I think there’s more to an actor’s training than just acting classes. During my short stint at Tisch, our three days a week in the Studio consisted of classes like Movement, Voice and Speech in addition to Performance Technique and Script Analysis. Today I took a lyrical jazz class and it made me think about how important other classes and practices are to being a successfully, well-rounded actor. Not just in building other skills that could be good selling points to an agency or casting director or producer, but in building your self-esteem, your character, your body.
During the warm up portion of this unconventional dance class, we gathered in a circle and micked the person in the center who would do some wacky dance move then pass the baton to someone else. I turned to my friend and said, “This reminds me of theater class!” It was so fun watching the diverse group of women (and one fearless man) let go of inhibitions and not care or worry about the moves they were making. Then, the second half of the class we learned and performed a few measures of choreography. At first I was in my head about counts and was it my left foot first or my right foot… but after a few times, and the teacher saying “just feel the music” I learned to let go. The teacher dimmed the lights, turned up the volume and let us all move to the music with the way we interpreted her choreography and it felt great.
This may sound really cheesy and maybe you don’t agree, but freeing my body and really feeling the music opened me up emotionally. Physically engaging every fiber in my body unleashed the non-physical parts that make up who I am. It reminded me of a particularly challenging moment of a scene in a scene study class I took at ACT in San Francisco. The teacher pointed out to me that I kept holding on to my breath at this one part. I didn’t notice, as often we don’t notice the various habits and crutches we develop as an actor (some are great unique traits to embrace, and others are inhibiting and worth checking out). I then took a deep breath, shook it off and started over. As I worked my way through the scene ,so much more began bubbling inside of me. Literally. I could feel it, like you feel your tummy rumble when you’re hungry. That performance was so much more grounded than my previous rehearsals all due to breathing!
I’ve also taken dance classes, like jazz, hip hop, belly dance, and even yoga classes, which have all (whether they were more focused on professionalism and technique or just having fun and using your body) been beneficial to my acting in some way.
Dance & Yoga Resources in LA: