This past weekend, I stage managed the Flight Club Winter Pole Dance Showcase under the direction of Aerial Amy and it was a fucking, out of control, amazing SUCCESS. It was our biggest one yet. We had the most performers than before. We finished tech 45 minutes early even though we started ten minutes late and had a “hiccup” with one of the acts and for a minute 5 dancers couldn’t figure out how to unscrew the pole. There’s a joke in there somewhere. I don’t even know where to begin. And of course after it was all said and done, as Amy and I shared drinks, we started plotting the next one. Well, we’d already been plotting our Fall Showcase but we immediately spoke about what went well, what we could improve on and how the evening informed the choices we’d make for the next one. AAAHHHHHHH!!!!
First, let’s talk about me. My role was stage manager, assistant director and Jane of All Trades. From collaborating with Amy on the vision of the show, to making suggestions such as having a FULL tech, finding a venue that benefits the performers and the audience to the securing of our non-dancer talents for the evenings. In the past, I hired our photographer, videographer and host and for this one, I suggested we go with the legendary Jo Wheldon as our host! She rocked the mic. Well actually she was stroking it but you had to be there.
Running tech means….hmmmm. This is literally what I did. I called each dancer to the stage. I asked them, “What is your first position? When do I know to hit play on your music?” They showed me it. “Are you ready?” I asked them. They then got in their first position and I cued up my sound board operator and they started to dance. As they danced, I ran the lights live. Like imagine there are 30 buttons like a keyboard. Each button coordinates with one light. 30 lights total. As the dancer moved and twirled and climbed, I was like a DJ with the lights. I needed to anticipate their movement as much as possible so that I could smoothly transition the intensity of multiple lights. And I was just doing this all by ear. “Oh she has red hair. Hmmm, I wonder if I bring up the blue light on stage right to 90%, mix that with some white front light at 30%, then bring up the stage left center light on the pole to 20%…oh but wait she’s starting to crawl, I need to subtly light center stage. I wonder if she’s going to crawl over to the other pole or flip downstage. Hmmm. What light should I play with next?” That’s what I did for every dancer. I also had to balance the dancer’s request for low intimate lights, with the photographer’s request for bright lights for sharper images with my desire for dramatic and functional lighting.
If this doesn’t make sense to you, its cool. I know I did my job right if what you were caught up in was the dancer. But that magical moment when the light hit her just right and her hair was everything or it touched her skin and you felt it in your heart…yeah, that’s someone back there working those lights live.
If I wasn’t running the lights, I was answering questions, calling late performers, pointing out where the dressing room was, where the bathroom was, where the gift bags were as well as managing my floor manager/assistant stage manager.
Long before that, I was designing the show flyer, securing sponsorship for our goody bags, doing just a tiny bit of marketing on social media and being Amy’s cheerleader when shit hit the fan. Oh yes, while running the lights, I was taking video as well. We had an official videographer and an official photographer but you know, who would I be if I wasn’t trying to do a billion things at once?
That was the hard part about the night. I WANTED to stage manager and videotape and photographer and dance and just be in the audience all at the same time. I may invest in cloning myself. One of the things that changed for this showcase was that Jo Wheldon, our sexy host initiated a curtain call. Yeah, we never did that before and now we know we need to do that every time. Its amazing to see everyone on stage at once! What I hadn’t expected was for Amy to buy me flowers, call me out of the light booth to the STAGE in front of all 200+ people and then thank me. I was stunned, silenced, humbled, honored, grateful and just a bit shy.
When I told a friend about the flowers and her public thank you and my “shyness, he was surprised. “It’s just…well, if I’m doing my job right, no one knows I exists.” I stated. As a stage manager, truly, if I’m doing my job right, you have no clue that people like me exist in the world. You go to the show, take your seat and as if by magic everything just happens. Whether its a play or a dance showcase, everything is perfect. The props are where they need to be. The lights, the music, the sound…its just always right. The mic is always on, the flow just seems to happen and you get caught up, you get pulled in, you suspend disbelief, you feel everything the performer is sharing. Not knowing that “tech” is a thing or that there is a girl standing in seven inch heels over a light board in a mini skirt pushing 30 buttons. You only know people like me exists…when something goes wrong. So my goal, is for you not to know I’m there. So I was very grateful for Amy. I was also grateful for all the performers who said thank you too.
Lara Michaels, a NY pole dance teacher, performer and USPDF Pro, wrote me, “Sheena! Thank you for all your awesome work on the show you are the best! And next time, I want to see you dance! Xo”
Caitlin Goodard, a NY pilates pole dance teacher and performer wrote me, “You were the most amazing stage manager! Thank you so much! Really, you’re such a stage management professional. Now, we really have to clone you so you can dance, too, because I would really love that!”
Caitlin’s dance, also happened to be my favorite of the night. Watch her video below. Pretty soon all the pictures will be up and the official videos will be up and you’ll start seeing flyers for our next one. I’m hoping to find an awesome light board operator, so that I can stage manager/co-direct and possibly dance too.
My favorite thing about this night would have to be all of the performers. Flight Club is not affiliated with any one studio. Its for every pole dancer. This means polers from all over can participate in a non-competitive production and literally do anything they want. Whether they’ve been pole dancing for one month or ten years. Whether they can invert or not. Whether they are more into pole fitness, pole dance, pole art or straight sexy, sensual, sultry hip circles. It was so great seeing the variety of movement, music choices and dancers. The crowd ate it all up!
Enjoy the pictures below. Click them to see larger versions. All photos are by CHRISTOPHER DONALD
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