America’s #1 Touring Dance Contest Delivers 5-Star Experience With ADJ LED Video Panels & Automated Luminaires

Showstopper is a touring contest that offers dancers of all ages and abilities the opportunity to showcase their talent on a big stage with professional quality production. Lighting, video and audio for the events is the responsibility of the organization’s in-house technical department, which exclusively utilizes ADJ LED video panels and LED-powered lighting fixtures. With an inventory of over 900 VS3 panels, 500 AV6X panels, and 250 moving heads, Showstopper can deploy as many as eight impressive stage setups each weekend, allowing over 50,000 dancers to perform across 50 regional events each year.

Founded in 1978 by Debbie and Dave Roberts, who are both still heavily involved in day-to-day operations, Showstopper runs weekend-long competitions in cities all across the USA. Its 2024 schedule comprises 50 regional events, taking place between February and early June, followed by seven area finals, set for June and July. In addition, the organization will also run four dance conventions in the fall and has recently announced plans to expand its calendar next year to include 80+ events. Each Showstopper contest includes various age categories and opportunities for solo, duo and trio performances as well as group choreography. The organizers seek to consistently deliver a 5-star competition experience where every dancer – as well as the teachers and studios that train them and arrange for them to compete – feel like superstars.

Central to delivering this ambitious goal is technical production. For every event, Showstopper builds an impressive mainstage featuring automated lighting and an extensive arrangement of LED video screens paired with a three-camera setup for livestreaming the performances. In addition, most events also feature at least one smaller – although equally well specified – second stage, while larger events can feature up to three secondary stages. To ensure consistency between venues and to expedite setup, every stage rig is fully ground-supported and self-contained. Each of the company’s three main stage setups fill three full tractor trailers, while the five secondary room setups each require their own dedicated trailer. This means that in total, throughout its touring season, Showstopper has 15 big rigs constantly on the road delivering two or three contests each weekend.

During the touring season, Showstopper employs a 50-strong crew of technicians who are responsible for setting up and tearing down the stages as well as operating the equipment during contests. The team is coordinated by the company’s Production Manager, Jon Greene, who works closely with co-founder Dave Roberts to deliver impressive production that is heavily systematized to allow extremely quick setup. Everything on the Showstopper trucks is on wheels, and as much of the equipment as possible is pre-wired, which means the crew can unload and set up a main stage rig in just four hours!

“LED video panels are central to the way we stage Showstopper events,” explains Dave. “I remember the first time I saw the technology at the LDI show, which must be going back 15 years. I walked in and saw this massive, bright screen all the way at the other side of the hall and thought to myself: ‘I’ve got to have one of those!’ We first invested in an LED panel setup from Elation Professional, then when ADJ brought out the AV Series we bought into that, and most recently we have added almost 1000 panels of Vision Series VS3 panels.”

Each of Showstopper’s three main stage setups feature a total of 303 ADJ Vision Series VS3 LED panels. Offering a pixel pitch of 3.91mm (0.15”) and brightness of 1000 NITS, this vibrant panel is ideal for creating high-definition video display surfaces that can be viewed from a relatively close distance. The Showstopper main stage features a large central screen flanked by two one-panel-wide wings on each side, which are supported by unique curved cantilever trusses. The stage itself is also dressed with a one-panel-high apron that runs across the front and returns on each side by two panels. In addition, two 6 x 4 panel screens sit at either side of the stage for IMAG purposes, and two more provide the backdrop to a standalone merchandise concession stand that is set up at the back of the room to welcome competitors and their supporters. Finally, 24 more panels are used to create a ‘logo wall’ that displays the Showstopper logo superimposed on a series of animated backdrops to provide attendees the perfect opportunity for taking selfies.

The LED panels incorporated into the stage set are essential for allowing the Showstopper technical team to deliver impressive production that enhances each performance without distracting from the dancers. They are used to display a different static or animated background for each entry, which are selected from a collection of 1000+ options that have been sourced from a dozen or more content suppliers, re-sized for the specific configuration of screens, and arranged into thematic banks for easy recall. This is particularly important as there are no rehearsals, which means the technician must choose an appropriate backdrop on the fly based purely on the costumes, name of the routine, genre and musical selection. The same concept is employed for the secondary rooms, which each feature a similar backdrop and stage apron setup but this time utilizing the AV6X LED panels. Demonstrating the longevity of ADJ equipment, this 6mm pixel pitch panel is still performing reliably for Showstopper week-in and week-out, even though it has been discontinued and replaced with the Vision Series.

“The AV6X panels have served us very well – and continue to do so,” comments Jon. “At each show we run them continuously for 12+ hour days, so they’ve put in a lot of operational time over the eight years we’ve used them, and they’ve proved to be very reliable. However, upgrading to the VS3 was a real game-changer for our room 1s. They are lighter, brighter and colors really pop. The 3.91mm pixel pitch is perfect for the viewing distance our audience sit from the screens and the magnet-aided rigging system means they are really easy to setup. I also really can’t fault ADJ when it comes to support. I’ve personally had a big learning curve as we’ve incorporated LED more and more into our productions and the ADJ team are always happy to help and answer my questions about scaling and calibration. I must particularly mention Brandon [Munger] with the Healy Group [ADJ’s Sales Rep Firm covering Showstopper’s home state of South Carolina] who goes above and beyond to offer help whenever we need it. I can honestly say there’s not one bad thing I can say about ADJ, it has been a great relationship so far.”

In addition to LED video panels, Showstopper also uses an extensive inventory of ADJ lighting fixtures to illuminate performances and create atmosphere in each contest room. Except for the Flat Par Tri7 LED par fixtures used for truss warming, the company exclusively utilizes automated fixtures, to allow for easy repositioning as well as dynamic effects. Although it has now been discontinued, the Par Z Move RGBW remains a reliable staple of all the company’s rigs for providing front, back and side light to ensure clear and consistent illumination of the performers on stage.

Color and movement are added to the main stage setups by six Vizi Wash Z19 and four Vizi Hex Wash7 LED wash-zoom moving heads, which are mounted to the vertical legs of the truss goalpost used to support the main LED screen backdrop. In addition, six of the larger Vizi Wash Z37 units sit on top of the trusses located at either side of the stage. These fixtures are used to wash the room itself with vibrant colors, extending the theme from the stage out into the audience and creating an immersive experience for contests and audience members alike.

“Overall, all the ADJ gear is working great,” concludes Dave. “Through the years we’ve used lots of different AV technology and have zeroed in on ADJ because of the value, reliability, and service. We don’t have many problems, but when things do go wrong – which is always going to happen with electronic equipment that is constantly out on the road – ADJ always takes very good care of us. We’re really happy with ADJ. In fact, we’ve recently put in another very big order for a whole new room 1 setup of both video panels and lighting ready for our expansion next season.”

Showstopper (not visible outside of the US)

Debbie and Dave Roberts

Production Manager
Jon Greene

ADJ Gear List

Primary Room Setups [x3]
303 x VS3
46 x Par Z Move RGBW
26 x Flat Par Tri7
6 x Vizi Wash Z37
6 x Vizi Wash Z19
4 x Vizi Hex Wash7

Secondary Room Setups [x5]
106 x AV6X
20 x Par Z Move RGBW
4 x Flat Par Tri7