Erin Baiano

Dear Katie: Help! I Can't Figure Out My Dance "Performance Face"!

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I can't figure out my "performance face"! I'm either smiling too much or not smiling enough—and everything I do feels fake. How can I find a natural onstage expression?


Dear Helen,

I think the key to finding a performance face is to not overthink it! The more you worry about your expression, the more forced it's going to look. But I know that's easier said than done.

Start by focusing on the dancing. How does the role you're performing make you feel? How does the music make you feel? Really home in on the meaning of the piece you're dancing. If you're playing a character, keep a dialogue running in your head: What are you "saying" to the other dancers onstage right now? How are you feeling about what they're "saying" back? And if it's a joyous piece, don't be afraid to smile! You don't have to have the same expression for every role.

The most important thing is to let your love of dancing shine through. Focus on the music and the artistry first, and your face will naturally follow.

For more of Katie's helpful tips and advice, click here.

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Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer

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