The Importance of Good Staging

When planning a special event and incorporating either ambient or featured entertainment, staging is a vital component of your event’s success.  Without proper lighting, audio, timing, and spacing, even the best circus acts will make less of an impact on your guests.

Put yourself in a guest’s shoes.  Maybe you’ve never been at an event with circus performers–it’s like walking into your own Cirque du Soleil!  But you’re not in a seat in an auditorium, and you should probably be doing a little networking at this event.  In addition, you’re a little bit hungry and thirsty.  So what is the proper social etiquette.  Is it rude to snap a photo for Instagram and move on to the bar?  Should you stay where you are to watch the whole show?  Can you use the on going performances as a conversation starter with the exec you’re trying to establish a connection with?

Or imagine you mosey in to the bar, hit the buffet table, and catch a performance….as the performer takes their final bow.  If only you had known that was going to happen, the stuffed mushrooms could have waited for later!

The way you present entertainment at your event provides cues to your guests so they don’t miss anything or feel awkward about how to react.

Aerialist at Metreon San Francisco
A down spotlight is just perfect to highlight the circus performer from ceiling to floor.

Lighting shows your guests where to look and when, not to mention making your event easier to post about on social media!  Bright, full lighting can signal that a big performance is about to happen, but if the lighting on your stage is the same as the lighting over the dinner tables, guests may take that as a cue that the performances are not something they are intended to give their full attention to.  That can be frustrating for the event planner who carefully selected the acts as well as for the performer trying to keep their attention.

Audio is another direct way to let your audience know what is going on.  Featured performances should be announced–in a big space, this lets your audience know that there is something going on and where it will happen.  In a crowded space with no raised stage, this lets them know they’ll need to make room for the performance.  You will also want to have a great sound system–nothing is more awkward than trying to perform your tightly choreographed act to music no one can hear!

Spacing makes a huge impact on how your guests interact with performers.  You don’t want to block a high traffic area with an ambient performance, preventing guests from passing by for a full 15 minute set.  Those 15 minutes will feel much longer to the person trying to get to the bathroom, and they won’t be enjoying the performance!  A Featured Act should take place somewhere that is easy for a large crowd to see and allows enough space that the performer doesn’t have to worry about landing on a guest.  An Ambient Act can be placed in a way that blocks off an area of the space you aren’t using, or in an open, high traffic are where she will be seen by many but will not be blocking the way.

Timing is another key element to event entertainment.  Many people are surprised when a circus performer’s act only runs the length of one song, but most audiences are ready for a change anyways after 5 minutes.  The goal with Featured Entertainment is for your guests never to be bored, and at social functions attention spans are particularly short.  For a longer set, it’s usually better to book multiple acts, so there is always something new and exciting happening.  There’s a reason you don’t often hear a 20 minute classical overture at your company’s holiday party.

Safety.  Above all else, it is important to keep both your guests and your performers safe during the performances.  Our art form is based on danger.  The “what if?” question as we balance precariously on one hand, fold our bodies in half, and dangle 30 feet in the air by a delicate piece of silk, but rest assured that we do everything we can to minimize actual risks.  We train for hours every week to condition our bodies to support us safely.  We spend money and time ensuring our equipment is sound.  But there is still a lot that is out of control once we enter the performance space at an event.  We need your help to ensure guests don’t walk beneath us just as we perform a drop, to have the floor clear of any drink spills immediately before our set, to make sure the lighting is not blinding us, to make sure our equipment is safely stowed out of guest reach between performances.

Every venue is different, and so many elements go into creating the perfect party that it is a challenge to create an ideal setting for the performances, but it’s worth the effort for the experience a well planned performance creates for your guests.  La Maison Aurora includes consultation about staging with our bookings.  We will be happy to make recommendations for what acts we think will best fit your event and how to best present them!