Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FINE FEATHERED FRIENDS: MAINTAINING FEATHER FANS, DANCE COSTUMES AND HEADDRESSES

Photo by Lapis

Feathers look absolutely sensational onstage. 

Whether you’re using huge Sally Rand fans, rockin’ a lusciously fat boa, or wearing a costume and/or headdress  trimmed with feathers, they always look  glamorous and amazing. The plumes waft through the air looking elegant and ethereal or flirtatiously accent every shimmy. They also make the audience swoon like nothing else. But beautiful plumed costumes, props and accessories are also expensive….so you should definitely know how to maintain them!

 The first thing you need to know is that plumes pick up oils from your skin quite easily. Our natural sebaceous oils will adhere to the feathers and attract more dirt.  
Always wash your hands before using your fans or wearing your boas; please don’t wear any  oily body lotions when using these props. And remember: lip gloss is literally  The Kiss Of Death onstage – not just cause it will mess up your feather  props and costume pieces, but because you’ll spend the entire show spitting errant fluff out of your mouth!

Here are some tips on maintaining your feather props and costume pieces:

Feather Fan Storage
 Store your   large ( or smaller) plumed fans  in one of those long, sturdy locking plastic containers. Rubbermaid makes a terrific, rectangular  giant sized one… but you can find several types at places like Target or Walmart, too.

You can easily fit a couple of sets of  Sally Rand fans- and more, if they’re smaller- in these without cramping them. Make sure to lay the feathers into the container with the plumes facing up so you won’t break the spines.   Before sealing the box for storage, add in cedar chip sachets or  plenty of cedar balls to prevent insect infestation- moths adore fans! You can also use good old mothbalss, but I dislike them for two reasons:  they stink like chemicals, and more importantly, they’re toxic to pets.

 Fan Maintenance
 Check and  if necessary, repair your fans thoroughly before each performance. Keep a Fan Emergency Kit with you in your bag  whenever you’re gigging. It should include an extra  hex bolt  in case the one on the butt-end of your fan blades gets stripped,  a tube of  crazy glue in case your feathers start releasing from the staves,  some pliable craft wire and a jewelry pliers. You’ll also need  a “stubby screw driver”- an adorable teensy tool that often comes with both a straight  head and a Phillips or star-shaped head. They’re really inexpensive  and even come in bright colors like purple, pink and aqua

Fan Transportation
I have a specially made carrying case for transporting  my Sally Rand fans to local gigs, but  a long, wide   document tube or Fed Ex box would work just as well! For air travel, your fans will undoubtedly need to be checked ( they’re usually too long for the  storage bins in the cabin) so  make sure you pad whatever container you’re using well and include your little tool kit.

 Storing and caring for  Boas, feathered Costumes And Headdresses
Store your feather boas in the same way you would your Sally Rand fans or smaller feather fans- in a tightly sealed  plastic container, with cedar chips to keep moths away. Depending on the size of the boa, you can use abig round container, the type made for large cakes. Coil the boa up like a snake ( a boa snake, of course!) and  close the container.
Larger boas might not fit into a cake container, so some gals store their boas in round hat boxes.  When I do this, then I seal the boa in  a  large plastic bag with the cedar chips  before putting it in the hat box-  just to be extra careful about insect infestation. 

To store headdresses, I have found that the  easiest way is to place them on a Styrofoam wig stand, and pin them securely onto the wig head itself. I then wrap the headdress in plastic wrap, sealing it firmly around the bottom of the wig-head, and store the entire thing on a shelf. Again, throw in a sachet of cedar chips. If your headdress is large, you can also stick an opened-up wire hanger  or two into the Styrofoam, to  create a “tent”, holding the plastic up so it won’t break or bend the feathers.  You might also have to weigh down the bottom of the stand to prevent it from toppling over due to the height and weight of the headdress.

