If you’ve been to your share of events by now you’ve probably noticed most festivals have an open stage option for those that want to perform but aren’t ready to compete. There are a ton of open stage platforms to choose from out there but not all are created equally.
If you are searching for an open stage that will help get your face out there, here are 4 things to consider helping you choose which one is right for you:
1. Avoid during the day & all day shows
Or those linked directly to a bazaar. If you’re hoping for people to actually watch your performance, there’s little chance of it happening when you have a million other distractions around you. There are some festivals where the open stage lasts all morning and afternoon until the evening gala and few end up attending because they’d rather shop, take workshops or rest up for the show. Try and find an open stage where it’s treated as an actual evening show, just like the competition and gala shows. You will have a better chance of having an actual stage to dance on (not just a square piece of carpet in the middle of a random room) and you’ll probably be performing at a more professional establishment (lights, raised stage, good sound system, etc.).
2. Check the price
Expect to pay a fee to perform because the organizers still have to pay for renting the venue. But if they’re asking $80 or you can only perform if you buy the full workshop packet, this may be a red flag. An open stage is essentially just a hafla and haflas don’t cost that much. If a massive and successful belly dance festival like the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive lets you perform for free, then other festivals don’t have much business trying to charge you an arm and a leg for 4 minutes of stage time. If you’re willing to pay that much, you may as well just enter their competition. Also, check what non-participants are going to pay just for watching the show. If their price is reasonable then you’re more likely to have an audience to dance for.
3. Avoid crazy scheduling
Most festivals now have at least one gala show and one competition and if the event runs for 3 days and 2 nights, that leaves no time for open stage unless it’s combined with one of the other shows, which usually is the competition. This creates 5-hour shows where no one is left in the audience at the end of the night. Try and look at the schedule and see if you really want to be performing for a half empty crowd at 12:45 a.m. You’ve also probably signed up for workshops the next day so do you really want to be taking off stage makeup at 3 am when you have to wake up at 8? Sometimes a competition-open stage combo can work out but you have to do your research. Is it paired up with the full competition that has 4 categories with a minimum of 20 dancers each or just the semi-finals where only 5 dances are left?
4.Check the song & entry limit
If there are too many dancers allowed, you may have the same scheduling problem and end up dancing for an empty room. If they allow only 2 minutes per dancer, expect there to be a million signed up and no one will remember any one. You want to choose an open stage that lets you dance for roughly 4-5 minutes and it’s clearly stated the maximum number of participants allowed which should be no more than 30 dancers total. If it’s at least a 3-day event, most dancers will be tired from taking workshops all day and rushing to get ready for the shows or even finding time to grab lunch. If it’s difficult for them to stay and watch the entire show because it’s 50 performances in the first act alone, then they probably won’t show up.
If this sounds like almost every open stage you encounter, don’t lose hope! Festivals are popping up here, there and everywhere so if you do a little bit of research, you’re sure to find one an open stage platform that suits you.
What are some of your favorite open stage platforms that you’ve performed at? Share in the comment section below!