Greetings dancers, and welcome to a little workshop in emoting! Please bear in mind, I am far from an authority on emoting, but I have won awards for my emoting. Hopefully, we will all come away from this with some new thoughts and ideas for emoting in dance. A lot of people really struggle with it, so lets get right into it!
EMOTING YAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY (ick)
We all know that emotes enhance a dance, giving the audience a bit more insight into the message or story behind the dance. Not that everyone reads emotes. But some people love them and actually do read them. They are another tool for a SL dancer to enhance his or her dance, and give us a bit more control over how our dances are perceived.
Emotes!! Where to start? Emotes are handled differently in different forms of dance. In Gorean roleplay dance, the emotes are the most important part of a dance. They are long, often a paragraph, and highly detailed. In mainstream dancing, show dancing, burlesque, and so forth, emotes are much shorter. In Gor, the goal is to use movement and facial expressions to convey what the dancer is thinking and feeling. In Gor, a dancer is not meant to ‘godmod,’ meaning tell what others are thinking or doing.
But in mainstream, none of these rules apply. In mainstream, you can emote thought, feelings, tell stories, describe things that are not clearly evident on your set. I find in mainstream, it is best to use your emotes to affect the mood of your audience. They can see your animations. They can see your set, your costume. So tell them what they cannot see. Such as what you may be thinking or feeling, of desires, or how you would like to make them feel. Here is an example of emotes that I used in a massage scene burlesque dance:
Just relax. Close your eyes. You don’t have to see anything. You are here with me. Trust me to be your eyes.
Softly inhale the delicate fragrance of jasmine oil that I have rubbed into my skin. Let my subtle sweetness permeate you, envelope your senses with tranquility.
Listen to the hypnotic music harmonizing with the refreshing stream from the fountain. Hear each drop of water as it sizzles into steam on the heated rocks, like my warm breath as I exhale near your ear.
Let all your tensions go. Feel my warm fingers on your shoulders as they knead the strong muscle under smooth flesh. Let all your worries flow into me.
Taste my lips. Swollen, soft, warm with desire. Taste my longing for you. Placid in willingness to please yet anxious with need.
Sense me, feel me. Let me be absorbed by you. Lose yourself in me. Give me all your senses. Nothing else exists in this moment.
In those emotes, I was offering suggestions to the audience of how to feel, thereby hoping to affect their mood and their perception of my dance. I wanted to give them the experience of a cyber massage. I wanted them to feel soothed and yet somewhat erotically stimulated by my dance.
When you emote, if you start the sentences with /me and then post your words:
/me caresses you with a penetrating gaze as she slides tapered fingers down taut belly.
It will post like:
[06:18] BabypeaVonPhoenix Bikergrrl caresses you with a penetrating gaze as she slides tapered fingers down taut belly.
Do you see how it has eliminated the punctuation after my name and made it so that it reads as though my name is a part of the sentence, as a narrative? That is one way of posting your emotes in a story telling manner.
Have writer’s block? When I get writer’s block, I discuss the dance with my someone. That always helps heaps. Writer’s block could mean you are holding back because you feel pressured to produce great emotes, and you may be lacking confidence in your emoting ability. What would happen if you write your dance as though you are the only person who will ever see it? Then your mind will feel free and your feelings will feel safe to truly come through in your words. So, if you are having a block, I recommend putting everyone else out of your mind, and write as though no one will ever see it but you. Free your mind from worries and maybes and shoulds! Just write.
For your first writing of a dance, emotionally throw up on paper so to speak. Let the words pour, let them go all over the place. Make a mess of them!! Go wild, have an adventure, paint a picture with words, create a fantasy, tell a story. My first writing of any dance is dreadful, always three times longer than it should be, and the words make very little sense, they are like being inside a tornado. Once your first writing is finished, polish it. I have heard it said, “There is no such thing as great writing, only great rewriting.” So clean it up and polish it. Edit each emote into a clean, tight finish.
The best place to then start with your writing is to simply play your music with the animations and LOOK at what your avatar is doing. Describe it as though you are narrating the dance to a blind person. Use the animations to tie into whatever feelings you wish to convey with your dance. Example, if your avatar is swinging her arms and punching the air, use that to convey anger or frustration or similar intense emotion.
Use adjectives!! The words are how you show off your avatar, your outfit, your environment. Create a mood, an experience for the audience. Captivate and entice them, entertain them. Evoke all the senses in your emotes. What can you see? What do you feel? What do you smell? What can you taste? What do you hear? Are you wearing perfume, do you smell oil rising from the asphalt, is the refreshing scent of rain in the air? Is your mouth dry or moist with the lingering taste of wine? When you run your hands over your arms, are they supple and warm? Is the moonlight shimmering in reflection off your hair? Can you hear crickets singing outside or the distant roar of an engine? Are your eyes looking… or are they gazing, dancing, fluttering? What is reflected in your eyes? You can say, “She looks sadly at the empty chair he usually would be sitting in at this time of night.” Or you can say, “The reflection of him in forlorn, loving eyes is but a memory, for this night his chair is empty.” A few simple emotes that evoke different senses really impacts an audience, the suggestion of certain things trigger responses in them.
Next, post length… please please PLEASE do not make your emotes so long that people give up trying to read them. Give people time to read the emotes and still see your animations. Post length should be one line max in mainstream SL. On roleplay sims, post length is often much longer, but in mainstream SL people do not have the patience for long emotes. One line max… not sentences but lines… meaning the lines that show on your monitor when you post in local (not the lines in the chat box). Remember, your words are very important, this is what will really set your dance apart as deeply personally yours. You want your words to evoke all the senses without choking your audience by trying to overfeed them.
Tense!! Oh this is an easy one to miss. When polishing your dance, make sure to check for jumps in tense. Example: “She turned and ran slender fingers through silken tresses as she whirled backwards, lacy skirts rustling around statuesque legs that spin across the sands.” That sentence mixes both past tense and present tense. It is best to always dance in the “here and now” and not use past tense. A better writing of that sentence would be, “She turns and runs slender fingers through silken tresses as she whirls backwards, lacy skirts rustling around statuesque legs that spin across the sands.” See the difference in past and present tense words?
Grammar and spelling!! Have a trusted friend check your words, not just a spell-check program because they miss things like, “Eyes widen as she gazes out two the crowd.” Two too to are all correct as per spell check, but in that sentence only ‘to’ is actually correct.
Last thing!! Use search in a Word document to check for repetition of commonly used words. Try to find different ways to say the same thing. I will do word searches on a finished dance on certain words that I know I use a lot, such as ‘flesh’ or ‘hair’. Then I try to find other ways to say what I want to say, using different words, rather than repeating myself over and over. Also, try to get rid of the world ‘her’ as much as possible. Most of the time, the word ‘her’ or ‘his’ or ‘my’ can be replaced with an adjective, which is another chance for you to evoke feelings in your audience. For example, don’t say, “raises her arms, her raven mane billowing around her curves.” Rather say something like, “raises willowy arms, raven mane billowing around perfumed curves.” See the difference in replacing the word “her” in your emotes with adjectives that can better paint a picture and evoke the senses of your audience? Isn’t this fun?!
Above all, have FUN with your dancing!! Dance your feelings and remember, love your dances and cherish them.