What an Arabian stallion and a French dancing
contestant have in common
What do an Arabian stallion and a French dancing contestant have in common? At first glance it may appear that the only thing they have in common is the term “stud”. Gilles Marini exploded onto the scene as Dante, the Casa Nova living in the beach house next door to Kim Cattrall’s Samantha in the “Sex and the City” movie. Though people went to the theatres to see Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, they left with one thing on their mind . . . Gilles’s shower scene.
The recent sixth season of Dancing with the Stars featured Gilles Marini paired with two-time winner Cheryl Burke. Although he was a sultry, showstopper an early episode featured one judge prompting Gilles to “fill the space”. At a very tall 6″1, one would think that filling his space was not a challenge for this actor or any one with 6’1 of vertical energy on their side.
So that brings us back to the original question, what do an Arabian stallion and a French dancing contestant have in common? What they have in common is that they both have the challenge to “fill the space”. The reason it is important is that we all have the same challenge.
Have you ever met an actor in person, and were surprised to find them much smaller than they appeared on screen? Or even your own local news people, shocked when you meet them in person? Twenty years ago I walked past Kirk Douglas in a Chicago airport. I was stunned at how diminutive. On screen he “filled the space” with each of his legendary roles and cast mates.
A show horse has a job to do and part of that job is to take up as much space as possible in a horse show ring. Ten to thirty horses are vying for the attention of a judge. So the horse that “fills the space” makes himself as big as possible, will receive more evaluation time. Therefore a horse that takes up less space will receive less of the judge’s time.
How does a horse make him or herself bigger? There are many things you can teach a horse, from their gaits to bowing on command. One thing you cannot teach a horse is how to make them bigger. In horse talk, it is called “blowing themselves up”. It is as if air is pumped into them, they get bigger like a balloon. The good ones, the horses that are show horses by nature, just do it. So just like meeting an actor off stage, you could “meet” a show horse in his stall after a class and be amazed at his small size compared to how big he looked in the ring.
Whether you’re speaking in a “bored” room, a boardroom, or a ballroom, your challenge is to “fill the space.” To “protect your value” your visual has to be as large as you can make it. Speaking is not for the timid of heart. Whether your audience is one or one thousand they have to see you. To see you, you need to fill as much space as you can fill.
How do you know if you are filling your space?
If you have to ask, then the answer is, you are not. First, you need to adapt the mindset to be grandiose. Here is an exercise to practice how to “fill your space”, to “in horse talk, “blow yourself up”.
- Stand in the middle of a room. Close your eyes.
- Imagine that your fingers touch the walls. Your head touches the ceiling.
- We are what we think; we communicate to others what we tell ourselves. Say out loud: I am a star; say I have Inner Brilliance.
- When you speak your territory has to be bigger. Imagine filling Shea Stadium with your presence, not ideas.
- You are not in a church; you have to be entertaining and larger than life. Everything is up front, don’t whisper, and fill the space with your voice and energy. Remember, when visual and verbal don’t match, your audience will rely on the visual
Whether or not you are a Notre Dame fan, you have probably seen or heard about the movie Rudy. Rudy was, as referred to in the movie, “5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, with barely a speck of athletic ability”. At 5 foot nothing he played a giant man’s game. Yet since the moment he was carried off the field in 1975, no other Notre Dame player has been carried off the field by his teammates. Did he fill his space among players physically a foot taller?
So the real question is, what does an Arabian stallion, a French dancing contestant and you have in common? The answer is, the challenge to fill your space. To visually be as big as you can be, to will yourself to be a large presence, to use your voice and energy to fill Madison Square Garden, or Notre Dame’s Golden Dome.