Yes, I know. As women we have heard this over and over again:
"You are prettier when you smile." But you know what, you are prettier when you smile. You know why? Because it makes the recipient feel better about the communication. Why does this matter as a performer? Because as humans we are tuned to look at the face for initial communication. If the face keeps changing expression, we will continue to monitor it until we hit stasis. So, if your performer face is flashing between smile, no smile, smirk*, laugh, frown..it keeps the audience looking at your face-and not seeing you dance. Worse yet, not seeing the group dance.
That's the reason for the "pleasant neutral" face in ATS. We are asking the audience to see us as collective group, not individuals.
So, the very thing you are fearing..."They are all staring at me!", is the very thing that you are cementing when you don't smile (or just hold a pleasant neutral face.)
When you and your group can maintain a consistent, positive expression the audience will start to explore the whole of you dancing together-and all those expensive costume pieces you want to show off.
*Interesting enough, when you smile demurely-gazing down and smiling through closed lips-you give the effect of a grimace or smirk. Try it now-go look in the mirror and see if I'm right.
OK, see what I mean? What you want to come across as humility is coming across as 'bored teenager.' Ugh.
I have lots more on this topic but it's late and I want to hear what you have to say.
Until tomorrow... :)
(smiley face pun!)