Feather boas and feathered headresses are simply  the height of glamour- but since feathers are basically an animal ( or rather, avian) product, they tend to dry out over time  and can become droopy or flattened out and limp. To restore your  boas to  their brand-new fluffiness,  you’ll need to care for them and  maintain them occasionally. 
Grab your boa and briskly but gently feathers  between your hands. This will shake off any dust as well as  fluff  up the “nap” of the feathers,  making each one look perky again.

You can also clean the feathers on your headdresses the same way- but instead of using your entire hand, fluff each feather individually with your fingers.
For a costume that has feathered accents, do the same – just fluff the plumes with your fingers.

 Next, steam your  boa or headdress. If you have a clothing steamer,  hang the boa up by one end and steam it this way, being super-careful not to get the  tip of the steamer too close to the feathers- you want the fine mist to cover the  boa, but  you don’t want it dripping wet! Steam each section of the boa only for a few seconds, until the feathers have opened up.  For a headdress, do this while the headdress is sitting on the wig stand.

If you’re cleaning feather accents  that are sewed or glued to a costume, use  your steamer in the same way.

 If you don’t own or have access to a steamer, you can also use a tea kettle or a large  pot full of  boiling water  to steam  your  boa, holding it horizontally over the  pot or kettle, steaming it in sections.  For headdresses, make sure to hit  only  the tips of the feathers with steam- try not to get the crown wet.   I do not  recommend this method for costumes with feather accents, though.

Be very careful not to burn your hands or fingers- steam is just as hot-if not more so- than boiling water!

 Make sure to turn off the flame on the stove burner off while doing this or you’ll be courting disaster… BOAS AND FEATHERS ARE HIGHLY FLAMMABLE!


 If you maintain your gorgeous feathered costumes and props well, they’ll look great for years!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THE CRAZY INJURY OBSESSION ALL DANCERS SHARE...AND WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET OVER IT



 If there’s one thing  dancers have in common, it’s that we are all absolutely certifiably insane when it comes to injuries.  An injury is our worst nightmare. We dread them, we fear them,  and  many of us ignore them, hoping they will go away. Ultimately, we work through them, but  no matter what, we always obsess about them. Though many of us can easily identify the difference between a major  acute injury and those that are minor or temporary, we still stress out over the very thought that we are injured… and this leads to obsessive behavior.

 Recently, my left  knee was acting up. It wasn’t an acute injury, but something that had started slowly and intermittently. An injury that creeps up like this is usually an RSI, or Repetitive Stress Injury, something that occurs over a period of time, due to  making certain movements over and over. I was experiencing  medial ( inner side of the knee) pain, and I knew it was an RSI, because I dance every damn day. So I iced it a bit and let it rest as much as I could. 

But as the nagging discomfort came and went, I went through a series of  my own “diagnostic tests”.  These included  repeatedly standing with my full weight only on the injured leg, as well as going into movements- without an  adequate  warm up, I might add-  just to see if I could reproduce the odd little pops, clicks and  twinges of pain  that I was getting every so often while I danced.

 Let me tell you right now that I am familiar with anatomy- as well as  the way my own body feels when it’s working properly as opposed to being injured. But my  self-performed “diagnostics” were not only invalid and uninformed as far as real physical tests go, they were just plain stupid! And even though I knew that, I just couldn’t stop my neurotic OCD behavior. It was like an oddly satisfying nervous tick, kind of like when a little kid loses a tooth and is completely preoccupied with poking their tongue into the raw, tender hole where the tooth had been.

 I discussed this phenomenon with several friends, all of whom are seasoned performers and  instructors; other belly dancers,  ballet, jazz, hip hop, burlesque  and contemporary dancers, and guess what? 

They all do the same thing!

