A day on tour with the Riverdance crew
Maeve Fearon, Irish Dance Troupe, Shannon Company
As a dancer, you tend to concentrate so much on your own performance that you forget the effort it takes from our crew members to set up the show. For such a small group they are faced with the mammoth task of building the stage, lights, sound and costume department on a daily basis. This week, I spoke to a few of them to try and find out a bit more about their job responsibilities and daily routine.
As opposed to the dance troupe, the crew travel on a sleeper bus and rarely get the opportunity to stay in hotels. Their typical day commences at 8am as they wake in their bunks and hope to find a source of hot water at the venue for a shower. After breakfast, they start to work out the logistics of the building. Then, the long process of ‘loading in’ all the equipment from two huge tour trucks begins. For Nick Triccoli and Nick Partin, our lighting crew, the hefty ‘rigging’ process involves hanging approximately twelve tonnes of equipment over the stage. Jon Rodriguez, our carpenter gets to work building the stage whilst Issac Sheppard and Justin McIntyre, our sound guys spend approximately four hours loading in sound equipment with the help of local crew members. The dressing rooms are kitted out with makeup wipes, robes etc. In the instance when we perform in an arena, the crew also set up mirrors and lights for us. Marc Anderson, production manager also posts signs at our dressing rooms or to direct us to our catering room.
Thankfully, they get a break for lunch around 2pm. Danny Erskine, (‘props assistant’ by day, ‘stage manager’ at night) then prepares the backstage area. This involves setting down areas of carpet to reduce sound levels backstage, iluminous tape to direct us when it gets dark etc. He ensures that the side stage area is full of props such as tape for our shoes, hand sanitizer, bottles of water and towels, etc. Nicole and Bridget also stock our quick change area with extra tights, shoe polish, elastics and hair grips. Interestingly, Nicole informs me that we will go through about 900 grips on this tour alone!
Later, when the cast arrive, the crew refuel at catering. Danny believes that at this point the crew are “responsible for when things go wrong”. For example, as Mark sits out front and ‘calls the show’ or directs it if you like, he liaises with Danny via a tanoid system. Similarly, the band communicate with Issac during the show especially if they have sound issues. Nicole and Bridget are also kept busy directing local crew, helping the lead performers to change quickly or assisting with any costume issues. Once the show is done, it’s ‘load out’ time and once everything has been packed away, they prepare for another night on the road. The sleeper bus is well equipped with sound and TV systems, so they normally play PlayStation games or watch DVDs and retreat to their bunks at around 1am.
This is by no means an easy job but in speaking with our crew, it is evident that they really enjoy their jobs. Nick Triccoli and Nick Partin ‘love the travelling aspect’ whilst Bridget, our tour ‘mum’ and Nicole, love to take care of us. Danny also remarks “I like looking after people. I believe in the show and I love it” and they certainly make life a lot easier for us!
Dancers Tip of the Week
Electric tape is the best way to tighten the grip of your heavy shoes on your feet. It is also useful for enhancing arch support.