Setting Your Ensemble Up for a Smooth Performance
We get it. The most important thing to execute in today’s performance is everything from the first step to the last note. It’s what’s on everyone’s minds as they enter the performance venue. The T&P judge says go, and you immediately get to work setting the stage. Several minutes later: 17 boundary violations were accrued; things you hadn’t even considered when cueing the T&P judge that your performers were ready.
As outlined in the rule book, your ensemble must be prepared to perform within a 60’ x 90’ space. If the venue can accommodate more space, it will usually be granted, but you should be careful to never rely on more than sixty feet from front to back and ninety feet from side to side for your presentation.
Also, a five foot safety zone will be enforced between the competition area and any spectator seating. If there is no spectator seating on the sides, then a safety zone will not be needed for those areas.
This diagram provides an example of what you’ll see at each venue:
Note the “L”s used in the corners to mark the end of the competition area and the beginning of the safety zone. Also note the “T”s used to mark the competition area boundary; they also provide information about center and timing lines. Please be sure to make your performers aware of these markings so they understand how to avoid boundary line infractions.
Any step inside the safety zone or piece of equipment placed within five feet of the spectator area will result in a boundary line penalty. Here are a couple of common design and/or instructional errors that frequently lead to infractions:
- Front ensemble not staged close enough to the front boundary line
- Speakers and other equipment partially staged within the front safety zone
- Floor tarp too large to fit within a 60’ x 90’ space
- Floor tarp staged too far behind the front ensemble and extending into the rear safety zone
- Floor tarp and stage design elements that fit within the designated space, but choreography that necessitates that performers move outside the designated area to facilitate going behind or around stage elements*
- Instruments being removed and placed within safety zones
- Props being discarded into safety zones after use
*Frequently ensembles will have a floor tarp that fits perfectly, but will design a moment in the program where performers are asked to transition behind a flat, and that pathway takes them out of bounds. If your design intent is for portions of your ensemble to be masked behind stage elements, be sure to take the pathways necessary to facilitate this into consideration when designing your program. If the back of the floor is at the 60’ mark, and the flats are staged at the back of the floor, you’ll not be able to have your performers staged behind those in venues where only the minimum dimensions are available. Be sure to devise a plan in advance, or design around this limitation.
One of the best ways to ensure your performance does not exceed the designated competition area, beyond smart design choices, is to talk with your ensemble about the boundaries and floor markings, and make them aware that they must always be at least 5’ away from any spectator area. If they know this ahead of time, they can be mindful of these details during their performance.
Additionally, venue diagrams, including measurements, are available for each WGI event. While every effort is made to ensure the measurements provided will be accurate, you should always double-check on the day of the event inside the venue. It’s always possible that a number has been misreported or that the usable dimensions that day are something other than the event partner anticipated.
Taking a few extra minutes during design meetings to consider the full production, and taking a few extra minutes to talk with your performers is typically all that is needed to ensure your performance goes off without a hitch. Hopefully these tips provide a few extra clues as to what to look for!