 Maybe it’s just an intrinsic part of our dance-life mania, but it sure isn’t helping in any way, shape or form. At best it causes discomfort; at worst, it can aggravate-and prolong- the injury itself.
As frustrating as it may be, you gotta let that injury rest!  Quit “testing” it to see if the status has changed in the past ten hours…or ten minutes.  As the Beatles said, “Let It Be”. It might be easier said than done, but leaving your injury alone is probably the best thing you can do for it.
 It’s absolutely vital to understand that you need to baby your injury- at least for a while- if you want it to get better. It’s much more prudent to cancel a few classes or gigs than try to flail your way through your regular schedule while your injury is in full force.  R.I.C.E or Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation are always good; you can ice and injury for fifteen or twenty minutes every couple of hours to help the inflammation calm down. Over the counter NSAIDS will also help with the pain as well as combatting inflammation.

In the meantime, during your recovery, you can work on any areas of your body that aren't injured. To stay conditioned, stretch and strengthen the rest of your body before returning to your full-on schedule of rehearsals, classes and shows. The last thing you want to do is impede your recovery by ignoring the advice of your physicians and/or physical therapist…or by performing any dumb-ass “self diagnostics”.

 There are many things you can do to keep learning and to help you feel as though you are progressing, even if you can’t actually dance yet.  Ask your instructor(s) if you can audit their dance classes- you can gain insight and learn technique just by watching a class and taking notes. Watch dance videos; analyze the styles or technique you are seeing, and observe more subtle things like stage presence, emotional connection to the music, and the costuming the performing is wearing.

Once you’ve been passed the acute phase of your injury, and with your doctor’s ok, you need to start rehab. If you’ve been prescribed a course of physical therapy, attend the sessions religiously, following your homework exercise regimen to the letter. You might also try Pilates, which was actually designed as a strengthening program to help dancers rehabilitate from injury. Make sure to find a certified instructor and let them know how you are injured.  Start out simple, and basic- if you’re feeling pain from any movements, don’t do them yet… and no matter what, don’t push yourself too hard, because you certainly don't want to exacerbate your injury.  It’s better to err on the side of caution. Walking is a terrific and low- impact aerobic way of keeping fit, and often a brisk walk will lower your overall physical feelings of discomfort.

If your injury has recovered enough that you have the ability to dance- but aren’t quite at a hundred percent, you will need to make necessary adjustments. However, you need to make sure that whatever you are doing doesn’t throw your body out of alignment. For example, if you’re still unable to completely put your full weight on one leg, do not assume that you’ll be fine bearing all that weight on the other leg! It will only lead to more problems. The more you “protect” the injured side, the more likely it will be that you’ll sustain an injury on the side that’s working over-time.

 Try to calm your inner dance-demons while you are recovering, ok? Be grateful for your body’s healing capabilities, have faith in your recovery process, and take the necessary time to recover fully before you get back in the game.

Oh and please… No more “testing”!


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Thursday, February 25, 2016

STAGE PRESENCE, CROWD CONTROL AND TIPPING

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Photo by Kat Bushman

 People  tell me that  me that when I perform, my presence is so large that it fills the entire venue. But it wasn't always that way. Over the years, on what I call my "Work/ Study Program", I learned to master the art of crowd control...especially in venues where tipping was encouraged. 

As a baby dancer, I avidly observed professionals working. I studied the way they handled crowds, watched their interactions with the audience, the way they got the crowd all fired up, how they  accepted tips and the crowd control tactic they employed for handling rowdy customers. I noticed that the dancers never  broke  from their stage persona, even when in a small venue where they personally could relate to the audience, all up-close and personal.

  The most  important  thing I noticed was that direct eye contact is paramount!

Dancers always appreciate a lively, demonstrative crowd, and it’s our job to get the audience riled up and festive.  So don’t be afraid to make direct eye contact with your audience members- it’s the surest way to make them feel connected to you- and to get them to tip you!  

 As for rousing a reticent audience, by using eye contact gestures alone, you can have the entire crowd clapping along to the music, or get them to be silent during a quiet part of your set.  If you want to break the ice with a tough crowd, the best way to do it is to call a child up to dance with you- they’ll almost always jump at the chance, it’s totally cute and of course, people love a good photo op!  If there are no kids around, select a pretty, vivacious-looking woman, and pretty soon her friends will join in... cause it’s a great social media moment!

