Here David Deal highlights how clever performers are able to turn what initially seems like slip-ups or mistakes on stage into carefully tailored ‘moments’ that only enhance their presence in front of an audience.
Guest post by David Deal of the Superhype Blog
Artists create beauty from accidents.
One morning in Chicago’s Union Station, I found myself with a few spare moments before the work day began. I felt like watching some James Brown for inspiration and searched YouTube until I came across a 1974 performance of “The Payback” in Zaire. The performance did not disappoint. After a rousing welcome from an enthusiastic emcee (“This man will make your liver quiver!”), the Godfather of Soul entered the stage, slowly and deliberately like a lion in command of his kingdom. James Brown removed his overcoat to reveal a muscular body threatening to pop out of a powder blue and black jumpsuit. He then became a whirling force of nature. He did the splits – twice, in rapid succession. He twirled. He thrust his hips. He caressed the microphone, alternatively grunting, screaming and singing “The Payback.”
About 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the performance, he did something that happened so fast that I almost missed the moment: as he sang “I don’t know karate, but I know Ka-Razor,” he dropped his torso down to do yet another fluid leg split, and the tall microphone stand in front of him toppled over, landing on his right shoulder. As his legs came back together to conclude the splits and he raised his body upward from the floor, he slightly tilted his shoulder to allow the stand to roll off his body and gracefully positioned his right hand to catch the metal pole. Then he tossed the pole into his left hand and back to his right in a playful motion before positioning the microphone in front of his face to continue singing the song.