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There are so many great things about being a member of StepONE Dance Company that I wanted to share some info with my fellow dance community!
I find it sad to admit that cruise ship dancing is a black sheep in our industry. It’s a job that many dancers overlook because they think that it doesn’t require as much skill as other professional dance gigs. I can’t speak for all cruise lines, but from my experience having worked on several cruise ships under different cruise line companies for the last 2 years, cruise ship dancing isn’t “for the dancers who couldn’t make it anywhere else,” but actually requires a level of skill and professionalism that matches land based dance companies. And although it has its drawbacks, like sharing a room with one of your cast mates and having to do extra duties around the ship, dancers get free room and board, the opportunity to travel the world, and receive decent pay all while performing on a stage in front of hundreds of people. For this I believe cruise ship dancing to be a sort of diamond in the rough, and until I began working for StepONE Dance Company I didn’t realize just how polished that diamond could be.
The skill level required for this company is even more demanding than that of any other cruise ship dancer currently in the industry. Each dancer is hired to do one track in each show. All of these tracks require intense partnering as well as a versatile background in dance that supersedes pre-professional training. Beyond this, there are only six dancers in a cast, and therefore each dancer must possess a quality of artistry and technique that allows them to hold the stage all by themselves. Dancers are required to masterfully switch from latin ballroom, to ballet, to hip-hop, sometimes all in the same show. I have never experienced a professional dance job that requires as much versatility as StepONE Dance Company, and for that, StepONE is uniquely special. The magic within the company lies in the ability for six dancers to hold shows that are all approximately 40 minutes long.
The past few months I have gotten the same questions from dancers and guests on board. I thought it would be best to share them with you as I am very proud to be apart of this company.
1. Is StepONE an actual dance company?
- Yes! StepONE is a touring company that performs from one Holland America cruise ship to another. There are up to 5 casts of six dancers touring at a time. While on board the company members are considered guest entertainers, performing up to eight shows a cruise.
2. Does each company member get their own room on a ship?
- Yes we do! I honestly can’t complain as I have lived with many roommates in the past and really appreciate having my own space.
3. Do you have a physical therapist that travels with you?
- No we do not, but we do have a session with a nutritionist before we start touring.
- Additionally, RWS Entertainment Group promotes exercises and warm ups around the rehearsal studios for the dancers to use and take with them while traveling. Performers can ask their rehearsal director for more exercises if they feel the need to do so.
- While on board, the performers are responsible for conditioning and taking care of their bodies by going to the gym, properly resting, and being properly nourished.
4. Are the costumes made individually for each company member?
- No, we are fitted into used costumes from a previous StepONE company member who has had the same track. For example, I was female dancer 3 and had multiple costume fittings with costumes another FD3 wore.
- When touring, each dancer is responsible for transporting their costumes in a suitcase provided by RWS Entertainment Group. They will be reimbursed for baggage fees inccurred.
5. How much do you make?
- $1000.00 USD per week while touring
- Leadership positions such as Dance Captain, Company Manager and Wardrobe Supervisor receive extra pay to weekly pay checks.
6. How does StepONE Dance Company fare against land based companies?
- Dancers can explore amazing places all over the world, without having to pay for rent, food, laundry, and gym access while on board. Did I mention there is free access to What’s App messaging and discounts to restaurants, spa treatments, and alcohol!
- After completing one contract, performers can request to be rehired for another contract potentially being able to work more than an average company member on land. Generally on land, companies work for a season as employees. This may include some regional or international touring. Once the season is over, company members usually file for unemployment or take up teaching jobs. A StepONE dancer could do up to three contracts in a year, which would offer greater financial stability and allow much more performance time than a regular company dancer on land.
Recently, RWS Entertainment Group held auditions for StepONE Dance Company in Toronto, Canada for the first time. Being a member of the dance community in Toronto, I advertised the audition as much as I could while I was touring. Our casting director had asked multiple Canadian citizens who worked for the company to help promote the audition date, as he was having difficulty finding places in Toronto that would spread the word. This made me sad because I know many dance facilities in Toronto that could have promoted the audition through social media. Additionally, I know how talented the dancers are in Toronto and wish many of these dancers wold consider this job as a potential opportunity, rather than something beneath them. The Toronto dance community has become more and more hungry for employment, and maybe it is time to begin looking abroad for employment opportunities. Hip hop and contemporary dance seem to be the common taught genres in the city and this is just another reason for people to take a chance and audition for StepONE, considering it requires well versed dancers proficient in these styles.
Many people tell me they don’t have enough information to audition for the company. The education platform that I’ve received from Point Park University has taught me to research any choreographers and companies I may be planing to work with, as well as any classes and auditions I intend to participate in. StepONE Dance Company has been promoted all over social media and already as articles written about them. They also have footage posted on Youtube of their company trailer video. There are reviews on cruise ship websites about StepONE Dance Company as well as a StepONE page on Facebook. So again, anyone who states they don’t know about StepONE are just not giving this rare opportunity a chance and are also being lazy by not doing their own research.
I hope that by the end of this blog I have been able to educate as many people as possible about StepONE Dance Company. Performing is a big passion of mine and I only want to shed light about a great opportunity for talented dancers grasping for work in the dance field.Leave a Comment
Tell me about it stud! I’ve always been a big fan of the movie Grease and thought a Grease Lightning party would be super fun. For my birthday, we celebrated the themed party in the Officers Bar on the ship. In order to have this party in the first place, I needed to get permission from the crew office to be able to rent equipment or decorate the space requested. This party request was approved quickly, providing me with lots of time to order decorations and notify my cast.
Costume preparation for this themed party was totally doable for male and females. Males could dress as greasers (jeans and a black or white t-shirt), while ladies could dress as a pink lady or a 50s high school girl (scarf tied around neck with a t-shirt and tight capris/knee length skirt). I knew I would be dressing up as Sandy in the final scene of the movie, and my fiancé Lucas would be dressing up as Danny, as he was visiting that cruise as a friend on board.
Thanks to Amazon, I ordered the 50’s Sock Hop Photo Booth Props Kit. Another item I order off of Amazon was a teal and sparkly gold birthday sash, adding a special festive touch to my Sandy costume. These items both arrived to the ship a few days before the party, at our main home port in Fort Lauderdale. I strongly advise to order mailed items 2 weeks ahead when living on a cruise ship. The security at Port Authority is usually very strict and sometimes even when your mail says it has arrived it actually doesn’t make it onto the ship.