 If someone you’ve gotten up to dance overstays their welcome, just “present” them to the crowd, and get them all to applaud- everyone will understand the idea that their dancin’ machine friend is now taking a bow, and should return to their seat.

 As for tipping- at belly dance shows, it's  a popular practice that stems from hundreds-if not thousands of years of tradition. Both the audience and the dancer enjoy tipping; the performer makes supplemental income, but tipping also allows for audiences to interact with the dancer and show appreciation for her skills..and once again, if you want to get tipped, eye contact is crucial!
Photo: Kat Bushman


 As far as tipping goes, most clubs and restaurants have a system in place where an employee, such as the manager or a waiter, will pick up the dancer’s tips and bring them to her dressing room after the show. If tips fall from your costume and a customer notices, they’ll sometimes let you know.  In this case, I either assure them the waiter will get it for me or ask if they wouldn’t mind retrieving it.

Inevitably, you’ll encounter some show off  that’ll offer you a tip… held in his teeth.  I’ve found that the best way to handle this is with humor and pantomime.  I’ll either pat the guy on the head as though he was a dog with a bone in his mouth, or gaze directly at another member of his party, point at the offender and pull a comical face that silently asks  “What’s he doing?”  Usually, someone will make him stop- or they’ll grab the money and tip you properly! 

Once in a while, things can get a little out of hand, especially if the venue serves alcohol. If an audience member does anything during your show that pushes your personal boundaries, interferes with your comfort-zone, or personal safety, or is just being disruptive or seems intoxicated, you have two choices.  You can enlist the service of the nearest waiter or simply remove yourself from the situation right away and report it to the management. This type of behavior is always frowned upon- there are definitely certain circumstances where the customer is not “always right!

 Many audiences are unsure of tipping protocol, and don't want to offend the dancer or do something impolite. There are a few discreet ways to let them know that tipping is OK. Often, dancers will seed their belts with hidden a bill or two (which can be prudently revealed mid-set) giving the audience the idea that tipping is acceptable. Another way to do this is to have the servers help you out before you go on by courteously asking patrons if anyone needs change to tip the dancer.

Whenever you get tipped, make sure to thank the person who tipped you, either verbally or with a nod of thanks, and big smile...once again looking the audience member directly in the eye!
 
Tipping is a way for the audience to tell you how much your performance meant to them.  It’s our job as dancers to transport the audience, and by receiving their tips graciously, you can also take satisfaction in knowing that you have done your job… and done it well.
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

