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 Post subject: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2001 12:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Last night I performed in a benefit for my friend Sarah Atkinson who is trying to raise money for her MA in Dance Therapy (any angels out there? See this CD thread in Dance Miscellany:
Dance Therapy Studies Fundraiser)

She managed to get a deal on a theatre rental because it was dark (being Monday) which was great. What was not so great was the floor which was painted plywood with a few staples in it holding glow tape down for the musical that's currently running there, so there was no marly and the floor was hard. There was a riser upstage that couldn't be removed that had movie theatre ticket booth on it and a set of stairs in front of it. We knew ahead of time that the set would have to stay. My boyfriend watched us run through the show (he has a lot of behind the scenes experience) and was more than a little worried that someone was going to trip or fall into the stairs that were attached to the riser since every piece travelled towards the stairs. When he asked to have them removed it was a bit of a fight because they would have to be unscrewed from the riser--even though it was clear that they were an accident waiting to happen. Eventually an agreement to remove the stairs was reached.

Another downside was the tech. We had the theatre from 2:30 on. The lighting designer (who was also running the sound--the deal only included one technician) asked us to run our pieces around 4:30 so he could take some notes. We asked if he wanted our music in the booth and he said he would rather that we ran it on the ghetto blaster someone had brought with them.

The so-called lighting designer (I found out later that he's an aspiring actor) didn't start setting lighting cues until 7 pm (the show was at 8). I assumed the cues would be simple fade in/fade out, but instead the first 5 pieces spent about 10 minutes each discussing different lighting options with the designer who wanted their input (a little difficult to do when you are actually on the stage instead of in the audience).
At 7:45 someone mentioned the time and he said, "Oh...I guess we better get a move on." So I came out on stage to run my piece and I marked it for about 3 minutes in silence until I was asked, "Where do you finish?" and I said, "I walk off." "Good, you're done," was the reply. Two pieces "teched" after me, finishing up at about 8:05. My boyfriend offered to mop the stage but I pointed out to him that since the house was supposed to open 5 minutes ago, mopping was probably not a good idea. So he did a quick sweep instead. The house opened at 8:15.

For the first half of the show the sound could only be heard through one of the speakers. So during intermission my boyfriend told the tech guy that one of the cables to a speaker was disconnected. Tech guy was worried about reconnecting it because he thought if both speakers were connected that would change his sound levels. Fortunately he was convinced to just lower his levels slightly and go with stero instead of mono sound.

So I had the pleasure of dancing in lights that I hadn't seen, which was pretty freaky when it came to searching for the equilibrium to balance, etc. Quite an experience in guerilla dance performance. Everyone who performed was happy to do the show for our friend, who we love dearly, but it was a little nerve wracking at times! Btw, my solo was called "Why I Hate Modern Dance."

Post Show War Wounds:

<img src="http://www.vkool.com/images/bruise1.JPG" alt="" /> <font size=1>Hip</font>

<img src="http://www.vkool.com/images/bruise2.JPG" alt="" /> <font size=1>Knees</font>

[This message has been edited by Marie (edited March 20, 2001).]

(Edited by salzberg to fix link)

<small>[ 08-09-2002, 21:39: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2001 6:52 am 
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Location: Pennsylvania
Are those pictures of dancer wounds, or what was done to the technician?<P>I know my vote.


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2001 2:55 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
lol. Are you saying you would have approached this kind of situation differently? And what if you're getting a deal on a theatre rental, and it's a one day in and out thing, should you be firm with the technician in terms of how you want things to happen or should you use the 'go with the flow' approach?<p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited March 21, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2001 8:21 pm 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Well, it's not the theater's responsibility to furnish you a lighting designer (nor should you want them to), any more than it's their responsibility to furnish dancers, choreographers, or other artistic staff. Then, the LD -- who has had time to learn the dances before you even got into the theatre-- can communicate to the technician. Your friend (and you) would have been better served had she found her own (volunteer) designer, just as she found dancers.<P>One way to prevent situations such as the one you found yourself in is to set (and strictly adhere to) a schedule for cuing the dances. Remember to allow time to change from one dance to the next. Such a schedule might look like:<P>2PM-2:55PM: Agon<BR>3PM-3:55PM: Appallachian Spring<BR>4PM-4:55PM: Rite of Spring<BR>5PM-5:55PM: Moby Dick<BR>6PM-7PM: Dinner<BR>7PM-7:30PM: Company Class<BR>7:30PM: 1/2 Hour<BR>8PM: Curtain<P>Gawd, how many of these have I typed in my life! (Actually, that's not true -- I've never done "Moby Dick".)<P>As for the staples, the theatre staff could have removed them and replaced the glow tape afterwards. Failing that, they at least should have covered them with gaffers' tape.<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited March 21, 2001).]

