We often get asked how a performer finds their signature style and it’s a difficult question to answer. Basically, there is no real answer other than hard work, and the more you do it, the more you will find what works for you… Here’s a couple of things to bear in mind…
What is a signature style?
A performer’s signature style is basically the way they move, a love of a certain era or a certain style that they have developed. It might be a certain look they have cultivated, both facially, charater or on-stage persona and costume-wise. Actually, it’s a bit like handwriting, the more you do it, the more recognisable your style. Having a signature style is important as it helps you stand apart from your contemporaries and your acts will be recognisable to others. As an example of performers who have their own signature style, check out Lou Safire – his on-stage persona is like no other performers, and we love his style; also Havana Hurricane – her costume, wig and make up form part of that signature style, but also her bump and grind – there are certain moves she does that only she can do, and others associate with her. We also love the classic vintage style of Lady Lolly Rouge – her lines, elegance and grace are true to herself whatever act she is performing. Or course there are a load of other performers who definitely have a style of their own – for example Dave The Bear, Anna Lou, Rubyyy Jones… You get the picture! Whenever you think of these performers, you know exactly what style they are… It’s kind of like a physical version of branding.
Don’t go looking for your signature style…
…Because you will never find it! A signature style comes from inside. It comes from a love of an era or style (historical, vintage, yesteryear, victorian, futuristic, now – just to give you an idea!), it comes from an affinity to what you are doing – most performers enjoy performing a certain style, whether comedy, classical, classic, fusion, circus, sideshow, etc; it comes from enjoying a certain set of moves, it comes from a certain flourish that is executed when taking off a glove (or anything else for that matter), it comes from a preferred way of tasseling or removing a piece of costume, and also the way that piece of costume is then dropped/violently thrown/delicately placed after it’s removed. So you see, there are a number of things that make up a signature style, and these things will just come to you over time and in the rehearsal room or even by accident live – we know loads of performers who did something accidentally live and loved it, and have built it into their performances. Signature style is organic and an extension of your personality, not a contrived and deliberate thing.
Can we cheat and borrow another performer’s style?
You know the answer to that already! So you see a performer and you love a certain flourish they do, or a certain style of costume… It’s best to admire from afar rather than build their signature moves into your routine. Even done out of innocence and because you love the performer’s moves so much you could die, it’s best to stick to developing your own set of moves. If you are unsure on copyright, head over here: Copyright of routines to make sure you are not infringing anyone else, either knowingly or out of innocence.
Last of all, patience…
Developing your own signature style takes time and patience and believe it or not, it’s probably not something you, yourself will notice as other performers or audience members will notice certain moves they associate with you first. You could also try filming your rehearsals to see if there’s anything you particularly loved about what you were doing or something that felt so right and ‘clicked’.
Most of all, what you are doing must feel natural to you, and you must enjoy it, and if you feel it resonating, then take it and use it. Pretty soon you will have your own personal signature style without even knowing it!