I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I wish I had known when I decided to start a dance company nearly a decade ago. Some of the things are hard earned life lessons about patience, persistence, and peer pressure. But some of the things are simple material goods. Herein I will share the things I didn’t know that I would need when making dances and producing dance concerts. No sponsored product placements, just good old fashioned advice
1. Roll-On Body Adhesive. Here at the Leopold Group, we refer to this essential as “butt glue.” It is wedgy-proofing for leotards and briefs and it’s water soluble. (So, # 1.5 would be baby wipes to remove said “butt glue” post performance, that is if you don’t want to affix yourself to your jeans.) My favorite brand is Jobst It-Stays.
2. Banana-Savers. No surprise that rehearsal snacks are an essential. While bananas are the perfect choice, they get smushed in your bag amongst shoes, sweaty sports bras, and laptops. The solution is cheap and brilliant, the banana-saver, a banana shaped Tupperware of the gods!
3. Square Reader. While this didn’t even exist when I started making dances as the Leopold Group, a square credit card reader (and corresponding Register app) is essential for box office ease and merchandise sales. Buy the app and they will send you the square reader for free. The future is here and being cash only is a sure fire way to scare away millennials.
4. A Legit Camera. This one is an investment, but dance is a visual art form and capturing high quality photo/video is vital. Even most phones will take relatively high quality photo/video (as long as you take an oath to never post vertical video). But I would recommend a basic DSLR camera to start understanding aperture, shutter speed, lighting, etc. You can upgrade lenses as you get more experience and more funds. It’s an incredibly important skill to cultivate, as content marketing is the way of the world.
5. 8th inch stereo cable. I carry this with me to every rehearsal and every performance and every class. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to a space and realized that there was no way to play my music. It’s cheap and small and lives in my backpack.
6. Thank You Cards. This is so simple, yet so integral in building and sustaining networks. I try to send handwritten thank you notes to our collaborators whenever I can. If it puts a smile on someone’s face and expresses gratitude, then I’m all for it. Plus, our cards are baby dance photos and that’s double the fun.
7. Clothing Steamer. If you plan to do any traveling (even if it’s just from your house to the theater) get a steamer for costumes. I am constantly surprised by how many domestic skills are required to run a dance company – sewing, laundering, and steaming costumes.
8. Amazon Prime Membership. It costs $99/year and is worth every penny in 2-day shipping. Amazon supplies me with most of the things on this list, plus gaffe tape, costume pieces, office supplies, and any number of odd show needs (including Christmas lights, red carpet runners, and extension cords). And as an excellent procrastinator, the 2-day shipping has saved me countless times.
9. Elastikon. Elastikon is the answer to floor burns, under-foot rips, and blisters. You hold the tape to a lighter to melt the adhesive slightly and then affix it right to the bottom of your foot (of course, do a thorough cleaning first). The heat does burn for a quick second, but in a “hurts so good” kind of way. This will allow you to dance barefoot without grimacing in pain and turning on open wounds.
10. Stamps.com. It’s like a post office, but from home! You get a scale and you can print postage from home, without waiting in those awfully slow lines. I use this for returning costume pieces (exchanging for other sizes), sending out LG shirts, and all sorts of fundraising mailers. It’s a huge time saver.
*BONUS ITEM* Pocket Projector. I must admit, I don’t actually own this one yet but it is next on my acquisition list. This small, travel-able, high quality projector will help us review footage during rehearsal (without crowding around a computer screen or an iPhone, as we often use video to remember choreography). In the future, it could even help us workshop choreography/videography collaborations (as opposed to creating the two separately and then integrating elements once we’re already in the theater).