THAT'S JUST HOW I ROLL: TIPS FOR AMAZING ABDOMINAL WORK



 
See that long vertical line going up my belly? That's  my rectus abdominis muscle.  Photo by Marcus Ferrando 
Strong abdominal work is something that all belly dancers-and audiences- love and admire. Among dancers, abdominal technique is always coveted, but rarely mastered.  Spectators go crazy for  rolls and flutters, too. Dancers and “civilians” alike regularly ask if I have an alien in my belly…or if I do crunches to get such strong abs.  However, though I occasionally enjoy pretending that I’m a Reptilian Hybrid from a distant planet, the answer to both questions is a resounding  “no”.
 Seriously, the only way I train my torso is with belly dance abdominal work. Though I love Pilates, and have dabbled in Yoga, I knew zilch about either discipline when I started working on my abdominal technique. I’m here to tell you that all it takes for amazing belly work is a little knowledge of proper technique… and a lot of practice time.  If you’re willing to put in the time, you’ll have a wild “alien belly” just like me, I promise!
 Here are a few tips for achieving strong abs- and there are no sit-ups, crunches, or cross training involved. With practice, you’ll be able to achieve mind-bending rolls, undulations and flutters yourself.
 First, let’s discuss undulations. There are two types: Muscular and Muscular Skeletal. The first kind uses only the muscles of the abdomen; a belly roll is muscular only, meaning that the bones or joints-or combinations thereof- are completely still.
The second type of undulation uses muscular engagement combined with bone/joint movement, usually coming from the pelvis and ribcage. A fine example of this would be the movement most of us know as a Camel.  But even though a Camel appears to be coming from the pelvis itself, it requires the interior abdominal muscles to engage in order to look really pronounced.  When I perform this movement, I tighten up (or engage) my lower abs –and also the muscles of the pelvic floor- when I pull back with my pelvis, and release them when the pelvis itself pushes forward.
 The muscle predominantly used in belly rolls is the rectus abdominis, a long, strong-banded pair of vertical, parallel muscles, which run up the length of the torso.  The banding in the muscles is what creates the hot “six pack” on guys who are super- fit.  The banding creates natural sections in the muscles, which are enhanced by training.  But for us belly dancers, even though the bands are present, the movements we do while dancing enhance the muscles length-wise, or vertically, so they look a little different…I like to refer to this as our chick pack. Most of us have a very strong rectus abdominus…but only around our middle band, the one that falls at our natural waist.  We often don’t use the parts of the muscle that is above or below that spot- and getting those areas stronger is essential for heavy-duty belly rolls.
A great way to train for rolls is to locate the muscles of your pelvic floor and tighten them up, much the same way you’d do a kegel exercise.  Pull in with the rectus abdominis as though you were zipping up a zipper all the way to the top of your rib cage. Hold it there for a moment, and then try to zip the “zipper” downwards again.
 My flutters   are even, highly sustained and large enough to see from the back of the room- no matter what size the venue is. They do not come from an ability to move my abdominal muscles in and out quickly. I could definitely do that if I wanted to!  However, if I engaged my abs by pulling them in and out super-fast, then I wouldn’t be able to layer belly rolls with my flutters…a movement that I call the  “flundulation”.
The main secret for crazy flutters is to keep your   abdominal muscles soft and relaxed, while your skeleton remains in standard dance posture- pelvis neutral with the tailbone tucked slightly towards the floor, ribcage lifted, and shoulders back and down. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is!
 Think about it: our abdominal muscles are constantly engaged, whether we’re conscious of it or not.  When enter in performance, our abs are always engaged- we’ve been trained to do that!  When we walk into a party or social gathering, we automatically pull up into a regal posture, without even thinking about it. Trying on a costume or an item in a store’s dressing room, we immediately suck in our stomachs. 
Letting our bellies remain loose and relaxed is completely conditioned out of us by society, so it might take you a while to get the hang of keeping your skeleton engaged and your abdominal muscles soft. When I was training to do this- and I taught myself, no one showed me- I’d place my hands on my sides, actually hooking my fingers just under my top ribs, so I could really feel my ribcage staying lifted as I let my belly go soft.  It looks kinda dorky, but try it- it works!
After you’ve gotten comfortable with that, it’s time to discover your diaphragm, which is the place of initiation for all my flutters.  The diaphragm, the large, major muscle that controls our breathing, is strong and kinda dome-shaped, sitting in the lower middle of your torso. Though we’re usually not aware of it, the diaphragm contracts rhythmically as we breathe as we breathe in and out. But if you concentrate, you can control the diaphragm- like when you breathe in deeply, holding your breath before diving into water. Think of your diaphragm as an inflatable ball. It fills up as you inhale and deflates when you exhale.   So you can feel it in motion, place your hand on your diaphragm and breath slowly and deeply.
 Once you’ve located your diaphragm and felt it moving naturally, try it a few times with conscious control, breathing in and out slowly and deeply as you keep your skeleton lifted and your abdominal muscles soft and un-engaged.  Now, try exhaling sharply, cutting the diaphragm’s muscle movement off. You’ve done this correctly if you feel a little clutch or catch.  Repeat this a few times, allowing yourself a couple of moments of regular breathing in between, so you don’t hyperventilate and become dizzy.
 A word to the wise: while many people advocate catching your breath and “cutting it off” at the throat, I don’t like this practice at all! Not only are the little “catches” you make while doing that visible to the audience, the movements also  cause the tendons in the neck to pop out and look  stringy and ugly…even on younger dancers!  Instead, try to visualize the little clutch or catch staying  just at the top of your ribs, directly under your cleavage…or, if you're a guy, directly under and between your man-candy pectoral muscles.
 Remember, the diaphragm is one of the strongest muscles in our entire body because  it’s in constant use as we breathe. If you repeat these practice movements even just a few times a day, the strength in your diaphragm will build up really quickly…and soon, you will have a an "alien in your belly", too!
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 If you liked reading about abdominal technique here, then you’ll LOVE my instructional DVD, “ABS-olutely Fabulous”- it’s packed with info on flutters, belly rolls, and undulations! 
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF DRESSING ROOM ETIQUETTE

