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Year II student Emma blogs about collaborating with her students to turn a simple in-studio showcase into an artistic dance show.
The studio I grew up at and currently teach at has a beautiful space for classes. We use the largest studio every December to host our annual Christmas Closings where dancers showcase the exercises and dances they’ve been working on since September, but they are rarely used for anything more than a simple showcase. This year, as part of our summer program schedule, a senior Broadway dance camp was created. The idea for this camp was for dancers aged 14+ to help with costumes, lighting, and props/sets using items from the nearby dollar store and in the studio. It was a difficult task, but the dancers lived up to the challenge.
The hardest challenge was lighting design. We’re fortunate to have a bright studio space, but the dancers immediately recognized the issue of a 4:00pm performance: the sun would be shining through. They came up with the idea to buy Bristol board and cover all the windows so the studio would be dark. Next, the lights were set up on the side; two shop lights and three desk lamps created what the dancers called “mood lighting” and were used for the beginning and end for most of the dances. To create a spotlight effect, a dancer brought in a camping flashlight that allowed us to zoom in and out on featured dancers and even switch to a strobe light effect for our final curtain call. Now all it took was two people off to the side to turn the power bar on and off with one person controlling the flashlight. Overall, the dancers were impressed with the results.
Props and costumes were next on our list. None of the costume items were purchases as we had access to the studio’s costume room and any items we couldn’t find were brought from home. The dancers also wanted to create a prop for the opening number. Using two clothing racks and long curtains, the dancers created wings they could hide behind during a dance and later use to hide the “tech crew” turning the lights on and off.
Turning our home studio into a performance space for under $25 was a challenge, but it made the dancers think critically about the situation and problem solve. Realizing that purchasing a spotlight would cost too much money, one dancer offered up her flashlight and another brought her desk lamp. The arts is a collaborative environment and requires more than just the players involved. Working as a community can turn a simple in-studio showcase into an artistic dance show without the added cost of renting a theatre.