Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tips for performing in a Ballet


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone!!


Does anyone have advice to share about being in a large production? My studio is doing Nutcracker...full length...with all adult dancers!


I'm looking for advice on:

What I wish someone had told me before my first performance

Handy things

Stage etiquette

Performing with grown ups who have busy lives (as in, maybe they don't come to rehearsals regularly, different levels of dance abilities)


And, advice if you are in like 4 scenes because you just don't have that many people lol.


Thank you!! xoxo

Link to comment

Enjoy the experience


Make friends with other cast members


Know what you are supposed to do


Understand your character and remember you are not you. You are your character.


Last thing--relax

Link to comment

Be patient and remember that the only thing you're responsible for is you performing as well as you're able . It doesn't matter in your world how the overall production is in the long run cuz you can only control yourself. I gotta remind myself of this when working in the corps with those students who seem to wish they were elsewhere- the only thing about them that's my business is being in line with them or at the same timing as them if they're the one in front that I'm following. The rest... That's their thing. --sorry if it's not ok for me to post here, I'm over 18 but usually end up in YD

Link to comment

OK general stage etiquette, particularly in a show with a big cast. A lot of it is common sense, and showing respect for those leading the process.


During rehearsals, the Director/choreographer and the Stage manager are your guides. You do what they ask you to do, and you don't answer back. If there's something they need to know, make sure you get them the information before or after a rehearsal


If you're on the stage, you don't chat among yourselves if Director/Choreographer/Stage Manager are dealing with someone else


If you're off-stage, you don't chatter or hang around in the wings


You don't bring family or friends in to rehearsal; you don't take photos of rehearsal; your friends and family DO NOT TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS or FILM the PERFORMANCES


You do what the Stage Manager asks/tells you EVERY TIME (a lot of amateurs don't realise that once a show is in performance, the SM is the leader of the entire show & company)


Don't fiddle with the scenery or the props on or off-stage; don't mess about with your costume


Don't hang about in the wings; if you're off-stage, you're off stage in the dressing room or Green Room


Be ready; have your hand props if you need them. Be warmed up, and ready to do what is asked of you.


Don't correct others however wrong they're going


Remember, a performance is not about you or "expressing your creativity" - it's about the audience, and offering them the opportunity to enjoy, respond, feel, through the performance. Don't pull focus - really important if you're in the chorus/corps, because it's actually not important that your leg goes higher than anyone else's in the corps/chorus - it'll look wrong, rather than showing your artistry


I was always taught (brought up in the theatre, on-stage in utero) that if I wasn't there half an hour before my call to warm up, I was late. It's not bad principle for life!

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for the really helpful suggestions. I'm going to create a crib sheet and share with my classmates since there's a lot of first-time performers :clapping:

Link to comment

Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when waiting in the wings. People may need to get past you to get on or off stage or move scenery. Don't be the one standing in the way.


Also, when in the wings, don't stand too close to the entrances to try and see what's going on. If you can see the audience they can see you. You don't want to ruin the magic!


Know your part, don't worry about anyone else, that energy can be used to make your performance even better.


As a general rule, don't talk backstage during a performance. A smile works just as well :)


In rehearsal, have confidence, if someone messes up because they weren't there keep going. Don't second guess yourself.


Don't touch, sit or lean on anything. Unless it's onstage and you were told to. Sets are much less stable than they look sometimes!


A pause in rehearsal whilst the director is engaged with someone else is a chance to mark/think through your steps, not to chat.


Know where your costumes, shoes, props are before the show starts. I always like to be early to check through everything, make sure I'm prepared and nothing has gone wandering!


Don't worry about anyone else's dance level, you are only responsible for dancing to the best of your ability.


Hope this helps and most of all enjoy the show, being on stage (and off it) is so much fun!

Link to comment

Lights are hot. Don't stand too close to them.


On performance day, bring spare tights (they usually ladder at the most inconvenient times). Spare hair stuff.


If you go wrong -- fake it. Keep going. Don't show it in the face. Sell it. If you forget the steps, keep calm and pick it up from the next cue. This comes from during the rehearsal process, find musical cues and associate them with steps as signposts for such situations.


Mentally run through your whole show in your head, in the rehearsals to the run up. WELL BEFORE dress rehearsal e.g. Starting as party parent, this is what my costume looks like, enter upstage left. Exit upstage right. Get changed into Snow. Entrance downstage right and Exit middle stage left. Get changed into Flower. entrance on stage curtain up and Exit. etc etc. (We've had people getting changed into the wrong costumes before, or got to the wrong side of stage so had to fudge their entrance). Trying to think about this at dress rehearsal will be too late as nerves start taking over and last minute corrections will be swimming around your head.

