Ready For Anything (Dancing in T.V. and Film)

By. Brian Henninger



Today I want to talk to you guys about some extremely important skills needed for work in t.v. and film as a dancer. Live t.v. is especially stressful and these skills if honed over time will be of great benefit to you as you begin to work within these worlds. t.v. and film are intense environments to work in. Turnaround times are always short, and peoples expectations are always high. It is important to be able to take directions and make changes on the fly and to be aware of what is going on around you at all times. Here are a few skills that will help you when your on the job.

Be able to reverse choreography almost immediately: This is probably the most important skill to have as a dancer working on t.v. and film. You spend several days or even weeks learning choreography and staging for a particular project and then when you get on set something changes with lighting or some other variable that has nothing to do with you, but it causes a shadow to land on your face at a certain point. The Choreographer tells you they need you in a different position now and that you need to reverse all of the choreography so that you mirror the side you were on. Guess who’s responsibility it is to instantly be able to reverse that Choreo? Yep its Yours, and they have no time for you to take 20 mins and figure everything out on your bad side. This is a situation that happens OFTEN. The only way to prepare for it is to practice reversing choreography with the routines you are learning in class. Over time you will develop the ability to be able to reverse choreography at the drop of a hat!

Always be listening and understand what is going on: When you are on set it is very easy for your attention to wander. There are cameras, lights, musicians, directors, producers etc, who are all yelling and shouting different things and it is easy to get confused. Staying focused on the choreographer and their instructions as well as listening to stage directors for information on whats happening will help you always be on the ball. I have seen dancers get yelled at for not hearing a direction that came from someone who they’ve never met or didn’t even know they should be listening too. Its important to make sure that your so engaged and in the moment so you can take directions from anyone at a moments notice.

Pay attention to your artist: Sometimes you will get lucky and work with an artist who also dances and understands stage directions. You will be able to totally focus in on your dancing and lose yourself in the performance. However, the majority of the time you will be working with artists who DON’T dance, and who have their own ideas about how they want to move on stage and perform. Hopefully your choreographer will be able to reel them in and get them on the same page so they understand where they need to be and when to be there, but don’t expect this. Be prepared and aware of your artist at all times so that you can alter your spacing or even freestyle your way into new spacing so that the performance can continue in a polished way.

T.v and film is a crazy whirlwind world to work in as a dancer. It is constantly changing and you have to be able to be flexible and attentive always. The more you work in this world the better equipped you will be as a performer. Taking these tips to heart and preparing yourself mentally for these situations will help you have a smoother and more enjoyable working experience when you do get the chance to hit the stage in front of T.V. and Film cameras.


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