Contagious Mood: Why Your Facial Expression Counts

Ever seen a dancer who is excellent in technique but bored you to tears?

Or perhaps one who is not good in technique, but who kept you smiling because the dancer was enjoying himself that you can’t help yourself?

Case Study: The Gymnast Who Went From Bore To Wow

Take a look at Louis Smith, one of the celebrity contenders of the 2012 series of Strictly Come Dancing (the UK version of Dancing With The Stars). As an Olympic medalist gymnast and a popular favourite among the audience, he had the potential to win that particular series of SCD.

However, even in Week 5 of the competition, I still did not like him much.

Because Louis looked so bored!

Take a look at the video below for his Week 5 dance.

Part 1: The Unconvincing Flat Face

From the video, given it was a samba, the only person who looked like who was having a great time was his professional partner, Flavia Cacace.

Despite only having received around a week of training for the samba dance, with his background in gymnastics training, he was able to pick up at a fast rate to a good level of dancing in a short time.

But having said that, he was still very awkward and very uncomfortable to watch. Simply because he looked like he didn’t want to be there.

Fast forward a few more weeks and into Week 8, the judges were not buying his moves. As the competition pushed further forward, the judges began to critique him further, telling him to put some more emotion into his dancing to win the judges’ vote.

Part 2: It’s Just An Act, But It Works!

This was the point when Flavia stepped up the game and brought in an acting coach to help Louis become more expressive in his dancing.

As it turned out, receiving that extra training simply in acting was the right decision to make as they began scoring higher points on the leader board.

By the time Week 12 (finals) arrived and managing to stay in the competition, Louis looked much more confident on the floor, and became much more exciting to watch.

Reprising their Charleston dance, Louis and Flavia looked like winners already.

In this instance, he was not just smiling for the camera. He was looking the part by taking the fun characteristics of the Charleston dance and interacting with both the audience and Flavia.

Be Present And Contagious, Because That’s What The Audience is Buying

When comparing Louis in Week 5 and Week 12, he has come a long way from a bored gymnast to a charismatic dancer. By giving the impression that he is in the present to entertain the audience, the judges marked him higher for his contagious energy.

The result? He won the 2012 series! What a champ!

There is a bonus too; Louis returned to the dance floor in 2014 to do the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special and his energy with Aliona Vilani allowed him to score another win!


Louis Smith, I salute you for learning to bring joy to us in your dancing.

Knowing the moves is not enough. Remember that when you’re dancing out there, the audience is watching you and judging you on not just your technique, but also on how much you’re enjoying yourself.

Have you experienced discomfort in expression your emotions? Share this article with a friend who could use some Louis Smith comparison!

Video source: BBC YouTube Channel and Strictly Come Dancing YouTube Channel

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