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Ladies and gentlemen–Miss Liza Minnelli! One fabulous entertainer, and one of my all-time favorites. You can learn more about Miss Minnelli and keep up with her schedule of events at her official website–enjoy!
Welcome to Cabaret Tip Tuesday at McElrath Cabaret, where we offer cabaret performance tips to help you put together a great performance at your next show!
I’m thinking about a video that I shared with you last week, and today I want to share some cabaret tips from Liza Minnelli that came from that video.
Miss Minnelli, if you haven’t seen the video yet and I encourage you to do so because it’s fun and informative, was interviewed on the television show Inside The Actors Studio, Season 12, Episode 8, with host James Lipton, and the original airdate was June 2, 2005. (Love that show–some full episodes, like this one, are available on You Tube, and others on Netflix.) During the course of her time there she made three statements that, while she was not speaking directly about cabaret performance, nevertheless are very pertinent to becoming a better cabaret entertainer. If you are looking for some cabaret ideas to help you the next time you are working on a song, these may be useful. I went through and transcribed what she said so I could share it with you today.
Cabaret Tip #1: Everything comes from acting. Liza said:
Everything comes from acting. If it’s dance, to learn a step, I watch Luigi’s face. In other words, James, if Luigi is going to do this [she demonstrates a dance step], right, the idea happens first, and then the result. But it’s the idea first and then the body follows. You know, so that dancing is just acting with your body. Singing is acting with music. But it’s all based in acting. And unless you really have that down, you don’t have anything.
I completely agree with this statement! (To fill those in who may not know, Luigi is a famous dance instructor who basically invented a standardized way of teaching jazz dance in this country. He created a renowned jazz dance warmup, and Liza has been a student of his for years.)
Cabaret Tip #2: One gesture per song. A student asked about how to find a button for the end of a song. Liza replied that what’s important is the process of getting there. She then went on to say:
Charles Aznavour told me that Edith Piaf said one gesture per song. One gesture that makes the song. and I stole this [gesturing with fingers and arm outstretched] directly from Aznavour–”Come to the cabaret”–an out-and-out steal–but it worked, and that’s the thing you remember. In “New York, New York,” it’s this [arm circle from the elbow] and that we just did because we didn’t know what else to do. But it became the charging point of it. But again, that one gesture per song is very interesting, and if it’s something you come back to, something you build to and something you return to.
This is a fantastic idea for the next time you are blocking a song for your cabaret set.
Cabaret Tip #3: The placement of sound is how you stay vocally healthy. Liza said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the placement of sound should be in the front of the face mask rather than in the back of the throat on the vocal cords. This is really important, as your singing instructor will help you understand, so you don’t strain your vocal cords.
I love Liza, and these are some fabulous tips that can be applied by you the next time you are rehearsing and performing your cabaret songs.
Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!
As a cabaret singer, what would you add to this conversation? Leave us a note about it in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!
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Till next time,
ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party is still going strong–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or cabaret website link from now through Thursday. Link is below.
Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:
Tuesdays: Cabaret Tip Tuesday
Wednesdays: Ask A Cabaret Question
Thursdays: Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer
Fridays: Cabaret Through Time