BOURNE – The hundreds of parents and grandparents who turn out to watch their children perform in a dance recital may not realize the complex machinations that go on backstage to make this production come together with the grace of a pirouette.
For Laura Sciortino, artistic director at Turning Pointe Dance Studio, the key to making the bi-annual recital run like a well-oiled machine is the many parents who help backstage.
At the mid-June concert that took place in the auditorium at Bourne High School, several rooms were used as staging areas for dancers. Each room was reserved for a different set of dancers, depending on age.
And a small army of moms were in those rooms along with the dancers. The moms were acting as costumers, schedulers and, occasionally gentle scolders to keep the almost 200 children ranging in age from 3 to 17 on task and on time.
“Some of them get very stressed about it. I just say, ‘It’s going to happen,’” Sciortino said.
With so many helpers, Sciortino’s role has been relegated to backstage bystander.
“I just pace,” she said.
“Runners” travel between the various rooms to get the young dancers in line and ready to perform three dances ahead of their curtain time.
One of the moms is Lisa Hayes, whose daughters Ella, 10, and Emily, 6, performed in numerous pieces, each with a costume change. She kept busy lining up dancers and preparing them to walk onstage.
“As one comes out, we bring another one on,” Hayes said.
This particular recital featured the short ballet Peter & the Wolf, choreographed by Yves De Bouteiller, a French dancer who has also taught at Turning Pointe. In addition, there were 20 other dances, ranging in style from ballet to hip hop.
As the youngest dancers were on stage, their dance teachers and student assistants were standing just off-stage prompting the little ones on the choreography.
When the older more advance dancers were on stage, Sciortino couldn’t help giving instruction from the wings. “Stretch your feet. Stretch your feet! Run!”
And later “Straight lines!”
And always, “Smile, smile, smile!”
Stage manager Jean Taft whose daughter is a 15-year-old dancer said she sees her job backstage as, “Let them be beautiful and not have to worry about things.”
It is her third year as stage manager of Turning Pointe productions but she said she has done stage manager work for 25 years.
After the last of three performances was over, Sciortino said her recovery from the event takes some time.
“It’s a big relief. I’m 95 percent excited. And 5 percent sad. I’m just really proud. I don’t sleep for two more days because of the adrenaline,” she said.
Hayes also said when the performances are all over, it is bittersweet. “It’s a little sad because all the hard work and time,” she said.
Three of the young performers, while packing up their leotards and costumes, reflected on what it feels like after the final bow.
“We’re done and we can have a break,” Hannah Buscher, 14, of Falmouth said.
Annie Marshall, 15, of Falmouth added, “It’s sad because we won’t see each other until September.”
And Isabelle Ramage, 13, of Barnstable said, “I really enjoy it. It’s definitely a relief to have all the stress of the performance done.”
But she said she likes the time she and her friends spend together on the performance before a long summer break.
“We do different things in the summer,” she said.
Sciortino then walked through the room with a reminder to the dancers. “Girls, don’t forget your things backstage!” she said.
At that, the pirouette made a perfect landing.
– Laura M. Reckford