Riding a camel on Thanksgiving Day. Tobogganing down a mountainside. Seeing zebras sculpted out of sand. Winning a German card game. Visiting the top of a volcano. My dancing has brought me to all of these unique experiences recently, and I'm so thankful!
I'm 5 months into my 6 month contract dancing with TUI Cruises, a German ship with an international crew and itinerary. In my last blog I wrote about rehearsing in Berlin and making the big move from my home in New York City to Europe. Now we're in the meat of the contract, performing nearly every night and traveling around the Canary Islands, Madeira (Portugal), and Morocco.
My amazing cast of dancers, singers, actors and acrobats came on board Mein Schiff 4 on October 4, 2015. Our first few weeks were what they call the "overlap" period, where our directors from Berlin rehearsals stayed on board with us to set all shows on the beautiful stage. Our theater seats nearly 1,000 guests and the stage has several elevators and a turntable as well as LED screens. Needless to say, tech was a process. For each show, we had a staging rehearsal to block spacing, a run through nonstop, a costume tech, and a final dress rehearsal. It was a LOT of work. In between all of that we had many safety trainings since we are considered part of the crew as well as performers. Days were long.
Our first premiere was our "Beatles Forever" show, which is one of my favorites. Finally having an audience after 2 and a half months of full-time rehearsals felt amazing! At the end of this show the whole cast borders the front of the stage and waves with the audience to "Hey Jude." I love seeing their smiles as they look up at us. It's always a great moment but it was especially powerful the first time.
It took a full month to premiere all of our shows. Besides "Beatles Forever," the shows I enjoy most are "Romance & Dance," our hardest show but most stage time, "Musical Gala," where we dance to "Footloose" and "Hairspray," and "Variete," a circus-themed show that demands my petite allegro technique.
Unfortunately, during the end of the overlap one of my good friends hurt his back during a final dress rehearsal. This meant a replacement dancer from the previous cast was coming to fill his track. Translation = more rehearsal. We spent another two weeks adding him into the shows. And soon after we worked on a special Christmas show, where I danced Spanish from Nutcracker. It was nice to change it up by that point.
Now that the holidays are over we finally have some free time to actually see the places we've been traveling to all this time. I've had some amazing Spanish tapas and have fallen in love with goat cheese. We saw Europe's biggest New Year's Celebration of fireworks in Madeira. In Tenerife we went to a super fun animal park and water park. I've set foot in Africa. I'm trying to savor every second before I return home to New York City next month. Exploring by day, performing by night - this is the life!