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Technical Effects on a Budget


Studio Owner Article


Self-help and Life Enhancement Tips for the Business Owner

As we all approach the time of year for our showcases and recitals we are always looking for ways to make this year's show better than last year's. One way to make your show look like a professional production is to spend a few dollars on some technical effects that will make the show more enjoyable for the audience and more fun for the performers. Through the years we have spent a lot on some effects that do not really give you that bang for the buck. Some of the more inexpensive devices are most effective. Remember to check with the theater or school where you will be doing your show to see if they have any restrictions or regulations. If you bring in additional lights you will need to find out if they have room on their board to accommodate these added fixtures. It is best if you give them an exact breakdown of what you will be adding and what you will need from them.

Here are two great effects that won't break the bank.

1. Hazer. None of the lighting effects will be nearly as effective without one. The hazer will create a slight haze or fog that will engulf the whole stage and theater. This will make all the light colors and effects really pop! The best way to get a really great effect is to get two of them and place one on each side of the stage in the wings. They should be started up about thirty minutes before your curtain is to go up. They will stay on for the whole show. Once you use them you will be a fan for life. The great news is you can rent them for around $75 a piece! If there is only one extra effect you use this would be the one I would recommend. The style we use is the neutron hazer.

2. Gobos, If you have your hazer then using gobos is very effective. These can be used to create texture on the dancers, break- up on the floor and project images on the cyc. Here is how they work. You will choose the designs that you want from a catalogue of Gobos. The ones that are the most inexpensive and work well are made of steel. The break- up ones work really well when placed in instruments that will be shot from over head, high sides and side trees. The ones overhead will create patterns on the floor that will be visually exciting. The high sides will also create a pattern on the floor and give the dancers some texture. The ones from the side stage trees will create a lot of texture on the dancers. Even by using just a couple of these break- up gobos it will give you a variety of looks to work with. Another way to use gobos is to shoot them from the front onto the cyc. Your can create a city or a country scene. From London to Paris, Bombay, China and every where else in between. You can make a street scene, a shuttered window or a subway scene. The sky is the limit! All you need to create this is the light fixtures to project this image onto the cyc. Most theaters do have them.

The company we use for our gobos is Rosco. You can go online to and view their full catalogue. They will also make custom ones for you of any design! You can send them your art work. We have one of our studio logo and we project it onto the main curtain in the theater. The cost is about $15.00 per gobo and about $75.00 for a custom made one. They can be used over and over again and they have a long shelf life. For a couple of hundred dollars you can create a lot of great looks for your show. For about four or five hundred dollars adding some hazers and gobos to your production will give the illusion that you have spent thousands of dollars. Even the best productions will be enhanced by these great technical effects.

Here is one more idea that is more costly but gives a terrific effect!

3. Moving Lights. There are many companies now that carry these types of systems. Apollo and Intellabeams are two of the best known. These lights will rotate, spin and go from side to side and front to back. They can also be projected on the cyc. They come with gobos in them so you can save on that end. They are most effective if you use at least two or three of them. They can be hung or placed on the floor in the corners of the stage. There is the one minus about these lights and that is that they need to be programmed for each number. You will need to get someone who knows how to work this system. It will take sometime to program the effects but the end result will look great. The cost is about $250.00 each to rent and then you will need to get a programmer to set each one up.

So there you have it! By using these effects through the years we have received many compliments about the professional look of our shows. We all have to be aware of our budgets, but if you can create a show that is different from the other studios in your area that will be another great selling point for your studio!


Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Steve is co-founder of Dance Teacher Web the number one online resource for dance teachers and studio owners worldwide.He is Co-Director of the very successful D'Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Center in Fairfield, CT for the past thirty plus years. His students have gone on to very successful careers in dance, music and theater. Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He has appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, He has also co-authored two books one for dance teachers and one for studio owners in the "It's Your Turn" Book series. He is available for master classes, private business consulting and teacher training development

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