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

February 11, 2020

In our “Dear Katie” series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email
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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