When practicing DI with students, make sure to focus on the emotion and characters in the piece. Like all memorized pieces, your ability to effectively coach a student is minimized if their piece isn’t memorized. If a student attends a practice session with most of the piece not memorized, encourage them to spend that practice session memorizing the piece instead. If the piece is memorized, here are some tips to keep in mind.
If the piece is about or based on a real person or event, encourage the student to research that person or event. Watch videos of the person (if real) and note their characteristics. Look up information about the event to gain context. This will help both you and the student portray the character and piece more effectively and accurately.
If the piece has multiple characters, spend a practice session working specifically on those characters. Focus on internal characteristics like the characters’ motivations, needs, history, etc. but also focus on external characters like their voice, gestures, stance, etc. This is especially necessary if the piece has several important characters or if the student is having difficulty distinguishing characters.
Blocking or movement is important, but amazing blocking/movement won’t matter if the piece isn’t delivered with effective emotion. Focus on this first; once the student has a good grasp on emotion and acting, then you can move on to the movement.
Blocking and movement can take a performance to a different level, but it’s a long process. If you want to work on blocking, schedule a longer practice period to work on it or split up different sections of the performance to work on during subsequent performances. Keep in mind that blocking should be creative but also realistic. If you or another student/coach can’t tell what a specific blocking is supposed to convey, then chances are, most judges won’t either.
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