By Leeny Del Seamonds, Sharing the Fire 2016 Workshop presenter
I’ve been called ‘a mover and a shaker.’ Whether or not that’s true, I’d agree – not because I have a tendency to shake things up – but because moving my body comes naturally whether I’m singing, dancing or telling a story.
I grew up in an animated family that often moved their bodies and faces in expressive ways. On my Cuban dad’s side of the clan, everyone effortlessly gestured with their hands to converse, often engaging their whole body to make a point. It made for a lively and exciting experience. On my English-Irish-German mother’s side, my grandparents performed in the Vaudeville Circuit, and their theatrical legacy was passed down through the generations. Family gatherings with them included enthusiastic, zealous and dramatic storytelling and skits.
Not every storyteller has the advantage of inheriting the movement gene. Many feel uncomfortable when gesturing, or creating ‘props’ in a story by using mime (pantomime), or demonstrating a story character’s action with their body. They may feel awkward or self-conscious incorporating movement or facial expressions into their stories. On the other hand, some folks move so much during their storytelling they risk losing the audience’s attention due to distracting gestures or nervous pacing. I believe everyone can benefit from training to enhance their delivery using believable, convincing gestures, body movements and facial expressions.
When spoken word is brought to life, several performance skills come into play including the application of motivated actions and gestures. As Narrator, when introducing a character to the audience, the storyteller must totally believe that the character exists. If Narrator looks directly at the character and gestures to her, the audience sees her too. In many ways, the character becomes as real to the audience as it does to the storyteller. I call this “seeing is believing.”
The same principle applies to imaginary objects or props in the story. If we create something through mime, it becomes real and it should show in our faces when we look at it. If we pick up an imaginary object and believe that it’s real, the audience will agree. If we fail to put it down or ignore it, often the audience wonders where it went. Was the object dropped? There also should be the same level of motivated believability in the actions and gestures we portray in a story (such as running, climbing, pointing, jumping and so forth). Applying these performance techniques makes storytelling more fulfilling and helps create a closer connection with your audience.
Adding basic mime, plausible movement and gestures to stories not only adds dimension to them and heightens the spoken word performance, but it’s just plain fun. Join me in “A Time for Mime and Movement” Sunday morning at Sharing the Fire. Together we’ll become ‘movers and shakers!’
Want to learn how to add movement to your stories? On Sunday, April 3 at Sharing the Fire 2016, Leeny Del Seamonds will be presenting her workshop Time for Mime and Movement. Learn more about Sharing the Fire and register today!
Learn more about Leeny at LeenyDelSeamonds.com
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