Most solo performers have backing dancers that dance behind them, with them or alongside them. The dancers are there to make the artist look even better and to add some visual excitement or engaging movement to grab the attention of the audience and captivate them with their performance. Performing is all about making magic spark in the hearts and eyes of the beholder. Sometimes, with the right words and melody, singers don’t need backing dancers and they would only take away from the vulnerability and emotion of the piece. But for a lot of pop, hip hop and R&B tracks, backing dancers add a necessary sparkle that brings the music and the performance to life. Here is a complete guide to everything about backing dancers, including when to use them, how to hold auditions, what to expect from rehearsals and how you can become a successful backing dancer.
You see all the top artists using backing dancers in their performances, for music videos and in the studio. Take Beyonce – imagine her pulling those shapes in the Single Ladies music video by herself. It just wouldn’t have the same effect; her backing dancers pushed the video into the legendary category and was an iconic move from Queen B. Other genres of music also use backing dancers to enhance the beat and make it pop or to evoke deeper emotion. Backing dancers are like the ketchup to the fries, not the main attraction, but definitely complementary flavors.
You also have to consider the logistics. Will they be most impactful if only present for a specific section of the song, or are they needed throughout the whole track? It all depends on the style of music and the feeling you want to build in the audience. Backing dancers generally work better with solo artists; having backing dancers for a group often results in the performance looking messy and thrown together.
Once the decision has been made that including backing dancers in your act will lift and enlighten it, you need to find your dancers. Obviously, you need to see these people doing their thing by holding auditions. Dance auditions can be a whole load of fun, but you must make sure you see everything you need to decide whether they are right for you or not. Have the dancers prepare a piece that they wish to perform for you so you can see how they respond to pressures, but also have them learn and perform new choreography together to allow you to see how they take guidance and work with others. Take note of how they approach a routine they don’t know. You want dancers who can make it their own and master the moves technically with only a little practice. Recording the finished piece to watch back later is a top audition tip – this way you can remind yourself of their skills but also see how they look in front of the camera.
Not only do you want their entertainment flair to be throwing shapes, but you’re going to be spending a lot of time with the people you choose to have as your backing dancers, so making sure your vibe is in sync and you get on well with them will make life that little bit easier. Pleasure and business can easily get mashed up together in the entertainment industry, so you need to find people that work efficiently, take instruction well and can contribute killer ideas, but who you are also able to confide in and hang out with casually.
Having backing dancers can be like the fairy godmother waving her magic wand and making a beautiful horse and cart out of a pumpkin. They can add a visual aspect to the performance that elevates it if done well. On the other hand, if there’s a glitch in the system and the clock strikes midnight too early, having backing dancers can be a tangly mess of vines and leaves. You have got to get the magic right, which is why rehearsals are so important, but so is the location you chose to practice.
If you are looking for the perfect Dallas dance studio, PIRATE has your back. They rent out studios for dance, music, and creatives in city locations across the world. All their studios are fully decked out with all the equipment you need: full-length mirrors, sprung flooring, mood lighting, the lot. Find dance studios in the local area and give your performance the best place to develop, grow and conquer. It’s worth bearing in mind that the backing dancers usually perform a more energetic and fuller version of the choreography than the main act, who may have to sing and perform in some other way. You’ll notice when watching your favorite singer perform live that their dance moves are slightly more scaled-down than those of their backing dancers, so they don’t get tired or burned out.
Being a dancer has to be one of the number one answers to the question, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ by little girls across the world. While it is often dismissed as a fantasy, that is not the case for millions of people who have lived out the dream. Dance has such a range of genres and influences, that to become a successful dancer, you need to know and play on your strengths. As dancing is often freelance work, it can be hard to land jobs, but there are agencies and organizations that can point you in the right direction. Generally, the more famous and public the act you are dancing for, the more you will get paid. But it is worth also having some side gigs to keep the money flowing. Teaching classes and holding private lessons for students is an easy way to make some extra money while furthering your dance career.
Backing dancers can make a performance sparkle, shine, and stand out. When the music and the moves are in sync, magic can happen. Whether you’re looking to hire yourself backing dancers or thinking of becoming one, this complete guide will have answered some key questions to get you started.