Teen Dancers Try Out for Royal Caribbean Cruise
By Marcia E. Gawecki
Go directly to college, or take six months off and dance on a cruise ship?
That was the happy dilemma for Maddy and Cheyenne, two Idyllwild Arts dance students, on Tuesday, April 17, as they headed for their audition at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Hollywood.
Maddy, who got accepted into five colleges, but not her top choices, was exploring cruise ship options, and Royal Caribbean sounded promising.
“On a cruise ship, you get to dance and travel the world,” Maddy said.
It would be a six-month commitment if she made the cut.
“I would have to defer my college enrollment, but then I could earn almost a year’s tuition,” she said.
During her time at Idyllwild Arts, Maddy was a straight A student who didn’t have much time for socializing.
“Every Saturday night, I was home studying,” she said. “Now I just want to have some fun and earn a little money so I don’t have to take out so many student loans.”
Maddy said that Royal Caribbean would pay anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per month, depending on your contract. Dancers would be expected to work every day, however, all living expenses would be paid, including room & board, meals and insurance. And for the 8-week training session in Florida, Royal Caribbean would pay for the airfare, food and hotel fees.
“They would also pay for your costumes, makeup and everything,” Maddy added.
For their 10 a.m. audition, Maddy and Cheyenne wore heavy eye makeup and black dance leotards. Instead of their normal tight bun, they let their hair down.
“Whatever you do, don’t stand in the back,” advised Cheyenne, who has entered beauty pageants. “They will never see you.”
On the web site, Royal Caribbean said that there could be as many as 300 girls at the audition. As it turned out, there was only about 100.
“That kind of competition kind of freaks me out,” Maddy said.
Other audition criteria included height and weight requirements. Dancers had to be a size 0 to 6, and be 5 foot to 5 foot six inches tall, and have 7 years of dance experience.
The two dancers had met all of the requirements, but Cheyenne didn’t think that the length of experience mattered all that much.
“At the end of the day, all they want to see is if you can dance,” she said.
The 100 dancers were cut to 30, and then to 10. Maddy made it to the second round, but then blanked out for a few seconds.
“I don’t know what happened,” Maddy recalled “I knew all the jazz steps, but I just froze. And when I stopped, the girl behind me stopped too.”
Cheyenne knew where she messed up too, but was glad for the overall experience. She noticed after the cut, there was a certain uniform look to the remaining girls.
“All the really short and tall girls were cut right away,” Cheyenne said. “And all the medium-sized girls with big boobs remained.”
She also noticed that she and Maddy were the youngest of the lot. There were mostly college girls, with some 30-year-olds mixed in.
“There was one girl who had already been a dancer on a cruise ship, but she left early because her sister died,” Cheyenne said. “They didn’t let her back in because she broke her commitment. That was her sister! It seemed kind of harsh.”
Even though the instructor at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio announced they were looking for clean dance techniques, Cheyenne noticed that the ones who threw their legs up over their heads made the cut.
“They weren’t showing clean technique,” Cheyenne quipped. “They were just showing off!”
Cheyenne also met a girl who attended a school that prepped her for cruise ship dance auditions, and that girl made the cut.
Cheyenne said that probably won’t attend any more cruise ship tryouts, but Maddy was encouraged to try another cruise line.
“I heard that Carnival is looking for dancers,” Maddy said. “I felt good about this audition, and believe that I could make the cut next time.”
Maddy hasn’t ruled out college in the fall, but it all depends upon scholarships, and if she could gather enough flight money to visit a couple of the east coast schools. She feels like she needs to gain a better perspective before the May 1 deadline.
Neither Maddy nor Cheyenne knew about Debbie Reynolds, the actress and singer, who owned the dance studio where the audition was held.
“I know that she’s a good choreographer,” Cheyenne said. “I didn’t know that she was also an actress.”
Debbie Reynolds established her dance studio in 1979 so that dancers could have a comfortable place to rehearse. All of Debbie Reynolds’ movies included some type of dance. She is best known for “Singing in the Rain,” (1952) with Fred Astaire.
“‘Singing in the Rain’ and childbirth were the two hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Debbie Reynolds is credited for saying.
Her children are actress Carrie Fisher (Star Wars, When Harry Met Sally) and TV commercials director, Todd Fisher. Debbie gave up acting (because she didn’t want to take her clothes off), yet has kept her love of dance. The Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio specializes in hip hop, jazz, and tap.
Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.
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