Have you thought about why people still go to the theatre?
Ballet is, above all, a performing art. Dancers train to be able to do all the movements ballet has established through the years, with all its rules and specific positions. Although, audiences go to enjoy a performance, with the performers not only fulfilling the duty as athletic dancers but most of all, as artists.
One of the things dancers love most about going on stage is the opportunity to be someone else. They get lost in the story and share that story with the audience. Even the pieces that have no plot at all have an intention behind the choreography.
When I was 11, I got a huge challenge: I was chosen to perform Cinderella. This was an opportunity to explore my young stage presence. How I approached the character was a big deal for me at such a young age.
But Cinderella opened my eyes to what is important in ballet. It was more than how I make the steps, how high my arabesque was, or how a certain pirouette went. It is all about what the audience gets from you.
So, can you learn stage presence?
The answer is yes, but maybe you have it naturally. You just need to perfect it.
I remember that for Cinderella, I watched the Disney movie more than twice. I also watched professional dancers perform the role. Since then, I study each character that is assigned to me in order to portray my best interpretation to the audience.
I did the same when I performed the Grand Pas de Quatre variation of Lucile Grahn, the 1st and 3rd Act variations from Aurora, a swan in Swan Lake, a village girl in Don Quixote, one of Swanilda's friends, a Snowflake in The Nutcracker, a town woman in Petrouchka, and even one of the exotic, dramatic tribe members in The Rite of Spring.
Every role, even the smallest one, has a story to tell.
The best way you can learn how to have a great presence is by studying other dancers, studying the plot of the ballet, asking or listening to the choreographer what is the story behind his/her piece, and most of all, enjoying yourself on stage.
Remember that the audience goes to the theatre for us to tell them a story, get lost in the plot, and even to get to watch you dancing a certain role. Next time you are cast to dance a role, really look into it. Even for a competition, the judges will see your artistic elements.
Get lost in your character, be the character, and make your audience believe you are that character.