The new environment of a stage makes it difficult and confusing for students of all ages to maneuver backstage at the Nutcracker performances. The following are some important stage factors of that need to be considered when transitioning from studio to stage:
- Stage lights are very strong and give an illusion of having an obstructed view. This makes it difficult to be aware of the surroundings when moving quickly and dancing.
- Wings are used to enter and exit the performing area. These entrances and exits cannot be practiced in the studio as we do not have the wing space.
- Mirrors in the studio are a great help to students who are unsure of their dance or their spacing. Unfortunately, on the stage, there are no mirrors and practicing without these mirrors can only be done on the stage.
- Size of the stage is also larger than our studio. This changes the dynamics of the dances students are performing in. The time it takes to move from one formation to another and the spacing will be different.
It is important to be calm and quiet backstage as to not disturb dancers performing on stage. All dancers should sit or stand quietly backstage while waiting to perform. Typically, there is one group of dancers on stage performing, and another group “on deck”, backstage in the wings preparing to perform. Dancers on deck should be quiet and not stand in the wings until it is their time to dance. Blocking the wings is problematic for dancers performing on stage who have quick exits and entrances.
There are many special effects in the Nutcracker and our stage hands need to be able to freely move about backstage to make sure they also hit their cues. Dancers waiting to perform should be sitting in the provided seats for "on deck" dancers so they do not get in the way of our stage crew.
If dancers must make a cross over from stage left to stage right during their dancers, please do not run backstage. It will cause ripples in the curtain and will “give away” your crossover to the audience. In addition, it is very dark backstage and dancers can trip over props and lighting cords, so please no running!
The Nutcracker has many props used throughout the show. Students who use props in the performance should always check to make sure their item is placed where it needs to be backstage before they go on to perform. No dancer should touch or move props that do not belong to them. While you may see a discarded sword from the battle scene lying on the floor, please check with the Mouse King, Nutcracker, or stage hand before moving it, that may just be where the dancers need it for the performance!
We are so excited to return back to the stage at Phoenixville Area Middle School this year, and with that comes additional challenges for the cast and crew. We expect all dancers to practice proper backstage etiquette throughout the stage rehearsals and shows to ensure we can produce our best performances yet. See you backstage soon!