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Safe & sparkling shows! Tips for Covid-secure performances (When In doubt dance it out!)

It was a drizzly morning in early July 2020 and my beloved local boot camp class had resumed on Abbey fields, Colchester. “Let the endorphins flow!” I thought to myself as I drove towards the field. I love this class and It felt so good to be outdoors exercising with real people again. People that you could touch (if it were legal of course!) This was a totally safe class… 2 metres apart and all that.

BC (Before Covid-19) I felt burnt out with a Boris Johnson ‘urge’ to say yes to everything. And although we are still in what the media are calling ‘The Great Pause,’ some parts of our lives are returning to normal, like being able to go to outdoor boot camp classes …Hooray! I’m not ashamed to say it was needed. Especially when Covid takes away your taste and smell and you think it’s a great idea to challenge this symptom by eating ‘EVERYTHING’ in the kitchen …. as surely there was something I could taste??? Surely one little taste bud had escaped the infection and was just waiting to be at my service? Alas, there wasn’t, my attempts to taste were a waste of time and now I must work hard to lose a little weight.

So, I pull up onto the field and switch off my wind screen wipers so I could hear my lovely friend Marie who I had on speaker phone. Marie is one of our fabulous IT Girl Dancers & is also a talented dance teacher. The school she teaches at were going ahead with an annual festival for the school children and Marie had kindly suggested The IT Girls as a headline act. ‘Brave move’ I hear you mutter…. and they were my thoughts entirely. But with Boris was allowing outdoor entertainment at this time and the school having comprehensive Covid safety measures, I thought it was time to press play on summer 2020 and let the fun begin (Finally!)

As most of you know we make sparkling shows in all different shapes and sizes

And this one was small but super sparkly!!! Three of our finest dancers put on a wow factor show for the kids that had a shared passion for dance. We ended up doing the 5-minute dance show 3 times in rotation, so that all the children were able to enjoy it within their ‘bubbles.’

It was an amazingly fun day and such a joy to be putting on shows again. But during the day we learned a few things about putting a show on safely:

We now ideally need an outdoor space for us to rehearse this show safely. Thankfully, Marie’s large driveway and front windows that acted like mirrors was perfect! I brought my outdoor Bluetooth speaker and thankfully it didn’t rain!

As a choreographer I favour ‘tight’ spacing when working with a smaller group of artists. Meaning I prefer the performers being closer together than spread out. However, for safety reasons I had to spread the dancers out so that they were always 2 metres apart and preferably not facing each other. Having a large ostrich feathered fan in both hands of course, helps naturally space everyone out… which was definitely a bonus!!

We moved away from our signature traditional Cabaret / showgirl look for this performance and gave this show a dazzling disco party vibe. The show mix included A Dua Lipa ‘Don’t stop now’ opening followed by clever high energy mash ups from Adele, Madonna Sigala Musique, Eurythmics and many more! We included some fun socially distanced audience participation and the dancers were dressed from head to toe in their sparkling silver sequinned trouser costumes.

All the props including the feathered fans had to be named! But to keep this safety rules glam I had each of the girls’ individual diamanté initial sewn into the base of the fan!!

The costumes were all packed after sanitising my hands and put into isolation for 3 days (along with the props) before handing them over to the dancers who then took them home with them and brought them to the venue so that only they were in contact with them.

Over the 2 days of shows at the festival We kept our backstage team for this IT Girl show to a minimum:

  • No dressers
  • No hair and makeup artist.

This was a small team and involved only one costume per dancer. The dancers did a wonderful job of their own hair and makeup (as they often do) and through the addition of some neon yellow nails, they really hit the summer festival vibe we were going for. I’m very pleased to say that our high standards were not compromised because of restrictions.

To further minimise the risk of infection I was on site for only one of the two days of performances to make sure all the girls, myself and the client was happy with everything. For the second performance day Marie & I both agreed the girls could confidently operate without me. This kept numbers within the IT Girl team to a minimum.

I know, I know these details lack the sparkle the IT Girls are so famous for! But these rules are there for a reason, a lifesaving reason in this case. However, I’m immensely proud how we didn’t let the rules get in our way. We still managed to put on an amazing sensational show and enjoy ourselves at the same time!

As I watched the girls up on the open-air stage sparkling away, they looked so incredibly slick and rehearsed and most of all they all looked like they were having the time of their lives!! They danced their hearts out!

There is a lot of talk about giving back in these hard times. Watching Marie, Ebony and Stacey performing their wow factor show gave me and the audience a sense of hope & happiness. The sea of huge smiles on everyone’s faces as they all watched and clapped in time with the music was just perfect after so long cooped up inside! It was also delightful to see how much the IT Girls got from performing once again. They all came off stage super excited & shouting ‘we wanna do it again!!!’ ‘It was soooo good!’ ….. To see their pink cheeks and smiles as they came off stage was like seeing life (or should I say sparkle) coming back into their veins.

Safe & sparkling shows are the way forward and we have proved they are possible.

Let’s make this happen again people! IT’s about time we started having fun again.

Thanks to Marie & The Gold Star Federation for inviting us to perform! It’s one we will never forget!

Here are some Kind words from this event.

We so loved having you guys. The feedback has been incredible…. you gave our kids such a fabulous experience.’

Chris Flathers – Principal of The Gold Star Federation 

’I couldn’t be more proud to be a professional dancer with the It Girls, a company that is truly providing covid-19-safe shows for both performer and client!

We recently performed at _Go Fest_ and our choreographer Tracy went to every length to make sure we were safely socially distanced, both on stage and off; our props, costuming, dressing room & stage met every covid-19 guideline to the nth degree. I ‘ve never felt safer performing & would gladly do it again.” 

Ebony Owens

IT Girl Dancer

How we did it :

  • Rehearsal – In an outdoor space (powerful blue tooth speaker is handy to have) If required – video rehearsal for artists that are unable to attend so they can learn spacing and choreography from the video.
  • Travel – Ask performers to travel separately to rehearsal and the performance venue.
  • Symptoms – Ask all artists to alert you if they are experiencing any Covid – 19 symptoms.
  • Costumes & props – If props are being used make sure they are all individually named and only handled by the performer.
    • Pack all costumes and props in individual bags and put in isolation for 3 days before giving to the artist.
    • Make sure all artists are social distanced when getting into costume.
  • Choreography – Make sure artists are spaced 2 metres apart and not facing each other.
  • Hair & make up – Performers to apply their own make up & style their own hair.
  • Sanitising – Sanitise your hands often and provide plenty hand sanitiser for your team.
  • Masks – Always remember to pack a face covering and use it in accordance with government guidelines.
  • Food & beverages bring your own pack lunches and water bottle.

For more performing arts  government guidelines visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts#arts-5-12

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