How long should a school dance be?
Don’t plan a function longer than 3 hours, and even 2 hours is often plenty. That’s about as much time children that can be usefully entertained—and remember: dance activity is tiring, and younger children (and parents) soon run out of energy.
In our experience, the most successful (and most popular) hours for an evening function are between 6pm and 9pm. For functions where all the children are aged from Preschool to Year 3, starting at 5pm is preferable.
Can the students learn the dances in advance?
An organised, pre-rehearsed programme is best, and many schools adopt this method. Typically, each year group would learn a dance at school and ‘demonstrate’ that on the night. This has the advantage of attracting a large parent turnout, as well as enhancing the children’s enthusiasm.
The programme would generally be developed by your PE teacher or a music teacher and, in smaller schools, rehearsed during activity time under the supervision of the class teachers. However, we understand that fitting practice sessions into a busy school life can be difficult—so, we are happy to teach the dances ‘on the night’, and this method is still very effective.
Are there any resources available for teaching the dances?
Your school library, preschool teacher, and PE teacher are likely to already possess sufficient dance resource kits to help prepare a dance programme. Our books Bush Dance!, Social Dance! and Rig-a-Jig-Jig! are recommended curriculum items in every Australian state and many schools already have these resources. If not, we are happy to supply these items to those schools booking the band for a bush dance at a substantial discount.
Why not email the band a copy of your proposed programme? We can then help with the planning and preparation of your bush dance.
Can we hold the bush dance outdoors?
We are happy to play indoors or outdoors, and we have the equipment to handle either situation. However, outdoor performances face the hazards of rain and night-time dew and, therefore, the band must be located under cover (tarps are fine).
Remember, good bands typically have up to $40,000 worth of equipment and instruments on stage—and lots of electrical connections! So, for player safety, and the protection of valuable equipment, covering is essential.
What if it rains?
If you are planning an outdoor dance, then you should consider a wet-weather alternative. Generally speaking, the band is unable to accept cancellations for wet weather, particularly for Friday through Sunday functions. We do have some latitude for midweek shows to ‘swap’ dates to a mutually agreed alternative if your function is ‘washed out’—but it is still preferable to have a dry venue at the ready. You’d be surprised how well functions turn out despite the disruptions caused by rain.
Do we have to provide a raised stage for the band?
Bands prefer a raised stage, but this is not essential; stage hire can cost more than the band’s fee—so, please don’t go to any great expense to provide one: ground level is acceptable. We mostly need a playing area of about 5m wide by 3m deep, though we can squeeze up a bit if necessary. A safe, standard 15 amp power supply is all we need for our equipment—but please use a separate circuit for your urn or bain-marie to avoid electrical overloading while the band is playing.
Vehicular access to the stage area is quite important. Band equipment is very heavy and cannot be carried for any great distance. If you are using a hall for your function, check if there is a stage door and ask the hirer/owner for the key—you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. Also, we require access to the venue around an hour before the start time.
Are there safety issues we need to consider?
When preparing your students for the dance, it is wise to inform them that they must not enter the stage area without the band’s specific permission. Bands have many loose wires and electrical connections, so children running across the stage put themselves (and the band’s equipment) at risk. Also, children must be warned to never place their ears against the PA speakers. Energy levels can be very high, and damage to young ears can easily occur.
Rantan Bush Band always carries full public liability insurance, and a copy of our certificate of currency will be supplied on request.
Can we use hay-bales to decorate the dance hall?
Hay bales make a wonderful prop for your dance—but there are problems. Hay contains mites which can cause severe asthma attacks, respiratory distress and sore throats in both children and adults. This won’t be a problem if the bales remain intact—but children are attracted to the idea of ripping them apart and throwing hay at each other. This practice should be actively discouraged. Please, inform parents and children of the risks, and be ready to act quickly on the night if children start throwing hay.