As the performance season approaches, I try to see other dance recitals/revues/concerts when I can and when it doesn’t interfere with my schedule. I often find myself saying, “ What a great show, how professional!” or I may say “Wow, now that was just a dance recital…get them on and get them off…what a mess.” I know that sounds terrible, and quite judgmental, but part of your dance education is learning how to be a professional.
Think of seeing a Broadway show, or a show at Radio City Music Hall. The dancers and performers are professionals, this is their full time job, and they needed to learned professionalism somewhere, before they got to that big stage. It should have begun in their local dance school all the years they were receiving their training.
Performing is a professional activity and it is important to behave in a professional manner when on stage or back stage. I have been through many dance recitals/revues/concerts in my days and as hard as dance teachers and choreographers try to teach their dancers correct back stage etiquette, the nervousness and excitement that the dancer students have that day, just seems to wash all that professionalism all away. Today I will try to teach you some backstage etiquette, to make your performance as professional as possible.
Never peek through a curtain to see how filled the house is or to look for your family before the show begins. Those curtains need to remain lifeless until the opening number and the curtain opens. When you are waiting in the wings to go onstage remember to stay near the curtain, if you can see the audience, they can see you! This is very unprofessional and anyone in the audience will then view the show as the same.
Every dancer wants to see their friends do their dance piece, and that is part of the excitement about dancing in a show. Those dancers who are in the wings just to watch their friends on stage are causing undue stress to those who are working back stage to keep the show flowing smoothly. Teachers, stage hands and mothers who are keeping the show moving at a fluid pace may find those extra dancers who are onlookers in the way and these dancers may cause a delay in the show. The extra un needed dancers in the wings are taking up the limited space back stage, where the next group of dancers are supposed to get ready to perform. Some groups that are preparing to go on stage may be large groups of eight, ten or more dancers and the space is limited. If you are not due to perform, stay away from back stage, and in your dressing room until you are called. You will be creating undue stress on those who are needed to be back stage if you are in the wings.
Be quiet whenever you are back stage, whether waiting to go on or leaving after performing. Talking can be heard by the audience. If you are wearing tap shoes, try to walk quietly on the balls for your feet when getting on and off stage and leaving the backstage area. If you need to go through a door, hold on to the door so it will open and close silently. As excited as you may be, do not talk until you are in the dressing rooms and far enough away from back stage. Be respectful to the next number that is performing next. You don’t want the audience to be distracted by any noise coming from backstage.
Sometimes dancers can get very impatient just waiting to be called to dance. They may decide to take a walk out of their dressing rooms. If you find that urge, fight it. You may be called for your number and not be able to be found. Many times “runners” the people who call you for your number may not know you. They may be just following a list of names and you can not be found. The curtain will not wait for you if you are not where you are supposed to be.
One of the most important things is listen and respect the backstage mothers working in the dressing rooms. They are there to make the performance run smoothly and to keep the dressing rooms organized. They are giving up their time and energy to help you have a wonderful experience.
Remember as your dance years go by, each and every performance will be come a memory. Keep your memories happy and stress free…..and always be professional……