Link to comment

Stage basics:

Scrim- this piece can be fore-lit or backlit, and when fore-lit, nothing can be seen behind it, but when backlit, it becomes almost invisible! This piece is known as a drop which "flies" in from a bar above. It usually has a heavy bar inside both the bottom and the top, so remember if anyone says, "Heads-up" to look immediately up for the danger, and get out of the way. Other drops are usually not scrims and so, are more of a "back-drop" or setting drop to give the audience a sense of place.


Scenery: Scenery drops are much smaller and may be made out of wood or a wood composite. They are typically used more towards the sides and back edges of the stage, and tend to block the audience from being able to see backstage into the "sightlines".


Sightlines: Nothing is more unprofessional than being "seen" by the audience when you are awaiting your entrance, or exiting the stage. The old adage- "If you can see them, they can see you" applies here, so be in character all the way on and off stage.


Booms: These are lighting towers holding many hot stage lights. Stage hands have only seconds between calls to change the gels for the next lighting cue, so stay away from them and never touch a boom. Don't stand in front of one when lit either because you will cast a looming shadow across the entire stage, thus breaking the "magic" for the audience.


Wings: These are the empty spaces between side-drops which are usually curtains blocking the sightlines. Only enter a wing when it is time for your entrance or exit, and be aware of the other dancers and stagehands who are around, as you will likely be temporarily blinded from the lights on the boom.


Crossover Space: Back behind all of the scenery, there is usually a ground line of lights aimed at the very last drop, back where you are able to cross from stage right to stage left, etc. Never get any body part in between the ground row and the backdrop, as it will appear onstage like some giant is playing with a flashlight, and your shadow will be the only thing the audience is focusing on!


Stage Directions: **Upstage

******Stage Right **********Stage Left




House-Left House Right


Spikes: These are little tape marks placed downstage (hopefully also on your rehearsal flooring) that will divide the stage properly so that you can be on your "Mark" at all times. Usually, the will be a Red X right in the very middle of the whole stage, called center. Then there will be a red T upstage on the floor that represents center when you are facing upstage. Also, a red upside down T on center when you are facing downstage. Then there will be yellow spikes for 1/4s, and small red marks for 1/8s. Always be where you need to be, and know and understand what those directions mean.


Speakers: Always check your dressing room speaker to ensure you can hear the SM's calls. You should get the following calls: "!/2 hour everyone" at exactly 30 minutes prior to "Curtain". "!5 Minutes", Possibly a 5 minutes, and definitely a "Places please!". You should be finished with your warmup, makeup, and other things prior to the 15 so that you can be in costume and at "Places". Don't be the cause of the curtain not being able to go up because you were late.


Don't ever be late for an entrance or exit.


Props: You may get a call to check your props. Typically there is a rule that you must not ever touch any prop that is not your character's prop. It is also your responsibility to check your props to ensure that they are there on the correct side of the stage for your character's needs. If you neglect that, a stagehand will become very angry with you!


Stagehands: ALWAYS BE NICE to them. And to the Dressers and anyone who works backstage. Period. Nuff said about that.


I think that's mostly it for Theatre Etiquette that you will need, but basically, use common sense: If you have a question go through your mind about whether something is proper or not, it likely is not.

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

Use all your props during rehearsals (at least after the first one or maybe two). Set them up and put them down where you will on stage (or nearby). You want to have working with your props to be second nature. Transitioning from the studio to the stage is disorienting enough. Although your production is all adults, for those of us working with children, make sure they get as much hands-on experience with their props as possible.


If your part requires special shoes (vs your ballet shoes), wear them during rehearsal. Also wear parts of your costume if you can, or similar items. You want to get used to the feel of these things. For example, I'm the Housekeeper in the Nutcracker (a mostly non-ballet part) and I've been wearing my character shoes since the 2nd rehearsal and my long skirt since the 3rd. Then I added the petticoat. I just move differently in these things. I'm also using my apron because I have props stored there, but it was over a t-shirt. Test out any bras, slimmers, even underwear, before you perform (preferably before dress rehearsal).


If you get to choose what's under your costume (vs just wearing tights and a leotard), chose close fitting clothes that are not too hot and that you're okay being in in front of people. Because when you change costumes, it's easier to do that without having to find privacy (or a same sex dressing room). Depending on the time you have and how crowded the rooms are. I'm also Mother Ginger and I have no choice but to put on the costume side stage during the performance (it doesn't fit through doorways when on!) so I wear cropped yoga pants and a tight tank top, both black. If you have a choice not to wear a leotard here, consider not doing so. Especially if you're a *cough* *cough* older dancer who needs more bathroom breaks :yes:


I found it very helpful to watch the DVD of a previous performance (same choreography/company of course) and note times and actions of my character, including the steps for the dances. I put them in a Word file and printed them out (didn't use during rehearsal but just as reference before and inbetween rehearsals). While that approach is not for everyone, it worked for me. Even better to pull out my notes when I haven't played a character in two years.


Bring food and water for tech and dress rehearsals. They're long!


Water bottle for your dressing room.


Extra hair items. More bobby pins and hair pins than you think you need. Extra bun cover.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...