First Dance Recital


Hello Everyone,
As mentioned, this is the first time I have done a dance recital, I typically stick with theatre, but yesterday was the one and only rehearsal for the spring gala that a small dance studio will be performing tomorrow (Friday) at my high school, and I have been hired to design and operate the lighting. Overall, I feel confident about the whole show, but I'd like to post some issues I overcame during the rehearsal, and see how the other minds on this board would have gone about handling them.
First thing, I was using a less than adequate set-up: Strand 300 series console (48/96 + 24 Sub), 28 fresnels and a whopping 6 source 4 fixtures on the FOH electric.
As for programming, I didn't have enough time, the rehearsal moved fast, and I mean fast, one act after the other. Would you guys kindly ask that they wait for you, or struggle and ask questions about things you missed later?
This next question is 300 console specific. Is there an easier way to program 70 cues than:
- Setting the board to 2 Scene (48) + 24 Sub
- Setting the individual fixture intensities using the faders
- Recording the cue
- Manually bringing down the faders, and digitally bringing down fixture intensities from the cue (ie command: 1 thru 48 off)
- Changing the board into Auto Fade mode
- Loading the cue
- Playing back the cue
- Repeat the entire process for the next act which started 30 seconds ago, while having the TD complaining there is no light
Next question, 300 console specific again. After recording cues numbered 1,3,5,7,9... I added blackouts between these cues, numbering them 2,4,6,8... which erased the levels I had set in the odd cues - how come? But anyways, due to this unforseen issue, I stayed an extra hour after everyone left just to reprogram the WHOLE THING.
So what would you guys have done? taken notes, no programming? Setting up some submasters? (did this on my 2nd attempt), Anything different?
Overall, I'm looking forward to the final show, since my cues are now all taken care of, but after too much work.
But this thread doesnt have to be all about me, what have you guys done during other dance recitals?
Looking forward to your thoughts, Patrick T

I don't know the Strand 300, so I can't give you much insight into your questions in that department. Though in terms of the blackouts erasing what you had already recorded it sounds like it may be an issue with tracking vs. non-tracking cues. But someone who knows the console better than I can give you a better idea.

In terms of not having enough to program, thats a curse of dance recitals and dance in general. You don't really have the luxury of starting and stopping like you do in theater (Could you hold that jump in mid-air a sec? thanks! haha). I'd say ask them for a little more time in between each act during the rehearsal, if they hassle you, try to explain that it may take up more time but it will lead to an infintely better looking show.

I'd say if you're doing it kind of on the fly I'd record a bunch of different "looks" into submasters so in a pinch or to help you program you can just toss some subs up and it will look OK.

Ya, dance shows never have enough time... I just generaly program a bunch of 'looks' and go from there. How crazy you go with it really depends on the calaber of the show you are doing.. the shows I do are generally just local recitals with parents who just want to have some light on their kids and maybe as an afterthought have it look decent. Do what you can do... dont get in their way too much, just give them the best with what you can do and that's what they get. If they complain, then you can ask them to slow down abit.
A few questions about the recording of the cues:.... What mode are you running the board in, genius or lightpallet. Also, are you running with tracking on. Depending on how you recorded the cues when you recorded the blacks (did you do a 1-whater at 00 record cue 2**) or did you record the cue as a ftb. Odds are if you are running with tracking tracking got the best of you. And as far as recording cues for dance goes when I was in HS and we would have dance groups come in they paid us hourly. So if they wanted anything besides white front and white down they had to pay us for the hours to hang and to strike it, which they usually did'nt like doing, but usually i would run it off subs or if i really felt inspired i would video the rehearsal and do cues to the tape.
i program looks into subs and run in auto mode. you can program groups then all you have to do is type group # @ ##.

sounds like you have tracking on. for adding cues. jsut add point cues like 1,2,3,4 and you want a blackout after 2 record it as 2.5 or whatever then after you cna go in and renumber all the cues
Your dedication to a dance recital is commendable. I’m deeply involved with the technical aspects of my daughter’s dance school and before that I sat through years of my niece’s recitals and competitions. (I can’t respond to any of your programming and board questions.) But my own observations about most dance studios and their recitals (and there are exceptions.): They are small businesses run by one person and no staff other than other instructors. The owners are artists/dancers first and creative, but have little technical theatre experience. The technical details are further down the priority list. Often, the studios rely on parent volunteers to deal with the technical aspects, and these results vary wildly according to the dedication and talents and experience of the parents who happen to be around at the time. And since the studio is not a theatre, the lighting needs and design (such that they are) just are not given much emphasis [to paraphrase, the dance is the thing]. And since the studio has little control over the lighting availability at the venue, very little thought is put into any lighting design. For a given number during a recital, the lighting is pretty much either (1) a fully lit stage, or (2) a dark stage with a follow spot.

