Eurovision Secrets Revealed: The Essential Role of Stand-in Rehearsals

Stand-ins for Eurovision in Rotterdam
Stand-ins for Eurovision in Rotterdam

As the OnEuropeans prepare for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the artists and their teams are hard at work rehearsing for their big moments. Like every fan site, we spend lots of time talking about rehearsals, but before they even start, something else happens behind the scenes: stand-in rehearsals.

What are stand-in rehearsals?

Stand-in rehearsals are a key part of the Eurovision Song Contest’s production process. They serve as a testing ground for the technical, staging, and performance aspects of each act. During these rehearsals, stand-in artists and performers take the stage in place of the actual contestants. They are young musicians and students from the host city, selected based on their vocal and performance abilities, ensuring that they can closely mimic the contestants’ style and energy.

The first stand-in rehearsals take place weeks before the live shows, providing the production team with ample time to fine-tune every aspect of the performances. This period is essential for identifying and addressing any potential issues, such as camera angles, lighting, sound, and special effects. They act as the first real ‘proof of concept’ for the stage building and set design teams.

The first stand-in rehearsals offer a chance for the entire production team to work together and ensure that all aspects of the show are coordinated. From the sound engineers to the lighting technicians, everyone involved in the production can familiarize themselves with the acts, fine-tune their roles, and ensure a seamless production.

The importance of the first stand-in rehearsals

Eurovision is known for its elaborate staging and impressive visual effects. The first stand-in rehearsals allow the technical team to test out these elements, ensuring that they are executed seamlessly during the live shows. These rehearsals also provide an opportunity to test out camera angles and transitions, which are crucial for creating a dynamic and engaging television experience.

Stand-in rehearsals can reveal issues with ideas for staging or choreography, leading to adjustments or even complete overhauls. Costumes or styling choices may not have the desired effect on stage, or be practical for the performance. Often, they expose issues with the sound mix or vocal arrangements. This means making adjustments to the backing tracks or harmonies. The production team and delegations may decide to make changes to enhance the visual impact of the performance, such as altering camera movements or adjusting lighting cues.

The aim is that by the time the actual performers arrive for their first rehearsal, the basics are in place and little should need to change.

Do stand-ins ever make the main stage?

Stand-in artists are often talented singers and performers in their own right, and their involvement in Eurovision can open doors to future opportunities. Some past stand-ins have gone on to take part in the Eurovision process over the years, such as participating in the national selections for their country or even becoming backing singers for other countries’ artists in the contest itself.

Ellen Benediktsson was the stand-in for French singer Amandine Bourgeois in 2013.  The show producer, Christer Björkman approached her to perform a song in the Swedish Melodifestivalen the following year. In 2016, Renaida Braun stood in for Bulgaria’s Poli Genova. Two years later she made it to Melodifestivalen.

In the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, Go_A, the band representing Ukraine, faced a challenging situation when their lead singer, Kateryna Pavlenko, tested positive for COVID-19 just ahead of the live shows. As a result, she was unable to participate in the second round of rehearsals on May 13, 2021. Their stand-in artist, Emmie van Stijn, joined the band for their second rehearsal and was then invited to be part of Go_A’s Green Room team the Tuesday evening show.