Getty Images

Ask Amy: How Do I Make My Dancing More Expressive?

I'm at the point in my training where my teachers say that I have the steps down, but my dancing needs something more exciting. They especially tell me to use my face more, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to do that without just plastering on a smile. —Hannah


Being expressive doesn't come naturally to everyone. Dancers can come across as tense, self-conscious or sullen when they're too internalized. One of my teachers used to ask, "Amy, where are your diamonds?" whenever I had a blank stare. Imagining that I had a beautiful, sparkly necklace on helped draw my energy up and out—you may want to try it. After all, expressiveness involves not just your face but your whole body carriage.

A helpful way to add color to your dancing is to think about what the music is trying to convey. How does it make you feel, and how can you express that sentiment? That doesn't mean slapping on a smile or furrowing your eyebrows in despair. Rather, try manifesting the music's emotional cues in your movement. A soulful adagio will carry different feelings than a peppy petit allégro.

Focus also helps give your dancing more intention. Does your gaze stop at your reflection in the mirror or at the back of your classmate's head during barre? If so, look out and beyond, whether it's over your fingers in arabesque or projecting out to an imaginary audience.

As for your face, practice finding a pleasant, relaxed expression. Try opening your mouth a bit, as if taking in a breath, to help release tension in your jaw. This should feel more natural than a forced smile.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bill Cooper, Courtesy The Royal Opera House

Pro Pointe Shoe Hacks from Royal Ballet Principal Yasmine Naghdi

Did you know that Royal Ballet principal Yasmine Naghdi's pointe shoes are actually made up of two different models, combined? Below, watch pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee interview Naghdi on all of her pointe shoe hacks, from her anti-slipping tricks to her darning technique.

Syvert Lorenz Garcia in Trey McIntyre's Who Am I Here? Courtesy McIntyre

The Trey McIntyre Project Is Back—And Completely Reimagined

By Nancy Wozny For Dance Magazine

Six years after shuttering his popular dance troupe Trey McIntyre Project, its eponymous founder is relaunching the company as a conduit for digital dance films, with a project called FLTPK. "It's not a company of dancers," McIntyre insists. "It's a community of artists."

In March, McIntyre was ready to premiere his David Bowie ballet Pretty Things, his first new work for Houston Ballet in nearly two decades, when the city shut down. With COVID-19 infections in the New York City area spiking, he decided to stay put.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks