Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On writing a good intro

You don't want to get a disapproving look from Becka Bomb, now do you?

On the request of Becka Bomb, one of my favorite emcees ever, I am going to write a few words about how important it is to write a good intro when you're performing. I know, I know, it can be really hard to talk about yourself in the third person, and even harder to decide what to say and what to leave out. But writing an intro is a skill, and like any skill, it just gets better with practice. Besides, I'm here to give you a list of tips.

1. Follow the guidelines given to you by the event. If they ask for a short two-line intro, give them two lines. If they want an entire paragraph, do that. Do not just send in whatever you already have written, whether or not it fits the bill.

2. That said, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by already having some pre-written intros or by setting yourself a formula. My formula for a short intro is to say "Sophia Ravenna is a member of Fire & Gold Bellydance and a solo performer. <insert one line about what I am presenting at this show> You can find out more about her at" For shows that want an entire paragraph, you can probably have one paragraph that you always use, with maybe one line that mentions specifically what you're doing at that show.

3. Do not be afraid to either include the pronunciation of your name, or to talk with the emcee and double-check that she knows how to say it. That can save one or both of you from some embarrassment!

4. If you're dancing as a troupe, say something about who your director is, or how you formed. Small troupes can get away with including everyone's name in the bio. More than 4-5 people and it gets awkward.

5. If you are performing at a large event with acts from all over, make sure to mention where you're based out of so people know where to find you in the future!

6. If you are a relatively new student, or if your teacher helped you a lot in the development of your piece, mention your teacher in your bio. If you are performing material exclusively developed by a specific troupe (like Anaya Tribal) then mention that. Otherwise, you really don't need to name-drop.

7. Feel free to have a little fun. If you're performing at a themed event, write a special intro that meshes with the theme. If you're dancing at a birthday or wedding and you know the guest(s) of honor, include a little shout-out to them. Things like that.

8. Do not over-explain. Good: "Sophia would like to dedicate this dance to her husband in honor of his birthday." Over-explain: "Sophia is dancing to one of her husband's favorite songs tonight. The drinking motions reference the many bottles of root beer they shared during their courtship; her costume is made from one of his old t-shirts that she bought for him after their second date" etc etc etc. Keep it short and sweet, let the audience figure out the rest or ask you about it after the show.

9. You don't have to be clever. If you're drawing a blank on what to write, just state your name, the song you're dancing to, and how much you appreciate being part of that night's entertainment.

10. Before you send it out or hand it in, double check that your name and any contact information is spelled correctly! Maybe even read it out-loud to make sure it doesn't come across as too awkward.

Follow these tips and hopefully you'll have a happy emcee and event coordinator every time you perform! 

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