Charlton Heston in the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments

 

1. Dance Is The Lord Your God, The Dressing Room Your Temple
 We worship at the altar of dance; we live  and breathe for it. Seriously, to a dancer, dance is spiritual; it’s a religion. That means preparing for a show is an act of devotion. The places we usually “worship” in aren’t made of alabaster pillars and draped in brocade, filled with priceless relics. They’re often up or down steep flights of well-worn stairs, the  walls covered in graffiti, full of lamps with missing light bulbs. They’re stuffy and musty or too drafty, and no matter how spacious they are, they’re always too small. But just like an  ancient temple, what happens inside a dressing room is pure magic.

 2. Thou Shalt Not Hog Mirror and Counter Space
 It’s always a good idea to get into the dressing room early so you can claim a prime spot for getting ready. But just cause you arrived at the venue on time doesn’t mean that you’re allowed spread out over half the backstage territory. Hang your costumes up if there’s a rack and stow your gig bag- with your street clothes in it -under your make up station or in a corner, not on a couch or chair that someone might want to sit on.  Keep your cosmetics contained to an area that’s roughly the width of your shoulders- the room’s going to get crowded soon and mirror space will be at a premium. If you’re done with your stage make up and there’s somewhere else you can go, it’s courteous and professional to offer your mirror space to another performer, especially one who came in from out of town and didn't have the leisure of getting ready at home. If you’ll need your spot back later- like to put on a wig, do a make up change, or costume change, just say so.

3. Thou Shalt Cleanse Thine Dressing Area Continuously
 If you’ve blown through five make up wipes and half a package of Q-Tips while getting you’re Stage Face on, if you've just wolfed down a power bar, used a bunch of double-sided tape, opened a new package of hose, unwrapped a gift, or finished a bottle of water, throw that stuff away pronto! There’s limited space in any dressing room- no matter how large it is – and that’s before a bunch of dancers start cramming into it. Quarters are always tight and space is at a premium, so it’s seriously doubtful that other cast members would be super-enthused about preparing for the stage amidst your trash.

4. Thou Shalt Not Run Thine Number Within The Sacred Inner Sanctum Of The Dressing Room
 Some dancers pop in their ear buds and quietly listen to their music while they’re getting ready. Others practice in the hallway, on the stage after tech rehearsal is over, or   go outside the venue to run their numbers a few last times. However, many soloists, and even troupes somehow think it’s ok to crank up their music and rehearse right there in the dressing room, amidst the suitcases, cosmetic bags, garment racks, and all the other dancers, many of whom are trying valiantly to get dressed while dodging somebody else’s elbow during a quick turn sequence. We’ve all seen this, cause it happens constantly!

 Dancing in the dressing room is a really big no-no.  It’s extremely discourteous to other cast members, on many levels.  Consider the following ideas and you’ll get the picture.  Many dancers don’t want to hear your music, they’d rather hear their own…and that’s precisely why they brought their ear buds.  Others desire a peaceful environment so they can get in character, or into The Zone for their performance. Several performers of all levels of experience have serious stage fright, and a boisterous rehearsal in a tiny space will work their last nerves. And nobody wants to have his or her costumes knocked off the rack or get a black eye cause you wanted to rehearse!

