Like other performance arts, dance is created to be performed for an audience. Once the work has been created in the studio, it must be translated for the stage. Each stage is slightly different with different dimensions, surface types and technical equipment. For this reason, each time a dance company performs a work in a new theater, they will stage and rehearse the work in the space. In some cases they will slightly modify the way they perform the dance to accommodate a different size or shape of stage.
In addition, technical elements including costumes, sets and lighting are added to the dance to complete the context of the work and the theatrical presentation of it for an audience. Most often a choreographer will work with designers and technicians to realize his vision of the final work through these theatrical elements.
Dance is a participatory activity for everyone, including both the performer and audience member. Proper theater etiquette ensures an enjoyable experience for you, other audience members and the performers.
- Be polite, attentive and quiet throughout the performance.
- Listen to the instructions of your teacher/chaperone.
- Remain with your group at all times.
- Do not leave your seat at any time without informing a teacher/chaperone.
- Read your performance program. It is full of information about what you will see, how it is produced and who is involved in making it happen.
- Applause indicates how you feel about a performance. Applaud if you like what you experience. You may choose to be silent if you do not like the performance.
- Food, drinks and gum are not permitted in the theater.
- Cameras, tape and video recorders, and other audio-visual equipment are not permitted. These devices are a distraction to the performers and an infringement against the work being performed.
- Be aware of the location of fire exits before the performance begins.
- Most of all, enjoy the performance.
Here are some questions that can help to inform your post-performance discussion of the dance experience. It is important to give students the opportunity to articulate their experience and learn to observe and discuss dance. These questions will help students learn how to observe a dance performance – what to look for and how to describe what they see.
- What form of dance did you observe?
- Were there solo and/or group dances?
- Describe and demonstrate some of the dance movements.
- How were space, time, energy, balance and shape used?
- What was the purpose of the dance, and how did it effect you?
- Explain how the storyline, mood or concept of the dance was communicated through the movements.
- Did the dance evoke a particular time or place?
- What actions and movements made by specific characters made their dancing memorable?
- Describe the music and identify the instruments used.
- What effect did the tempo, rhythm, and dynamics have on the dance?
- Analyze your previous experiences with live and recorded music and discuss the difference, then describe the effects of live or recorded music on this performance.
- Describe the materials, colors, textures and styles of the costumes.
- Did the costumes convey a particular era, mood or characterization?
- How did the costumes, make-up or hair styling enhance the dance.
- If the costumes were simple, did this make you focus even more on the dance and the dancing it self?
Sets, Props, and Lighting
- Describe the stage setting(s). Were they realistic or abstract?
- How did the sets and props contribute to the action, plot or mood?
Overall Performance Experience
- Discuss some special features of this performance that impressed you.
- Compare and contrast one dance to another dance you have seen.
- Write a review or an article about the performance you attended.
- Compose a poem inspired by your experience.
- Draw, paint, or create a collage inspired by this dance experience.