Another complication for trying to program is that the sequence of dances may not be set until a week before the show. Because dancers need time to change between numbers, it takes some thought and several passes to get the songs placed in order and have adequate time for costume changes (some dancers may be in 10 to 15 numbers and its not the same set of dancers in these same 10 to 15 numbers). The costumes and the temperament of the dancer also must be considered for the number of songs between songs that the individuals perform in. Sometimes the song order just doesn’t get set until a couple days before the rehearsal. Thus, they probably can’t give you much ahead of time.

Because of the variations in costumes (there is no theme), colors will span the spectrum.

We rely on the creativity of the lighting technician during the rehearsal and the show. I’ll tell the light board operator about (1) and (2) and also ask if they have any chase light effects that might work for some songs. If there’s something we actually thought about, I’ll tell them that. I’ll give them a set of tech notes, but for the most part, I tell them, if they have any ideas, go ahead and try it. (We, I suppose, are easy to please, but I’ve seen other dance schools…) But, to be realistic, the audience is there for the dance, not the effects.

Another issue is cost. Time at the venue is money and the audience for a recital is limited. And as the (one and only) rehearsal drags on, people get cranky. And on the audience side, sitting through a recital can be tedious for some – a recital can go 3 to 4 hours. Thus, there are only the briefest intervals between songs. A good studio will probably have 3 or 4 volunteer mothers backstage just making sure the next two or three numbers are ready to go in the wings. Toss in scenery changes (yeah, we have a few set pieces), moving mats on and off for acrobatics, and live musicians on and off the stage (yeah, we’ve done that), and there are numerous chances to drag the recital out. And all this figured out during one, single full rehearsal. [Though our last recital flowed liked water from a pitcher.]

In general, its lights up, dancers enter and perform, lights down or blackout; then repeat.

So, my suggestion would be to ask for a tech list/ song order/ costume color schedule to be provided as soon as possible. If you can ask the studio owner directly, rather than through your own supervisor, all the better because you might just get some useful information and you’ll get a read on the studio owner. My other suggestion would be to just fly by the seat of your pants. I suspect that you’ll find that there are only a few combinations of lights (as others have suggested) that you will need for the entire show. Another thing to remember is that the only person at the recital who has any idea how the show should look is the dance studio owner who is wearing the director/choreographer/technical director/stage manager hats. While the stage management details can usually be delegated, there is rarely time before the performance to delegate/communicate artistic/lighting details or expectations. And even if that happens, there is little or no time to look at them at the venue.

