Livestream Dance Shows: How Online Watch Parties Work – and Their Perks

Fisrt Posted on by Alison Roberts-Tse in Dance Dispatches

With all of the wonderful streaming performances freely shared to lift our self-quarantined spirits, there is plenty of opportunities to watch dance, opera, musicals, and more with friends (and other fellow art lovers). And it’s not only the dance and performing arts companies that are showing work; many theaters and opera houses host Livestream dance performances on their Facebook and YouTube channels, too. These live streaming dance shows and digital watch parties don’t bring the same buzz as a live performance, but they have plenty of additional perks – and keep audiences and performers safe at home.

Check out our comprehensive list of digital dance home resources to see where you can find online dance performances, both streaming and on-demand

Is The Online Performance ‘Live Streaming’ – or ‘On Demand’?

Are you curious how are all of these theaters are streaming live performances – if theaters remain shut and everyone is supposed to be quarantined? Well, in many cases the theaters are ‘live streaming’ productions that have already been recorded.* However, they are still labeled as ‘live streaming videos’ because the organization has chosen to broadcast the performance at a specific time. Viewers can attend the online ‘live streaming’ premiere to watch the show as soon as it becomes available.

Note: In other cases, the performances really are staged live and broadcast immediately – but with online audiences, instead of live audiences.

After a dance video is livestreamed, it can also remain ‘on demand’. Depending on the publisher’s video settings, a performance may or may not be available to view after the livestream. Some shows will be accessible for 24 hours, a week or even longer. An ‘on demand’ video just means that you can watch it at your convenience, as long as the host continues to allow access.

Note: Not all ‘on-demand’ performances are uploaded with a live stream or live digital watch party; but it does seem to be a common trend.

Join a Digital Watch Party on Facebook or YouTube

Live streaming premieres are commonly advertised as ‘digital watch parties’ – either as Facebook watch parties or Youtube premieres. They encourage viewers to enjoy the show together, as a community. Dance watch parties allow groups of dance enthusiasts to watch the show at the same time and hold discussions in the live comments section (that functions like a chat room).

Facebook’s virtual watch parties are particularly social, as streams of ‘likes’ and other reactions travel up the screen when viewers react to the video. And the comments field is full of interesting observations from other viewers that may enhance your viewing. You may even glean some insight into the production from show organizers, who moderate the discussion.

There are also live streaming shows broadcast as YouTube watch parties. If you want to completely immerse yourself in the show, you can maximize the video screen, so you won’t see the discussion. Sometimes the event organizers will host post-show Q&A sessions with the dancers and/or choreographers after the show, which is a special treat.

Watching Online Dance Shows on Your TV

You can watch online dance shows on your laptop or tablet, but you may want to watch from your television, instead. To do this, you need a Smart TV, which connects with applications, such as YouTube – or you can stream live dance to your TV by using a device such as Google Chromecast. The Chromecast will allow you to pair your television with another digital device, and whatever you play on your cell phone, tablet or laptop will appear on your television screen.

Perks of Attending a Livestreamed Dance Show

Despite the availability of digital shows, many art lovers sorely miss the live theater experience. It’s understandable. But if you have grown weary of watching dance shows online, here are a few ways that online dance shows beat a night on the town. Thank goodness for these tiny silver linings!

The top 10 benefits of livestream dance performances are:

1. You Can Crash in Your Comfy Clothes.

Watching a digital dance show means you don’t have to stress about appearances, like you might at ritzier theaters. Since you’re skipping the ‘see and be seen’ part of the occasion, you can lounge around in whatever suits your fancy: sweat pants, onesies, slippers, the closet is your limit.

2. It’s Easier to Find a Date.

If you don’t have lots of ‘dance’ and ‘artsy’ friends, securing a show date can take some serious wheedling. It should be much easier to convince friends to hop on a digital dance date with you (since they can chill out in their pajamas, too). Selecting a free performance will also increase the likelihood of your friends’ attendance.

And even if it doesn’t work out, you needn’t be self-conscious of flying solo.

(Note: I fly solo to live shows all the time, but I know it makes some people feel anxious.)

3. You Can Save Some Cash.

Who doesn’t like to save money? When you tune in to an online dance show, you’ll spend much less than you would during a night on the town. There are many free shows, and renting or buying productions is much more affordable than purchasing live theater tickets. You also won’t spend money on transportation, a restaurant meal beforehand or cocktails afterwards. Cha-ching.

4. Boom, You’re There.

Once you open the web browser to the right page, you have already reached your destination. You don’t have to navigate any one-way streets or scan for a parking spot. You can skip cramming onto the trains and metro carriages with hundreds of other passengers. The short commute to attend a digital dance show is unbeatable, really.

5. The Bathroom Is All Yours.

Small bladdered theater-goers, rejoice! You do not have to line up for the bathroom before the show, during intermissions or after the shows. And since you can relish the privacy of your own bathroom – and you have your own kitchen space – you can stay as hydrated as you like, with whichever beverages you like. 

6. You Can ‘Chat’ During the Show.

If you are a chatter-bug, you can discuss the performance without disturbing other audience members when you’re all watching from home. You can either sound off in the comments section of a live streaming dance performance – or you can simultaneously call a friend to discuss the action as it unfolds.


7. You May Gain Insight From Show Organizers and Dance Artists.

When you attend a live show, purchasing a show program will provide the best information about the choreographer, the choreography, the dancers and the larger production. In lieu of a show bill, the host organizations will occasionally appear at the virtual event to provide background into the live streaming dance piece. And after the curtain comes down, you might get to hear from the people who created or starred in the shows.

8. You’ll Have the Best Seat(s) In the House.

Shorties tuning into a live-streamed dance video do not need to worry about getting stuck behind a very tall audience member, who will block half of the stage from view with his or her head. Thanks to the camerawork, digital audience members will have a consistently clear view of the choreography. If you’re watching screen dance or dance made specifically for film, your views will be handpicked by the videographer (to focus on aspects like formations or the dancers’ facial expressions).

Additionally, when you watch an on-demand or streaming show online, you don’t even have to sit in a chair like a normal person. You can slump on the couch or sit on the floor and stretch.

9. You Can Eat All The Snacks – Even Smelly Ones.

Unobtrusive theater snacks are mostly limited to hard candies, since food and drink is typically banned in US theaters. (I was so surprised to see UK theaters sell ice cream… that you can eat in your seat!) But when you watch a dance show from home, you can chow down anything. Chomp on that crunchy apple or indulge in a curry. Your house, your food, your rules.

10. Peace-ing Out Early Is an Option.

Not every dance show is stellar. Sometimes you may wish you could just sneak out of the theater. Leaving a show before the curtains come down is easy, when all you have to do is shut off a computer screen. Thanks to digital dance shows, you can leave early – guilt free. And, since watching companies and dance genres you haven’t seen before is low risk via digital platforms, you can easily diversify your dance viewings.

At the moment, digital dance is all many of us have… So, viva virtual dance shows!

We’ve seen tons of digital dance shows this year, including École des Sables Dancing at Dusk, Ballet Trockadero ChopEniana, Ballet Hispánico Noche Unidos, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella at Royal Albert Hall. Which Livestream and on-demand dance performances have you watched? Let us know in the comments section!

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