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RCM AutoSeq

“Without adversity there is no rebirth.”

Dress rehearsal was running late in the spring of 2002. Because of scheduling issues, it was held on a Monday evening only five days before the first of two dance recitals. Adding to the urgency, the recital program booklet, which included the order of routines, had to be in the printer’s hands first thing Tuesday morning.

The dance school director and her staff were busy but not overly concerned, as everything seemed to be in place and ready for final blocking and rehearsal. One matter was definitely not an issue: the recital sequence had been determined using the newly-developed Recital Conflict Manager and no scheduling surprises were expected during the rehearsal and recital itself.

All was going well, groups of costumed and made-up students gathering backstage in their correct routine order. On cue, each entered the stage from the wings to rehearse for their big moment coming in less than a week.

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Scary dancersThen the screams began.

High-pitched shrieks, coming from the dimly-lit backstage corridor, stopped the rehearsal in its tracks. Teachers and staff rushed for the wings beyond which they found the source of the calamity: a dozen or so 3-year-old budding ballerinas huddled in sheer terror, bawling uncontrollably. And right behind them was the source of their terror: a similarly large group of teenage girls all appropriately costumed and made-up for their recital number — Thriller.

Calm was soon restored and the dress rehearsal continued after a brief delay, thankfully with no further drama. But one thing was abundantly clear: no matter what, the Thriller zombies and the tiny dancers with bows larger than their heads were to be kept as far apart as possible during the actual recital.

“Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds.”

It was late when the dress rehearsal ended, but the studio director was not yet done as she now had to rearrange the recital sequence to avoid the evening’s problem. She and I headed to our respective home computers and, connected by phone, fired up the Recital Conflict Manager to put it to its ultimate test.

Under other circumstances our task would have been daunting: move the Zombies and Big Bows sufficiently apart in their respective sequences; make sure this created no conflicts for the performers involved as well as for students on either side of the new locations; move any other routines if necessary, checking for conflicts in their new sequences; make more changes requiring even more checks as the ripple effect of moving the first two numbers spread like a virus throughout the entire recital program. Oh, and keep the artistic flow of the recital smooth and engaging.

It took a fair number of sequence changes involving eight different routines, but in a relatively short time the problem was solved, no new ones were created, and the result was as artistically pleasing as the originally planned program.

“Pay it forward.”

That event — that moment — solidified our confidence in the Recital Conflict Manager, which had now been tested both in a calm environment and under fire. It was definitely ready as an invaluable tool for the staff at our dance school as well as for studios anywhere that would benefit from the program’s power and versatility.

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Bo Twerdowsky
Quote attributions: Olia Gensior; Helmuth von Moltke; John H. Patterson; Lily Hardy Hammond

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