Modern stage directions are always determined from the point of view of the dancer. The term upstage refers to when many stages were raked, and the stages were built on a tilt to maximise the audience’s view of the dancers. Hence, to move towards the back of stage, the dancer would be travelling a number of degrees upwards.
Raked staging is becoming less common these days because, as theatres are being re-built, they are being replaced with flat, fully sprung stages. Modern dance science has shown that flat sprung stages are safer for dancers because the demands of a raked stage make injury more likely, particularly as dancers do not often train in a raked space.
Another way to determine stage direction is from the point of view of the audience, by using the terms prompt corner and opposite prompt. This terminology is used by actors in the theatre.
Having trained at the Royal Ballet, Ashley Page uses this terminology. The dancers in Scottish Ballet use both sets of terminology.
The term prompt orginated in the theatre. Part of the stage manager’s job alongside cueing the production is to prompt the actors, should they forget their lines. A stage manager of a ballet does not need to do this, but the term has remained in use, as it is a clear way of determining the sides of the stage. Prompt Side of the stage in most theatres is to the right of the audience.
Upstage right Upstage left
Downstage right/opposite prompt Downstage left/prompt
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