stage movement

Your Body Tells Your Story

Is your body telling the story you want it to? Body language and expression are among the most potent tools we have for communication. Used well, they lend power to your message. Used poorly, they can undercut everything you’re trying to convey. Whether in communication with customers, leadership, the investment community or your own teams, the story you tell physically can be one of your greatest advantages, or most serious risks.

Let’s look at a recent example: One of my clients is part of the leadership team for a Denver area software company. Though he’s an experienced public speaker and a good communicator, he has a chronic slouch. Age, injury, and boxing training combined in him to make it nearly impossible for him to sit up straight. When he came to work with me, I immediately saw how his body language often communicated defeat, low status, other things that were the opposite of what his words were saying. He wanted to do something about it, but it was clear that just sitting him upright wasn’t going be easy, and wouldn’t feel authentic anyway. Rather than attempting to force his posture into something painful and unnatural for him, I instead worked with his natural slouch to create a series of powerful posture-gesture combinations that changed his demeanor entirely. Where before, his slumped, seated self projected a feeling of defeat to his audience, now his active, forward-slanted position showed passion, detailed knowledge, and direct communication of his confidence in the product he was selling. His new customized power-posture also helped free up his hands, thereby allowing for precise gestures for emphasis as he spoke.

Very soon after our session, my client was put on the spot to do a high pressure pitch in front of the executive team for one of the biggest retailers in the U.S. My client used his new tools to project a powerful sense of confidence in his offering, something absolutely necessary in front of a Fortune 500 executive audience. The result? His team landed the deal, which was the biggest in his company’s history. As he put it, “Was that success just about me? Of course not – the product and the team had a lot to do with it. But the first thing that the customer’s leadership team knew about us, before I’d even said a word, was that I had total confidence in what I was putting forward. That didn’t close the deal by itself, but you better believe that it opened the door.”

What doors do you have that need opening?

Leveraging my twenty years of experience as a movement and communication educator, I can show you what your body language is saying, and how it’s saying it. Better, I can help you take control of the story that your physical presence tells, and help you transform it into one of your strongest assets as a leader and communicator. Book me for my customized seminar in body language for leaders, and, during the month of August, take advantage of this opportunity at half price.

Email me: jenn zuko (at) gmail (dot) com, or if you know me online, use any messenger app at hand to contact me. Let’s get started!

Advertisements

Advanced Stage Combat

Remember a few months back, when I posted a series of pleas, extolling the virtues of my Stage Movement class, so that students at Auraria campus would sign up for it? I ended up with a good number of students in that one, and now I’m beginning a series of pleas about a new, vastly exciting course.

Well it’s not new, exactly, but the last time it was offered was …. gosh 8 years ago? Is that true? Anyway, suffice to say I wasn’t expecting the good folks in charge at Metro’s Theatre department to ever offer it again. But guess what? This Fall, it’s there, with a real course number and everything. It’s called ADVANCED STAGE COMBAT, and I am pleased as punch to be teaching this again. (At least, I’ll be teaching it if enough people sign up.)

I’m planning on putting up a post dedicated to each of the things about this course I’m most looking forward to, so let’s start with what’s the very first and very last fight scene the Advanced Stage Combat students do: the big group fight scene.

Big group fights are challenging, as there’s more that goes into a 3 person or more fight than just orchestrating pairs. For the first assignment in this course, I have the students do a full-class-member fight scene. One year, it was an 8-person fight. Another year? It was 12. One group set the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet on a pirate ship’s port, including cannons, ladders, “water” and grog along with the biting of the thumbs.

If you’re a student at any of the schools on auraria campus, do sign up for Advanced Stage Combat. I need 12 people to join me, or it’ll get cancelled. Plus, it’s a very unusual thing for an undergraduate program to have this robust a Stage Combat training offered to its theatre students. You’ll see it (sometimes) in MFA programs, but this is something special to have on your undergraduate cv. Take advantage of it.