There’s a reason it’s called a dressing room, not a rehearsal hall or dance studio.  Please respect that.

If you truly need to run your number and the only place to do it is inside the dressing room, at least give everyone fair warning before you start, and limit running the number to one time, ok?

5. Thou Shalt Only Use Thine Inside Voice Within Thine Dressing Room
 It’s always terrific to have some serious backstage bonding.  The dressing room is often the single place many of us get to catch up with close friends we only see a few times a year. We joke, we crack each other up until we’re crying, and we gossip and swap dancer war stories. We compare costumes and trade make up hints, some of us enjoy a glass  (or more likely, a plastic cup) of wine together before or after the show.   A lively group of dancers who’re stoked to see each other and all  amped  up on performance  adrenalin can make for a really fun ‘n’ rowdy time. Although we dancers know that the “real” show often takes place backstage, it’s important to remember that there’s an actual show going on, and the performers onstage –as well as the audience- really don't need to hear us shrieking about the latest rumors or the adorable pair of boots someone just got on sale.

Also, many backstage areas have notoriously bad cell reception, so please remember not to scream into your phone, and that it needs to be put on vibrate or shut off just before the curtain goes up. Oh yeah, and if there’s a toilet in your dressing room, don't flush it until intermission!

6. Thou Shalt Switch Off Or Unplug All Appliances When Not In Use
 Do this for safety’s sake! How many times have you seen a red hot curling iron left plugged in on a dressing room counter top, when the owner is nowhere in sight… and there are highly flammable costumes nearby? Can you count that high?  I can’t. Once I was in a green room where some idiot had left a flat iron plugged into a wall socket, sitting in a puddle of water in the sink! 

Turn off or better yet unplug everything with a cord after you use it, including but not limited to hot rollers, electric kettles, flat irons, electric shavers, blow dryers and curling irons. And don’t forget the vanity lights on the mirrors when you’re done with your make up- if no one else is using them, they don’t need to be on, because they’re so damn hot they can turn a crowded dressing room into a sauna in no time at all!

 7. Thou Shalt Not Leave Food Or Drink In Close Proximity Near Thy Neighbor’s Personal Belongings
 Sure, you  need that miso soup, latte, burrito or  sports drink to keep your energy up before you go on… and there are many dancers who simply can’t live without chocolate or red wine backstage- but please do not leave any of this sustenance sitting out next to someone else’s make up and costumes!

8. Thou Shalt Respect Thy Neighbor’s Costumes, Make Up And Props
 While it goes without saying that you’ll probably covet thy neighbor’s costumes (who doesn’t?) please don’t touch anyone else’s stuff without their permission. Period. End of Story.  And do not move someone else’s things- no matter what it us-for any reason, unless you ask first.  Somebody could need a specific prop, accessory, wig or cosmetic product for a quick change; your dressing roommate might’ve placed it there specifically so they could access it immediately. If you absolutely must move something when the owner isn’t there, let them know about it the second you see them. If you’re about to go onstage and have just moved an item, ask someone else to inform its owner that it’s been moved.

9. Thou Shalt Issue Forth A Spritz Alert Before Spraying Thine Products
 Before you douse yourself in hair spray or your favorite fragrance, please announce to everyone that you’re about to use self-tanner, perfume or Aquanet, or whatever, and make sure it’s ok… someone might be severely allergic to the product(s) you’re about to use.

10. Thou Shalt Leave Thine Dressing Room In Better Condition Than Though Hath Found It
 Some productions have a volunteer crew to tidy up the dressing rooms, or assign small backstage cleaning tasks to each dancer, but many do not. Also, many venues actually charge show producers   cleaning fees for dressing rooms that were left looking like a tornado hit them. No matter what condition the dressing room was in when you first entered, it’s just plain old good karma to leave it spotless!

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