Gathering my costume for the Grease Lightning party was pretty easy. I already had black leggings and had my fiancé bring my red heels and black off the shoulder t-shirt from home. For makeup I did a black smoky eye and curled my hair in a half up half down hair do. When I first arrived to the crew bar for the party, I couldn’t believe how many of my friends dressed up! My roommate did a spin on the theme dressing up as a gay greaser and one of our male singers dressed in drag as a pink lady, which were both so creative and awesome! The photo booth props really made a great impact on the party too, as many of my friends took photos together with them, getting everyone into the mood.
To inform my friends about the party, I created posters to advertise the event using Microsoft Word. The poster stated that the event was small get together to celebrate my birthday, also including the location, time and theme. I printed out a few copies and posted one in the area all the cast lived in as well as the crew events board. Overall, the posters a lot of extra work and where not needed but where fun to make.
The same day as the party I got off the ship to purchase a birthday cake, as well as some paper plates and plastic forks. The ship docked in Colón, Panama t hat day, so most of the employees in the shops only spoke Spanish. Due to not understanding nor speaking any Spanish, I had to communicate withe baker by drawing what I wanted on a napkin. It was a strange experience but in the end I was able to bring a birthday cake on board and share something special with my friends at the party.
I wanted to play the Grease movie on the flat screen TV in the crew bar, but was not sure if this could be done or would be allowed, so I decided to use music instead. I had originally download songs from the movie soundtrack but unfortunately, it was not enough music. The day of the party, I didn’t bring the USB stick containing the movie to the bar, because my hands were pretty full carry up other things, so I only relied on the themed music. I also invited anyone to plug their phones into the Bluetooth speaker and play whatever they wanted, which was defiantly a smart move. I am grateful a friend of mine plugged in their phone, as they had a great variety of tunes to share, which encourage a lot of dancing and singing throughout the night.
There was no such thing as a dance floor in the crew bar, so we made some space by moving around some chairs. I’m glad my friends got to let loose and enjoy themselves, especially because we were all going through extra duties with the GI outbreak on the ship. Overall, it was a great party and definitely a night to remember!Leave a Comment
Birthdays while working on cruise ships can sometimes feel unimportant due to being far away from family and friends, but they can actually be super fun and memorable. The first time I had my birthday on a ship, I played a drinking game with some friends the night before and went out for dinner with my cast the following day. This year I got to spend another birthday of mine on a cruise ship and it was so much fun! At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do and drafted a list of ideas, which I’d like to share below:
- Movie night: Movie nights can potentially be arranged in the theatre or screening room on the cruise ship. If this is not possible, you can ask to rent a TV, as well as a space for a group of people to celebrate inside. I encourage you not to celebrate in a cabin, as there is no room and it will most likely end with a noise complaint. Create a game from your chosen movie; the more fun the movie, the better! Additionally, try to include snacks or a theme, making the party more exciting and memorable when you look back at photos from the event.
- Dining out: If you like to dress up and also like to eat food, then this is a great birthday party idea. There are many restaurants on cruise ships, but I recommend going to a restaurant that will allow you to make a reservation as an employee. If you want to invite a large number of guests, try picking a restaurant that isn’t as popular as well as a dinning time that is not as common. If partying isn’t your thing, this option is much better because your party would be more intimate and wouldn’t have to involve a large consumption of alcohol.
- Karaoke night: Love to sing? Then karaoke night is a great option to choose. Grab some snacks and tell your friends it’s a BYOB event. Make sure there are no noise complaints, by hosting the party in an area that has no guests or any crew members who have early working shifts. When renting the karaoke machine, make sure the music variety is suitable; you don’t want to sing to unpopular music or songs that are in a language unfamiliar to you.
- Board game night: I would consider this idea not only for a birthday party, but for any night you bond with some friends. Ask friends to bring games and ask to borrow some board games that may be in crew areas or in the cruise ship library. Add some snacks and a speaker for background music, and your set to have a fun night! I recommend a board game that doesn’t take the whole night to play because you want to make sure all of your friends are participating and don’t want the night to revolve around one game (or maybe you do if you have a smaller group of friends). If you want to up your game night, you can rent a TV and play a board game that involves video like Scene It or Jeopardy. There are also games that you can play on your mobile device such as Heads Up and Werewolf (an adaptation of Mafia). Another way to step up your game with this kind of party is by renting a TV and hosting a video game night rather than a board game night (must know someone who has a game console on board).
- Party on land: Having a birthday party on shore is always super fun for crew members who have been living on a cruise ship for many months. Depending on the itinerary of the cruise ship, you could be spending your birthday in a really neat place you’ve never been before. You may not have as much control of your event due to weather as well as any other unknown information. Additionally, not all your friends may be able to join you due to having to stay on the cruise ship for IPM (a procedure where a certain number of crew must stay on board in case of an emergency on the ship). This type of party is the hardest to plan, but is recommended for those who don’t like to plan but like to go with the flow. If you want to just grab a bite to eat with some friends or celebrate your birthday at a resort then that is totally cool! I have been invited to a few birthday parties in ports with friends and I had a blast. One of my cast members celebrated their birthday in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. We all got to enjoy the beach and have Pina Coladas instead of birthday cake.
- The midnight toast: This is the most common type of get together on a cruise ship. Essentially you invite some friends to join you at the crew bar or your favourite bar on the cruise ship and toast to your birthday at midnight. I’ve seen this take place with a crew member who didn’t want to make a big deal of their birthday, rather they celebrated quietly with a small group of friends. If you don’t want to make a big deal of your birthday this is always a recommended option, as not everyone wants to live it up on their birthday.
- Bar hop: This is a party that will leave memories and potentially break drinking records for some. Get all dressed up and hop from one bar on the cruise ship to the next, enjoying a plethora of drinks. One way to really spice this party up is to have a theme included in the party such as everyone wearing black and the birthday boy/girl/they can wear white. A friend of mine told me she was a part of a bar hop where the birthday girl was dressed like a queen and was carried from one bar to the next. I have no idea how that group of individuals didn’t get in trouble for causing so much attention as crew, but assume that she probably had an amazing birthday!
Note to my readers: These ideas are for someone who already works on a cruise ship and is not sailing as a guest.
These seven ideas above are a great way to start brainstorming for future birthday parties on board. Remember that you only have a birthday once a year and that it should be celebrated, regardless of your age. Depending on your personality, you may naturally be more drawn to certain party ideas over others and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
This year I ended up choosing the midnight toast party idea and be sharing how it went in next blog. If you’ve enjoyed reading so far, stay tuned for my 24th Grease Lightning party on board. Thanks for reading!
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On a cruise ship, staying fit is the number one priority for an entertainer. Being fit does not mean going to the gym 24/7 but entails proper nourishment, rest, and conditioning. Dancing on a cruise ship is very difficult because it requires performing on a rocking ship, which results in altering choreography and sacrificing technique to avoid injury. Due to constantly moving on a ship, our muscles become more equipped to keep us balanced, causing our bodies to be more tense than usual.
