What I mean by “unsolicited feedback” is whenever you tell someone after a performance your thoughts on it. Most people just say something like “I really liked your performance!” It’s great that you did… but, believe me, we all get that a lot (or a version of that). It’s helpful to know more, hence the reason for this blog.
Not a full blown critique of the performance
If you’re giving unsolicited feedback, don’t do a full blown critique of the performance… that really should be kept for solicited feedback (i.e., someone pointedly asks you to critique the performance). The critique/solicited feedback topic will be covered in a separate blog. So, instead of giving a critique, what we want to focus on is what you can cover in your unsolicited feedback.
Keep it positive
The things that need to be improved on should be covered in a full blown critique. Few people will dare mentioning to the performer what he/she could have done better, thankfully, but I still thought that I should put this disclaimer here… just in case…
Knowing your overall impressions is good. So knowing that you liked the performance is great. If you can add more details as to why you liked the performance, all the better! For example, “I really liked your performance because I could feel the emotions pouring forth.” Adding that tidbit of extra info helps the performer tremendously. That’s how the performer knows what overall elements came through for you.
If there are specific moves or moments in the piece that really captured you, please say so! One of the best unsolicited feedback I’ve ever received was from Matthew Hellrung and Laura Smith: after one of my performances, they told me specific moves that they really liked in my performance. Again, knowing that tidbit of extra info tells the performer which moves really captured you. That generally means that it’s a move that we should keep on rotation. ;) For example and interestingly, one of the moves that Matthew commented on was one that I had originally dismissed but ended up doing on stage since I do improv and, well, it just came out. Had I not known that it had worked, I would have dismissed it again from future performances.
Costume is cool... and if there are elements that you liked about it and that worked for you, it's fine to say. But if you comment only on the costume or you say "I really liked your performance AND I especially liked your costume", it may make the performer a little neurotic. As in, "Okay... my costume was super cool. But my dance wasn't? Drat!" (or variations with more or less angst).
Oh and if you will comment on the costume, as with everything else I mentioned so far, if you can add specifics, it totally helps. For example, I really liked your costume because it enhanced the moves, specifically the arm movements. Or, I really liked your costume because it helped create/further the mood of the piece. Or whatever else.
Keep it short
A few sentences with important and pointed info will go a long way! After a performance, it often happens that a lot of folks want to talk to the performer or the performer may be doing another piece in another portion of the show and needs to go change so keeping the chat short will be helpful. Of course, if the person wants to chat for longer, it’s totally fine.
Pros and featured artists
There is this misconception that it’s almost like bad form to go tell a pro or the featured artist in a show specific details of what you liked about their performance. So they often end up hearing “I really loved your performance” over and over again. The truth is that they want the feedback too! And they seldom get some! They also want to know what worked for you and what you liked. Again, unless it’s a solicited feedback, keep it short, positive, and specific.