I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, I could never be a swing! It’s just too hard. Only certain people can stand that amount of pressure. You have to cover how many people? I could never.”
But I’m here to tell you that you can and should consider being a swing. I, like you, was overwhelmed by the idea of being a swing. Then, in 2015, I was offered a job to swing in the musical “Amazing Grace” on Broadway. Apprehensive, I accepted the job and it turned out to be one of the most valuable jobs I’ve had in my professional career.
1. You get paid more.
Money is always a nice perk and being a swing, you definitely feel taken care of in that department. Thanks to Actors’ Equity, there is swing pay and you may even be able to negotiate more depending on how many roles you cover.
2. Sometimes you get to do nothing at all.
“Amazing Grace” was tough for me, as I was the only male swing in the show and was the assistant dance captain, so I didn’t have much downtime. However, at bigger shows, some swings have game consoles and televisions set up for the nights where they aren’t being used. I mean, who doesn’t want to get paid to play? (Only, of course, after you know all the tracks you need to know!)
3. You get to leave early.
If you aren’t on in a track as a swing, you sometimes get to leave before the end of the show. It was always a nice perk to beat the Times Square pedestrians to the train and make dinner. After rehearsing all week to learn nine tracks and performing five roles in four days, these are the perks you will grow to treasure.
4. Fearlessness becomes part of your DNA.
On a daily basis, you almost never know what you might be doing. You are no longer concerned with being perfect as a swing—that is not your job. Rather, your job is to make sure the show goes on and no one gets hurt. Learning the roles you cover seems daunting but that is not your job either. You have an entire team of people there to help you know exactly what you need to know when you need to know it. Stage managers, dance captains, the associates, even the other cast members all have your back.
Next time you see a swing and want to say, “I don’t know how you do what you do,” instead say, “Thank you.” Tell them you see what they do and notice how hard they work. Pay attention to the swing when they are on and offer to guide them when you can. Then think to yourself, “I should try that.” Everyone in this business should know what it’s like to be the most valuable and fearless company member.
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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.