CriticalDance Forum

Safety in dance performances
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Author:  joe [ Sun Jan 09, 2000 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

On the subject of stage fog, which was mentioned briefly.....The substance used for most fog effects is Rosco fluid, a smokey gas which makes many people sick, including myself. It is often preferred over dry ice, because it rises upwards, rather than sits on the stage floor. Several Broadway shows have lodged complaints about it, due to repiratory problems associated with the use of fog. I hope that in ten years we don't find out that this stuff is carcinegenic, as well.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Jan 10, 2000 11:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

Hello pidge, I'm responding for Lucy as she is in the middle of moving and all the woes and pain associated with it. Image<P>This is what Lucy told me: The AGMA rule in regards to the floor was in place in 1976. She thinks however that smaller ballet companies may opt not to use a standard boiler plate clause such as this in their contracts in lieu of higher salary or other benefits (This may be what a union will do to negotiate better working conditions for its members).<P>BTW, Lucy's understanding of this rule comes from her past experience as a dancer in a major ballet company in Canada, which was under Actors Equity jurisdiction in Canada but toured the US under AGMA. Having joined a major American company later, she was also on AGMA's Board of Governors for five years.<P>Hope this helps.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Jan 10, 2000 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

Joe, the issue about the fog bothers me. Most people in the audience don't even know about these things; they sit back thinking everything is fine and dandy in the hands or professionals but now we're finding out there are so many unsafe things backstage and even on stage.

Author:  pidge [ Mon Jan 10, 2000 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

Lucy (through Azlan Image )<P>I can understand the woes and worries of moving, been thorugh it many times myself.<P>Curiosity: How is a standard boiler plate floor constructed? I've never heard of that in terms of putting space between a floor and the marley. I'm sure oyur right about smaller AGMA companies negotiating to get benefits and better salaries and such.<P>thanks for the info...<P>pidge

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Jan 17, 2000 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

Pidge,<P>Okay, so Lucy is moved but she's in box hell.<P>She says the gist of the standard clause is that there must be at least an inch and a half (or a quarter or an eighth -- she can't remember exactly) of air space between the concrete and the wooden floor. The marley is laid on top of the wood. She used the term Boiler Plate because, according to her, every contract has the same verbage in it.<P>And, she also thanks you for the good wishes on her move.<P>Azlan for Lucy

Author:  trina [ Mon Jan 17, 2000 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

This all brings up a good point. Unless a company has an AGMA contract (and in some cases, it appears, even if they do), the dancers often have no recourse with regards to workplace safety and health. As MANY domestic companies do not have union contracts, you get a picture of how "tenuous" the safety issue is for most dancers. Basically, it's "do what you're told, or we can replace you in a hot minute". This applies to issues of weight, appearance, and any grievances dancers might have....not a pretty picture. Also, along with union representation, many companies do not supply health or workmen's comp benefits. I've heard horror stories of dancers getting injured, having to go to an emergency room (on tour)and use up all their meager savings to pay for medical coverage...not a pretty picture. So much for the "glamorous career" myth.

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Jan 25, 2000 9:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

trina, that is sad. Is there any foundation in place for fans to help dancers in need?

Author:  trina [ Wed Jan 26, 2000 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

I don't know Azlan. That's a good question. Maybe fans getting involved..serving as board of directors, writing letters to the editor, I don't know. A delicate issue. Many companies claim that they can't afford these "amenities" for their dancers. I know that when the dancers in the Nikolais Dance Company (New York modern company)attempted to unionize, the mangagement resited tooth and nail with the attitude "don't do this terrible thing, we'll take care of you". The union protects the dancers from abuses like having to rehearse all day up to curtain time and then perform, perform in unsafe or unhealthy environments (outdoors when it's too cold, stuff like that). S0..a continuing issue.

