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Pet Peeves (Design Specific)
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Author:  Tom Skelton [ Tue Feb 26, 2002 5:40 am ]
Post subject:  Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

OK. Awhile back, we had a "pet peeves" thread in "Fun Stuff", but I feel the urge to gripe a bit (me?) about things that are specific to design and production.<P>Choreographers, <I>please</I> consider the capabilities of the space before choosing your program. Don't bring a piece that requires six specials to a mixed-rep showcase concert presented in a black box that has thirty lights and 24 dimmers.<P>If you <I>do</I> bring such a piece to such a venue, don't act surprised when I can't/won't dedicate 1/5 of my fixtures and 1/4 of my dimmers to your dance. It'll just put both of us in a <I>really</I> bad mood. Really.<p>[This message has been edited by Tom Skelton (edited February 26, 2002).]

Author:  Tom Skelton [ Tue Feb 26, 2002 5:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Another:<P>If you want me to replicate the lighting* for your dance, be prepared to give me a light plot, cue sheets, and the attendant paperwork.<P>What? You didn't get that stuff from the original designer? That's too bad...but it's your problem, not mine. In any event, don't expect me to reproduce the lighting from a dim, fuzzy videotape. Can't be done; video perceives light differently than does the eye.<P>...And another:<P><I>Don't</I> tell me that you can stand on stage and "sense" what the lighting looks like; it'll make you appear a fool (of course, if you <I>are</I> a fool, then maybe you <I>should</I> make that claim -- it'll save me some time; I'll know right away what I'm dealing with and won't waste time by assuming you're knowledgeable and/or rational). Standing on stage, you can't see the light hitting you from behind. You can't see what your hair and costume look like against the backdrop. You can't see what the other dancers look like.<BR> <P>* I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I don't believe you should change the lighting every time the dance is performed -- you don't use different dancers each time, do you? On the other hand, I didn't go into this art form in order to be a Xerox (R) machine.<p>[This message has been edited by Tom Skelton (edited February 26, 2002).]

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Feb 26, 2002 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Oh, Tom. It sounds like you have had a tough couple of projects lately. I can sympathize.<P>I've got one. Don't hire me as a costume designer and then ignore all the input I bring to the project. <P>And it would be nice if you let me talk to the lighting designer before we get to tech rehearsal or at least tell the LD what color the dancers are wearing so they can prepare accordingly.<P>And, no, I can't just "cut down" the neck of that dress by the performance in two hours. If I say no, it's because I mean no, and I have reasons. If you want to know the reasons I will tell you, but don't treat me like an errant three year old just because I won't give you your way.

Author:  Tom Skelton [ Wed Feb 27, 2002 3:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Actually, all of the above examples were from one dance on a mixed-rep concert; everything else I've worked on recently has been quite pleasant.<P>Of course, the day ain't over yet....

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Feb 27, 2002 3:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Don't hire me as a costume designer and then ignore all the input I bring to the project.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Robert Townsend (the business executive, not the actor) wrote in <I>Up the Organization</I>:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Finally, Bill Bernbach heard the question and answered: "If you want five times the impact, give us ninety days to learn enough about your business to apply our skills, and then run every ad we write where we tell you to run it. Our people work to see how effective their ideas are. But most clients put our ads through a succession of Assistant V.P.'s and V.P.'s of advertising, marketing, and legal until we hardly recognize the remnants. If you promise to run them just as we write them, you'll have every art director and copywriter in my shop moonlighting on your account.". We shook hands on it.*.<P>Ninety days later, Bill Bernbach came out to show Avis his recommended ads. He said he was sorry but the only honest things they could say were that the company was second largest and that the people were trying harder. Bernbach said his own research department had advised against the ads, that he didn't like them very much himself--but it was all they had so he was recommending them. We didn't like them much at Avis either, but we had agreed to run whatever Bill recommended.<P>The rest is history. Our internal sales growth rate increased from 10 per cent to 35 per cent in the next couple of years.<P>Moral: Don't hire a master to paint you a masterpiece and then assign a roomful of schoolboy-artists to look over his shoulder and suggest improvements.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Thank you. My point exactly. Not that I'm a master, but I do know more about costumes than you do...

