The Diamond in the Rough: StepONE Dance Company
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.