Body alignment is super important and is considered one of the hardest things to maintain while on board. Personally, I’ve never experienced being on a cruise ship that has had a physical therapist or chiropractor. I have only been on a ship with an acupuncture specialist, which was not always the best solution when I pulled a muscle or was out of alignment. Additionally, the ship offers massages, but they are very expensive and are for relaxation purposes, rather than breaking scar tissue or flattening knots. The best way to seek help in alignment is if you book an appointment on land. Depending on the cruise ship itinerary, it may be harder to find a chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist. That being said, performers must be smart and know how to take care of their bodies.
The first step to ensuring you are fit while on board is resting as much as possible. This statement does not mean hibernating in the cabin and never seeing the light of day. Rather, it means to take a nap when your body needs rest and receiving a full night’s sleep. There will be nights spent in the crew bars or dancing at a crew event, but that just means a longer nap the next day. Show days are a super important day to take a nap or be conscious of your own body. Usually, I will take an hour nap on a show day and go to the gym prior to the scheduled tech run to warm up. Depending when tech runs are schedule, I will alter when I can sleep in or take a nap throughout my day.
Proper nutrition can make or break a performer’s time while on board. Our bodies need a variety of vitamins and hydration on a daily basis. These two necessities are tricky to maintain while on a cruise ship. Many dancers purchase vitamins, protein powder, supplements, and other nutritional necessities to keep their bodies in tip top shape. Staying hydrated is key, as liquids flush out toxins in the body. I personally have a difficult time staying hydrated, having to change the flavor of my water in order to drink the proper daily amount. I use fresh fruits or lemon slices, as well as emergency packets (only when I’m feeling under the weather).
The food provided on the ship is buffet style in most aspects, and most of the food is not the healthiest. Dancers need to maintain a healthy diet to ensure they stay fit on board, so this means avoiding deserts and consuming as many fruits and vegetables as possible (this food category can be limited on ships depending on the itinerary and where they get imported goods from). Of course, you can have deserts in moderation as well as high-carbohydrate meals such as pizza or pasta, but falling into a pattern of eating these foods regularly can result in weight gain (if not going to the gym regularly). There are simple ways to exercise while on board that do not require going to the gym every single day such as:
- Using the guest stairs instead of the elevators
- Taking walks along the promenade/open deck
- Simple stretches and strengthening exercises in your cabin
There are even some healthier alternatives when living on board for longer durations:
- Drink coffee without sugar or milk/cream
- Drink water
- Make different types of salads; get creative and see how many things you can put in a bowl of leaves! I’ve found many things from mixed nuts to mozzarella slices with lemon as dressing
- Avoid soda/pop
- Avoid breaded meats; if needed take off the breading
- If there is a pasta station, ask for your ingredients to be cooked in less oil
- Avoid fried foods
- Fish is always a good alternative to chicken or beef; eat with variety
- Choose wisely for deserts. Maybe consider having ice cream in a bowl rather in a waffle cone with chocolate syrup and sprinkles or choose a cookie (or two) over a slice of red velvet cheese cake
- Ask for your salad dressings and condiments on the side so your food is not drenched in sauces
- Maybe have a gin and tonic or glass of red wine over a margarita.
Of course, the bullet points above are just suggestions and do not have to be taken word for word. Those are just some things I have experimented with during my time overseas.
I will skip breakfast on days I have an early tech run on the same day as a show, but if the tech run is in the evening, I will eat dinner after my shows. Making a protein shake is a great substitute for missed meals as well as excellent fuel before shows.
Lastly, a dancer needs to tone their body. I recommend going to the gym as an entertainer because exercising is different from performing shows through muscle memory. Exercising the body in a variety of methods is highly recommended, forcing you to engage in your practice mentally and physically. Some great ways to exercise are through Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, weight lifting (not daily), meditation, running, hiking, cycling, swimming, rowing, as well as cardio. All of these types of exercise can be done on a ship or while on land visiting certain destinations. It is important to have a healthy balance between cardio, strength, and flexibility when exercising. It is equally important to be mentally be aware of sore areas, making sure you’re taking care of those areas by icing, heating, and last but not least resting. Other things I do to recover sore areas are massaging with tennis balls/spiky balls, rolling out, eating a banana, and taking magnesium vitamins (very good for your muscles).
When going to the gym, it is important to properly warm up and cool down the body as it prevents injury. I strongly suggest that you stretch the targeted area you are working out, especially if you plan on doing a couple reps with no breaks. This will allow the targeted muscle to go back to a resting position, creating better mobility for the muscle after the workout.
Throughout my time on cruise ships I have tried many different ways to exercise. I started off by running on the treadmill or doing a thousand crunches. Taking that path made me unhappy as I became very bulky, actually gaining muscle mass too quickly. To this day, I am still trying to find new ways to exercise, as I have not found a favourite method yet. Currently I am really into hot Yoga as well as following this pattern when I visit the gym:
- Cardio for 15-30 minutes (elliptical, stairs, treadmill, or bicycle)
- Strengthening for 15 minutes (Abdominals, legs, arms, gluteal region or lower back)
- Cool down for 10 minutes (stretching, rolling out or meditation)
When I’m living on board, I will go to gym just to stretch because I feel super tight, due to trying to stay upright or from the air conditioning blasting. Evening stretching is also something I have done in the past, which improved my flexibility as well as my sleep.
I do want to distinguish the difference between being fit and trying to lose weight. Losing weight can be a part of your goal to becoming more fit, but does not make you a fit person. To be fit you need to challenge the body with more mobility and strength than usual, as well as rest and proper nourishment. Barley eating and trying to be skinny does not mean you are fit, that is just someone who is dieting or starving themselves. I have known many dancers who weigh more than they look and try to convince themselves that they need to lose weight. Truth is that they have more muscle mass and actually are better off weighing more than a regular person of that height. As a dancer, it is important to be physically strong rather than fragile, because it can prevent injuries. On the other hand, being too muscular can also have cons, as it will inhibit a dancer’s mobility, also potentially leading to injury. Therefore, it is all about having a balance between the two.
I hope this blog was helpful, not only to those who are considering working overseas, but for anyone who is considering altering their lifestyle and becoming more fit. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any personal questions about this topic or want to know more about my experience as a dancer on ships. Remember that everything I share comes from a vulnerable place, and that my goal is to help my readers improve in any way possible. See you soon!Leave a Comment
Life as a cast member is a blast. As a cast member, one usually has more privileges then a regular crew member on a cruise ship. Many crew members say the cast are somewhat living a lavish lifestyle, similar to the guests vacationing on board, but that is not completely true. As a cast member, we still have to follow rules and remember that our number one job is our safety function, followed closely by enhancing the experiences of the guests while cruising. Rules and status of crew members depend on the class of ship as well as the cruise line. Due to personally working on more than one cruise ship line, I would like to share some privileges I’ve been granted as a cast member in the entertainment department.
