Whether you are a pro dancer or just a dancing freak, you might have faced the dilemma of preparing the show for your next gig. Soooo much prep for those 3 minutes of excitement… and then it’s over. So why do we even bother? If you perform for living I guess the answer is simple – it is your job, your presentation, your current (or future) source of income, your time to glow and show your piece of art. Those 3 minutes is all you have to show what you are passionate about and what you have been working for so long. That’s why you want your show time to be epic, right?
There is no general recipe for a first-class show, but from the experience with shows we have seen/choreographed/performed in, we can point out a few things that will ensure that you won’t mess up big time (as we had a few times) and you make those 3 minutes feel like you are having a time of your life. This article is based mainly on our experience as couple dance performers and teachers performing mostly on international dance festivals, but we believe the tips mentioned here are useful for any kind of show. Let’s have a look at five little secrets that could boost your next show:
Get to know your audience
A marketer should do this before releasing a new marketing campaign, an architect should do this before drafting a building… and so should the dancers. You don’t have to neglect your original signature in order to please the audience but if you do your research and pay attention to small details, it can make a big difference in the eyes of both the organizers and the people watching. The bad news is that this is usually easier to be said than done. The best, of course, is to have a personal experience with the event/place. If you don’t, these are the questions we are usually asking: What kind of music is now popular in this country? Is there any specific theme of the event/ festival we could match our show with? Is there anything typical for the event/place we could play with? What age/background will be the audience? And so on and so forth. If you can think of any other questions from your own experience, let us know in the comments!
Beautiful dance moves could be a nice cover of your show but sharing something through the moves is what gives content to it. We always try to share a story through our choreographies, because then the move makes more sense for us and thus makes it easier to share it with the audience. The story also makes the audience think and remember your show. They will follow how the storyline evolves in order to understand what is the message hidden behind the moves… because that’s how our curious minds work. Some people, however, attempt to do this in a form of „sandwich“ story – one short-acting part, in the beginning, one short-acting part to close in the end and a dance choreo totally unrelated to the story in between… not a big fan of this.
If you are not really into stories, share something that is more natural for you. It could be the emotion or just a pure joy from dancing. Passion brought you all the way up here to the stage, so don’t be afraid to show it. Share it!
Don’t forget about the dancing part
Sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it. Yet, the actual dancing is an aspect we missed a couple of times while watching professional dance couples perform. How could this actually happen? It is understandable that you want your audience go: „Wooow“ and „Yeaaah“ or „Whaaat?“ during the show by adding some lifts, special tricks or some life-threatening looking stunts. It is definitely a big plus if you can spice up the show a bit with these… BUT, if the choreo consists only of preparations for the lifts and actual lifts (with a few uninteresting dance steps filling the gaps) for me as a spectator the show is becoming a bit exhausting to watch as well as predictable. Since you are doing a dance show and not an acrobat show, make sure that some good quality dance has its place in the choreo. Not only does it allow you to show what you should be great at (dancing) but it also builds a momentum for the next breathtaking trick.
Let it sink in
It is quite difficult to enjoy your own show and present it with all the glow and confidence when you have to keep your mind busy remembering what the next step is. We have done this mistake several times and we were more or less able to hide it (sometimes more, sometimes less). Luckily enough, we learned and we extended the time between finishing the choreo to the actual showtime from 2 hours (when we were literally glueing the steps together in the backstage) to approximately one week. That gives us sufficient time to get confident with the steps and master the tricky parts. When you come up to the stage, the excitement (or stress?) will hit anyways, so don’t add more of it to your plate by last minute rehearsals.
Looks aren’t everything … but it makes difference!
Costumes have always been (and still are) a bit of struggle for us. There is always something more urgent to do and then, a few days before the show you realize that your wardrobe won’t make miracles. We believe it is not superficial to say that your look is an aspect that should not be underestimated. The dance show is not a beauty contest, but you will probably invest quite a lot of time and effort into the rehearsals and even though you could be an amazing dancer, a poorly chosen outfit could spoil the overall impression. It is definitely smart to take your time and plan your show-time look in advance. Choose one that fits the choreography, allows you to move freely and makes sure that the spectator doesn’t see more than he/she would expect to.
We hope that these tips will come as handy when you will be sweating in the studio preparing your next show. We are still learning about every new project and still feeling that crazy heartbeat before every performance.