How to film a dance performance

What camera and lighting to use, how to use a tripod, asking someone to film you dancing and how to hear the music on film while you are dancing are all covered in this exclusive information from our friends OneMusic for MadeBy.

What camera to use when filming a dance piece to music 

Use any video camera you can get your hands on, but an iPhone or other smart phone with video capabilities will be fine.

Just remember if you are entering MadeBy 2021, you’ll have to submit the video file in Mp4, so if you use a VHS camcorder from 1986, you’ll have to work out how to get that video tape into a Mp4 file!

What about lighting the performance?

“It’s not what you look at that matters… it’s what you see”.

Henry David Thoreau

Light is critical, so make sure there’s lots of it. Just make sure the light are behind the camera and that you’re not filming into into the light. We want pirouettes not silhouettes!

Make sure you have sufficient lighting so that the camera can catch the action crisply and clearly. You don’t need  a professional lighting set, but the more lights the better.

If you do think the lighting is a little low, use a tripod or other steady platform to hold your camera nice and still. That will help the camera adjust to the lighting.

Should I use a tripod to film the dance performance?

Tripods can be handy for filming dance performances when there are low light conditions, but other than that, they are not really necessary. They definitely help if you’re on your own, but any steady platform that can hold your camera while you perform your piece will do.


What should I say to someone filming my performance?

If you are the one performing the choreography and you need to get a friend, family member or teacher to film you, then here’s a few tips to you can tell them:


  • Make sure I’m always in shot
  • Don’t stop filming until I say stop
  • Don’t zoom, set the camera wide and leave it
  • Stay wide so people can see me, but don’t go sooooo wide I’m a spot in the distance
  • Stay ‘put’ as much as possible, but try and follow me with the camera lens wherever I go
  • Make me look great!

What about framing?

Stay wide. MadeBy judges will need to see you from head to toe, and will need to be able to catch every arm, every leg, every head-tilt and tour en l’air. But don’t go too wide. Watching a vague, moving spot in the distance would it make it very difficult for the judges to… well, judge.


What about sound?

The judges will need to hear how your piece synchronises with the music. So, you’ll need to ensure that there’s the music on the film that you submit.

The easiest way to do this is to have the camera near the speaker that is playing out the sound for the dancer. The sound doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be clear and audible. So, turn the speaker up loud.

Filming tips provided by multi-skilled APRA AMCOS Director of Legal Services, Chris Johnson who had an illustrious career as a documentary maker.


Do I need a licence for the music?

OneMusic has secured a special license with Emma Greenhill, composer, for the use of her piece  Regrowth in the 2021 MadeBy competition.

If you are using music that is protected by copyright in any other way in your dance school you still need permission. A OneMusic licence allows you to use virtually any commercially released music to keep your students ‘on their toes’.

The Dance and Performance Instructors and Dance Schools licence scheme grants permission for our music to be used in a dance school – classes, lessons, rehearsals, dance events, concerts, recitals and performances are all part of this licence scheme. Download more information here.