How to produce a dance show
With the rise of dance competition TV shows more people are choosing to leave their sofas behind and go out to watch live dance performances. If you’ve got a great idea that you think will amaze audiences around the country, make it happen! Here are our top tips on how to produce your dance show.
Come up with a show-stopping idea
The first step is to come up with your idea. With dance more accessible than ever, audiences are looking to be wowed by performances. Whether your discipline is ballet, contemporary or interpretive, your idea should stand out from the crowd. This could be through an unusual theme, big-name dancer, set design or even an unusual venue.
Our tip, take inspiration from others and get out there and see as many performances as you can.
Choosing a dance performance venue
With hundreds of dance shows taking place every week in London, you need to be imaginative with your venue to stand out. Many performances benefit from a theatre venue. However, if your performance doesn’t need a traditional theatre, think of alternative spaces that would add to the impact of your show. Would the performance benefit from being outside? If the dancers were to be in linear formation, consider bringing your audience even closer by performing in a corridor. Out of the box thinking when it comes to a venue can reap rewards.
If your performance requires a stage and an auditorium, try looking for a venue with unique features such as an impressive interior, a rich history or unusual architecture.
The possibilities are endless with venues, but be mindful that your dancers and production team will need to attend several times, including rehearsals before the show itself. Ensure that your venue either has parking or good transport links.
Don’t forget, if your performance requires scenery, lights and other equipment your technical crew will need to park outside the venue to unload. Check with your venue about what access you have and any restrictions that might exist.
Space & staging
You need to consider the size of the stage, backstage facilities and seating capacity of the event space.
If you’re planning on having 20 dancers who all require costume changes, you’ll need an area for this. If you have dancers performing at different times, look for a venue with a green room.
When it comes to your audience, do the maths before booking a venue. It’s always good to aim high but if you’re realistically expecting to sell 400 tickets, don’t book a venue with a 700-seat capacity just in case. Not only is performing to an empty house financially costly but it’s also not great for the performers to see lots of empty seats.
In a technically complex dance performance, you will also need to factor in both a sound technician and a lighting operator. Many larger venues will have in-built AV and lighting systems, as well as a dedicated technician. Remember to consider this when selecting a venue. Although it will be cheaper to hire a venue without these facilities, the cost of private hiring will turn out to be more expensive in the long run.
Interval refreshments can also play an important part in your evening. Consider venues that can adapt to match your theme. For example, if your performance has a 1920s theme, wow your audience by serving Sidecar and Gin Rickey cocktails during the interval.
Hosting dance auditions
For a great dance show you, of course, need great dancers. If you don’t already have a permanent company of professional dancers you may decide to hold auditions.
There are two types of audition; an open audition, where anyone can turn up during the allotted time and set auditions where people have to contact you to get details and be allotted a specific time.
Although set auditions require more management, it gives you the opportunity to discuss the dancer’s experience before the audition itself.
Many venues will have the capacity to hold auditions, whether this is in the room you will be performing in or a dance studio or rehearsal space.
Use social media, posters and networking events to promote the audition. Ensure that you include information about what type of performer is required, the preferred age and gender, the time, date and location of the audition (only if holding open auditions) and your contact number, website and email address.
Remember, by this point you should already know how many dancers you require and the budget available.
Design your production elements
Plan the overall look of your dance performance and ensure that costumes, lighting, props and venue decorations are consistent. Immerse your audience by ensuring everything they see and hear during the evening aligns with the story that is being told on stage.
As well as props and costumes, think about the lighting and technical production elements too. If you have hired a venue with a dedicated technical team, discuss your ideas with them. Remember that they are technically more experienced and will have also worked on a number of performances in the venue. They will be able to tell you what works well and more importantly what doesn’t.
Promoting your dance show
A great dance performance is nothing without an engaged audience. It’s your job as the show’s event manager to ensure that everyone who might be interested knows about the event.
Whatever your budget, there are a number of ways you can promote your dance performance.
Announce your show on social media and create an event on Facebook. Encourage people to share and invite their friends, this all helps create a buzz around the performance.
If you have a small budget, consider promoting the event through paid social advertising. You’ll be able to target people with certain interests and within a certain radius.
Through the venue
Speak to the venue about putting up posters on their marketing boards, listing the event on their website’s calendar and even selling tickets directly through the venue. If the venue puts on other dance performances there’s even more chance that your target audience will see your event.
Offline sources e.g. posters
Even with a small budget you should still create an eye-catching poster. There are illustrators that will be willing to design a poster for exposure alone or a small fee.
List your show on free event listings websites such as Eventful and contact local press to let them know about your performance. They may be able to include this within their events calendar.
For more information on event ticketing platforms read our Ticketing for Events guide.
If you have a newsletter or a database of previous audiences, send out an email announcing your new show. You should make it easy for people to share the event, whether that’s forwarding the email or sharing the details on their social media accounts.
Rehearse and refine
Rehearsals often take place somewhere other than the final performance venue. Australian dance body Ausdance recommends measuring and marking out the final performance space: “Use masking tape or chalk to mark centre stage, side edges and any other critical places where props may be placed or action must occur.”
If you are unable to rehearse at the venue in the weeks running up to your performance, arrange for at least one full dress rehearsal at the venue itself. This allows you to make last minute changes and will deliver a boost of confidence to the dancers and production team.
Setting up the venue for your dance performance
Although some venues have fixed seating, others have seating that can be rearranged for different performances. It’s crucial for your audience to have a good line of vision but also consider the amount of space between the performers and the audience. Dance performances are best viewed from a distance where the audience can see the entire stage in context.
Your chosen venue will be able to advise on the best set up for your performance.
Health & Safety
As an event organiser you’re responsible for the health and safety of your staff, dancers and guests. Consider the following:
· Ensure all emergency exits are clearly marked
· Ensure your production team have the required manual handling training for the set up of props and seating etc.
· Ensure your technical team has the required electrical safety and working at height training
· Ensure there are no cables or trip hazards in walkways
· Your venue will carry out a fire safety risk assessment however it is your responsibility to ensure that fire safety precautions are followed
· If you’re planning on serving refreshments in the interval, ensure that any potential queues do not obstruct walkways
For more information please visit the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website for more event health and safety advice.
On the night
As well as choosing your performance music, it is also important to select appropriate background music whilst your audience enters the venue. This plays a key part in setting the scene, but also relaxes your audience.
If you are using volunteer stewards for your event, find out about how to work together by reading our guide on Managing Event Volunteers.
20 Bedford Way – Bloomsbury Dance Performance Venue
20 Bedford Way’s Logan Hall is a 933-seater, single-tiered theatre with incredible facilities. It provides excellent sightlines, comfortable seating and exceptional acoustics. It has a curtained stage and a 60-channel stage lighting desk with Selecon Follow spot. There is a dedicated green room, rehearsal space and changing facilities, as well as a Crush Bar for interval drinks and catering.
Located in Central London with fantastic transport links, 20 Bedford Way is easily accessible from across the country and is one of London’s leading affordable dance performance venues.
Header Image via Flickr – Seven Swans a’ Swimming via State Library of Queensland on Flickr. No known Copyright Restrictions.