1. Cast members get to go off shore like the guests! Going off shore is a privilege that definitely makes working on a cruise ship super cool. Many crew on board have to work during port days while guests go off shore to explore ports. Of course crew do get the opportunity to get off sometimes for some WIFI as well as have time to set their legs on land, but their time is much more limited off shore compared to a cast member. Cast get to sign up for excursions as escorts (depending on the cruise line) and also get to spend much more time in ports. On the other hand, cast do have IPM (import manning), which basically means a certain amount of crew have to stay on board in case an emergency takes place while the ship is docked in a port. IPM runs on a rotation for all safety functions (ie. Stairway guides, communicators, commanders, or sometimes departments), and ensures that everyone in the rotation has to stay on board for a certain amount of ports. I have personally experienced two different IPM systems: one where you would have IPM for an entire cruise a few times during a contract and another system where you would have IPM for one port day every cruise for an entire contract. Many cast members do not like IPM but honestly IPM can be great for those days you want to save money or just want some alone time on the ship. It is also great for laundry days!
2. Cast members, and crew in general get to see these ports multiples times! Yes this is another privilege that is probably one of the best parts of having a contract on a cruise ship. Cast members get to explore ports more than once, seeing much more than guests who cruise for one or two cruises. I was able to see Half-Moon Cay, Aruba, Curaçao, Panama Canal, Puerto Limon, and Cartagena 8 times each in my most recent contract; that is equivalent to vacationing for a little over a week in each of those locations! So many people would kill to have that opportunity! Not to mention as a cast member you are being paid to work, where as a guest they pay to come on board to see those places in a limited amount of time.
3. No Uniforms! Being a cast member, you get to dress in your own clothes. This privilege on the other hand entails some rules. A cast member has to always remember that they are setting an example of how to dress on ships as well as showing their professionalism as an employee on the cruise ship. Depending on the cruise line, the dress code varies, but generally some things to avoid in guest areas are:
- Shorts in the evenings
- Exposure of tattoos or piercings (ear piercings are acceptable for women)
- Exposure to mid-section (unless wearing a bathing suit)
- Being topless (unless males are swimming/tanning)
- Gym clothes/athletic wear
Some cruise lines have Gala nights, where cast members get to dress up really fancy with the guests. As a cast member, this is our time to shine! In the past, I have seen girls bring their prom dresses on board or invest in very elegant gowns. Sometimes, cast members will have side jobs where they have to do library duties, greet guests on embarkation/debarkation day, and/or teach dance classes (line dancing, ballroom, or potentially newer and popular dances). These side jobs may or may not entail a cast member to wear a uniform of some sort, but again this depends on the cruise line.
4. So much free time! Being a cast member on board, usually we work in the evenings. That means we get most of the day off to do whatever we’d like to do (ensuring that we follow set rules on board). Cast can be in guest areas and enjoy guest activities, as long as there is enough empty space for cast to insert themselves. Personally, I have taken up many hobbies while on board, as it is very easy to become bored. Some of my personal hobbies include: reading, blogging, journaling, and watching television series/movie series in consecutive order (Harry Potter is always a must to watch while on board). Additionally, I attend lots of events on board, such as guest entertainer shows, trivia, cooking shows, movies in the theatre, and crew parties. If one is contracted for a Caribbean itinerary, tanning is another great hobby. Overall, I would say working on a cruise ship is amazing for anyone who needs to give themselves personal space and self-nourishment. Likewise, working on ships is also great for couples as they get to see so many new places together, which in my opinion is a mini honeymoon/vacation for free! The last thing I will say about free time is that one should not get use to sleeping in all the time.Yes, cast members get to sleep in unlike most crew, but oversleeping can sometimes have a negative effect on an individual, if it becomes a pattern of hibernating in a cabin. It is good to get out of the cabin and see the light, as majority of crew members do not have windows in their cabins, due to being on lower decks then guests.
5. Cast members are allowed in guest eating areas.Due to different job descriptions on cruise lines, many crew are not allowed to eat in guest areas. Cast members on the other hand are usually allowed to eat in guest areas, as their job entails guest interaction not only on the stage but around the ship. Cast members can request to eat at restaurants like guests and can dine at the main buffet (unless completely filled and busy). Having a greater variety for dining is a plus to being a cast member, especially when working on a ship for a longer period of time.
Overall, life as a cast member while on board in very nice. Our food and shelter is provided to us, we are able to travel around the world to so many places, and last but not least, we get to do what we love to do: perform. As an artist, I would say that nothing makes me more happier than performing in front of an audience and moving them in some way. Whether I can make someone happy, or create a connection with a guest through my work, than I have succeeded. It is this moment I live for as a professional dancer. Yes, making money is always something one must do to making a living, but when performing the factor of money goes away. There are so many ways to inspire others and for me, dance is the art form. I have chosen to touch others through movement and storytelling. At the end of the day, there are so many ways to make a living but working on a cruise ship allows me to perform for so many, while earning a stable income for whatever the future holds.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and learn a little bit about my lifestyle while on board. This subject has so many detailed topics that I would love to elaborate on. Please feel free to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to hear more or would like me to blog about another subject. Goodbye for now xoLeave a Comment
Before embarking for a cruise ship contract, there are a few things that take place for a hired cast member. Generally, a month or two before the embarkation date, a cast goes through a training process to learn the choreography of the show packages (number of shows in a show package varies on the class of ship).
Many guests and friends have personally asked me in the past, “do you get paid while in rehearsal?” The answer to that question is not clear and is considered a grey area. To give you the best answer to this tricky question, I would say we get reimbursed money that can be used for the food and personal items we purchase ourselves during rehearsal time. In regards to the past two creative teams I have worked for, I have been offered a place to stay and have had to pay for my own food and necessities. I have been paid either by ocean pay card (sort of like a prepaid visa card that can be used while you live on the ship) or by cheque. As an international performer in the United States the process of getting paid can be difficult to grasp with wiring money and living off of American cash, but my best advice is to cash cheques as soon as possible (will need a passport and another government issued ID when you arrive at the bank) and live on cash money. If that sounds too risky, an international individual can also open a tourist account to store their money while staying in the States. To conclude this subject, the ‘rehearsal pay’ will usually be a smaller amount then the pay on board.