Wow guys, thanks for all the positive remarks. I'll address them one by one:
- As others mentioned, in the future I will go with programming subs, and using them for cue programming. Quick, simple, and all you really need. I did choose this method while re-recording the whole show on my own time due to the blackouts erasing other cue states.
- You are one knowledgeable guy! Unfortunately, I am not 100% sure wether the board is in GeniusPro or Lightpalette. If its possible to operate both simultaniously, I believe thats how it was, if not I can check on Monday. If it helps, I know that in putting in commands as Direct Actions. To record the blackouts, I set all channels to 0% by "1 thru 48" off, then recorded the current lighting states as a cue. The computer did recognise it as a blackout by add a BL in the cue line. Hope that helps. As far as tracking, it was on. Personally, I have no idea what it is, what it does, how it was my problem, or how to turn it off. If you (or anyone else for that matter) can fill me in, I'd appreciate that.
- Again, tracking was on, no idea what it is, what it does, or how to turn it off. As far as cue numbering, I thought about numbering the blackouts as 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 as so on, but decided that recording the cues as odds, and the blackouts as evens later would save me time in the long run. What is the difference between steps and skipping numbers, and how could that have erased the cues when I added in blackouts as evens?
- Thank you, I take what I do very seriously. I even wore all black for the show, which was far beyond what the dance studio was expecting. They were actualy impressed and immediatly said they would provide a positive reference for me. As far as the list of acts, it was set for Friday when I began working on Wednesday. We stuck with that with the exception of one act which we skipped (last one before the awards ceremony) - but no one told me. All of a suddent the curtain closed so I threw up the sub with the curtain wash - thank god I went ahead and programmed those subs. I had a podium spot sub, orange (warm) wash, blue (dark) wash, and the curtain wash. After that, I regained composure, loaded the correct cue, and continued from there.
- As far as costumes being all the colours of the rainbow, I saw it. It was especially bad because the plot I was using had some frosts on the FOH electric, then orange or blue on the stage electrics. One act was especially mortifying as there were 9 kids - 5 in black, 5 in green, and 5 in purple. If I get the change this weekend, I'll post up a few of the better, non-blurry, pictures.
- In terms of creativity and commands, I was actualy given full and total control. I got a little creative with a few acts, but for the most part it was just a general wash. I was also given a tech list directly (act name and #, costume, and music) but unfortunately not well ahead of time
- Thanks for the reply. I believe it was a software issue, not the board it's self, and correct me if I am wrong, the 300 series, and 500 both use GeniusPro/Lightpalette? If that can help you to help me solve my erasing issue with the blackouts, that would be great.
I just finished my daughter's recital. I ended up only defining a few scenes - spot on the center of the curtain for the announcer, a full stage wash, and two washes with different speed chases for the hiphop and disco numbers. Next year I will try to add a curtain wash with a gobo for something between acts. Unfortunately, the school it was held at has a very limited lighting inventory (and most have dead bulbs and no easy access to change them); I added some footlights using 150W halogen outdoor fixtures to compensate.

Everyone liked it, and I don't think anyone other than me noticed the few minor miscues...

My school has a strand 300 48/96. When I'm recording cues, I set the scene manually (w/ the board faders), record the cue (record cue 1 *) and quickly check the cue by using "CLR Rem Dim Rem Dim" to blackout, and load the cue w/ "Cue 1 *". Then I set the next scene, record it, etc. My board is set in command line mode, 1 preset 24 sub. I forget what system. I've never run a real show on it (I'm trying to organize something next year) so there is probably a much better way... Also, clear rem dim x2 is much faster than 1 thru 100 off (the board doesn't care if you set non-fixtures to off).

I have no idea about why the blackouts screwed up your cues... Like I said, I haven't run a decently complex show off the board before—just a fashion/dance/demented music show that I saw in performance and run off a bunch of subs flashy-flashy style and a talent show w/ one rehersal 8 or so different scenes, and no ability to stay late programming, aiming fixtures, arranging the stage drapes, sweeping the floors, etc. Hope some of this helps!
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For your dance concert, I would suggest just coming up with a few scenes and writing them into your subs. No cues, just run by the seat of your pants. I have also taken groups of lights (FOH warm, FOH Cool, Top Blue, etc.) and put each group into a sub, so I can really mix by the seat of my pants. That has worked well for me.

Tracking is a way to record a cue and have the levels TRACK through the rest of the show until they hit something that makes them change. This is especially helpful if say your director decided he wanted you to change out a color in your strip lights and you didn't want to go in and re-record 23 cues. You could figure out what you wanted the cyc to look like, and enable tracking to track through the scene. You could also use it to add a light into the show and have it be on through the entire scene without re-recording the entire scenes lighting cues. (I have needed to do both for my current show) On an ETC Express, tracking ends at a level change or at an All Fade (AF) cue, I'm not sure what it is called on a Strand, but I assume its similar.

Tracking can save you hours of reprograming, or it can be your downfall. If you accidently have tracking enabled during the writing of the cues, then you will track your blackout through the entire show, as it seems you did.

I am not sure how to turn tracking off, but if you check your manual for 'Track' or 'Tracking' it shouldn't be hard to find.

Good luck,
You definitely have a tracking problem, to take tracking off you can go to the *Report* key, then the "Adv Setup" soft key, then the "Show Setup" soft key and the first box is "Cue Trakcing', turn it to "off", or you can use the Q only button when you record (*record* *Cue* *23* *Q Only* *enter*) and you won't have tracking issues. I also agree that using the subs or possibly the groups to be the easiest way to program on the fly like you are descirbing. good luck,

Just thought I would add that the manual for the 300 series consoles is one of the most confusing and poorly organized I have seen, the information on how to turn off tracking is actually in one of the Addendums, so it is certainly easy to miss.

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