Author Topic: DANCE: Ballet ASM question  (Read 3452 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 54
    • View Profile
    • http://
DANCE: Ballet ASM question
« on: Oct 20, 2005, 04:54 pm »
Has anyone ASMed for a ballet company? How is it different from theatre and/or opera? I know opera is a whole different animal from theatre, is ballet another entity unto itself?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:34 pm by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 972
  • Gender: Male
  • Plan for the future, live for the now
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Live Performance Australia / Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance
  • Current Gig: Technical Director
  • Experience: Former SM
Ballet ASM question
« Reply #1 on: Oct 20, 2005, 06:39 pm »
Ballet is a lot more people management I find. Often you do not need to take things like blocking, as the choreographer either does it mentally, or themselves. You usually call off score if it is classical ballet, and usually will for others as well, although some ballets you can just call from the lyrics (rock being the obvious one). Sound cues are usually not too much of an issue, so you can concentrate on LX and Flys which is good. You rarely (scene changes are the obvious exception) have long runs of cues. The main thing, as always is timing. Dance is pretty much dependant on timing, and it can ruin the 'moment' if you are late on a cue.

On the few ballets I have worked on, there have been far more flys than a normal show - whilst most were done in blackout, I did one  where we flew an actor mid jump. Damn scarey cue, gave me nightmares. If called late the ballarina would be suspended in one spot for a moment, which looked rubbish, if early it risked injury to the dancer. It was also an OH&S nightmare - a lot of ballet is like that though - the surface needs to be really clean, some are extreamly particular about the weight of the sprung floor, some are particular about the surface type.


  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 226
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Stage Management Faculty at Baylor University
  • Experience: Professional
Ballet ASM question
« Reply #2 on: Oct 31, 2005, 08:47 pm »
I have taken my theatre training as an SM and applied it to my job at the ballet company  -- I attend as many rehearsals as I can, take notes on times as the choreographer works (so he doesn't have to search through the CD to find the right place, and then start in the wrong place, thus wasting rehearsal time, etc.)  Often he has told me that although he knows its time consuming, rehearsals are so much more efficient that way.  while I don't take detailed choreography notes (worhtless; that's what video is for now!)  I do take notes about entrances and exits, significant moments in the choreography (like a big lift, for instance).  I actually find it easier to call a ballet than a play -- you know (for the most part) that it will always be the same.  The music won't change; there's no forgetting lines, no pregnant pauses, no times when actor decides that they're going to ad lib...its always consistent (although there are the times when dancers decide they don't want to exit just yet, and you call a spot out cue when its always been called, only to see the dancer still peeking out of the wing and out of light!)

Yes, ballet is an entity unto itself, but in many ways more similar to theatre than one would think. (or at least, I make it so because as my director says, its much more efficient that way!)  I know the show better, the director knows they can trust me, everybody is happier.  

ASMing for a ballet involves more aid to the SM than in theatre.  In theatre, often the ASM is put in charge of one area (props, the crew, wardrobe, etc.) and works somewhat independently of the SM.  I rely on my ASMs for ballets to tell me when dancers are clear from the stage so I can bring up the next light cue or bring out the grand for bows, or let me know if a dancer is still under a piece so I don't bring it in too early.  They don't have to read music, but they absolutely must have some knowledge of ballet and music terminology -- so when I tell them to inform the dancers we're taking it from such and such a place, they have some idea of what I'm talking about.  Sometimes I rely on my ASMs to give dancers cues -- for example, if I have to take a cue off of their entrance, I have my asm cue them so I know when they're entering.  

The ASM patrols the other side of stage -- so if I'm calling from stage right, the ASM is stage left making sure everything is running smoothly.  If a dancer gets injured, they make the run to find an ice pack or an EMT if necessary.  

My ASMs only work production week - I have them come and see at least one run throug prior to getting in the theatre so they know what's going on, but they don't need to know the show as well as an ASM for  a play or musical.  Esp. if you're working in a union house where you don't have to be in charge of the crew.  

Jenk -- pm me if you want to know more...I'd be happy to answer further questions!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!


  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
    • View Profile
    • http://
Ballet ASM question
« Reply #3 on: Nov 01, 2005, 11:31 am »
BalletPSM, thank you!  This is incredibly helpful for me, as I just signed on to co-SM The Nutcracker.  I've never done a dance show before (I originally told them I'd rather ASM to learn the ropes...) so I'm nervous about it.  Reading this really helped me get a grip on some of the responsibilities I'll have; sounds similar to theatre, thank God!


  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA, SMA, USITT
  • Current Gig: Freelance SM in Denver
  • Experience: Professional
Ballet ASM question
« Reply #4 on: Nov 01, 2005, 01:42 pm »
In the dance world in general, be prepared with a lot more first aid needs...and if you can get sports safety training (i.e., Red Cross), it's even better.  Dealing with everything from foot blisters to turned ankles are common occurances.  Luckily, most also already know how to deal with these themselves or to help the new people out.



Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
7 Replies
Last post Feb 23, 2007, 06:46 pm
by Matt.L
8 Replies
Last post Mar 22, 2012, 03:22 pm
by iamchristuffin
5 Replies
Last post Jul 03, 2013, 12:30 pm
by lsears