The Big Finish!
When it come to polishing your dance, few things shine as much as “The Big Finish”. The Big Finish is one of the things that differentiates between dancing and performing. It’s also one of the things that distinguishes between a hooper and hoopdancer.
The Big Finish is comprised of three parts:
1. A Ta Da! Moment
2. A Denoument
3. The Final Pose
The Ta Da! Moment.
Your dance may have a lot of flash and glitz but you always want to save one special move for the highlight of the song. If you start out with all your best moves at the beginning, you wow the audience but then they expect more. Instead, build the excitement by introducing moves that are impressive but are not your MOST impressive moves and slowly build toward incrementally more stunning moves, saving a special move for the crescendo of the song.
In writing, the denouement refers to the part of the story that follows the climax. This is usually just a few pages where the story winds down and wraps up any loose details. I think we have a similar space in the story we tell with our dance. It’s the point where the crescendo or peak of the song has occurred and the dance is winding down and preparing for the final pose. Like with writing, it is a period of winding down and wrapping up, of preparing for the final pose that signals, “The End”.
The Final Pose
The Final Pose is the pose you find yourself in at the end of the song. Sometimes we can plan these poses or, if we’re improvising, it is the place where we find ourselves at the end of the song. The Final Pose is the signal to the audience that the performance is done. It is the invitation to the applause that will surely follow. More than that, though, the final pose allows the audience to savor the last moments of the performance without feeling the need to rush into applause. It allows them, and you, to bask in the echoes.
The keys to an excellent Final Pose are to try to make beautiful lines with the body, to end in a pose that features both hooper and hoop and to hold the pose, in stillness, for a period of time. This pause, this holding of the Final Pose, is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the Big Finish for most hoopdancers. We’re done! We want to finish our dance and rush away. Instead, I invite you to hold that Big Finish pose for at least 10 seconds. This gives your audience time to absorb the last echoes of both song and performance before bursting into applause. It allows you to enjoy that also.
Accepting applause is not exactly a part of your Big Finish — but it kinda is. Applause is the audience’s opportunity to give back. You have given them a gift — your performance. They have a gift to give to you in return — their appreciation. When you rush off the stage, you are rejecting their gift! Instead, breathe deep, stand tall, bow deep, count to five, wave (or blow kisses), and leave the stage. Acknowledge that they are giving you something too and that you appreciate it.
Performance is a reciprocal relationship. Just as the correct response to a compliment is “Thank You” (and not, “Oh I really messed up that one part), the correct response to applause is to acknowledge the gift of it and thank them in return. Performance is a gift. The Big Finish is the bow atop that Gift. And accepting the applause of your audience is the Thank You note your mother always told you to write. (Only it’s much easier and doesn’t require pen, paper or stamp!)
Here are some of my dances where you can see The Big Finish:
Palm Spins to Hang On Little Tomato:
Dancing to Change by Lynx:
Phantom of the Opera Halloween Hoop Mashup (YouTube actually cut off a bit of the held pose but you still get the picture):