Whether you are dancing nightly at a restaurant or performing at your first student hafla, your introduction is important. As dancers, we tend to focus on our choreography, our music and our costume…yet many times we tend to leave our intro’s for the last minute. I think many of us leave it to the last minute because we have trouble writing about ourselves or our pieces – get over it. This is the first interaction with you and the audience – make it a great first impression! I recently asked Atlanta emcee Sig Sawyer what dancers should provide in an intro:
“The important thing to convey in your intro is the mood you want the audience to be in when you hit the stage. Do you want them pumped for a high energy drum solo? Or sobered and ready to absorb the slow passion of your movements. The other thing to know is that your bio and your intro are two different things. Your bio is in the program; your intro is for the piece you are conveying in this particular act. Tell the MC the story of your act, the style and origin. A good MC will be able to work with that and give the best personalized intro for the performance you are about to bring forward.”
There are a ton of ways to think about introductions. Here are a few factors that can help shape your introduction:
- Will the introduction be announced by an emcee or included in a program?
- Are you headlining a show or one of many performers?
- Are you local in relation to the venue/show or are you from out of town?
- Has the producer of the show provided parameters for an intro or program notes?
- Does the audience know you or are you new to this audience?
- Do you have anything logistical in your performance that the audience needs to know about before you perform?
- Do you have any cultural or emotional context the audience should know before you perform?
- Does the show producer allow any marketing related announcements such as upcoming shows, classes or website links?
- Is this a “belly dance” audience or are you performing for the general population or a particular culture group? (I.e. Greek, Turkish, Arab, etc.)
Given the above, I’ve shortened my introductions into a few categories. There are a few different types of introductions that you need to have ready at hand and ready to give to your event producer.
- Short introduction for Emcee – Keep to 2-3 sentences. This may change based on your audience. Remember your intro sets up your piece, it’s not just about who you are but what you are about to perform.
- Medium introduction Emcee – Use if you are 1 of few dancers performing or are the headliner for the show. You can expand into a few more sentences than the short intro.
- Program Notes (not announced) – Stick within the parameters set by the event producer. They are spending money on paper and printing, so respect their word limit. If you don’t, they have every right to edit it and you may not see that edit until it’s printed. If they ask for a head shot, provide a high quality RECENT photo that is at least 300 dpi for print.
- Logistics introduction – Sometimes we perform with fire or will be spinning a cane or to a piece of music that may or may not be offensive to some audience members. Include what is needed to ensure the audience
Do’s and Don’ts for Intro Copy:
- Do include pronunciation if you are working with an emcee
- Do keep your emcee intro copy short, sweet and sweet (2-3 sentences)
- Don’t reveal too much about your performance, unless you need cultural context to set up the piece
- Don’t give your entire bio, unless you are a headliner. A bio is different from an introduction – don’t bore your audience with a long narrative before you get on stage!
- Don’t give a generic introduction if you are performing for an audience that knows you well – this is an opportunity to announce something unique and new!
- Do highlight your strengths – but keep it short and interesting
- Don’t include a teacher if you have only taken a workshop or two from them – rattling off a long list of dancers bores the audience and sets a level of expectation – are you ready to live up to that?
- Do list your city base if you are from out of town – people want to know where you are from!
- Don’t use marketing announcements unless you are given permission from the event producer. They may cut it out anyway, but don’t be that dancer.
- Do make sure your program notes are the appropriate word count.
- Don’t send your intro last minute – nothing irks an event producer more than having to heard a bunch of copy from dancers who don’t know what to say. Don’t be that dancer!
- For program notes, don’t forget to talk about the music! Properly cite your
- Do send a high resolution head shot if asked – at least 300 dpi
Do you have a good example of an intro? Share it!