As an actor or singer, your instrument lives within you, inside the container of your body; therefore how you align your body while performing will substantially affect how well your vocal instrument is able to function. For maximum power, stamina and support, adopt a posture called Singer’s Stance (or Actor’s Stance), which is based largely off of yoga and effective ready-position posture for most sports. If you are familiar with mountain pose in yoga, you’ll recognize a lot of the elements of this stance.
Start with the feet
Start with your feet, get the right foundation, and then build the rest of your joints on top from there. Feel should be shoulder width apart, with toes pointed directly forward.
Knees slightly bent
The knees will make or break your Singer’s Stance, so be careful about this part: your knees should be slightly bent, not so much that it’s visible, but just enough so they are not locked and can wiggle a bit if you push on the back of your leg. The reason the knees are so important is because your hips will automatically be in the correct position if you get your knees in the correct position.
Tailbone pointed down
This is where your knees come into play: if they are slightly bent, as instructed, it will force your tailbone to be pointing down directly to the floor. You’ll know you’re doing this correctly if you feel like you’re thrusting your pelvis just so slightly forward, and you have no arch in your back. If your back is arched, it means that your tailbone is curving up, not straight down.
Shoulders rolled back and down
Roll your shoulders back and down, and then keep them there, don’t allow your shoulders to default back into a slump, which is how most people stand naturally. The chest should be slightly puffed out, standing “tall and proud,” if you will.
The neck should be long, but in the back, not the front. You’ll want to elongate the space from the base of your neck to the base of your skull. Chin is a tucked a bit down. Be careful not to let your head protrude too far forward over your neck, as though reaching out, or too far back, as though stuffing your jaw over your neck. If your neck feels in any way uncomfortable, you're probably not correctly aligned.
A little goes a long way
You’ll notice the word “slightly” written many times in this article - this is because postural adjustments should be small, generally speaking. If you find yourself moving joints and muscles drastically from how you normally stand, you are probably overcorrecting. Try adjustments that are about 2-3 inches at first, and see how it feels.
Don’t hold it!
It is very, very important to note that Singer’s Stance is not meant to turn you into a statue that stands frozen in perfect alignment every second that you are performing! Even in stationary performances, performers naturally do and should move while they are singing and speaking. The body is meant to move and will function most effectively when it has the room to flow and discharge energy. Singer’s Stance should be considered a ready-position, the stance from which you start and return to between movements. It is not meant to be a straight jacket.
Every body is different
Bodies are unique in size and shape, and this guide is just that, it’s a guide. If there are elements of Singer’s Stance that don’t feel right to you, trust your body’s intelligence to stand in a way that maximizes your unique anatomy.
The physical aspects of performance
For more information related to the body and maximizing the physical side of your performances, see our posts on progressive muscle relaxation, physical warm up exercises, body tension, and yoga for performers.
Like what you read here? Subscribe to email updates and never miss a new blog post again, plus receive a free downloadable set of vocal exercises!