Wisdom From Anything, Therefore Nothing

(If you recognize the quote I remixed for the title of this blog post, say so in the comments, and extra points for you.)

What I’m finally beginning to realize and embrace, lovely lurkers, is that I need to quit worrying about whether or not I have anything “important” to write about, and just write the damn blog. Write. Right? Right.

‘Cause there’s always something. Like for instance: I just turned 45 years old, after having danced burlesque only a couple weeks before such an auspicious anniversary. The play for which I consulted and set the scenes of violence, called Wisdom From Everything, opens soon (in fact its first preview is tonight). I’m helping Friend Monica with her theatre piece, called Aphrodite’s Refugees. Both works speak to the plight of refugees: the play, about Syrian refugees, Monica’s piece, about her father’s experience in the refugee camps (and military) of Cyprus.

Me and Friend Brandy have begun a pop-up cabaret project called Blue Dime, which is an eclectic collection of acts: burlesque, magic, music, comedy, variety, drag, and any etc. you can think of (and some you can’t). We just got accepted into the Boulder International Fringe Fest, and you bet your blue carbuncles I’ll be keeping you apprised of this as we move forward.

But one of the biggest things to occur in my little world is my branching out into the corporate world with my valuable skills. With Front Range unceremoniously dumping me, plus being reminded of the popular business adage that once one turns 45, one needs must change careers, I find myself shilling my stage movement expertise to those who need such coaching in the corporate world. Hence, *everyone* in the corporate world. Right? Of course right.

What I am doing immediately in this direction, in order to collect the necessary endorsements to paint me worthy of a piece of that corporate money pie, is something I’m calling Buy Me A Beer, Help Your Career. How it works is this: take me out for a pint, and give me your pitch/presentation/whatever it is that’s imminent, and I give you pointers on how to maximize your body language, poise, gesture, and voice to best effect. You then, ecstatic with the spectacular results of my coaching, write me a glowing endorsement on LinkedIn. Easy peasy, and win-win.

Neat, eh? I can’t take credit for the idea; that was the SO’s brilliance at work to help yank me up by my bootstraps at this advanced age.

Well, heck. With advanced age comes advanced expertise, right? Right.

Upcoming Events and Things and Stuff

I know, lovely lurkers, you’re just plain tired of listening to me apologize for being an infrequent blogger. So I’ll stop doing that. Instead, I’ll be more pro-active and tell you about the things going on in my world.

The three Regis grad students I’m advising, facilitating, and otherwise guiding through various reading and writing projects are about to conclude their sessions. They had some lovely things, including magical realism romance, and analyzing novels in YA literature.

I was movement coordinator for MSU’s The Country Wife, which was a super-enjoyable comedy of manners that the young actors tackled quite well, movement-wise especially, if I do say so myself. I was just chatting with one of the actors the other day, relaying some compliments the SO had given them. I told this student that it’s a pretty impressive feat, to move in that stylized, elegant way (think 1675: wigs, fans, calves, snuff…) when he no doubt just got to his height, what, a couple minutes ago (he had just turned 21)?

I was also, even more recently, brought in to advise the scuffles in Local Theatre Company’s production of The Rape of the Sabine Women by Grace B. Matthias. This is a high quality, tight, and of course timely play that I am delighted to be a part of. The challenge of this one is the thrust stage (audience on 3 sides), and though it’s not exactly realism (there are dreamlike aspects to it), it still needs to have a level of verisimilitude that will insure the audience won’t be jerked out of the story. They open this weekend, here in Boulder at the Dairy Center, so if you’re local, lurkers, go see it!

Finally, it’s burlesque time again in Jenn’s world. That’s right, Bronze Fox Burlesque is taking over one of the little nooks at License no. 1 bar in Boulder on a Wednesday night, this time in a Clue movie theme, in anticipation of Halloween. I’m dancing a solo, a duet, and I get to do one of my favorite Madeline Kahn moments in cinema. Again, if you’re local, come down to see us on the 25th at 9. But these events always get packed, so if you do come to this, get there early.

