There are 2 things I know to be true when it comes to production:
- Producers are hidden heroes in the dance community. They’re the people who are willing to support the community by providing artists with paid work, students with opportunities for education, dancers with a platform for expression, so there’s that
- Your success as a producer is closely tied to how quickly you can problem solve and put out fires.
I thought it would be fun to share with you my Top 5 Worst Production Moments.
I’ll be honest with you guys, in the moment that these things happen, it can be so frustrating, so disheartening, so discouraging. I’ve been reduced to tears plenty of times before.
But now, I can look back and laugh about it. And that’s a nice feeling.
And even better, I can share them all with you! And we can laugh about it together,
The weather gods…
- Hurricane during Jersey Tap Fest. Governor declared a state of emergency. I had to cancel the last day of classes. I still held the show because it was cheaper to run it than it was to cancel it, but barely anyone attended. Artists were dropping out by the minute – students were dropping out by the minute – it was just a mess. You can check out episode 037 where I share 10 years of life lessons from producing and directing JTF, and you’ll hear all about this monster hurricane.
- Ice Storm – SO bad – my debut show – this thing came out of nowhere! And then, in the middle of the show, the fire alarm went off!, we stopped the show, we had to evacuate everyone from the theatre and we had to evacuate however many feet away from the building, but we couldn’t, because there was over an inch thick of ice coating the ground and no one could walk. It was an absolute mess. I have a funny photo of all of us in our costumes and jackets getting kicked out. So when the fire marshall came and allowed us back in – it was a false alarm that was triggered by the height of the ice freezing over, something like that… so they allowed us back in, and the next number of the show was this super moody, heavy lighting piece, really emotionally intense. So that was a weird place to start. And the transition into it had been scrapped, so the setup and concept would feel off. And the dancers were all cold. So I brought all of the soloists on stage and had an honest moment with the audience, told them we were cold, we had to warm up, and we had a jam and then I scrapped the intro of the next piece, cut it short and then we moved forward with the remainder of the show. In the end, it worked out, but man, it was a tough one. And I had all these press outlets there to review it! What a mess.
- A/C Breaking – multiple years at JTF, 2 years at one location, 2 years at another location. Then I had it break once at Grooves for my National Tap Dance Celebration, the same day that the NYT was coming for an interview
The air conditioning… if anyone knows how to bust the AC in a studio my friends, it is ME. Which is funny because I’m not big into AC. I barely run it at my studio, only when it’s really rough outside. I like to layer up and sweat it out in the studio. But, when ti comes to producing large scale tap dance events, you do have to keep the room cool before it gets out of hand and people start passing out.
Growing too fast
- I outgrew the JTF studio 2 weeks before the event which you can hear more about in episode 037, I talk about this challenge in more detail. But I’ll give you another example of growing too fast.
I also outgrew our recital theatre – luckily we realized it before releasing our ticket sales. My gut was telling me to hold off on tickets because the math just didn’t feel right. If I had released those ticket sales any earlier, we’d have been screwed. We would’ve had to put a cap, a maximum on the number of tickets a family could purchase. It would’ve been mutiny!
- Losing a Theatre a couple weeks before the show, having to change theatres, change seating charts, getting there and there being no ladder or genie