We all know there’s an extra special something that happens when we perform. We’ve all felt it. But how do you quantify it? How do you describe that lift you get from the audience watching you, that jolt you feel when they respond to your performance? What do you call that magic that transpires between you and your fellow performers when you put on an amazing show? We often call it “energy”. But what does this really mean?
Energy is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot. We talk about good energy and bad energy, how we get energy from the food we eat, that we have no energy left when we’re exhausted and that we feel energized by a new idea. We use the same word, “energy”, to describe all of these different “states of being”. But if we ask ourselves what we mean by the word “energy” in all of these examples, I think many of us would be hard pressed to really define the term. It becomes even more complex when we talk about energy and performing.
Energy. What is it?
Here’s the way I define it. Energy is vibration. In fact everything that exists in this world is vibrating, right down to a subatomic level. Our whole bodies are vibrating, every cell and even every micro-cellular particle. As a result, everything we do creates and transmits vibration. When we move, we vibrate our muscles in order to complete an action. When we speak, we send out sound vibrations with our voices. Even when we think, we are sending our thoughts out into the world as thought vibrations. And it’s vibrations like these (actions, thoughts, sounds, feelings) that we create when we perform. Only there’s more.
When we perform, we are not alone. We are often surrounded by people, an audience and perhaps even fellow performers. All these people are also giving off their own vibrations, and their vibrations are coming into direct contact with our vibrations. This creates a big pot of vibrational soup in the space in which we’re performing. And just like the flavor of a soup deepens with time, the more we stew in this vibrational soup, the stronger these vibrations become and the more intensely we feel them.*
* There’s actually science behind this. It’s a physics phenomenon known as resonance. If you’re a musician, you may already know a bunch about this. You can find more details about it here. There are lots of cool things to talk about with resonance and performance. Perhaps a future blog post…**
**Fact. I did a science minor (in biology…more specifically, evolutionary biology…more specifically, classification biology) along with my theatre degree. If it’s not already evident, I am actually a big science nerd. And when science and art intersect, even better. So you may see science-y things pop up here and there on the blog. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it fun and friendly. Anyway…
So let’s recap. Energy is vibration. When we perform, we give off vibration. During the performance, when our vibrations meet the vibrations of other performs and the audience, they intensify. This draws us into a more intense or heightened state of being when we perform. Here, our movements become more direct, our voices becomes clearer and our emotions begin to run deeper and…BOOM…this is the spark, this is the magic we feel when we perform. These are the good vibrations: this is what I call PERFORMANCE ENERGY.
BUT, I also think there’s more to it. I think there’s an additional spark of energy we tap into when we perform, and this energy is the true magic of performing. This energy does not come from us, it does not come from our fellow performers or the audience. It comes from somewhere else.
We’ll explore this spark of performance energy in Part 2…
For now I leave you with this:
Act(ing) Mindfully is a part of my work with Five Winds. It’s a space where I explore the connection between performance and energy, and offer tips and ideas on how to stay balanced and healthy (body, mind, emotions and spirit) while living the life of a performer.