The Six Questions

The Six Questions: Acting Technique For Dance Performance

By Daniel Nagrin

All the study and practice is accomplished through dance movement and none of it through play at scenes. “We are offered illuminating, well researched and generously human information out of which great performances are made. Bravo Daniel!”
–Bill T. Jones, The Bill T. Jones/Arne Zane Dance Company

“Great Teachers are impassioned emissaries. Their lesions are radiations of their most certain selves, their sensibility. Daniel Nagrin, as all great teachers, is himself the deep lesson. Instructing us by example, on the possibility of getting under our own skin.”
–Elliot Feld, The Feld Ballets/NY

“Your book is FANTASTIC. It is inspiring and I already feel its influence on some level. Thank you–”
–William Forsyth, Artistic Direcotr, Ballett Frankfurt

“Bravo Mr. Nagrin for showing us how to make the feet follow the heart. Both dancers and choreographers should cherish this book.”
–Pat Birch, Broadway choreographer.

“The Six Questions is a privileged look into the heart and rigorous nature of an artist’s work. This book should be read by everyone.”
–Margaret Jenkins, The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company

“No one that I know of is writing and presenting this information. This is a compilation of life and work experience from one of our great men of the theater.”
–Carla Maxwell, director Jos Limon Dance Company

“Daniel Nagrin is not only one of the great dancers of our time but a master teacher and startingly original thinker. The Six Questions should be read by anyone interested in how one achieves affective power in dance performance.”
–Dr. William Akins, Theatre director

“Daniel Nagrin’s book can help the dancer find a path into the inner life. Once revealed and used, this inspiration makes a true and honest art.”
–Molissa Fenley, Dance soloist

“You establish high stakes for the dancers at the very outset, but then you unfurl the knowledge with seductive ease. I hope hundreds and hundreds of people will take advantage of this work.”
–Carolyn Adams, president, American Dance Legacy
In The Six Questions: Acting Technique for Dance Performance , Daniel Nagrin examines the inner need that makes dancers hunger to return to the moment that lets them dance with power, authority, and an uninhibited outpouring of eloquence. Many attain the technical virtuosity of the art, but few achieve the eloquence that make an audience gasp at their performance. To become such a dancer requires comprehensive and sustained preparation.

In the late twenties, actors and directors of the Group Theatre, who were pioneering the use of Stanislavski’s teachings, saw the value of teaching ballet and the emerging modern dance. Actors now routinely learn dance, but dancers rarely study acting. In The Six Questions , Nagrin maintains that using acting techniques allows the dancer to combine the passion of a body in motion with the combined force of the heart-mind of the dancer. This calls forth the eloquence that make a performance great.

In five parts, the book first examines the personal essentials demanded by the dancer. The second chapter looks at the pitfalls inherent in the act of performing (including vanity and self-hatred). The third chapter is the core of the book that poses six questions: Who? is doing what? to whom? where and when? and why? and against what obstacle? The fourth chapter looks at the tools available for working on the role, and the fifth enters into the very act of performing. This process gives the dancer the techniques needed to perform the specific act required of any role. All of the work is handled in terms of movement alone: no dialogue or scenes from plays are used.

The Six Questions is a companion piece to Nagrin’s other works, Dance Forever , Dance and the Specific Image: Improvisation, and Choreography and the Specific Image. Together they present an invaluable teaching and learning tool for anyone in love with dance.
Published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. To order: CUP Services, Box 6525, Ithaca, NY 14851, (607) 277 2211, Fax (607) 277 6292

Purchasing Information:

All the books are available through

The Six Questions: Acting Techniques for Dance Performance, University of Pittstsburgh Press; ISBN 0-8229-5624-1, Paper $19.95; ISBN 0-8229-3974-6, Cloth $45.00

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