Essential Skills for Dancers in Second Life

Edit: I’m separating out some of these items as they are not so much ‘skills’ but ‘recommendations’. While no less valid, the two just aren’t the same.

One of the first questions that people ask when they consider that they want to be a Dancer/Choreographer in SL is “what do I have to know”? OK, honestly, the first question is usually “How much money will I make?” and that one is easy to answer! But the first real question involves what skills a person will need. Historically, in an effort to make the dance world appealing and welcoming to new people, we have minimized the skills that it takes to actually “do what we do”. The common response is “Oh! We’ll teach you what you need!”  But I have to wonder if we are doing the best service to people when we say this. I personally see a lot of people come into classes under prepared with basic SecondLife skills and it results in a lot of frustrated students. This doesn’t help anyone. So I’d like to look at some of the absolute basic skills needed to enter into this hobby successfully. 

Support Dancers:  This is NOT a ‘lesser’ position in the dance community. As a support dancer, you have the ability to make or break a dance set despite best efforts by the choreographer/designer. So knowing your basic skills is important to you and to the choreographer you dance for. 

Wardrobe Management:
Know how to: 
copy items within your inventory. 
  create folders for costume parts. 
Know the difference between Wear, Add and Replace
Use appliers and save body copies with layers applied
Use your mesh body brand alpha layers and alpha save objects
Remove/disable scripts in clothes and body parts
Modify, save and CREATE shapes to use in specific costumes
Use the EDIT screen to modify costume parts to fit correctly
Use the edit screen to modify body parts
SAVE an outfit FILE to easily and quickly change clothes AND body
Create, Save and Send notecards including saving objects and LMs that might be included in the notecard.
Viewer Management
Know how to:
Use the Avatar menu to refresh avatar appearance and attatchments, stop animations and remove yourself from animation HUDs. 
Set your Hover Height to zero unless specifically directed to do otherwise by the choreographer
Use Transparency veiw (Ctrl+T) to check for mover height and hidden prims and parts before a show
Create landmarks to arrive at exactly where you need to be to stand on your mover
Derender people, objects and world types 
Use your Quick Preferences settings to minimize your own viewer lag
Use your Online Communication settings to minimize distractions
Use your movement and view settings
Use your cam controls to set your point of view where it needs to be at any time. *Learning to use your mouse and keyboard shortcuts for this is beneficial!
Use the Local chat, private group and private IM windows including separating the windows to keep important conversations visible
Use your voice and sound settings and how to turn voice OFF when it’s not appropriate
Have a working knowledge of what lag is and how to minimize it for yourself and your impact on simulator lag. 

Choreographers:  You have the added responsibility of knowing how to use complex tools and applications as well as using people’s avatars in a public venue. How you represent those people in a set may determine if you have people who are willing to work with you in the future. 

Building:
know how to use ALL of the menus/tabs in the EDIT screen. 
Move, Resize and position prims and objects
How to work with coalesced and linked object groups
How to color and texture objects
How to add, remove and modify contents including scripts
How to pack (add) and unpack (remove) objects and scripts from other objects
How to copy, paste, drag and share scripts and objects
Know the difference – by icon – between animation, object, coalesced objects and scripts in inventory.
Scripting:
While you may not need to write scripts from scratch (though this is helpful) you should know how to work with scripts
Know what a channel assignment and channel command look like and how to change them when the script permits
Know how to use Notecards in HUDS and tools that allow nc’s to control script functions. 
Know where to find and how to use basic scripts for texture scrolling and object rotation. 
Have a working knowledge of what coordinates are and how the mover systems use them. 
Have a working knowledge of animation priorities and how they affect the way animations interact.

I realize this list looks long and daunting and intimidating to those new to SL but first of all, it’s not expected that you be an expert at everything. Many tasks are things you can ask friends to help with. But in reality, everything on that list are BASIC skills in Second Life building and functioning. If you don’t have these skills today, find the resources to learn them. Classes at places like Builder’s Brewery. Find a mentor to help you learn. Videos on YouTube are helpful.
One of the most inspiring parts of dance creation in SL is learning so much about the systems that allow you to express your creativity. ALL of your creativity!

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