Depending on the show packages a cast learns, a dancer could be required to do aerial training or may even have to back up sing in certain shows. Once again, this all depends on the creative team, cruise line, and package of shows. At some point, you will encounter a creative run regardless of the creative team you are with. A creative run is where a cast wears all blacks and is in full make up (eye lashes for the ladies!) The director of the company, casting director, rehearsal director, and sometimes wardrobe team will come and watch this creative run. It is is similar to a dress rehearsal minus the costumes. Creative runs are great for preparing for shows before heading to the cruise ship. Sometimes, the cast may even be allowed to invite friends and family to watch, depending on how well prepared the cast is for sea.
Aerial training can be anywhere from 2-3 weeks (consecutively or spread out between dance rehearsals). Personally, I have had aerial training with both Norwegian Creative Studios and RWS Entertainment Group and both of these experiences were very different. One of the training experiences was a solid 2-3 weeks long and happened before the dance rehearsals, while the other training was spread out throughout two months, intertwined in the dance rehearsals. Having had no previous Aerial training prior to cruise ships, I would say that at first it is very challenging and strenuous but after a while it becomes a new skill that is great to have in your pocket.
Strength as a dancer is a general requirement but aerial training requires a completely different type of strength physically and mentally. I’ve learned that being patient and having a lot of confidence is the key to successful aerial training mentally. Listening to instructions is super important because aerial can be very dangerous if one is not careful and not following precise instructions. I cannot stress enough that the safety of someone training with aerial apparatuses is the most important thing. Injuries can occur quickly if one is unfocused or not mentally present. Being mentally present and focused is important but being physically present is also important. It is an equal balance between the body and mind that allows a successful aerial training process. Similar to dance, the body must be warmed up properly and have the proper nutrition and stamina for the tasks given in training. The upper back region, arms and fingers can fatigue quickly from holding one’s own body wait and hanging off of apparatuses for long periods of time. I advise lots of water, rest and light lunches while aerial training. Personally, I would eat either sweet potatoes, plain chicken breast, crackers, and Grannie Smith Apples before aerial training, as they tend to hold well in my stomach while hanging upside down or spinning. Overall, aerial training can be very fun for some but dreadful for others. Remember that if it’s your first time, have a positive outlook and don’t get down on yourself if you don’t have immediate success.
There are interviews during the rehearsal period which one can apply for a leadership role such as dance captain, assistant dance captain company manager, vocal captain, wardrobe supervisor, wardrobe assistant, wig captain, and aerial captain (these position vary from class of ship and company of cruise line). These leadership positions get extra pay per month on top of their normal salary. Sometimes depending on the company of the creative team and cruise ship line, performers can be paid extra if they are performing or understudying on aerial apparatuses. Moreover, these are general facts I am stating from personal experience working with more than one cruise line in the past.
The last topic to is the preparation to travel to the cruise ship itself. In my blog, What Should One Pack For A Cruise Ship Contact? I discuss some packing tips for cruise ship contracts for newly hired cast members/crew members or hired returners. In regards to flight information, the creative company you have worked with will provide you with flights to your home port (where the ship docks every embarkation date), as well as hotel information (if required in one’s travels). Both of these are covered by the cruise line. On the other hand, some things a cast member will have to pay for and can further be reimbursed by the cruise line once embarked on the ship. These things include baggage fees and paying for meals at the airport and hotel. Depending on the cruise line, cast members may have a certain per diem they can spend at the airport (example no more than $25.00) or a meal voucher at the hotel for breakfast. Additionally, if one brings two suitcases, they may only be reimbursed for one piece of luggage or possibly be reimbursed for multiple pieces of luggage (if one owns a Dutch Seamans book this may allow them to carry more than one piece of luggage for free).
If a cast member is international they also have to deal with visas. Before leaving for the cruise ship, international cast members are flown out of the country they are training in to re-enter with a C1-D visa, which is a combination of two visas: transferring from United States to a cruise ship as well as a general crew man’s visa. Generally this visa is required for Australians and Europeans. As a Canadian this visa is not required and one can travel to a cruise ship being on a B-2, but must already be on this visa prior to training. If an international cast member applies for this visa, they are reimbursed once embarked on the ship. Flights to be sent out of the country and re-enter the country where training takes place is provided for the cast member(s). Once embarked on the cruise ship all cast members will have to go through Immigration, where the non-American citizens are given a CBP Form (I-95 also known as a D-1 visa), which they must carry with them every time they go off the ship in an American port (Alaska counts as an American port). The ship will take all the crew and cast members passports and keep them kept save in the crew office so no crew member decides to leave the ship and not come back (this has happened in the past on cruise ships).
I hope all of this information was helpful to whomever was reading this blog. It is a lot of information that may look foreign to many but once one has gone through the process or is currently in the process of a contact, it begins to make more sense. If you have any personal questions about this blog or would like me to touch on another subject please feel free to reach me at email@example.com. Thank you for your time and patience to read such detailed information. Take care for now! xo
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Life on board as a crew member is always interesting to guests on board as well as friends and family. Usually a crew member will say, “it’s great job if you want to travel the world”, but there is more to that answer. Therefore, this blog will explain in depth of what life is like on board as a crew member.
The number one job for any crew member on board is to successfully perform their safety function. This job overrides the other functions the crew member was originally hired for because safety is the most important thing while on board a ship. The second job for a crew member which is also very important is to make sure the guests on board are happy and satisfied. Guests pay lots of money to cruise and see these faraway places. They deserve to be treated well. You never know the background or story of a guest. You don’t know or where they’ve come from or why they chose this vacation prior to their time on board. They could possibly be a frequent visitor who donates lots of money to the cruise line or could be someone who has never been on a ship before. Regardless, all guests should be treated equally well, enabling each one to enjoy their time on board and cherish the memories. This may seem obvious to some readers, but I chose to share this in the beginning of the blog because this mentality is really is important to keep in the back of your mind every day you are working. Moreover, when a crew member is on board for many months, this ideology can fade away, leaving a negative impression making or breaking a ship’s ratings for a cruise.
To further explain safety functions let me go into more detail about drills. There are three drills a crew member needs to understand and act accordingly to:
1) The General Emergency Alarm
2) First Stage Response Alarm
3) Crew Alert Alarm
Depending on the safety card in your crew life jacket (kept in your cabin), you will have to react to all alarms in different ways. Every crew member is trained once they embark the ship on how to act accordingly to these alarms and they are all required to take multiple safety courses online prior to joining to the ship. My most recent safety function was a Stairway Guide, which directed traffic in a designated stairwell of the ship during a General Emergency Alarm. I had to ensure guests were moving in a calm state to their life boats by communicating with my voice and clear hand gestures. If a guest loses their key card or a child has lost their legal guardian, I had to call on the Muster Control System to report the event and have an assisted crew member (crew member who does not have a specific safety function and is asked to perform a task if needed in a General Emergency Alarm) to aid in the situation. Once all guests have been safely directed to their life boats, the captain announces each safety function crew to report to their designated life rafts, where the commander scans everyone’s key cards into the system to ensure everyone’s presence. If an actual real emergency were to take place, then the life raft commander would direct each group onto the rafts that would then be inflated. There is a blow up slide called a chute that each crew member of the life raft will have to slide down to arrive inside their designated life raft. This step is not practiced on board as the life rafts are only used for real life emergencies and not drills, but the process up the that point is practiced regularly.
