The Five Rules of Backstage Etiquette
It's almost performance time! Dancers from all over are huddled backstage, nervously awaiting their turn to show their stuff! Inevitably there are a lot of dancers with the same goal and a little backstage etiquette can go a long way to make sure that everyone is stage ready!
1. Don’t practice full out backstage
We all know in those few minutes before your routine hits the stage, the thing running through your head is that one tricky move that you really need to nail. If you could just hit that leap a couple more times while you're waiting to go on, you will have the confidence to do it on stage, right? Wrong! The backstage area has too many people and too little space for it to be a safe place to practice. Before your routine is on deck, find a big open space somewhere at the venue (or outside of it!) to warm up and run through your routine a couple times. Once your body is ready to go, you can report backstage with your team and use those few precious minutes for some mental preparation. Envisioning yourself being successful and having a good time can get your nerves down and help your body and muscles relax so they can do exactly what they've been trained to do. Never underestimate the power of a positive mental attitude!
2. Let a stage hand know when you’re ready backstage
It may seem obvious that the adorable little girl with a sparkly umbrella would be dancing to Singing In The Rain, but sometimes figuring out which routines are backstage and ready to go is not that simple! The best thing you can do is make sure your entire group is there and ready and then check in with the stage hand (look for someone with a headset, clipboard, and a frazzled look on their face- they shouldn't be too hard to spot!) You might think it’s polite to chill in the back edges of the backstage so you don't get in anybody's way, but it’s easy to get lost in all those shadows and sparkly costumes. If you don't check in, the stage hands won’t know where you are and you won’t know when you’re going on. It’s better for everybody if you just let the stage hand know that you’re back there and you’re ready. And when you're at a Team Dance event, you know the stage hands are going to be so happy and excited to see you, so don't miss the chance to say hello!
3. Be backstage three numbers ahead of time
Three numbers before you go on is the perfect time to get backstage. If you get there a little earlier than this, like five numbers ahead, that's ok too. If you get there too early, you may be asked to leave and wait somewhere close by because of the limited space backstage. If you don't check in backstage three numbers before yours, you are likely going to get someone coming to your dressing room looking for you. Many competitions will give you a time when you should be ready, but everyone knows that competitions schedules have a mind of their own. Being aware of the current routine on stage and knowing when you should report back stage will help you ensure that you are ready to go when the time comes!
4. If you have a quick costume change, let the backstage hands know about it
Costumes can make or break a routine, and you need time to make sure that you get yours on just right! The backstage helpers have been there too and they understand there’s no Clark Kent phone booth to magically transform your outfit. If you give a heads up that you or your team have a quick costume change they won’t stress you out by searching for you when you’re not backstage three numbers early. Plus they’ll be better prepared to stall or move ahead if you need a little more time. This simple courtesy will help both you and the workers keep a smile on your face. Side note: If the backstage hands are ever not kind and understanding about a quick change, don’t go back to that competition. You don't have time for that kind of negativity in your life. Come to Team Dance where dancers come first!
5. Be polite!
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that manners matter. As a dancer, you
shouldn’t be saying anything negative about the other dancers, especially backstage. Everybody worked hard to be there! Go ahead and wish them good luck, let them know that you love their costume, and tell them what a great job they did as they come off. Being kind doesn't take away your competitive spirit, it will only add to your enjoyment of the competition! Directors and teachers, please be kind to those helpers backstage. The competition staff knows what they are doing, but sometimes the theater staff can be very new to the dance competition world. Be patient. Everyone's goal is to help you and your dancers have a fabulous day of competing! Let 's all work to make sure that we are just as good at being kind as we are at dancing!
6. Don't support your friends from backstage
We all want to support our friends and make sure that they do a great job on the stage. However, backstage is not the place for our support. As we discussed previously, dancers backstage should be mentally preparing at that point. They do not need to be laughing and joking with their friends. Plus, I can promise you that no matter how much you're telling yourself that you're not in anyone's way, you definitely are. So let your friend prepare on her own and you get out in that audience, ready to cheer her on to your heart's content. Your cheering will mean much more from the audience than it will from backstage. As soon as she's finished, you can quickly (but calmly!) leave the audience, find your friend in her dressing room and tell her just how amazing she was!
7. If you can see the audience, the audience can see you
I don't know how many times dancers need to hear this before they start to believe it. We always assume that because we have a curtain on the side of us, that the audience member that we're starring at isn't able to stare right back at us. If this rule isn't enough to tell you how far you need to be from the edge of the curtain, an even better rule is to not go into the curtains until you're going onstage! This rule is especially important during dance competitions because the judges can catch you standing there just as easily as audience members can. You would never want to be distract the judges from the dance they're supposed to be watching. This rule will also keep you safe from being run over when dancers come running on and off stage!