Author:  Marie [ Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

I don't mean to diminish your experiences, but IMO this happens to the rest of the world on a daily basis. Many people like to tell me how to design websites for example. But on the other hand, nobody tells me how to choreograph, so maybe that's why so many choreographers are egocentric! And, uh, what do you mean two hours before the show is too late? Image

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Quote:
I don't mean to diminish your experiences, but IMO this happens to the rest of the world on a daily basis.
Of course it does; this is a management issue, not a "theatre" issue. The book I quoted from was written not by a theatre person, but by a business person.

This doesn't mean we don't want notes and direction -- I love the collaborations I have with truly gifted directors and choreographers. It means that these people should speak to us of concepts and rely on us to know the appropriate way to realize those concepts.

<small>[ 08-10-2002, 04:34: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Feb 28, 2002 10:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Yes, exactly. <P>I guess I don't like to be lied to, i.e. I value your opinion enough to hire you, but not enough to stay true to the designs, but I will tell you that I will just to get you on board.<P>I have actually had more problems with this in theater than dance. Most of the choreographers I work with will freely admit they know nothing about costume design and are perfectly willing to take my suggestions, and most dancers will wear what is given to them without question as long as they can move in it. Directors and actresses on the other hand, question everything.

Author:  salzberg [ Thu Feb 28, 2002 3:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

I'd agree, except for the large number of choreographers (usually, for some reason, modern dance) who, despite the fact that they've had little or no training in design, feel perfectly qualified to design their own costumes. These are the same people who put black leos in front of a black backdrop and then complain to me that it's too dark looking.

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Mar 01, 2002 1:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Ah yes. I think I know exactly who you are talking about. Have we been working for the same choreographers?

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Mar 01, 2002 4:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>These are the same people who put black leos in front of a black backdrop and then complain to me that it's too dark looking.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>LOL!<P>How about garish green costumes in front of a garish green backdrop, as done by a certain ballet company, famous for its theatrical productions, that I won't name... I bet you could light that, couldn't you, Salzberg?

Author:  Tom Skelton [ Sat Mar 02, 2002 4:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Green-on-green is much easier than black-on-black; It might never look good, but at least I could light it so that you could <I>see</I> it.<P>The most unfortunate combination I've ever seen was a touring production of <I>Firebird</I>, as performed by A Major Company That Shall Remain Nameless (Dance Theatre of Harlem). They had a red backdrop, red costumes, and a red followspot; the stage looked like it was full of strawberry jello.<p>[This message has been edited by Tom Skelton (edited March 02, 2002).]

Author:  Marie [ Sat Mar 02, 2002 8:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Mmmm jello.... That reminds me of a stage that was covered with bright red feathers --which turned a horrible salmon colour under the lights. I couldn't understand what the point of having deep red feathers on stage was if they didn't even look red. What would you suggest in that sort of situation? White feathers lit to look red? See, this is the sort of dilemma that modern choreographers have, by the time you get into the theatre where you can talk to a lighting designer you already have a couple hundred pounds of red feathers. <P>LMC, I'm curious, when you feel you have been "lied to" do you ever just walk away from the job? <P>Salzberg I think maybe modern choreographers feel they can design their own costumes because more often than not, they don't have much choice. So when they get to the stage where they have a budget with which they can afford more than pj's or white briefs and tanks they are under the impression (falsely, perhaps) that they know what they're doing when it comes to costume design. Anyone who has tried to cut pieces for a bodice or sewn a hundred rows of netting on a tutu figures out pretty quickly what their skill level is when it comes to designing costumes.

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Mar 02, 2002 9:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pet Peeves (Design Specific)

Tom, I did see that production of "Firebird" several times. I know what you mean! Did you light it? Image

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