It’s hard enough learning a dance routine and perfecting the moves but if you have to use a prop during a performance it can be even more challenging.
The truth is that props are often used to enhance a routine whether it’s Gene Kelly dancing with an Umbrella in Singin’ in the Rain or a ballet dancer performing on stage with a ribbon or scarf. Most dance routines tell a story, and the chances are you’ll need to factor in using a prop at some point.
Here are our top tips.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
While your first instinct may be to learn the main dance moves first, introducing any prop you need to use at the earliest possible moment can make a big difference. You didn’t learn to complete a fouetté without a lot of practice and the same can be said for learning to dance with a prop.
It’s important to get to a stage where the prop feels natural and a part of you and the routine. Of course, some props are easier to manage than others, but the same principle holds – you keep repeating and practising until you use it without thinking. If you have a big or unwieldy prop to deal with, starting with something smaller which is similar can help get the basic moves ingrained before you move on to something more challenging.
2. Understanding the Prop
Each prop is different. It has a different shape and a different weight and that is going to affect how you move and perform.
It’s important to get in tune with your prop so that it feels like an extension of your body and that means paying attention to how heavy it is and how you physically react to it. With heavier objects, for example, you may have a trade-off between what you can achieve in a dance move and what looks right for the performance. It’s not just about the impact on your body, however, but the way the prop moves in the space around you.
3. Props and Artistry
Finally, when you use a prop in a dance routine it needs to look artistic, and this can be difficult to achieve if you are not completely at ease with it. You can make the mistake of thinking of the prop as a limitation. You need to change that mindset and focus on how it is there to enhance the routine and not hinder it.
Once you understand the reason for a particular prop it can be much easier to assimilate it into the dance routine. Look at it from the point of view of the audience and how the prop is used in the process of storytelling rather than simply being there for aesthetic purposes. It can help to see this as a duet where you’re not dancing with an inanimate object but with a real partner.
Embracing the nature of a prop and finding ways to use it in your dance routine doesn’t have to be a challenge. It’s part of the storytelling and can enhance your performance in ways that you may not have considered up until now.