Meet Yolanda Thomas, an LA-based singer, songwriter, dancer, and choreographer. Originally from Sydney, Australia, this two time L.A Music Award winner has made a name from the fiery onstage energy she unleashes with her band, the Stolen Boys. In the past, they’ve performed at legendary venues such as The Whisky A Go Go in LA. Their favorite gig, however, was scoring the Steel Panther support at Key Club on Sunset. Yolanda has also worked as a backing vocalist (TV and live) for chart-topping artists Wendy Matthews, Vanessa Amorosi, and Powderfinger in Australia, and toured with REEL 2 REAL while promoting their mega-hit I like to move it.
As a passionate choreographer and Performance Coach, Yolanda started www.hiphopcourses.com, a platform that sells online dance tutorials and short courses. You can also get her content on hollywoodperformancecoach.com. Her YouTube dance videos clocked a combined total of almost 2 million views.
Recently I got to talking with her about what working with a choreographer can do for an artiste’s on-stage presence. Here are highlights from that interview.
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How does she prepare her clients for their performances as a choreographer and performance coach? “What I’m selling is building your potential and confidence through dance and singing.”
Yolanda’s forte is getting people ready for an audition in the shortest time possible. Sometimes all it takes is 4 lessons.
For someone that’s just starting to perform, the little things that show your stage control – like adjusting the mic before you start singing – make the difference in your performance.
She doesn’t recommend last-minute rehearsals, because everything you’ve practiced could unravel. She says she does push-ups to help her get grounded.
However, she doesn’t work as a choreographer with kids because of the discipline aspect, which consumes time and energy. She prefers adults who listen and take in what’s being taught.
Yolanda’s advice on positive stage performance and presence – “Your one job as a performer is to bring your audience in as part of the experience – make it about them.”
The secret is when you don’t know what the performer is going to do next. That’s what artistes like Eric Dover do to command the stage. Yolanda says, “You’ve got to stay in the moment and then look for the opportunities of what’s happening.”
Establishing the chemistry with the band and the audience is important. They’ve all got to work together. It’s got to be one room full of people that are experiencing the same thing.
A good example is Steel Panther, a band that takes a room packed with people and just brings you into the whole storyline with them. Ralph, the lead singer, is the type of person that makes you – the audience member- feel like he’s singing to you individually. It endears the audience so much more when they think they’re in on the act.
What’s her take on working with singers who don’t have that connection with the audience?
“It’s very much about getting out of your head… stay in the story. Once you have experience, the audience will have an experience,” she says, adding, “I judge my performances based on whether I connected with the audience. I don’t want to just sing the notes.”
It helps when we create that vision we have of ourselves as a performer and allowing it to happen on stage. It’s about letting that inner person (alter ego) emerge.
Yolanda advises performers who feel awkward doing choreography not to force it. According to her, sometimes it’s about creating those impact moments during your performance, like when the band copies one member’s dance moves for their routine.
Your Next Step
If you know you’ve got what it takes but don’t know where to start, I’d love to help. In my vocal coaching practice, we work on both your strategy and your craft. Contact me here to work with me.
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Hi! I’m Danielle Tucker – singer, vocal coach, and lead vocalist of The Mighty Untouchables band.
Throughout my 20-year career, I’ve equally enjoyed singing country, rock, pop, gospel, and jazz. Today, I’m a professional singer/songwriter available for solo performances, studio recording, and lead vocalist of San Diego-based band The Mighty Untouchables. I also offer vocal coaching to both solo artists and groups through my own studio. I’ve crafted a rewarding vocal career, and it’s my great pleasure to bring music to others through private bookings, performing with my band, or helping others to grow more confident in their own vocal gifts. Thanks for visiting my site I’m honored that you’d like to get to know me!