Stage Fright - New Yorker articleArticle by John Lahr in the 28 August issue
Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:22 PM
Lahr discusses a number of extreme examples, including Stephen Fry (who fled the country to avoid returning to his starring role in a London play), Ian Holm (who gave up the stage for almost 15 years), and the pianist Glenn Gould (who stopped performing in front of live audiences and once said, "To me the ideal artist-to-audience relationship is one to zero.")
Lahr includes no dancers in his discussion. I wonder what role stagefright plays in the careers of some dancers, and whether any significant careers have been seriously impacted or even terminanted due to it. Or, is there something different about ballet, as compared to theater and musical performance, that reduces the incidence of stagefright?
(To protect the privacy of individuals, we should stick to published or official examples --or those which the dancers themselves have acknowledged.)
Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:35 PM
Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:40 PM
It seems as if it happens to almost everyone at one time or another. A celebrated example, that I would think Lahr would cite although I have not seen his article is that of Laurence Olivier, who was assaulted by such a bad case of it in the Sixties that when he was playing Othello his Iago, Frank Finlay, had to stay in the wings in Olivierís eyeline at all times.
Posted 24 August 2006 - 03:49 PM
Lahr includes the "Othello" experience, which Olivier discussed in his book "Confessions of an Actor."
A celebrated example, that I would think Lahr would cite although I have not seen his article is that of Laurence Olivier, who was assaulted by such a bad case of it in the Sixties that when he was playing Othello his Iago, Frank Finlay, had to stay in the wings in Olivierís eyeline at all times.
By way of attempting an explanation, Lahr quotes Charles Rosen, "The Aesthetic of Stage Fright,"
Lahr himself writes:
The silence of the audience is not that of a public that listens but one that watches, like the dead hush that accompanies the unsteady movement of the tightrope walker poised over his perilous space."
I would think that this could apply equally to dancers. However, most dancers I've known or read about seem to express a strong love of being onstage. Many seem to have been aware of somehow "needing" this experience rather early in childhood. Attacks of nerves seem to involve the fear of being judged by the company director or the teacher, not by the audience itself.
All the cenetral traumas of childhood -- being alone, abandoned, unsupported, emotionally abused -- are revived for an actor when he appears before the paying customers, who have the ower to either starve him of affection or reward him with approval.
If stage fright is rare among serious dancers, it raises a number of questions. For example: Is there a fundamental difference between dancing and acting, as far as expressing oneself goes? Or, are people who are attracted to dancing somehow emotionally different from those attracted by acting?
Posted 24 August 2006 - 04:21 PM
However, most dancers I've known or read about seem to express a strong love of being onstage. Many seem to have been aware of somehow "needing" this experience rather early in childhood.
I think some performers in all fields have expressed similar sentiments.
Posted 24 August 2006 - 10:23 PM
Posted 25 August 2006 - 11:00 AM
editing to add: But I'm sure there are legitimate angles for us to take. We do have dancers on this board.
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