Tips for using backup dancers
It’s very commonplace when seeing your favourite artist perform live on T.V, for them to embrace opportunities to use backup dancers. But it is also important to remember that sometimes to make a magical performance, all you need is you and your voice! However, if you want to include backup dancers, here are some tips for how and when!
What do backup dancers do?
Backup dancers dance alongside or behind artists to complement their routine. This might be for a specific song or for a whole performance. Their job is essentially to dance as well as possible and make the artist or artists look even better.
Back up dancers are great for up-tempo songs and a great feature of pop music. However, they can be found in other musical styles too
Backup dancers will be part of your team. You’ll need to get along as you will practice together and perform together on stage, in the studio and in front of a camera for videos. This means that artists often form great relationships with particular backup dancers that they often use.
It’s important to remember that in most cases, it’s likely you will perform a more scaled-down version of the routine or run the risk of it feeling detached and disjointed. Furthermore, if you try and do the same routine it is very likely you will get out of breath and your vocals will suffer.
Using backup dancers in your performance
Ideally, it is better to include back up dancers in your performance if you are a solo act. If you are already a group, this might look visually messy because there will be too many people trying to fit on the stage. You should have them on for more enough time for them to make an impact, but not necessarily for the whole song. You want your time to shine, after all.
It’s important to remember the most important aspect of your performance is you. You could start off the performance with just you on stage. Then as the song gets going, especially with a rhythmic change, the backup dancers can join you to give the performance visual dynamics.
Done well, backup dancers can add a lot visually to give a real show, done badly and it can look a shambles become distracting and lead to a very amateur performance. So as always practice, practice and practice some more.
However, do think about how they can come on stage, as a simple walk-on from the side looks a tad dull, and too much like a school talent show, but at the same time, you don’t want them to be distracting the attention away from you.
Using backing dancers
You can never practice enough with your backing dancers, if you know exactly what they are doing and where they will be on stage during your song, it will save any surprises or distractions when it comes to your performance.
Only use dance opportunities if it goes with the tone of the song, otherwise, it will look very mix ‘n’ match, and will leave the audience confused. If you are certain you want to include backing dancers then make sure that the style of dance matches the song’s lyrics. It’s no good having a group of dancers popping and locking if the song has a more contemporary feel to it.
The image of your backing dancers is just as important as your image. If you don’t all match in some way on that stage, then the performance will feel very disconnected.
Remember, just because you may be a solo artist doesn’t mean you need to have dance opportunities such as backing dancers to make your performance stand out. If you’re confident and know how to work the stage by putting your personality or emotion into the performance than this is just as good, if not better, than trying to put on a full-blown creative show. Sometimes the rawest of performances is what engages the audience more.
Backup dancer salary
If you’re considering working as a backup dancer – or just curious – you’ll be wanting the lowdown on backup dancer salary. And if it’s you doing the hiring, you need to know the going rate. Let’s take a look at backup dancers and money…
How much does it cost to hire dancers?
This will vary tremendously according to the project and the dancers who are involved. To get a ballpark figure, check out adverts for dancers for events, shows and videos of a similar scale to yours. Or, you can refer to the Equity Trade Union, who publish rate cards for all performing artists and theatre practitioners, including dancers.
How much do backup dancers make?
A decent average is around £450 per week in the UK. But land a dance captain role with a big name and you might be looking at ten times that.
Supplement your income as a backup dancer by doing some choreography or teaching ad hoc in dance schools. This will enable you to take backup jobs that may not be as well paid but will further your career.