Dancing Eyes

It is said that your eyes are the gateway to your soul. That you see everything (not that we can always remember what we see), and that by looking into another person’s eyes you can get to know them. We hate not feeling seen and a caught glance between strangers can make someone feel amazing. In life and dance, your eyes play a much bigger role than you think!

An eye for an eye?

Your eye is a sphere made up of several parts. You can think of it as a bit of a visual microphone. Before we get into how eyes are important to dancing, here are some interesting facts about your eyes.

  • Babies are born only being able to see black and white and red.
  • Your eyeballs grow as you age. They are at about 2/3rds of their final size when you are born.
  • One blink can last anywhere between 100 to 150 milliseconds. This means you can blink up to 5 times in one second. The eye muscles are the fastest in the human body.
  • “Red eye” occurs in photos because light from the flash bounces off the back of the eye. 
  • There are over 1 million never endings connecting your eyes to your brain.
  • One eyeball weighs 7.5 grams.

Dance and your eyes

So what could your eyes possibly have to do with dance?

You don’t need your eyes to dance. Other parts of your body take care of that. You don’t even need them to learn how to dance or to see what you are dancing – the Blind dance companies such as this one who performed at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony certainly demonstrate this.

But they do help your audience understand your dance.

From simply direction the audience’s gaze to where you want them to look… to eye dancing, or making up a greater part of the emotional story being told, your eyes help sell the story you are telling with your body.

Famous Dancing Eye Moments

The “Batsui” – popularised by the original Batman TV series, this Dance step has become s party of pop culture with many movies including Pulp Fiction choosing to include it!

Kathakali is an Indian dance that is known for its particular eye movements.

In belly dance, many of the older classical songs reference eyes as a way of conveying deep emotional feelings. Habibi ya Eini or “My love, my eyes” is a love song that uses the eyes as a way to demonstrate the level of love felt by the singer.

How can I get started with using my eyes in dance?

No matter if you are going to perform or not, one of the first things you can do is to catch your eye in the mirror. I know a lot of you aren’t a fan of watching yourself in the mirror (thank you society for all the negative emotions around our body shapes and expectations), but the simple act of briefly catching your eye or that of a fellow dancer in class can help you and them feel good (try it with a smile for bonus results).

Obviously, you don’t want to state too long or have a manic grin, or your dance friend may think you’ve gone loopy, but the positive chemistry it will create in your head can help you feel more positive which can have a significant effect on your body and emotional state.

If you are a performer, think about where you are looking when you dance. Do you spend a lot of time looking at the back wall? The ceiling? The floor? How does this read to your audience about your feelings about your dancing?

Take a look at videos of rehearsals or performances, see where you are looking and how that looks to the audience.

Closing thoughts

The eyes are an essential part of what we do as dancers. You don’t need to be able to see your own body, the audience or anything at all to be able to make it work. Being able to get those connected moments with another human can really make a difference.

Interested in putting this idea into practice? Come try a class with us and give some of the tips above a try. You may even notice me using some of these tips in class!

Find out more about the regular classes and specialty workshops run by APB Dance here or click on an item below for further information.