I guess where they are comfortable enough physically to emote, but if someone has not reached that point and only has the physical down, then I don't really consider that program complete. Skating to me is silent acting, with the physical difficulty amped up by a thousand. Not easy, but it feels so good when you get to do it or see it done truly well.

On stage, not in over a decade! The last time I really acted in anything was for a book trailer a few years ago, and camera work is much different than stage. (And that was an interesting shoot, let me tell you. So many odd, funny things.)

Seduction ... not really my thing. At all. I have no comprehension of how to do it, not even in a non-romantic way. You have any tips?

Oh, I completely agree about the whole 'physical emotion' thing! Going through the motions doesn't sell it. It's why some top-level skaters just leave me cold even when the technical content is amazing.


I think everyone has a different presentation style, find what you are comfortable with first- if you are skating to something that doesn't fit you it will feel awkward. [...] I have found taking ballet really helps me. My arm movements can be awkward and I found that taking dance class really helped me refine them. Practice choreography in the mirror. You'd be surprised how much even working on your posture can help.

I know my presentation style and don't skate to music I'm not comfortable with, save for the group/show numbers when I have no say in music. Like you, I'm an introvert, but I have a very strong push and don't do well with slower tempo music. My off-ice class includes ballet (and the rink finally replaced the mirrors this past year!) and it does help, I've noticed. I'm more aware of where I am physically on the ice.

I wish I could take an actual ballet class, but time and finances aren't allowing it at the moment.  :(


I would like to add that the same goes for facial expresion. You may feel as though you are expressing tons of emotion and you look in the mirror and it looks kind of "meh". Also, due to the distance of the audience and ongoing movement with skating, it means your face is even more difficult to see, what appears to be over-emoting in some instances can be just perfect for performance. 

I consider the facial expressions and arm/body movements part of the choreography.  I program facial expressions and eye contact into the choreography whenever I am facing the judges and not in the middle of a jump or spin.  What this means is that I also need to do those facial expressions every time I skate my program in practice.  Just like every other muscle in my body, my facial muscles have something they are supposed to be doing at every given moment! :)

Facial expression gets me every time! I just ... don't. As my friends and I agree, I have what we tend to call Resting B**** Face. Completely blank expression with no emotion as my general veneer, but it shows joy and anger really well. The joy I have in skating is overruled by the 'in-front-of-an-audience-must-concentrate-on-doing-things-right' panic and joy turns to concentration, which communicates as anger at a distance on my face. Seriously. When I was in karate, that concentration look terrified my sparring partners.

My coach begs me to just smile!


So in other words, practice emotion on the face during routines, work on choreography and posture off-ice, learn how to act.... anything else I'm forgetting?

Offline Vicki7

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Re: Improving your presentation
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2017, 04:06:34 PM »
Oh, facial expressions - my nemesis during performances. I've done bits of acting before, but when I perform on the ice I get serious "concentration face" and just look miserable/terrified. Have a competition in a couple of weeks, first performance where I've been able to choose the music, so hopefully that'll help me smile a little bit. Maybe.
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Currently working on Skate UK Level 8, and beginning to enter the world of ice dance :)

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