For a First Stage Response Alarm, crew and guests need to listen to further announcements over the P.A and ensure that they are not in the location of where an incident is taking place, unless their safety function requires them to act during the alarm. The First Stage Response Alarm is for fires that take place on the ship. The P.A also makes announcements such as “Medical Response, Stretcher Team or Bright Star”, which are all for medical emergencies.
The last alarm is the Crew Alert Alarm, which is a drill that takes place once a cruise, ensuring all crew members are practicing their safety functions correctly in a smooth and calm manner. Every cruise there are different life rafts and life boats chosen to stay after the crew drill to be asked safety questions and review important information in case there are new crew members who have embarked the ship or is any crew member has forgotten the answers. The difference between a life raft an a life boat is that the rafts are for crew and the boats are for guests. There is a commander and assistant commander for each raft and boat but there are also riggers for the boats, which aid in let the boat down into the water. Furthermore, there are 4-5 crew member in each life boat with guests.
Life on board as a crew member has many perks. We get discounts off liquor and other amenities such as the spa, shops and cafes. Of course, these discounts vary depending on the cruise line one is employed under but generally crew do not pay as much money for things as guests. Another perk for crew is access to internet. The internet is not free on ships but has a discounted price for crew. The final perk for crew in my opinion is that we get to see the ports in the itinerary more than once. Guests generally see these ports once and are limited to only see a few things while on board (unless they stay for more than once cruise or return to the same itinerary in the future). As a crew member, one is able to do multiple things during their multiple visits to ports. We also figure out where the best WIFI is to contact friends and family. One more perk that can sometimes be given to crew members are crew discounts in stores off shore. All it takes is to ask a concierge or clerk if they provide crew discounts in their shop, restaurant, tour and/or business of entertainment.
Currently working for Holland America Cruise Lines is wonderful because they allow crew to sign up for excursions as an escort. Even though this means helping the travel guide, it still allows you to go off and see things guests pay a lot of money for. When my family came on board, they all paid to go zip lining in Puerto Limon and I got to sign up as an escort so I could join them. It was totally worth it to hold up a sign and count the guests on your bus.
As a crew member many believe that relationships are sporadic and short lasting. Sorry to disappoint the readers but that rumor is far from true. Many crew members on board are usually in a prior relationship (engaged, married, or maybe have a family they need to support) and have no interest in finding a partner. Sometimes there will be some spontaneous romances on board but generally that is not the case. Many crew members meet and date on board and end up staying together over time. If there ever is a problem or something a crew member wants to share in a private manner, there is a human resource manager on board who will listen and advise you of the actions that need to be taken. A human resource manager may not be provided on some cruise lines, but it is really nice to have one on board.
Life on board as a crew member allows you to make many friends by connecting with crew from different departments and job functions. Remembering names can be a challenge but crew always wear name tags (essentially for the guests), which is very helpful to remind you if you forget.
The last thing to share about being a crew member are the crew parties and events. This is probably what makes life as a crew member so much fun to most people. Events such as ice cream nights, noddle nights, basket ball tournaments, themed parties, pool access, spa nights, all you can eat (insert food caption) contests, crew shopping sales, crew tours, crew shows and crew movie nights are all events I have seen happen while I have been on board. These events can be so much fun but I would advise that you attend with friends, as it is not as fun alone. There is strength and fun in numbers.
Life on board as a crew member can definitely hard at times but for the most part is a unique experience and can really help someone grow in a positive way. I do know some who have worked on cruise ships and have absolutely hated it, having a bad experience, but generally most people I know that have worked for cruise ships end up continuing to work on multiple ships. If you consider yourself a wanderlust addict that loves to meet new people then this career path is a perfect choice. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to hear more about this subject or another topic. Remember that you’ll never know what working on a cruise ship is like until you have actually tried it! See you soon xo
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Cruise ship packing is always very stressful and difficult, especially when you have to pack for contracts that are longer than six months or include multiple itineraries. If one has never worked on a cruise ship before and could benefit from some advice on how to pack, below are some important tips I have learned over time that have been really helpful for me.
- Try to pack as little as possible. This is easier said than done, but believe me you’ll be thanking me later when you realize you don’t have enough room to store your clothes in your cabin or when you have to carry two suitcases, a carry-on, a full back pack, and a purse up the gangway.
Most of the time when working on cruise ships, one shares a cabin with a roommate having a bunk bed and a small washroom. Depending on the cruise line company and class of ship, the storage available in the cabins may vary. In the past I have had a small closet that included drawers, along with the bunk bed and washroom. Sometimes you have a drawer or two under the bottom bunk and some storage for suitcases. Additionally, there is a desk that will have some drawers and maybe even shelving above the desk. This is a great place to put miscellaneous items or beauty products. The washroom has a medicine cabinet with a mirror on the front to store hygienic items. It is important to remember that all of the storage space above fills up very quickly with the needed items and that cutting back on outfits and non-critical items is crucial.
I have learned that packing mix and match items are very smart and don’t take up as much space. Also, I have learned that solid color clothing matched with blacks can turn into so many outfits and much less space in a suitcase. I always pack a black pair of dress pants and beige khakis, matching a variety of shirts from dress to casual. That way I am creating a plethora of outfits while saving room for more items in my luggage. As foot footwear, packing black flats as well as another comfortable close-toe shoes (ie. Toms or Keds) are highly recommended items to pack for a cruise ship. Heels are always difficult to pack for females because we always want to bring too many pairs. To be frank, one should only pack two pairs, which should be plain in style to match multiple outfits. Some cruise lines prefer that you have closed toe even in heels. I usually take one pair of heels black and the other pair nude. If you have a special outfit for a gala night (ie. New Year’s Eve) it is OK to pack those special shoes too. You need to figure out if you are on a contract that will have such special occasions.
- Communicate with previous employees.It is important and smart to communicate with employees who have lived on the cruise ship before and find out if they have anything they can leave behind. This tip is always helpful because one can avoid purchasing certain items the night before embarking the ship, resulting in carrying less things onto the ship. Additionally, when communicating to previous cruise ship employees, make sure to ask things like:
- Are the walls in the cabins magnetic?
- Does the cabin contain power bars?
- Are there cork board in the cabins?