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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2001 9:09 pm 
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I like that schedule, Jeff! I've never been in this performing situation before and it's probably not the way I would have approached if I was producing the show (but that has to do with my uptight personality that needs all the details in place well in advance--at least the major details, lol). But if the venue does offer a technician who will do lights should you always pass and bring in your own person? I'm just wondering if it makes a difference if they've never seen the space. I guess they could ask for plans, etc., but I'm not an LD so I don't know what it's like in terms of this low-budget on-the-fly kind of thing. <P>So what do any of you think about the actual feasibilty of presenting this kind of show from an overall technical perspective? Would it be more realistic to have it in a studio instead of a theatre (where you are guaranteed things like marly on the floor)? Obviously from the performers perspective the studio is the safe choice, although it lacks the glamour of the theatre for the audience. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited March 21, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 3:24 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><I>But if the venue does offer a technician who will do lights should you always pass and bring in your own person?</I><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>No. And Yes. The venue is within their rights to insist that their equipment be operated by their technicians, and even if they allow you to bring in your own technicians, in many cases it's to your advantage to use theirs.<P>. . .But there's a difference between a designer and a technician. The first is an artistic contributor. Her/his role is to interpret and reinforce the choreography and to do that s/he must be familiar with it. The second is a craftsman whose job is to realize the designer's vision. The venue should never be counted on to provide an artistic contribution to your work; that's the <I>company's</I> responsibility. As I said before, you wouldn't expect them to provide you with dancers; the same goes for every other artistic element.<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited March 22, 2001).]

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Dance Lighting Design
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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 5:15 am 
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Those were excellent points to consider, Jeff. I think your answer to have a lighting designer as part of the performing troupe is a good one, and probably would have helped the situation a great deal. <P>I don't think these performances necessarily need to be held in a studio, although I've seen it done, unless the basic needs absolutely can't be met.<P>Jeff, I don't think you allowed enough tech time for Moby Dick.


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 5:55 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Oh, I meant to address that.<P>There's no reason such performances can't be held in a theater; I've participated in several.<P>I realized afterwards that I hadn't scheduled enough time to tech <I>Moby Dick</I>; it takes at least 25 minutes just to blow up the inflatable white whale.<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 7:40 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Is that the Balanchine 'Moby Dick' or the Fokine production, Jeff? If the latter is it the 1925 version or the 1938 revival? The '25 blow-up whale spouted copious amounts of water, but the laundry bills from the front 2 rows cancelled out all the profits.


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 8:06 am 
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Stop it, stop it, stop it, I can't take this whale talk, it's bringing up some painful memories for me of a dance I was in a long time ago! The costumes were bags made out of spandex, our height, white on one side, black on the other with two white orca dots. Had to get inside the bag, hands went in the top corners, feet in the bottom. Interpretive Orca dance. Oh the pain, the pain. . .


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 8:35 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
I dunno, Marie; there's something fishy about that story. Are you finnin' us? Or was it just a fluke?<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 9:18 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Marie, that sounds awesome - maybe the dance equivalent of 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' by Ed Wood Jnr.<P>How was the lighting?


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 9:38 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Actually, one of the best dances I've ever worked on was a piece called <I>The Stranding</I> (I always referred to it as "the dead dolphin dance"). Another was based on the US Army Corps of Engineers.<P>Inspiration can come from unlikely places.

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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2001 8:48 pm 
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Ah, yes, and we had not one but two movies about ants...


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 Post subject: Re: Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2001 9:31 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Stuart, I don't remember the lights. I remember the dark sweaty dankness of being inside a spandex bag...


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