One of the highlights of being a student at a dance school or dance academy is being able to take part in dance shows. Often put on just once a year, they require a huge amount of work from a large number of people who are often volunteers. As a dancer, there are few things more rewarding than being a performer in such a production right from the first rehearsal, to running through the steps in your head as you anxiously wait in the wings to perform.
One of the most stressful yet most exciting times for many dance companies is trying on costumes for the first time, and performing the dress rehearsal. This is usually a time when the opening night is just around the corner which means that the pressure to make sure everything is ready steps up several gears. Obviously, the dancers need to ensure that their routines are second nature to them, but there are also stage managers, stage hands, costumiers, lighting operators, sound operators and many others who need to know the show just as well too. All of these contributors play a critical role in making sure that the show goes well but it’s almost always the dancers and the costumes that the audience remember the most!
A few years ago at our local dance school, it would have been usual for a committed group of people contributing to the show to get together for what they called a “sewing weekend”. During these weekends, they would use fabrics that they had gathered or purchased to make a range of costumes for the production from scratch. This used to take a huge amount of time and commitment from all involved but the result was rather impressive. However, it seems that everybody is now much more pushed for time than they used to be which means that the number of people who were able to make such a commitment gradually reduced to a number too small to produce enough costumes for the large number of dance students performing in the show.
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