Last updated on 20 July 2017

A performance, in the performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers present one or more works of art to an audience. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience members often applaud.

The means of expressing appreciation can vary by culture. Chinese performers will clap with the audience at the end of a performance; the return applause signals "thank you" to the audience.[1] In Japan, folk performing-arts performances commonly attract individuals who take photographs, sometimes getting up to the stage and within inches of performer's faces.[2]

Sometimes the dividing line between performer and the audience may become blurred, as in the example of "participatory theatre" where audience members get involved in the production.

Theatrical performances can take place daily or at some other regular interval. Performances can take place at designated performance spaces (such as a theatre or concert hall), or in a non-conventional space, such as a subway station, on the street, or in somebody's home.

Music performances (e.g. a concert or a recital) may take place indoors in a concert hall or outdoors in a field, and may vary from requiring the audience to remain very quiet to encouraging them to sing and dance along with the music.

A performance may also describe the way in which an actor performs. In a solo capacity, it may also refer to a mime artist, comedian, conjurer, or other entertainer.

Don Quijote de La Mancha, Teresa Carre%C3%B1o Teather.jpg
A stage performance of Don Quixote at the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in Venezuela (2013)
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English rock band Deep Purple performing in Hoyos del Espino, Spain (2013)

Performance genres

Examples of performance genres include:


Music and music theatre

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After the performance has ended; showing stage clutter such as microphone stands, drinks, cables, speakers (2013)


Other genres

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Palermo Concertmaster Salvatore Greco in performance

Kristin Chenoweth singing National Anthem at Yankee Stadium.jpg

Kristin Chenoweth performs the national anthem of the United States at a baseball game

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Poetry Slam – Wilwarin Festival 2015


Linda George, an ethnic Assyrian artist performing traditional Syriac folk music

Stage fright

Theatrical performances, especially when the audience is limited to only a few observers, can lead to significant increases in the performer's heart rate above his or her baseline heart rate. This increase takes place in several stages relative to the performance itself, including anticipatory activation (one minute before the start of subject's speaking role), confrontation activation (during the subject's speaking role, at which point their heart rate peaks) and release period (one minute after the conclusion of the subject's speech).[3] The same physiological reactions can be experienced in other mediums, such as instrumental performance. Interestingly, when experiments were conducted to determine whether there was a correlation between audience size and heart rate (an indicator of anxiety) of instrumental performers, the researcher's findings ran contrary to previous studies, showing a positive correlation rather than a negative one.[4]

Heart rate shares a strong, positive correlation with the self reported anxiety of performers.[5] Other physiological responses to public performance include perspiration, secretion of the adrenal glands, and increased blood pressure.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Brown, Ju; Brown, John (2006). China, Japan, Korea Culture and Customs. North Charleston: BookSurge. p. 55. ISBN 1-4196-4893-4.
  2. ^ Thornbury, B. (1997). The Folk Performing Arts: Traditional Culture in Contemporary Japan. Albany: State University of New York. p. 12. ISBN 0-7914-3255-6.
  3. ^ Baldwin, Sandra (1980). "Effect of Speakers' Sex and Size of Audience on Heart-Rate Changes During Short Impromptu Speeches". Psychological Reports. 46: 123–130. PMID 7367532.
  4. ^ Studer, Regina (2014). "Psychophysiological Activation During Preparation, Performance, and Recovery in High- and Low-Anxious Music Students". Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 39 (1): 45–57. doi:10.1007/s10484-014-9240-2.
  5. ^ Maclntyre, Valerie (2010). "Heart Rate Variability as a Predictor of Speaking Anxiety". Communication Research Reports. 27 (4): 286–297. doi:10.1080/08824096.2010.496323.
  6. ^ Brutten, Eugene (1963). "A Palmer Sweat Investigation of the Effect of Audience Variation Upon Stage Fright". Speech Monographs. 30: 92–96. doi:10.1080/03637756309375363.

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