Originally written 11/21/2010.
Did I say that all the stage helpers at the regionals needed to do was announce? I forgot that was only true for short competitions. Today, after watching the first of my two dancers, I ran my second dancer’s stage for all three of her rounds. I was reminded pretty quickly that running a solo competition with more than 100 dancers involves a lot more than announcing.
The funniest part of the job for me today was the janitorial part. Whoever is running a stage is responsible for sweeping it. I swept my stage twice in the eight hours I worked it, for instance. Mostly what I swept off the stage was sequins, which tend to fall off Irish dance dresses like autumn leaves fall off trees. Since teachers are supposed to dress professionally, I was busily plying my giant dustmop in a nice skirt and blouse. At least I wasn’t wearing stiletto heels. Gotta be hard to sweep in those.
While sequins need to be swept up between rounds, it’s bobby pins that a stage helper really needs to watch out for. The wigs the girls wear are anchored in place with lots of long bobby pins, and when the dancers jump and the wigs bounce, bobby pins go flying. They’re dangerous because a dancer could step on one and slip and fall, a la a cartoon character stepping on a marble (but really not funny).
So, whenever a stage helper sees a bobby pin on the stage, he or she has to wait until the dancers on stage finish their round and then run out and pick it up. It has to be picked up quickly, because a 100-girl competition takes a long time to complete and every second is precious. So you run up the stairs, scurry out onstage (trying not to run into the dancers who just finished or the dancers just coming on), and bend down to pick up the bobby pin before running offstage again. Again, since you’re wearing a skirt and blouse, you do this carefully (and thank goodness that you’re not wearing the stilettos).
For some of the time today, this oft-repeated process was complicated because I was by myself. When there are two helpers on a stage, one can announce while the other one is in charge of bobby-pin wrangling and any other similar jobs that need doing. When you’re by yourself, you have to scurry onstage, scurry back, and then introduce the next two competitors.
At one point, I guess I wasn’t doing this one-man-band act well enough for one of the adjudicators judging my stage, because he hopped off his raised platform, ran over to the stage, and picked up the stray bobby pin himself.
For the most part, though, I did ok, and my two dancers did even better. One of them recalled for the first time, which was great. Even better, her competition was announced first at awards, so she got her trophy and then we all got to go home early. It was like having your cake and eating it too.
Well, I’m on a 7:45 am flight tomorrow, so I have to pack. Another reason to be grateful that we weren’t at awards until 11pm! Ta ta for now.