How a dance show became a family industry

Before explaining what happened, you need a brief overview of my family. We’re 7. My brother and I, my girlfriend, my two sisters and my parents.

My father is a passionated photograph while my mother is a dance teacher. My sisters started dancing at 4. I’m a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and I like to create new things, to invent, to search solutions. I’m close to my brother. We like sharing the same kind of things, working on the same projects. Our parents teached us a lot of different things like Try to fix it, before going to the store. Or if the product you’re searching for is too expensive, build it. (by the way, Mom, Dad, thanks for all you’ve done)

My mother, my girlfriend and my sisters are artists. They love to create, invent and organize shows. My mother has always been a dance teacher. She’s managing between 40 and 70 kids each year. She’s always trying to build a better show, and the kids are happy. Costumes, choreographies, make up, she does everyhting (almost) alone.

Before 2013

Through the years, the shows were better and better but the performance hall was awfull. Only one light was used to shine the dancers on stage, and the sound was particulary bad. My father was taking pictures each year, but he was always complaining about the lights on the photos. We were really disapointed to observe that because she worked so hard to make it better.

We decided to help

She couldn’t do everything alone anymore. My brother and I are passionated about tech things, working in the tech industry, and we have the chance to think that everything is possible. Even if it was complicated, we decided to read, to learn and to do. There was two main things to enhance : The lights on stage and the sound. I was in charge of finding solutions for a better sound, while my brother worked on lights. We read a lot of things, articles, blogs, tutorials to understand how to place lights, what kind of lights we should buy. And there’s so many different products ! White lights, from warm to cold, colored spots, LED bars, smoke machines, and we wanted to control and manage all of these lights using a computer.

The challenge was mainly to choose the good lights to shine the dancers in a perfect way, and to synchronize the sound and lights. We finally bought the lights, the interface to control everything from a computer and we read a few things to understand the DMX protocol for managing and coordinating everything.

For the sound part, it was less complicated, I read the mixing console user manual before buying it, to understand how it was working. I searched what kind of wires and speakers we had to buy, how to plug everything and how to use the equalizer to have the best possible sound in this poor hall.

A few months later, we were ordering our first products on a famous german company specialized in music and stage products. The total amount was huge, but we started saving money a few month ago and we had a limited budget.

We were like kids

We received a few weeks later our products and we were like kids ! Three colored lights, and two led bars; it was our first set. We were so happy to unbox everything, to test and play.

A few days later, we really started to work. We spend a lot of time for everything to work and a few days later, we came up to something great.

Then, a family industry started

It was the holidays, I took a few days off to work on this project. My mom didn’t know, at this time, what we were doing. We brought everyone in the living room, and we explained our project; what we bought and how it was working. Then we turned on everything.

Ha, it’s awesome ! We can do so more things !

We added a new major thing to her show, and she had to work using this new parameter. She sat down, and started to explain the differents scenes, and the associated colors. My brother and I were changing the colors and the lights in real time, following her directives. My father was always there to fix the white lights to be able to take great photos, while my sisters and girlfriend were building decors. We worked like this for a few days mainly in the evening, and the whole family was engaged. It was an extroardinary feeling, and we loved that.

The show

After 2013

End of june. It’s about 8am, and I’m loading my car. 9am, we are in the performance hall. We are thinking with my brother how to organize everything, were to place our lights and speakers, and how to properly hide the wires. We are nervous. We worked to make this show better and errors are not allowed. We knew that the hall will be full of parents, grand-parents taking pictures of their kids. Framed pictures which will stay in the living room for a few years.

Mom ! :)

11am. Everything is ready, wires are hidden, sound’s working well, lights’re placed. We played the entire show with sound and lights, checking that everything was working. The rest of the family was thereto place decors on stage.

17am. Parents, friends, everyone was taking a chair. Babys crying, parents chatting. It was a mess.

17:30am. Go ! We hear the first notes. Dancers are coming on stage. My brother is on the console, triggering the lights in real time. We are nervous, again, but the show is great. It was only 30 minutes long, but for us, it tooks hours.

“Excellent !”, “It was extraordinary”, “We didn’t expect to see that”

We did it ! The family industry we built was a success. We were happy, public was happy, our family was happy. This kind of experience is awesome. I know it’s not possible for everyone, but if you can, try to build a family industry. Working with your parents, sisters and brothers is quite different. You do not share and chat in the same way you do in a company. Your coworkers are boys and girls you always have been living with. Your implication becomes different because you got feelings, and because you are working to make a present. And it’s what we did for Mom.

After

The smoke machine we bought the next year

This experience brought to us a lot of things. The show was not perfect. There was no white lights, and the pictures taken by Dad were not good. We learned what was missing, what was our mistakes, and what we had to do for the next year.

We are doing this for three years now. Enhancing everything, buying new materials, always learning new things. Our family industry is not making money. In fact we are loosing money each year. But we are closer, we have a common project where everyone has its own place. A few years ago, we were a startup, today, I think our family industry is a successfull business.

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