Backstage dance etiquette

Backstage dance etiquette is as important as your performance onstage. Being respectful and professional will lead a good example for others, represent your dance team or studio in a positive light, and train yourself so that good etiquette becomes a habit in your future career as a dancer—in auditions, performances, teaching, and beyond. Here are some key ways to practice proper backstage dance etiquette:

Be mindful standing in the wings.  If large set pieces are moving from the sides of the stage or dancers are entering and exiting throughout the piece, watching from the wings can be dangerous.  Furthermore, it can be distracting to the performers onstage.  If you are watching your friends perform or waiting for your piece to go on, make sure you stand back from the side of the stage so you’re out of the way of the crew and not disrupting the performance itself.

Don’t take up space.  Depending on the venue, backstage can be very tight and crowded!  Appease the chaos by keeping your makeup, costumes, and belongings tidy and together. When you’re warming up, be mindful of the other dancers and crew members in the hallways and backstage space.

Be kind to everyone you meet.  A woman you push past to get the last spot in the elevator could be one of your competition judges.  No matter how stressed out you might be about your upcoming performance, it won’t take any extra energy to be kind to those around you.

Don’t sabotage others.  Whether you’re competing with another soloist or understudying the leading role, participating in any sort of bullying, injuring, and cheating will not make you a better dancer.  And if you get caught, your reputation (and future career) could be ruined.  If you see this behavior going on, don’t be a bystander—speak up to your coach or captain.

Be punctual.  Know the day’s schedule and order of routines so you are prepared backstage a few numbers before your performance.  Make sure you inform the competition host or stage manager that your group is ready to go.

Don’t say “good luck.”  While the origin remains obscure, it’s traditional to say “break a leg” instead of “good luck” before a performer goes on stage.

Be supportive of all dancers.  Even if you’re competing against other teams, it’s polite to applaud and cheer for other all the performers on stage (even if they don’t show the same respect toward you).

Don’t touch what’s not yours.  Moving another dancer’s prop or costume backstage could make-or-break a quick-change into their next number.  There’s always a lot going on backstage and it’s easy enough for things to get lost.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by this list of serious rules.  When in doubt, just use your common sense and kindness whenever you’re backstage at a dance concert.  Remember that safety always comes first and that your reputation (for both you and your dance team/studio) always precedes you.

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