Backstage and On-Stage EtiquetteWhen you perform on stage, you will likely be sharing the dressing rooms and the stage with many other performers. It is important to practice good etiquette−both on and off the stage−to maintain professionalism so that you can give a good quality performance for your audience. After all, you want to showcase all the hard work and effort you put in during those long rehearsals (despite your blistered toes and countless injuries) in the best possible way and it would be a shame to ruin it with bad mannerisms.
Be ready to be on stage at least two pieces before your performance.
This means no more going back to the dressing rooms! Your hair and makeup should be all ready. Remember to take your leg warmers/socks/sweaters off so you don't accidentally go on stage with them on (this happens a lot more often than you think). Stand by the wings when the piece before yours is on stage but make sure you know where they exit so you don't get in their way.
Do not stand and watch in the wings if you are not in line to perform.
If you are in the last piece of the show and the show has just started, you should not be anywhere near the wings. In fact, you should only be in the wings if you are either next or second in line to go on stage. During a show, different performers enter and exit the stage countless times and it is inconsiderate to stand in the wings and watch (unless you are waiting to get on stage) as you would be in the way. Some people are in more than one piece and they may have quick changes, which means they have to run off stage and back on very quickly. I know we all want to watch each other's performances, but save that for the video or for catch a glimpse during rehearsals. At show time, it's the audience's turn to enjoy the performance.
If you are standing in the wings and you can see the audience, the audience can see you.
Be very aware of where you are standing when you are waiting in the wings. This is one of the many small details that can set a professional performance and an amateur performance apart. If you are not supposed to be seen, make sure you are completely hidden in the wings (if you are wearing a very poofy costume, be sure that all parts of your costume will not be seen by the audience either). Stand close against the wings, and away from the edges of the wings.
Do not leave backstage with your costumes on.
It is considered tacky to leave backstage and the auditorium while wearing your costumes. The audience should only see you in your costume on stage. Not only will this make you look unprofessional, but the entire show will too. Also, you are risking getting your costumes dirty or damaged by leaving the auditorium while wearing your costumes.
Do not eat or drink anything with your costumes on (except water).
You don't want to get ketchup stains your costume, do you?
Do not chew gum.
Please don't risk choking.
Silence all your mobile devices.
Use your indoor voice or whisper once the show has started, even if you are in the dressing rooms.
Don't distract the performers or the audience by talking loudly! Even if you are in the dressing rooms, the audience can still hear you. They are there to see you dance, not to hear you talk. Don't underestimate the volume of your voice.
Lastly, you may see other performers breaking some of these rules. You can choose to ignore them or kindly remind them to behave, but don't let their bad behavior motivate you to break the rules too. Set an example, and others will follow :).
Performance Day and Dress Rehearsals
Bring fuzzy socks, leg warmers, sweaters, blankets etc to keep you warm. The easiest way to get injured is to dance when your body is cold.
Tip: Wear sweaters/jackets/sweatshirts that zip or button all the way down so that you don't have to pull it over your head and mess up your hair-do and makeup.
Do your makeup and hair before you put your costume on, or wear something over your costume when applying makeup.
Makeup gets everywhere, especially powder and foundation. This prevents your costumes from getting dirty. Most people usually do their hair before their makeup so that they don't get hairspray over their makeup.
Bring snacks and water (but avoid saucy, drippy things).
Almonds or other nuts are good snacks to have, as they provide calories while not causing you to get too full. They are also easy to eat with minimal mess. Staying hydrated is very important! It's very easy to get dehydrated while dancing and being on stage. Be sure to bring a bottle of water.
Keep going if you mess up!
It happens to everyone, even professionals. The floor might have been slippery and you fell. The music cue might have been wrong and you messed up the timing. Maybe there were random props on the stage and you tripped over them. Or maybe you just plain blanked out and forgot the choreography. The point(e) is, things like this happen all the time. Not all shows run smoothly and that's okay--that's the beauty of the theatre: it's all happening live. Professionalism isn't about perfectionism. It's about knowing how to deal with things when they don't go as planned. If people wanted to see perfectionism, they could go see an edited version of the performance on DVD. But seeing a performance in person is very different: there's a real connection between the artist and the viewer that cannot be achieved when watching a performance on film. So even if you make a mistake, just keep going. If you forget the choreography, just make something up and make it look like that's part of the piece. Don't make a face and break the magic of the performance. Just get up, keep going, and your audience will truly respect and appreciate you.
Other useful things to pack:
- Hair spray/gel/mousse
- Makeup kit
- Extra bobby pins, hair ties, and hair nets
- Extra pair of tights (in case you get a run or a tear)
- Sewing kit
- Small pair of scissors (comes in handy in many ways)
- Extra pair of pointe shoes, ribbons, and elastic (if you are wearing pointe shoes)
- Athletic tape
Prepping your Pointe ShoesPancake your shoes.
Professional dancers pancake their shoes for various reasons. One reason is that pointe shoe satin comes in various colors depending on the brand/make of the shoes. If you are in a group piece, you'd want all the shoes to match colors otherwise the various colors will be distracting. Another reason for pancaking your shoes is to cover up the dirt on your pointe shoes (we want ballet to look effortless--let's hide evidence of all those grueling hours in class and rehearsals) and also to make them look matte. By making your pointe shoes matte, you will be matching the color of your tights. This will result in your legs looking longer because your shoes and feet will just look like an extension of your legs. Most ballerinas use calamine lotion to pancake their pointe shoes because it happens to be the perfect pink (I recommend either the Safeway or Kroger brand calamine lotion--the other calamine lotion brands tend to look orange-y). Some like to use makeup (foundation) but it might be difficult to match the color of your tights if you are wearing pink tights.
How to pancake your shoes:
- Get a small plastic dish or container and pour some of the calamine lotion into the container.
- Dip a sponge (foundation makeup sponge wedges work best), into the calamine lotion -- don't get the sponge dripping wet! Some calamine lotion has a bit of alcohol in it, which will break down the glue in your shoes. You just want enough to cover the surface of the satin.
- Lightly brush the sponge on the satin part of your pointe shoes (don't get the pointe shoe wet) and repeat until the entire surface has been pancaked.
Hairspray your ribbons after tying your shoes.
Just spraying a tiny bit of hairspray on the ribbon, right where you knotted it, will help keep your ribbons in place and prevent them from untying.