CriticalDance Forum

Who's all behind, backstage?
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Author:  Azlan [ Sat Oct 30, 1999 10:29 am ]
Post subject:  Who's all behind, backstage?

Maybe this is too broad a question, but who are all the different support people backstage? What do they do? What are their functions? Is it different for ballet vs. modern?

Author:  Bomablurina [ Fri Nov 05, 1999 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Quite often dancers with smaller parts can help back stage...I help with the changing of costumes and senery but am still in the Nutcraker

Author:  Ballet Fan [ Sat Nov 06, 1999 1:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Didn't realize dancers helped backstage. I thought they had technicians and support people. If dancers are available to help with costumes and scenery, it must be easier for the company. I can't imagine more famous dancers wanting to help out.

Author:  Michael [ Sat Nov 06, 1999 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Classical ballet usually requires more props, sets, backdrops, and costumes, although less complicated lighting than modern.<P>I volunteered once backstage for a local production, and what I saw behind the scenes were: <P>Electricians, who set up the wiring for the specific lighting requirements a day or two before the first performance; <P>Backdrop painters with long-handled paint brushes who paint the huge canvas drops laid out on a floor someplace. <P>Costume designer and one or more seamstresses, and other people to have costumes ready for changes.<P>Carpenters to build the sets in a backstage workshop.<P>Stagehands to carry the backdrops to the stage, tie them to the rails (like steel curtain rods), and set the appropriate counterweights to raise and lower the drops. The stagehands also move sets and put some of the lights into place, and unload and load trucks. When the production is over, they do it all again, but in reverse.<P>Lighting technicans to set up and handle computer equipment to put the right lights in the right place at exactly the right time.<P>A stage manager to coordinate everything, and a props manager to see that the props get to the performers, especially from the wings. They and other key personnel usually have headphones and microphones to communicate and make sure everything is going as it should.<P>Maybe lots of other people. <P>And in one production of Sleeping Beauty, one guy sitting on the concrete floor of a huge airplane hanger for hours, cutting out the canvas vines of the enchanted castle.<P><BR>[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-06-1999).]<p>[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-06-1999).]

Author:  Bomablurina [ Sun Nov 07, 1999 8:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage? see this isn't a humonguously famous and big company...the stagehands and electricians are all mothers and fathers of the dancers and friends of the company....It's really a great experience...I have rehearsal today infact Image...pardon my spelling ImageI like to make up my own words... Image<p>[This message has been edited by Bomablurina (edited 11-07-1999).]

Author:  pidge [ Sun Nov 14, 1999 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

To add onto Michael's list, there are also sound engineers, who make sure all the sound equipment is hooked up right (properly amplified with Mics in the right place for live msuic, and proper speaker hook up to the sound machine if it's reel to reel, cd or tape). There are usually dressers who's main job is to get everyone in and out of costume as fast as possible (The best is Nutcracker when you have 16 girls trying to get out so they can get ready for what ever they have in teh second act).<P>Side note, since this is about technicians, in Montreal, the stagehands and technicians went on strike at the end of June. The theater they were employed by, Place des Arts, is a large cultural mecca for Montreal. They have four resident companies, a ballet company, an orchestra, and opera, and a theater group. The technicians are a member of IASTE, and international union for techies and stagehands. After much negotiating that went nowhere, and after having a mediator brought in, the board of Place des Arts decided to fire all the technicians. One interesting point, was the managing staff of PDA has been doing much of the work that the former techies did, and found they could do as good a job as the techies did, with half the people. Bunch of technical stuff as well, but I htought this might be of interest...<P>pidge

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 14, 1999 5:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

pidge,<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>...the managing staff of PDA has been doing much of the work that the former techies did, and found they could do as good a job as the techies did, with half the people. Bunch of technical stuff as well...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Ooh, I hope none of those fired techies are reading this board.<P>However, I do remember one time at the Joyce in NYC where a technician sat in the middle of the second row during a show and then would run backstage during the intermissions. I never did find out what he was doing. I wonder if he wasn't just trying to enjoy the show while still working backstage...

Author:  pidge [ Sun Nov 14, 1999 6:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Azlan, <P>Don't worry, even if they are reading this board, it's common knowledge as it was part of the press statement given by Place des Arts.<P>pidge

Author:  Michael [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 6:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

The San Francisco Ballet has some backstage "Fun Facts" about their Nutcracker at <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>Among other facts: a jeweled tutu costs between $3,200 to $4,200, the mouse costumes require the most upkeep because the kids can't see in them and step on each other's tails, a pair of pointe shoes costs $54, etc.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-29-1999).]

Author:  salzberg [ Sun Dec 12, 1999 2:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

As has been pointed out, the level of technical support depends on the size of the company. Here's what you'd find in a professional setting:<P>Designers: Lighting (obviously the most important), set, costume, hair and makeup (sometimes), props (again, sometimes -- this is usually handled by the set designer), and sound (more commonly seen in theatre; not often for dance). If these people are working for a union company, they are represented by the United Scenic Artists. <P>Stagehands: Electricians (handle all lighting), carpenters(handle scenery), props (make the coffee. Really), sound (sometimes sound is part of electrics). These people are represented by the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees.<P>Wardrobe: dressers, etc. Also represented by IATSE (although usually a different local).<P>It should be noted that the carpenters who build the sets are a different crew from those who "run" them. Likewise, the seamtresses who build the costumes aren't the ones backstage repairing them. Likewise, there are different crews for prop construction and running.<P>You might also see various interns, gofers, and assistants.<P><P>------------------<BR>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg,<BR>Lighting Designer

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Dec 12, 1999 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Jeffrey, many thanks for your insider's contribution to this debate and welcome to the site. Have you noticed the 'Design for Dance' thread under 'Modern Dance'? It would certainly be interesting to hear your views on that debate.

Author:  shag [ Sun Dec 12, 1999 8:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Jeffrey,<P>What a wonderful home page. I urge everyone on this board to check it out. I hope that you can encourage other designers, a breed so crucial to great performances, to participate on this board. Many dance enthusiasts take what you do for granted, I suspect, but after working with a company for a while, the designer and the product of that designer truly is fundamental.<P>Welcome

Author:  BabsLights [ Thu Mar 01, 2001 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

I wonder, has the jobs required backstage changed all that much through the years? Certainly the technology has, and the information needed for that technology....but are all the jobs basically the same?<BR>

Author:  salzberg [ Thu Mar 01, 2001 4:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

Well, 60 years ago, lighting design was just beginning to be recognized as a separate discipline. Before then, lighting was handled by the set designer or was cobbled together by the master electrician.

Sound design is just now becoming recognized and of course there were no sound technicians before there was sound equipment to operate (although there were sound effects people generating mechanical sound effects. Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion still does this, and it's fascinating to watch).

The old manual autotransformer and resistance dimmer boards took several electricians to operate (6-8 was not uncommon)as opposed to today's computer consoles, which can be operated by one person. The old dimmers required a great deal of strength (and sometimes just plain weight) to operate; most women physically could not do it. This is not a problem with electronic control consoles.

[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited March 01, 2001).]

<small>[ 08-10-2002, 12:37: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

Author:  Marie [ Thu Mar 01, 2001 6:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who's all behind, backstage?

That's fascinating information, thanks for sharing that Salzberg. I guess the 5', 100 lb. woman I know who does lights would have a hard time with one of those boards.<BR><font size=1>Who's all, behind? Well, them's that there be the ones thats behind, backstage Image</font><BR>

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