I think we have all seen it, and most of us have done it. That highly expressive joyous or passionate look that just looks a bit off. It can be pretty hard to prevent the over the top rapture in rumba or the downright terrifying intensity in tango, but looking flat or bored may be worse. Consider these tips to help your facial expression show just right.
1. Use your tongue, but keep it inside your mouth.
Prevent your smile from looking too extreme by pushing your tongue toward the roof of your mouth and the back of your teeth. This will relax your muscles a bit so your face hurts less too.
2. Make sure your emotion does not look like you are in pain.
Wrinkling your brow generally only happens in life for only brief periods of time, unless you are in pain or need to use the washroom very badly. A good rule of thumb in dancing is to keep brow wrinkling to only brief periods as well.
3. Smile for real or at least close to it.
Smile in a way that you can hold for a while. You can have brief flashes of a brighter smile, but super bright smile 100% of the time strains your face a bit and actually looks a bit scary unless it is real.
4. Just because you are doing a bit of acting, doesn’t mean it has to look that way.
If you need to jump start your smile, make sure your eyes are a bit squinted to help you engage your eyes in the smile. Your eyes are always a big part of a real smile. If you are not sure about this, go to the mirror and make a huge smile without your eyes and you will see what I mean about what looks real.
5. Engage your brain by looking at someone or something.
A blank stare into space sometimes can look like a blank stare into space. Focus on anything even for a split second at a time, and you will look more sincere and more intelligent.
6. Practice your looks like you practice your lines.
Models and actors know the importance of face practice. Dancers are performers as well and it is no less important for us.
7. Try to match as a couple.
If one of you is super intense and the other is not, it may look like the intense partner is upstaging, and the other is thinking about the next partnership. This may not be the case. I am just talking about how it could look.
8. If it is real, do not hold back.
The best looks come when you just enjoy the music, and let full joy or passion show on your face. If you feel emotion, show it without holding back, and you will not go wrong. If you feel nothing, remember tips 1-7 and fake it ‘til it comes.