- Is there a functioning lock box in the cabin?
- What type of outlet/plugs does the ship have?
If an employee says they will leave some items behind, make sure you ask them what these items are so you don’t end up with a repeat purchase. As for cabin walls, if they are not magnetic I highly suggest investing in command strips and silly putty. Power bars always need to be checked by security when you board the ship, so be prepared to lay out all electronics and power bar(s) on the bed for full inspection, if they were not already taken during boarding. Finally, if there is a functioning lock box available in the cabin, make sure to put all valuable items insides such as a wallet, jewelry, identifications, and personal electronics. If there is no lock box in the cabins, I suggest investing in a lock that can potentially be used on the outside of a drawer (I have been in cabins that had drawer handles that could fit a lock). If neither of these options are available, I suggest investing in a lock box you can place in a drawer or closet space.
- Miscellaneous items are always important to bring. Many times on a cruise ship you will have a lot of extra down time to do whatever you choose. The ship offers so many activities for guests but sometimes it is nice to just spend time alone.
Personally I love to read books but didn’t want to pack a stack of heavy books. Therefore, I’ve invested in a mini iPad that has the kindle application as well as the iBook application. By having this device, I was able to store a large quantity of books, podcasts, and any other materials of interest, while saving a large amount of space and weight in my luggage. Additionally, I can easily take my iPad anywhere on the ship to read, whether I’m in my cabin or in a guests coffee lounge. In regards to movies and television series, I recommend investing in a hard drive. Many returning employees on ships have hard drives and like to copy movies from peers to add to their collection of entertainment. A hard drive also allows you to save storage space on a laptop or tablet and is conveniently portable. Depending on the individual and how many TV series or movies they want to have/watch, I would recommend purchasing a one or two terabyte hard drive. Moreover, I would several cases of laptops crashing while at sea. I have witnessed more than one employee lose contents of their laptop. Thus, I am now super conscious of that scenario potentially happening to me.
Some other electronics that you may want to bring onboard are cameras (polaroid, digital camera), a go pro, video game console and head phones/ear phones for ones who like to work out at the gym. Please be aware that if you want to play games they should be ones that do not require WIFI. That being said, miscellaneous items don’t always mean electronics. Activities such a knitting, coloring, origami, puzzles/brain teasers, yoga/meditation, or learning a new language are hobbies that one can do while on a ship. There are many applications that can be download onto a device such as workouts, word searches, cross words, trivia games, board games, and language tutoring applications. If you would rather not have electronic versions of the above, then you can always invest in coloring books, origami paper, playing cards, yarn and knitting needles, yoga matt, or word search/sudoku, crossword, puzzle oriented books. One important item I found incredibly useful to bring is a journal! While at sea, it is very easy to fall into patterns of boredom and isolation, making you feel like you need to escape. Writing in a journal helps to express thoughts and feelings and can often provide that needed escape. It can be a tool to vent your sad or negative thoughts as well as helping to remember happy moments.
- Personal items and necessitates are always considered staples on the packing list. These items can range from medications to daily hyenic items. The list of these items vary from person to person, so below is a list of the things I would advise to bring in case you do not know where to start:
- Medications (SEA SICKNESS PILLS, Ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol/Tums)
- Vitamins (B-12 and Iron for ladies, C, or any other supplement you take)
- Glasses/ contact lenses
- Tooth brush
- Tooth paste and floss
- Deodorant and body spray
- Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash
- Hair brush and/or comb
- Hairspray/gel/ styling products
- Hair styling electronics (hair dryer, flat iron, curling iron/wand, crimper etc.)
- Nail clippers (do not pack in carry-on)
- Band aids
- Cotton swabs
- Sunscreen (depending on itinerary)
- Body lotion
- Feminine hygiene products
- Laundry detergent/pods and dryer sheets
- Disinfectant wipes
This seems like a long list and a lot of things to fit in a suitcase and carry-on. However, you can always purchase some of these items when you arrive at the home port of the itinerary or pick up some of the items over time at ports the ship docks into. When it comes to fancier items such as a kettle, coffee maker, steamer, iron, heating pad, enhanced bedding (memory foam) and speakers/clock radios, Please check with your production manager before bringing these items on so you are not surprised when you board your cruise line. Another item that is important for international employees to highly consider packing is an outlet convertor. Each cruise line has different outlets for electronics depending on the location of the ships itinerary or where the ship was built. Generally, most ships have your standard American outlets, some ships have European outlets and many ships have both.
- The forgotten items that can make your cruise ship contract golden. When cruise ship packing, I will suggest some items that are often overlooked, resulting in, “man I wish I packed that!”:
- Watch (traveling through multiple time zones throughout a contract will make a watch one’s best friend)
- Small pair of scissors
- Duel wine opener and bottle opener
- Small sewing kit
- Zip lock bags (a life saver when packing hygienics)
- Plastic bags (for wrapping up shoes)
- Tooth brush case
- To- go cup of some sort (coffee mug/ shake bottle)
- Air freshener of some sort (specially for the washroom)
- Dawn dish soap in a travel bottle (gets make up and stains out of clothing)
- Highlighters (great for schedules or important reminders)
- Baseball cap (works wonders for bad hair days and the sun on port days)
- Loose cardigan or poncho/wrap of some sort (ships are always freezing from the air conditioning, so having one or two of these can be very helpful)
- Luggage tags that have two different addresses (one side as your home address and the other as the ship address/training address)
Cruise ship packing can be overwhelming at first but once completed, it is extremely satisfying. The amount of times I had to re-packed for my first cruise ship contract is embarrassing, but now that I have a better understanding of what is really needed and what is helpful, I can confidently pass on my knowledge to whomever reads this blog. If you have any questions or want to hear more about this subject or another topic, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I hope this information was helpful and wish you happiness with your future endeavors! xo
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Preparing for dance auditions can be very stressful, especially when you don’t have a set routine to prepare yourself. Growing up in a competitive dance setting, I attended many dance conventions and intensives. I took part in a lot of auditions at these events, where I would always be known by number rather than by name. I remember there being so many other dancers in the room who were equally as nervous as I was, and who were far too worried about what others would think of them.
Warming up was always difficult because there wasn’t much room and I too would be nervous and distracted by the other individuals around the room. At some point, I started becoming familiar with faces and ended up making friends with some of the other dancers at these events. We would connect over social media and sometimes even exchange phone numbers. The auditions became routine after a while and I became better at mentally preparing myself to do my best.
