Author Topic: Stage Managing Dance?  (Read 23694 times)

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stagemonkey

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Re: Stage Managing Dance?
« Reply #15 on: Aug 04, 2006, 03:54 pm »
As I'm sure everyone knows there is no right way and no wrong way.  Some people and some shows can probably call great with just a stop watch, other can be great with just hearing the music, others just knowing the dance.  The trick is always what works best for you and for that particular show.

Now with that said I'l tell you what has worked best for me and the various dance shows I have done. This is for dance concerts where there are multiple pieces that have no relation to each other.

My cue sheet is laid out in a few columns:

1: Time (when the cue takes place from start)
2: Flys
3: Sound
4: Spots
5: Lights
6: Stage action (what the dancer does that tells me to call the cue)
       (ie. "dancers move to form upstage line)
7: Cue action (what is happening as a result of the cue ie. "Jess's solo light"

I laid it out this way since i use a combination of the stop watch and stage action to call the cues.  Looking down the far left hand column (#1) i see that at 0:55 there a cue, following that line over i can see that columns 2,3,4 are empty so there are no fly, sound, or spots and notice that Lx 45 happens. Looking in the stage action column i see it happens "with the music accent starting Jess's solo," and from rehearsal i know jess steps out of the line for her solo.  Then cue action tells me that her solo light comes up.  Trial and error led me to lay them out this way as in dance it is often lights that has the most cues so i wanted its numbers next to the stage action and then usually sound started at the start of the piece and ended at the end same with flys (typically just the main curtain) it could be farther away.  So when I follow my cuesheet I see the approximate time the cue is suppose to happen (cause face it i can start my watch when i say go but my sound ops finger could slip and then the music doesnt start for say another 2 seconds which really throws things off). So then as time approaches the various cue times (typically within 20secs) i give the standby and then watch or listen to the stage action for the point the cue happens.  Never had a problem.  Even when designers would just give me times either during tech or during a paper tech if we have a rehearsal on video (very useful if you can manage to record a run before tech to reference on your own) i can be like " ok so you want it when so and so does this" and they go like exactly. 

I also highly feel there is a real art in it as well.  You really need to know the music and the dances just as much as the dancers.  At least twice in every dance show I have done (and some straight plays as well) during a tech run I will be calling the show and feel so focused and connected to everything going on that i'd be listening to the music, following the action on stage, knowing a light cue is coming up, feel that point and call the cue.  End of the piece comes LD turns to me and is like "oh so you know you called 57 to early.....But I really like it so we're gonna keep it and now add 57.5 where 57 was originally suppose to go which is when this happens."  And thats why the lighting designers loved working with me on dance because they know I possessed that sense to be able to feel when the piece (music and choreography) calls for that light change (granted ill admit i dont know how things should change to make it look pretty on stage, but you can definately feel certain points are calling for some kind of change.)

And I know this last bit is a bit off topic but it seems a good place to add it in, because it is one of those things that really pissed the hell out of me about my theatre department in collge.  Do not treat a dance show like a play.  I know it sounds really simple but I saw so many conflicts between the dance department and the tech area of my college cause all the tech people tried treating the dance shows the same way they treated a play. In production meetings, in techs, in overall production.  They are completely different beasts and need to be treated as such.  In college I was very much liked on the dance shows and the dance faculty and choreographers to this day keep saying they wish i was still there and keep telling me to come back and save them.  And when others i still know in college there get ready to stage manage one of the dance shows I'm always like "take mostly everything you know about stage managing a play, and push it aside.  Don't think you know what to do cause you did a couple plays.  Go in not knowing what you are doing, and take the challenges as they come.  Just cause you do that thing for a play does not mean you should force it to work here, cause face it some of the choreographers have a set way of how their dance shows work and the tech people in this department dont want to conceed to that cause that would make it seem like they are wrong in the way they do things.  And you know none of them can be wrong."

Anyway if you want to see a sample of my cue sheets let me know and I can email a copy and answer more questions if they arise.

BalletPSM

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Re: Stage Managing Dance?
« Reply #16 on: Aug 05, 2006, 01:15 pm »
Quote
And when others i still know in college there get ready to stage manage one of the dance shows I'm always like "take mostly everything you know about stage managing a play, and push it aside.  Don't think you know what to do cause you did a couple plays.