Sign up for Stage Movement–Final Plea

This is the last time I’ll bug ya on this blog to sign up for Stage Movement over at Metro. It’s a fantastic class that I really want to teach (let alone it being my livelihood), because it’s such an experience and heck, as good as I am at teaching Comp, really, theatrical movement is my specialty and particular expertise, so taking this course is an even more immersive and fascinating experience than that of me trying to make Comp I palatable.

Here’s the info again:

THE 3220 Stage Movement. Meets 8-10:50am on Fridays Spring semester, and it’s a Theatre department class at MSU Denver. If you’re a registered student at MSU, UCD, or CCD, you can sign up. If you’re not, audit it.

commedia

The commedia dell’arte spontaneously concocted plays in Stage Movement. A tableau of one that allows you to see exactly which stock characters they are.

Please Sign up for Stage Movement: Part 4

Today’s plea for those of you who can, to take my Stage Movement class at Metro, surrounds the class blog.

Those of you who have taken any class with me knows that I assign blogging as a venue for reading responses. Stage Movement is no different: I have the reading responses due to one all-class blog, as well as any performance reviews and video analyses, etc. The blog is here, and you can see several semesters’ worth of students are still authors on it, which makes it a very cool artifact of course material that they can still access if they like (or even continue to add to).

One big advantage to having a public blog for much of the course work is that it opens up the classroom beyond ARTS 271 in Denver, to the entire world of the professional field in study. This post in particular shows what a good thing technology can be when it’s used well. I couldn’t a) afford to fly Jeff out here from New York to be a guest speaker; and b) couldn’t rig his aerial silks in our classroom if I did. Because of our use of a blog, though, the students could not only see his work in progress, but as you can see if you read the comments, actually interact with him as a professional in the field in which they’re studying.

And here’s a homework post from the clowning unit that you might enjoy.

blogger-image-1156961596

The pale green pants with nobody inside them were spotted after the last meeting of the last class, disposed of with ceremony….

Stage Movement Class: sign up plz part 3

This post is all about Sheridan’s Comedy of Manners called The Rivals.

I teach this play in a Period Movement unit, to help students learn about social status gestures, posture for vintage plays, and how to navigate things like corsets and ties and breeches, oh my. All this restricted physicality marries with mastery of complex language, and the classic clowning kernel of: The Conflict Between Mask and Appetite.

Here is a small gallery of only some of the Rivals performances from Spring semesters past:

rivals1

…when the servant is more learned than the mistress…

rivals2

I have always enjoyed the cobbled-together, haphazard costumes that inevitably happen during this unit, but these two gentlemen took the cake.

rivals3

When I mentioned to this class the possibility of cross-gender-casting Mrs. Malaprop? Fugeddaboutit. 

 

Stage Movement Class: sign up please pt. 2

Yes, lovely lurkers, I have taken to begging for students to take the Stage Movement course over at MSU Denver. Well, yanno, it has been cancelled due to underenrollment enough that I feel I need to explain what makes this class such an essential part of a student’s experience at Metro, especially in the Theatre Department.

Here’s the thing: the skills learned in this class don’t only apply to

Don't make this sad clown even sadder. Sign up for Stage Movement.

Don’t make this sad clown even sadder. Sign up for Stage Movement.

the performing arts student. Not at all–actually I’ve had the following diverse folks take this course (beyond the theatre majors, for whom this class is required):

  • a major in accounting
  • a 75-year-old auditing the course for fun
  • an 8th grader interested in the clowning arts
  • a poli-sci major
  • a couple English majors
  • someone who was undecided, who wanted to be able to have good presence in front of a crowd

Recently I have received some advice from an intimate friend in the career reboot department, and I am realizing that these skills are all excellent ones for building my corporate consulting practice. All of these things (body language, vocal work, social status manipulation, presentation skills, etc.) are the difference between a corporate drudgery and a successful businessperson.