Eventually, I had created an auditioning routine with a basic warm up method I learned while in high school which started with bodily movement; getting the heart pumping quickly and raising body temperature. After breaking a light sweat, I would then move onto some isolations followed by stretches and strengthening exercises. Many times in auditions, dancers may feel like they don’t have enough time to properly warm up. This causes nervousness and a feeling of being unprepared. As a result, the dancer becomes unfocused and most of the time loses confidence. There is always time to warm up! You just have to be in a calm and focused mind set to do so. As soon as you start thinking about other things that stray away from your practice, time vanishes quickly, and you begin feeling like you’ve completed very little.
The method I use when warming up is to hold a stretch for at least thirty seconds and do at least two reps of whatever strengthening exercise I choose. I’ve seen many dancers pop into their splits and do the most impressive things during warm up. I realized early on how unhelpful and unrealistic this method was. The most important thing for me was to listen to my body and figure out what areas were the most sore, or needed the most attention with regards to stretching or strengthening. In the same fashion, breathing became a vital component of warming up, allowing me to channel my energy while helping me stay calm and positive.
While studying in University, I decided to add another personal element: music. I would put my earphones in and play a variety of my favourite songs while warming myself up in my usual routine. Most of the time I would have a song that I would listen to almost every day, acting as a ritual for my practice. Other times I would play different songs depending on my mood or how my body felt that day. The word “ritual” is very important with warming up and audition preparations. Pertaining to the arts field, a ritual is a habitual practice that one develops to prepare themselves for success. Thus, a ritual practice can go beyond just drinking a cup of coffee in the morning before your audition. Rituals may evolve to specific positive mental phrases you tell yourself before your number is called into the audition room, or to taking a couple of minutes to utilize imagery tactics and visualizing yourself nailing the audition. My ritualistic practice is certainly my warm up. By implementing the idea of a ritual, it makes the art of dance and entertainment more sacred and meaningful rather than just a task.
When I began auditioning for jobs I started to become nervous again, but had to realize that I had done so many auditions in the past and that there was no reason to freak myself out. Ninety-nine percent of the time your mind doubts your skill and leads you to believe that you are incapable of reaching the goal you want. I came to realize that the most successful contenders in the field were individuals who went for what they wanted and who weren’t afraid to fall on their face in front of their peers and get back up again. I comprehended that confidence was the key to auditioning and that it was the hardest thing for me to personally improve upon. Confidence in not only being a technically sound dancer. It is also being in touch with your own unique artistic flare. This helps you to emote specific traits such as sexy, funny, strong, passionate, etc. In the past, I never really had the confidence to emote in auditions or during performances, and so I would focus on developing a character in my head who would take on the audition or step out on stage during the performance. It was sort of like an alter-ego. Over time, I had played around with so many characters that I finally felt confident enough to stop making up characters and instead, embrace the emotions that I had experienced throughout my life.
Some words of advice for any artist auditioning would be to have a nice blend of three qualities: being precise, humble, and driven. Adding a pinch of humour is a bonus. It’s good to be precise in auditions because you want to show that you can listen and follow directions. Likewise, being humble is a great trait to have while auditioning. Your attitude speaks volumes in the audition room; casting directors can easily read if a dancer will be able to drop their ego at the door or if they will hold themselves on a pedestal above others. Eleven times out of ten, directors don’t only want to hire a dancer for their talents. Directors are looking to see if a dancer’s personality will allow them to mesh well with other dancers in the company and if they will be able to represent the company well. So be humble, because people would rather work with someone who is dedicated and a team player, rather than someone who is a egoistic drama queen. Drive is also fundamental in dance. If a dancer is not driven, there really is no point in pursuing work in this profession. When the people behind the tables see someone who is driven and pushing themselves to their full potential, they most likely will want to work with that person. Finally, it is always nice to work with someone who can laugh at themselves and know how to have fun during a process. When auditioning, it’s great to show others that you can work hard and pick up choreography, but it is a plus if you have a personality that can tune in to the fact that we are human and can make mistakes. Of course the last quality cannot be practiced as it is just a state of mind and self-acceptance that allows one to be able to have a little humour.
Once you’re inside the audition room it is important to remember a few things that can improve your dance audition experience:
- Choose your spot carefully. Make sure you stand in a place where you are at least able to see the choreographer and perform a smart mark. This is super important because you don’t want to miss details and specific instructions the choreographer is showing.
- Be aware of your surroundings. This is super important when you are showing the choreography in groups. You want to make sure that if you are put in a formation that you stay in that formation. This skill will show the people behind the table that you can hold a space down while dancing and that you won’t cause issues when blocking routines for a show.
- Breathe! In auditions we tend to get nervous and forget that breathing will help. Breathing can actually enhance your movement and performance and will make everything so much easier.
- Start performing while learning the choreography. This is such a helpful tip and has personally been a huge life saver with my audition experience. Often we don’t like to fully perform until the very last moment when we are called out onto the floor and might be filmed. Nerves take over and habits start to show, and all of a sudden you’re thinking too hard and your lips mold into a plastered smile. Then, before you know it, your time is over and you have to wait on the side and watch everyone else execute the dance. Regret and “I should have done that instead” kicks in and you feel bad for not doing better. So instead of heading in that direction do the following: start to figure out your purpose or character in the choreography you are learning. Begin to embody what story you want to tell and how you can stand out from the other individuals auditioning. Use not only your movement, but your eyes. Some people may say this is silly but trust me, if you follow this advice, you’ll be thanking me later. Once you step onto the floor to perform the routine, if you show your confidence you won’t have to worry about that extra layer of ornamentation, you can simply enjoy performing. By continuing to practice these things, you will develop a more positive outlook towards your dance audition experiences.
To sum up all I have discussed in this blog, I firmly believe that auditioning can be made into a fun experience if one choses to be optimistic and prepared. Being focused on yourself is key, but paying attention to your surrounding and staying humble is also an important factor to balance. Always arrive earlier then you are called and warm up properly to give your body what it needs. The holding room is a place for you to mentally and physically gather yourself and is not your bathroom to do your hair and make-up. Of course you should pack extra outfits, extra resumes, shoes, hygienic supplies and make up for touch ups or last minute changes, but do not arrive to the audition looking like you just got out of bed. One last word of advice that becomes a plus to your networking skills: always call or message for permission from the person/people you would want to be a reference before you arrive to the audition. Write a list of these individuals’ phone numbers and emails on a piece of paper or have them sorted in your phone. This is important if you want to stay connected to choreographers, teachers or past employers. Also, it is the moral thing to do, so that the individual is prepared to talk about you with the future employers or choreographers.
In the end, be confident and don’t shy away from auditions, even if you don’t think you’re cable of getting the job you are going for. Everyone deserves a chance to be seen and there is a place for every detail-oriented, humble, and driven dancer in this industry whether it’s Broadway, cruise ships, or simply handing out flyers in a flashy costume. If you have any questions or want to hear more about this subject or another topic, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with your future endeavours! xo