Author:  salzberg [ Fri Jan 28, 2000 3:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

There are several different types of fog technology:<P>1. Dry ice: created by dipping frozen C02 into hot water and blowing the smoke onto the stage. It's the only true stage "fog" (the other technologies create smoke, which rises unless cooled by dry ice); as such, it seeks the lowest possible spot. Disadvantages: theoretically, it could displace enough oxygen to suffocate someone (doubtful -- you'd have to use a LOT of it), it leaves wet spots on the stage, and -- being warmer than the surrounding air -- it can drastically change musicians' tuning as it goes billowing into the orchestra pit.<P>B. burning chemicals -- usually ammonium chloride (also known as "sal ammoniac"). Absolutely unsafe -- although I did this a lot in my younger years and <cough> never <cough, cough> suffered any ill effects <cough, choke>.<P>III. cracked mineral oil -- a proven carcinogenic. I know of no manufacturer who is currently using or supporting this technology.<P>FOUR. glycol alcohol. Rosco is one (but not the only) manufacturer of this equipment. Some people are indeed sensitive to glycol smoke, but the evidence against it is (as far as I know) anecdotal rather than empirical (which doesn't lessen their suffering, of course). Most instances of people's being affected by glycol smoke seem to be cases of the effect used to excess; I'm very sensitive to airborne matter (cigarette smoke can send me into a 2-day paroxysm of splitting headaches and gasping for breath), but glycol smoke has never bothered me. Actors' Equity claims it's not safe; the manufacturers claim that Equity's outrage seems loudest at contract negotiation time. As Fox News says (but doesn't really mean), "You decide".<P>Cinco: water-based hazers. I've heard no complaints about these. Here at Florida Studio Theatre, we're running one for 8 shows a week right now (with an Equity cast)and are having no problems.<P>There. You now know more than you ever wanted to know about stage fog.<P>------------------<BR>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg,<BR>Lighting Designer

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Jan 28, 2000 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

I went to a performance of Resolution! tonight in London - one of some 30 performances where 3 different companies perform every night.<P>There was a large sign on the door telling us that the first piece featured *very* loud music. I decided to watch it on a screen from the foyer, as I once had an experience in the same theatre where the live band were so loud at the start that I spent the rest of the work scared that the sound levels would return to the original levels. <P>I don't know if the dancers had earplugs, but as the sound level was causing me pain, I would guess that without them it would be doing damage especially with repeated exposure. My old acoustics lecturer once got permission to set up his equipment at a Jimi Hendrix concert, but he left after 5 minutes because the sound levels were scaring him! <P>I guess that this is a modern dance problem. Does anyone have any thoughts. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 01-28-2000).]

Author:  salzberg [ Fri Jan 28, 2000 6:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

In this country, we have something called the Occupational Health and Safety Administration ("OSHA" for short -- pronounced like the body of water that separates our two nations: the Atlantic Osha). When I was running a theatre, I used their formulas to figure out that the maximum safe exposure was 100 dB SPL for 5 minutes. We enforced that. This did not make me popular with rock show engineers, which was OK with me; my job description didn't say anything about being popular with rock show engineers.<P>As for the volume levels onstage, remember that the dancers are (usually) listening to different speakers than are the audience.<P><BR>------------------<BR>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg,<BR>Lighting Designer<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited 01-29-2000).]

Author:  Michael [ Sat Jan 29, 2000 7:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

I haven't experienced anything like that at a modern dance performance, but I did during a performance by an experimental or "art" music group whose name escapes me. It was in a small theater in Los Angeles, the group was not well-known outside of certain music circles. They reached notes that were so high and so loud, sharp pains went right through my head. It wasn't frightening, but the pain was so intense that I and another person in the audience had to leave. That happened about seven years ago. <BR>

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Jan 29, 2000 7:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

trina, the reason I asked about the foundation to help injured dancers is that I sometimes suffer a little guilt when I see dancers on stage risking their limbs for the enjoyment of an audience (that is why I am always appreciative of what they do). Perhaps, if fans understand the risks dancers take or the fragility of dancing careers, they would be more moved to help.

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Jan 29, 2000 7:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

salzberg, very educational info on theater fog. I've always thought there was a well-established process to create fog but from what you're saying, it looks like there is still some debate about what's best.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jun 05, 2000 2:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Safety in dance performances

An inquest in the UK has recorded a verdict of accidental death on, Alexander Money-Kyrle, 35, a former pupil of the Royal Ballet School, who fell 10ft into an orchestra pit while rehearsing Romeo and Juliet with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam in 1998. His family are considering sueing the theatre on the grounds of a safety report that suggests that the necessary safeguards were not in place.<P>Does this tragedy come as a surprise to the dancers and ex-dancers among us? <P> <A HREF=",4273,4022321,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,4273,4022321,00.html</A> <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 05, 2000).]

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