19 November 2013
On the first few days in Expanded Field Lab, we were given to read a short section from the book called Letters To A Young Artist, written by Anna Deavere Smith.
In those few paragraphs that we had to read and analyze, I learned a lot about the concept of presence. Then we discussed with the class and shared our thoughts on the section we read. This concept of presence really interests me because I believe that as an artist and a dancer, having presence is very important. As I read along, I agreed with everything she said and defined presence. My favorite quote that she said was, “Presence means you hold your own space, control the space around you, and sometimes welcome others to it.”
I think when an artist is presenting his/her work, the presence of it is extremely important since presence is what’s causing people to have their first impressions. When I see any dancers on stage, I see and feel their presence first more than anything else. Whether if you are moving on stage or being still on stage, without presence, nothing else matters like technique. Dancers must know how to pay attention to find any opportunity to engage because most of the time, you would want the audience to hear your voice and see what your doing through space. I loved how she also described presence in many different ways and mentioned its characteristics of how presence require being aware, paying attention, intelligence and allowing others to make an impact on you.
Everything has a presence and everywhere there’s presence, some might just not have as stronger presence than others. For me, I have experienced and learned to play with the concept of presence while dancing and it is very entertaining. It’s all about how you put yourself in the space and your focus is one of the strongest points. It is true that one gesture or a look on your face say more than words. After watching so many artists with great presence, this concept strikes me as particularly interesting and makes me wonder if presence is something which is truly a gift, a way of being that is absolutely unique to that one very fortunate individual; or is it something the can be learned through training, process and social circumstances.