Tips for being an understudy

Today I thought I would share with you all of my tips for how to be an understudy. I have understudied before, and I just got another understudying duty in the Wizard of Oz, I will be understudying with Wicked Witch.

So, I thought that this would be a good time to both share my tips with you guys, and to refresh myself, because I find that writing these posts both helps myself and you.

Your responsibility

The video below by Kathryn Morgan details the responsibilities and role of an understudy in regards to the whole ballet and company:

This post will be covering more of the logistics of working as an understudy in rehearsals and being prepared for what you will undertake.

Tip #1: Wear your pointe shoes. As an understudy, the director/ballet master/teacher will be looking for your work ethic and your dedication to your responsibilities. So, that means that you need to be wearing your pointe shoes in the back of every rehearsal. It is completely acceptable to be wearing warm ups during these rehearsals, which we will talk about more specifically later.

Tip #2: Learn the choreography well. Obviously, as Katie discusses in the video above, it is important that you learn the choreography thoroughly. To do this, mark the legs and do the arms full out in the back of the studio every time the dancer runs the role. Additionally, make sure you do it full out at least one each rehearsal. Remember that if the dancer is ever absent, you will likely have to go in for them during rehearsal.

Tip #3: Gear up. Here are a few products to have ready to go for your rehearsals as an understudy:

  • Notebook/reading book/homework: You will have a lot of downtime, so make sure you have something to do when the other roles are dancing. But, if the part you are understudying is dancing at that time, make sure you are attentive and standing up.
  • Legwarmers and other warm ups: I love full-length legwarmers because they are super warm and will keep your muscles ready to go, yet they are easy to move in. They are perfect for any rehearsal you are understudying. Check out my favorite brand, Rubiawear, here.
  • Icy Hot/Deep Blue/etc: This is one of my favorite tips. I always make sure to have a muscle cream on hand when I am understudying, because often times you will be dancing and then waiting periodically, and this is really useful to keep your muscles warm. I will typically spread some of this on my calves and then put a leg warmer on top to keep my muscles warm.
  • Stretching/strengthening/massage stuff: Always keep your exercise and massage materials on hand so you can work in the back of the studio quietly.

I hope some of these tips help you out, and have fun!

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