2.2 Timeline

Once you have set your performance dates, take out a calendar and start scheduling immediately. Work backwards from the presentation date and include post-production tasks. The schedule will go through many changes, and eventually, you will detail the breakdown of each day in the theatre. A schedule is also helpful for working out a budget. Organize production time into pre-production, production, and post-production tasks.

1. Pre-production
• First steps include locating a venue, choosing a presentation date, finding dancers and collaborators, and working out a preliminary schedule and budget.
• During the creation and rehearsal period, you create and then perfect the piece in studio. Design elements may be constructed elsewhere while you work with fake or ‘working’ props. Consider using with production and design elements as early as possible as they inform the work.

2. Production
• Prior to your presentation, bring the set and costumes into the theatre. Dancers should spend time on stage to get used to its dimensions and the floor surface.
• A technical set-up time must be scheduled for the technicians to hang the lights on the grid according to the designer’s specifications, put in the proper gels and adjust light angles and focal points. This is called the ‘hang and focus’. They will set up the sound equipment at this time. Depending on the technical specifications of the space, this will take from two to twelve hours or even longer.
• The setting of intensities or levels is when the lighting designer builds the cues (quality, content and timing) for the piece. She usually requires someone (a walker) to be on stage to see how the light looks on a body. The cue-to-cue (Q2Q) is a practice, for the benefit of the running crew (lights and sound), of all the transitions in the piece, and is a chance to make intensity adjustments. Depending how long the piece is and how prepared the lighting designer is, this should take from one to four hours
• The dress rehearsal is a performance of the piece with all of its finished elements. It is done in full costume, in real time, and with full technical elements, but without a real audience. Do on-the-spot troubleshooting and leave time at the end to make necessary adjustments. You can invite a strategic audience to stimulate performance energy. If time and budget allow it, you can even schedule a preview, which will act as a second dress run. Charge a discounted admission, and target school groups or seniors.
• The show begins opening night and ends closing night. The length of the run depends on your budget and the availability of the theatre. Consider whether you prefer a fuller house over a few nights or a thinner audience over a longer run.
• The strike is the session during which the technicians, stage manager, and anyone who can help, take down the set, the lights, and clean out the theatre. Make sure to return borrowed or rented items in their original state.

3. Post-production
• Make copies of the video recording for your dancers and designers, keeping the original recording for your records.
• Wrap up loose ends. Hold a postpartum meeting with those involved in order to get feedback in all aspects of the production. Close your budget by paying all those who need to be paid and balancing the books. Your funding body may require a project report, and thank-you letters are a good idea if you hope to get support from the same people again.
• A post-production party is essential. It must be rocking; just make sure there is a dance floor.
• In order to archive the piece, set aside a few copies of your poster, flyer and program, and remember to store this documentation properly. Gather all photographs, press clippings, TV spots and radio interviews. Dance Collection Danse has a small, practical guide for archiving: Building Your Legacy: An Archiving Handbook for Dance.

How much time do these steps take? In the pre-production phase this depends on you, your creative process and your budget. Once you get into the theatre, however, technical demands reduce scheduling flexibility.

… next chapter: 2.3 Money Management


  • Dancers don’t need to be present in the theatre until the cue-to-cue. Although this process can be a bit tedious, it is necessary to be quiet and respectful, particularly towards technicians and designers. There is a saying amongst theatre people: technicians are never thanked when the show goes well, but when the show goes badly, they are the first to be blamed. It would be wise to avoid this faux pas.
  • You might want to take advantage of your time in theatre to shoot a good video for future promotional needs such as supporting documentation for grant and residency applications.

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