Hmmmm...I have to disagree with this.  My training in straight theatre prepared me immensely for the job I have now -- granted, I had done ASM work with the ballet company so I knew the workings of a dance company and how to work with IA crew, what dancers are like, etc., but my work in theatre allowed me to bring some different to the job that my directors really appreciate.  For example, I make it a point to attend every rehearsal (or at least as much as I can - the nature of my job makes it so that sometimes I have to do school shows while the choreographer is rehearsing the professionals).  I do the same sort of thing I do for a play or musical during rehearsal and then some.  I run music for the choreographer and note the points at which he stops and follow along with the score to help him count things out.  I don't notate all the choreography, but I do write down specific things so when the choreographer is grappling for a good place to take it from I can jump in with "how about from the jetes?" Last season when he and I had gone out after a rehearsal he told me how extremely helpful it was that I sit in rehearsal and that he's never had a stage manager do that before -- it's just not the norm in the dance world.  Sometimes there's a ballet master or mistress who will do this, but they are more there to learn the choreography so they can rehearse the corps later.  If I hadn't done all sorts of work in different kinds of straight theatre, I would not have had this kind of background and knowledge and wouldn't have dreamed of going to rehearsals I wasn't expected in, hence probably wouldn't be in the position I'm in now.

Likewise, my work with the ballet company has only made me a better stage manager for theatre.  When actors/directors say something like, "wow, that's a really cool idea" to something that I have picked up in the dance world, I know where I can chalk it up to.

Yes, a ballet or dance concert is different in many ways from a play or a musical -- but in the skills you learn doing each will only help you in the other. 
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!

MatthewShiner

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Re: Stage Managing Dance?
« Reply #17 on: Aug 05, 2006, 10:31 pm »
I think my experience doing plays and musical helped me A LOT when doing dance - I think most of the choreographers liked me because I did approach it from a different angle, and often thought outside of the box.

Again, calling and teching the show is a bit different, but the people skills, time management skills, etc, etc all transfer.  Performers are performers.  (Although dancers may have quirks, I expec every company with to have new and exciting challanges that come with them.)
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

stagemonkey

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Re: Stage Managing Dance?
« Reply #18 on: Aug 06, 2006, 02:32 am »
Just to clarify i never said forget everything you learned, I was just saying push it aside, meaning dont be dead set that thats the way things will work.  Perhaps I worded it poorly i was rambling a bit.  In my colleges theatre department the TD tried to have everything run his way and really didnt want to compromise on the way he ran things.  The Dance Department hated him for this cause he wouldnt listen to what they were saying about how they need there show run. Its crazy cause the TD will say all kinds of bad things about the dance department to SM's who then become terrified of working dance shows, and really in my experience they were some of the funnest shows I did in college and I had a great time working with the dance department (they didn't make me an "honorary dancer" for my dance skills.) they liked working with me cause they said I come in and they can see I actually care about their show, which is something the TD and the other tech faculty don't. So the dance department gets a bad image of being a pain to work with when they really dont deserve it.  So what I was saying is more telling them push aside what you know about dance and such from the TD and tech people and go in and see what the choreographers need cause ultimately it is their show you are working for. 

So again by no means am i saying to forget everything, you use all the same skills, but really I guess what I'm trying to say is if you have never done it before don't go into it thinking everything will be just like a straight play cause its not (but then again you shouldnt go into any show expecting it to be like stuff you have done before.)  My statements from before pertain more so to the calling and tech process of the show.  Those are very different (at least in my expirience).  Sometimes you never did the whole thing in show order until first dress, and in one tech rehearsal instead of jumping Q2Q you would get cue placements from the LD before rehearsal, run a piece calling as best you can, get some notes run it again make some notes then move onto the next piece cause they don't want to over strain the dancers.

So yeah my comments are more so based on a particular circumstances i found myself in and know where other are in that same place, thats why I tell them that.  Going back and reading some of what I said, yeah i agree it sounds a little goofy. The basic point is treat it for what it is, a new show that you need to organize all the workings of to the best of your abilities based on the ways the people within the company work, some may want it done they way they have done it many times before cause they know it works and is safe, others may open up to new ways from you how to make it better.  Remember its all a collaborative art and as the SM you are there to keep everyone communicating and collaborating and making sure everyone is happy.

janicesmc

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Re: Stage Managing Dance?
« Reply #19 on: Nov 30, 2006, 07:35 pm »
Anyway if you want to see a sample of my cue sheets let me know and I can email a copy and answer more questions if they arise.

Hi stagemonkey,

I have a chinese dance performance and I have learnt about cue sheet before. But I never did one. Could you please send a cue sheet copy to me? Thank you for your help.

Janice
New Member Link: mailto:janicesmc@netscape.net [nonactive]


carmsm

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Re: Stage Managing Dance?
« Reply #20 on: Mar 26, 2008, 07:48 pm »
I am the resident PSM for my college and we are putting together a guidelines for SM's. Dance is one thing I have not called a lot of and I would love to get a sample of as many cue sheets for dance that I can. Drop me and e-mail at New Member Link: mailto:camcrae2@catamount.wcu.edu [nonactive]. Thanks!

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