Author Topic: MUSICALS: Musicals with lots of dancing.  (Read 7482 times)

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Emsny

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MUSICALS: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« on: Oct 09, 2006, 09:53 am »
So right now at my college we are doing Oklahoma. I have been made the ASM for the dance prtion of the musical. Does anyone have any pointers to help me with it... on the lines of writing it down and having a good memory of the dances.
Thanks
Emily
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:51 pm by PSMKay »
Emily Harris Snyder

fuzzy_7

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #1 on: Oct 09, 2006, 10:28 am »
Ask your choreographer if you can get a copy of her work for the show. She may need to explain a lot of it to you, but that's the easiest way in my opinion.
Derek A. Fuzzell

smejs

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #2 on: Oct 09, 2006, 12:49 pm »
If you have a dance captain, or a choreographer who's going to be around for the whole production, you don't have to be as specific with your blocking notes.  I happen to be pretty good at writing down choreography, so I tend to do it...if I'm there when they block it.  Especially if you're working off a cd or something, you can help keep track that they're not blocking the same section 2 different ways (trust me, it happens).

If you're seeing it later, you can add in the "bigger picture" moments to your script like...big travel SL, claps start, or shuffle step.  Especially useful is to write down whatever terms THEY use to call things, so that you know if they want to take it from the "lift combo" that means measure 89 or whatever. 

I tend to write dancer counts in either my blocking page of the script or make the actual script out of dancer counts (takes less room than calling off music, and if you happen to not read music I've been able to teach many people to call this way rather than learning to actually read music).  So a song with a 16 count intro and then a held note a little after they start singing would look something like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
THEY SING THEN HOLD THIS NOTE OUT 2 3 4

Then if they have a lot of choreography in that 16 counts, you can write an individual move for each beat if needed....I tend to put X's for claps.  "BC" for ball change...a turning arrow or an infinity sign for a turn...whatever works for you.

The numbers for music beats is especially helpful to me for calling a show, so I can always call on exactly the right beat, and as I said, takes much less room than the actual music.  Though I have also cut-and-pasted music into the script if it's easier to read a section that way.

I'd also recommend making several full-page size groundplans of the set and having blanks of those available.  It's great to quickly jot down everyone's position for new sections of a big group number.  Easiest for chorus is to just write in their initials where they stand - but take time ahead of rehearsal to make sure no one has the same initials and you have ways of differentiating those people!

Hope this helps.

Erin

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #3 on: Oct 09, 2006, 12:59 pm »
Also, if you've never taken dance classes yourself before, you might want to pick up a small dictionary of dance terms.  Mine's in storage right now so I can't tell you the exact name, but it's a little pocket size book, purple cover.  Or I found this online http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html

No one else is probably going to look at your script to find out the dance combos, so don't worry about exact spelling of things.  But it will familiarize you enough that if they use the term "battement" (BAHT-MON is what it ends up sounding like) or "chassé" (SHA-SAY) you may somewhat recognize them.  Just remember many dance terms are French in origin and it'll help you pronounce them.  To those of you who are ballet stage managers, yes, I'm bastardizing things, but I think you see what I'm getting at.

Erin

philimbesi

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #4 on: Oct 09, 2006, 04:03 pm »
I SM'd a traveling choir who danced for like 10 years. 

I've learned that the only one who can just pick up and read a choreographers notes and know exactly what they meant is... well no one... too many times the choreographers I've worked with say.. "what the hell did I write that for". For them dance notes really just served as a reminder to the DC's when they needed to re-teach and settled some bets from time to time too. X's and arrows worked the best for me, with “chasse'” written in next to the arrow or even "spinny twirly thing" - to which the Dance Captain is normally able to go... right this thing... and then do it.

I'd say also pay attention to the choreographer.  If they repeat the same combination of words while they are teaching it, make sure to note that.  The majority of questions I used to get were “Did the grapevine come after the hitch kick or the turn turn snap?”   We had a section where the dancers would put their hands on their heart and then over their heads then down like 5 times fast that became "I pledge allegiance up and down, I pledge allegiance up and down..."  because that was the phrase the choreographer yelled while they were learning it to remind them...

Also I few questions I got a lot were… “How many people were in the front row?  “Who’s next to so and so?” “Were we in a triangle or a wedge?” (still trying to figure out the difference on that one) so the formations were important to note, often even more so then the steps, because most dancers know the steps alot better then who they were standing next to.

All in all, as always with our world... the right way is the way you understand...

lydiaelaine

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #5 on: Oct 09, 2006, 04:29 pm »
The choreographer I worked with before college used to type up her choreography for me and the cast and it made things MUCH easier. All I had to do was ask.  :)
Stage manager: Totally responsible for everything.

Balletdork

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #6 on: Oct 10, 2006, 09:40 am »
There's a thread about notation in the 'other' catergory, I think?

I always say do what makes sense to you! Score, Diagrams, terms... I actually do a combination of all the above...

Taking dance notation is not an easy task (unless you know Laban!) so I pass you a heart-felt MERDE! (which means break a leg, also a thread in the 'other' catergory.. another weird dancer thing, I guess!)

Emsny

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #7 on: Oct 11, 2006, 12:47 pm »
Thanks for all of that information it really is going to help me. And if you ever do get the name of the book would you please just send me a little message with the title. would really be helpful.
thanks
em
Emily Harris Snyder

smejs

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #8 on: Oct 12, 2006, 09:33 pm »
I had to go to my storage place anyway today, so I took a little bit of time to locate my book.  Well, I was a little off....

The little purple book is for music: Pocket Manual of Musical Terms (Fifth Edition) , edited by Theodore Baker.  It's still handy for that.  The listed price on the back is $5.95

The dance book I have is a little bigger, though it's only about 140 pages.  Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant.  The back section has illustrations of the numbered positions of ballet for arms and feet, as well as some other poses.  Mine has a sticker saying I got it for a whopping $1.98 at Half-Price Books!  (The listed price is blacked out.)

Erin

ljh007

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #9 on: Oct 13, 2006, 08:43 am »
If you read music, I divide my score where I know there will be dancing into 8-count sections. I label these by letters of the alphabet and separate a section of my blocking notes for dance notation. This way, I'm not jumping back and forth from score to notes to indicate where things happen. In most musicals and dance, it's easy to rely on the 8-count divisions. Even if you don't read music, you can jot down however many sections of 8-counts you might need by listening to a recording (be sure it's uncut!) or talking with the choreographer.

Emsny

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Re: Musicals with lots of dancing.
« Reply #10 on: Oct 17, 2006, 12:32 am »
So i bought the books that you gave me the names to talks. it came out to 10.00 for the books and shipping and handaling.
Emily Harris Snyder

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