November 18th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
It’s now November and you probably have a good handle on your day to day routine. Your classes are set, your routines are finished (or almost finished) and you’re starting to polish up your competition numbers. While you’re busy cleaning your dances, working on your technique and presenting the right costume, don’t forget your etiquette- specifically, your backstage etiquette. Proper backstage etiquette is important for your safety, general courteousness and reputation. In today’s Blog, we’ll be discussing why backstage etiquette is so important and necessary.
Your safety should be your number one concern. For most regional competitions, you’ll probably perform in a school or theatre. Either way, you’ve got to be aware of your surroundings backstage. Curtains and booms are very heavy and expensive so you should avoid them. Make sure you have some knowledge of your theatre terminology and know who the important people are (like the stage manager!). If you’ve been to a full fly house theatre then you’ve probably noticed a pulley system with lots of ropes and fun metal things. DO NOT TOUCH. While curtains and backdrops look light, they are attached to very heavy rigs that you don’t want to tamper with. It is the wings and stage that performers should be concerned with, not if the curtain can handle your body weight. Make sure you are cautious backstage of any large important stage devices. They are not toys. The floor will usually have some type of tape markings with specific sight-lines that you should pay attention to. (Remember if you can see the judges, they can see you!) It’s important to respect sight-lines to stay out of the wings for the performance onstage. You don’t want a battement to the face.
I think it is so important that we are courteous to each other. Dance is already so competitive, why not be nice? Take the initiative to get out of the way if a dancer is rushing to make an entrance or quick change. Avoid an injury or potential collision by having the common sense to simply get out of the way. Again, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t stand in the crossover or wings while a performance is onstage. It’s rude and the judges can see you. While you probably want to watch and support other dancers, you can do so by simply applauding them after their performance. Simply whispering “Great job!”, can be so rewarding to another dancer. Also, be mindful of how loud you are being backstage. Keep your voices to a low whisper and respect that other dances are performing. Lastly, know that this is not your space. Yes, it’s your space while you’re dancing but, you do not own the theatre. Remember, the space is rented. Respect the space as if you were at your grandma’s house and you’re sure to do no wrong.
This is a big one. How you act backstage is a direct reflection of your studio’s reputation. It takes one bad apple to ruin it for the bunch. If you see one of your fellow dancers acting foolish, step up and say something. Also, you never know who is watching backstage. You might run into a judge, studio owner or choreographer that you don’t particularly want to look bad in front of. It only takes one time to ruin your reputation and it’s almost impossible to set it straight. Memories are long. Don’t be that one person who sets a bad reputation for your whole studio.
Your backstage etiquette is important. Perhaps, in your studio, you should practice how to act backstage. You rehearse your routine, why not rehearse your behavior? It’s important to remember to have good backstage etiquette for your safety. Also, just be kind to one another and know that in some cases your reputation can be tainted by bad behavior. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t forget to support and respect other dancers in the process.
Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.