First Run Stage March 2020
First Run Stage. All heart. No frills.
But what does that mean? Why a blog post on an event? And why should you even care? Well, let me give you some details and see if we can puzzle this out together.
What is a “First Run Stage”?
At its core, First Run Stage is an opportunity for belly dancers, and dancers from other styles, to have a welcoming, fun, and relaxed stage experience to have their first performances experience in, or to trial a new choreography at, to try improvisation on.
The audience is made up of the other performers and your closest loved ones whom you trust to support you no matter if you do a brilliant job or if you forget to dance. Your kids are there to see you dance or to dance with you. The audience applause happens for everyone who puts a foot on the stage and at the end of every piece, no matter what’s happens because we all know how difficult it is to do what that performer just did.
But, isn’t this just like a student recital?
Yes. But also no. Think of a fusion between lounge room disco and a student recital. You’ve got seasoned dancers trying out new pieces or an entirely different style of music, new performers coming on stage with their troupe mates and troupe dancers breaking out to do their first solo. Dancers who’ve not danced on a stage in 10+ years returning to see if they still like the stage and others who’ve done choreography their whole dancing lives doing improvisation to a song they were given that morning.
The concept, for me, came from a discussion had at the “Performance Preparation” workshops held by the Salimpour School of Belly Dance which I attended in July 2019. Several of us commented that we would love a similar experience to what we get at those workshops. An environment where we can practise our skill-set. Practice improvisation, practice performing our choreography.
Of course, the answer to where we could find such a space was to create one. And so I did. I had booked the Kindred Studio space for the show which was to be attached to the Suhaila Salimpour Workshops, but with that being cancelled, I took the opportunity of the booked stage to put on the First Run Stage instead.
There are other similar shows, groups that service a particular genre of dance, or their particular school. First Run Stage wasn’t designed to be in competition to any of them. It happily sits alongside. There and accessible for those who need it. Family friendly, inclusive and full of positivity and love. A community stage for our dance community to learn on.
All Heart. No Frills.
The first show happened last Sunday, 8th March 2020. There were 12 performances and every single one different and beautiful. There was 3 “pot luck” improvisation pieces where the dancers received their music earlier that day, a troupe with dancers unfamiliar with performing, a first time soloist, a dancer who’s daughter joined her on stage, a few dancers trying out different styles than they normally dance to, a belly dancer who performed Flamenco and two cheeky monkeys (aged 4 and 6) who opened the show to help show the nervous dancers that anyone can get up and dance.
We all brought the heart to the stage. There were no frills – no big marketing push for audience, no big names advertised as performing, everyone helped set up and pack down. Community setup the stage and the show, performed and then banded together to pack it down again at the end.
The feedback from everyone has been that they had an amazing time. They loved the stage, they loved the audience, they felt loved while on stage and loved watching everyone else. Which makes me feel happy that we found the safe space we needed. I will create another First Run Stage this year. I will continue to provide this for my community. For those who need and want time on stage but don’t want the pressure of a big show. For those who want to just give it a go, and want to help others have a go.
This is all for you. With all my heart. No fluff, no frills.