Ray DeForest: 

Finding Your Onstage Persona: A Cabaret Master Class 

**Class Description:** 

Are you ready to unleash your inner performer and captivate the cabaret stage? Welcome to “Finding Your Onstage Persona: A Cabaret Master Class," led by Ray DeForest. In this transformative class, you will discover the magic of crafting your unique onstage persona, whether you aspire to be a glamorous diva, a drag queen sensation, or a captivating "stage version" of yourself. By the end of "Finding Your Onstage Persona: A Cabaret Master Class," you will have not only honed your performance skills but also discovered the power of bringing your authentic self to the stage. Ray DeForest and Matthew Martin Ward are excited to guide you on this transformative journey into the world of cabaret performance. Don't miss this opportunity to shine as a cabaret artist. 

1. **Introduction/ Warm up (15 minutes):** 

Welcome and class overview. 
Brief introduction to Ray DeForest and his alter ego, Doris Dear. 

Great singing is a visceral, enlightening experience that when done correctly, the body knows it and will begin to process the technicalities NATURALLY. Singing should be FUN and HEALING. I believe that the voice reflects what is also going on in people’s lives. If something in your life or your body is out of place it shows up in the voice. Find your happy place. Find your center. Then singing will become a sharing of your joy in life! 

  • Tongue Release : Keeping your tongue inside your mouth. Roll your tongue around the inside of your mouth, on the outside of your teeth, in a circular motion, 10 times each way, keeping the speed of the tongue constant. You should start to feel a slight burning sensation, maybe in the back of your neck or under your chin. This is the release of the tongue muscles and it's completely normal. 
  • Jaw Release : Finding the space between the back of your ear and the back of your jawbone. Massage into this space for 10 seconds, pressing forward to release the jaw and the back of the tongue. Make sure your jaw stays released throughout this exercise and do so for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise twice. 
  • Kalbata breathing (breath of fire) : To release diaphragm, especially for dancers. While keeping your shoulders and hips in alignment with your knees slightly bent and your hips slightly tucked under, with your feet firmly planted on the ground, take your arms and lace your fingers behind your head. Take a deep breath, letting your back fill with air while letting your belly relax. Then with short, powerful breaths, while keeping your ribs high and soft, blow forcefully through your mouth with powerful, short, hollow breaths, each time letting your belly relax. Do not let the ribs collapse, and women, make sure to let your belly go. You will hate this, but it's the key to good singing. 
  • SSSSS Exercise : to control the release of air. Lace your hands behind your head. Take a nice released deep breath with your diaphragm and slowly release your air on ssssss. The goal being to make it last for at least 30 seconds. 

Why do we warm up? 

Warmups prepare you for the intense vibrations that come along with singing. Controlled, steady vocal exercises will increase acid in the muscles surrounding your vocal folds, which helps those muscles do their jobs more effectively. 
One of these jobs includes interacting with a tendon in your throat. When that tendon is properly engaged, it will stretch, giving you more flexibility and control over your voice. 
When you properly and regularly exercise your voice, you build upon your abilities and become a much more effective singer. 
Vocal warmups before a show prepare your voice for the strenuous activity that is singing. It may seem counterintuitive. 
“How does singing before I sing make me less tired from singing?!” This is because warmups are a controlled, steady way of singing that doesn’t stress your voice out. 
Warmups prepare your voice for the vocal event that is singing. When you sing something challenging in a performance without adequately warming up, you run the risk of damaging your voice and really hurting yourself. 

When do we warm up? 

Ideally, you should warm up every day. And if you’re not already, you should start slow. Do some simple exercises for 20 minutes every morning. Don’t try to belt out that high C just yet — you’ll need to work yourself up to that. 

Remember, warmups help grow and unlock the skills that you already have. 

2. **Getting to Know Your Persona and find a song (15 minutes):** 

Group discussion: 

Who is your onstage persona? What defines them? 
Identifying the characteristics, quirks, and qualities that make your persona unique. 
Selecting a persona name if you haven't already OR do you even need one??? 
Use moments in your life that has made you a person 
Our jobs as actors is to try and BE a human being that your audience can relate to 
By being you are allowing your audience to experience you 
As artists we need to trust our voices 
What you wear can be a big piece of your puzzle. It can complete who you are. 
When choosing music find your attachment to it. Sometimes it’s not even conscious 
As actors and performers even when playing a character, you are still you. You are still in the same body, but adding nuances that enrich who you are on stage. 
Techniques for remaining authentic while performing. 
Exploring the emotional range of cabaret songs. 
Each participant selects a song that resonates with their persona. 
Review of sheet music, charts, and preferred key. 
Building a backstory for your character. 
Creating a mental and emotional connection to your persona. 

3. **16 Bars of Emotion (30 minutes):** 

Individual work with Ray DeForest. 
Each participant performs their chosen 16 bars of the song. 
Ray provides personalized feedback on performance and persona connection. 
Focus on expressing genuine emotions and storytelling through the music. 

4. **Conclusion and Reflection (15 minutes):** 

Group discussion on the transformation of your onstage persona. 
Sharing thoughts on the journey and growth throughout the class. 
Closing remarks