I was invited to the movies this weekend and it sent me into a deep thinking mode….I wanted to go see the hottest new Summer feature but I didn’t want someone to ruin another movie for me. (Quickly, let me say that nobody can ruin anything for me but myself, it is just an expression that works well in this case…). I love going to the movies or at least I used to. Quiet, dark, exciting, and being “in the moment” are some of my favorite things about a good flick. However, I don’t enjoy people talking during a movie, loud children running to and fro (at a midnight showing of Noah), employees running around with flashlights banging on exit doors, and CELL PHONES! I can see your super bright screen no matter how quiet you think you are. You don’t need to check Facebook during a movie, and that is coming from, in certain people’s opinion, a social media nut job. Basically I don’t want distraction during a movie. Now, why am I telling you all this on my “dance” Blog? Very simple, I think we need to review the audience contract we have while taking in entertainment in a group environment…In this case Dance Competitions….
I don’t think people are aware of the contract they “sign” when they sit in a seat at a theatre or show. You are part of the performance once you enter a performance space. Doesn’t make a difference if you are backstage, on stage, or sitting in front of the stage…You signed a contract to be included in the show. Period!
What does that mean? It means a few things…First and foremost – The performance or performer, on stage, is the most important thing in the room. Nothing else. End of story.
1) Cell phones – When you are in an audience, talking cell phones, DOES NOT EXIST! “But I have a sick grandmother”. OK, I do too (for real, many of you know about Jennie) and totally respect that. Either don’t come to the movies/competition, or simply be smart and sit near and exit…You need to talk on your phone? Kindly remove yourself from the theatre FIRST. BEFORE you pick it up. Your actions affect others, whether you realize it or not. That is a scientific fact (part of The Secret too). Facts are facts even if you don’t acknowledge, adhere to, or believe them. You turning on a small bright screen in a dark quiet theatre makes that light seem like we are staring into the sun…don’t do it. At competition, it’s a bit different. I understand the value of texting and, unfortunately, it is not always a dark room. If you are a chronic texter, please sit in the back of the room, and for the love of theatre, DO NOT MAKE CALLS, let the people who are up front properly enjoy and respect the performers while you do your thing, in the back, away from others….No worries.
2) MY ABSOLUTE BIGGEST PET PEEVE!!! DO NOT TALK WHILE PEOPLE ARE DANCING ON STAGE!!!! This is very easy and straightforward. It is beyond rude, and you distract other audience members (often Judges) that are trying to be engaged in the performance. For this one i’ll just tell a little true story:
Besides adjudicating competitions, I like to pop into competitions on occasion to watch what is going on in the local dance community. Recently I went to watch a competition. The women across the aisle could not stop talking. Totally over the top. I am watching them chit chat, getting louder and louder. Eventually I figured out their studio colors and who they belonged to. It was friend of mine who was actually there with her studio. I sent a text message to that owner to have these parent removed. When the ax came down the biggest culprit said she wasn’t talking and ignored the warning. The others all clammed up for a hot moment but soon after the proceedings continued. Now here comes my favorite part….The offensive person had a son with her who came barreling down the row disrupting everyone. She turns to him aggressively. She “Shh”s him obnoxiously, and in a very loud, what she thought was a whisper, proclaimed, “Don’t you have any manners”. I just thought to myself, If I was that kid, with a mom like that, I wouldn’t have any manners because you never taught them to me. Case closed.
If you want to have a quiet, respectful discussion during competition, go do it in the back of the room. Up front you have the judges, other respectful parents, teachers, and those who are engaged in the show. Go where you aren’t noise polluting the space of others. Plus, the performers can see you talking over their lyrical solos. That is not what a dancer should have to deal with after rehearsing, learning, working hard, and then paying good money to be seen by professionals who can potentially help their abilities and further their career. You wanna talk, go do it in the back or outside where nobody will be disturbed and the performers aren’t harmed. You are, by default, harming the Dance Studio Industry, and I have issue with that.
3) Remember, as seen in that last scenario, People (especially professionals like myself) know who you belong to just by the clothes you wear. I know which kids run around like competition is play time. I know which kids are positive and help others, ALL others. I know which kids don’t respect “wing” space on stage. I do NOT want to see you in the wing while another dancer is performing, and if I see you I will remember. And, I know which kids run back and forth to see their friends backstage. It is that behavior we shall address next. I am all up for people coming in and out of a competition room but you need to know how and when to do so.
That said, pick your moment. Do NOT come and go during a performance. You exit and enter between dances. If you get to certain Broadway shows late, they DO NOT LET YOU IN until the right moment(usually a blackout). You entering and exiting during a dance is extremely distracting to others in the room. This includes the performer. Be respectful and be smart. Enter and exit when the stage is empty, not when it is full of dance!
4) I love that you want to support each other, BUT, screaming peoples names at the top of your lungs, while they are dancing, isn’t the best way to do that! Clapping – yes, shrieking loudly – not so much. Be considerate of others and their ears. Be supportive but don’t go so far over the top that the focus switches from the people on stage to the people screaming in the audience. Easy one. 🙂
5) Eyes forward – Watch the dancers. Take in the moment. Be part of the show. Applaud for every dance you watch not just your kids. This behavior puzzles me. There are always people in the audience who act like they are out to dinner with friends rather than an active audience member. Again, true story. I have seen people order a pizza, to the theatre, while sitting in competition room. They actually pull out their phone, order a pizza over the phone, and ask to have it delivered. They do this while dancers are on stage. Then, when the pizza arrives, the delivery guy calls, usually 3 minutes into a 5 minute Ballet production piece of course, and they pick up the phone. Now, phone in hand, they walk up the length of the House, talking on it whole time, only to return moments later, right past the “no food or drink” sign, with a fresh Pizza and a 2 liter bottle of diet Coke. Then they sit down and serve dinner to the people around them. Disruptive? Yes! Very. The best part is, when it is their own studio kids on stage they are perfect angels in the audience. You should respect theatre space, and ALL performers. Not just your performers.
O.K. I think we can stop there. That should get my point across. What is that point? Let me remind you. When you sit in a seat, in an audience, you are “signing” a binding contract with the other audience members and the performers.
The contract says “I -insert name here- shall be respectful and engaged. Not just for you, but for me and for the performers. I will sit back, relax, and do my part to enjoy the show. I will not talk loudly to others, especially on a phone. My eyes are forward and my hands ready to appreciate the art that is happening in front of me. I’m not running in and out during a performance. I am here for the performer because they are here for me.”
Some people may hear my opinion and ask me why is this important at a competition? I say because of two reasons:
1) Performing in a professional atmosphere is part of proper training when learning about gaining professional status, and
2) It is good practice for a cultured life, because if you ever go to a broadway show and tried to pull that crap, they will toss your a** out so fast you won’t know what happened…and they will draw the shades you when you ask for your $200.00 refund.
But seriously, things like this are important for the Dance Studio Industry, and If we don’t talk about it, nothing will ever improve. You can’t be expected to know what you have not been taught. That is all. Tap w/u Soon.
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