I was lucky enough to be accepted onto two World Class Dance Tour’s, and experience the dance industry in Sydney, Australia in 2013, and Los Angeles, United States in 2014.
What attracted me to this company was the vast range of dance opportunities which were offered on each tour. There were opportunities to experience dance classes from world class choreographers, at many different well known studios. In Sydney these included Urban Dance Centre and Brent Street, and in LA The Edge, Millennium and IDA Hollywood. Not only were multiple classes in a range of different genre scheduled daily, we also had the freedom to choose classes which we wanted to take. Add in plenty of extra time for sightseeing in these incredible places, and we found ourselves a part of an incredible tour. As part of the Sydney tour, you visit places such as the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Bondi Beach, and Taronga Zoo. In Los Angeles, the group accommodation is a meer two-minute walk from the bustling Hollywood Boulevard. Here you get to experience tours around Beverly Hills, Warner Bro’s, visit Universal Studios, the Hollywood sign, and of course, Disneyland, CA.
I found both tours to be absolutely fantastic, and one of the best opportunities I have ever had. Once on tour, daily schedules were prepared and handed out the evening before, which outlined the plan for the next day (which dance classes we would take, approximate times, what we needed to bring with us etc). I always felt prepared for what was coming next. Kim has a real gift with people which allows her to communicate effectively with many different ages. Her organisation is impeccable, which meant I was always well informed about what was required and expected of us at all times. Her bubbly and outgoing personality made me feel comfortable and relaxed, which resulted in many laughs throughout the tour.
The highlights for me, were taking classes in LA at the Edge Studios and Millennium Dance Complex. I had grown up hearing about these amazing studios where famous singers and actors had trained, so couldn’t wait to experience classes there for myself.
It was everything I had expected and more. At first I struggled to pick up the choreography as their teachers taught a lot faster than many in New Zealand, however I found myself thriving in the classes and really being challenged. Amongst many dancers from all over the world, I also managed to find myself in the same contemporary class as the lead female dancer in the movie Step Up: Revolution. She is one of my idols so getting to dance in the same class was inspiring. Having the opportunity to dance with someone of her importance and passion was incredible, and something which I will never forget.
As amazing as these classes were, nothing bet having the opportunity to dance at Disneyland, as well as take a workshop with one Disney’s most well-known directors. As part of this workshop we did a few combinations down the room, and then at the end were told who they would hire out of the group if it was a live audition. I found that the director would only take people that made eye contact with him when coming across the floor, which I found very interesting and certainly a tip to remember. As for dancing on the Disneyland stage, it was amazing being able to showcase our talent in front of many Disney personnel, as well as get a taste of what our life could be as a professional dancer working for Disney.
While on the LA tour, Kim managed to organise a private audition with Princess Cruises for selected members of our tour group who potentially had a future interest in working in the entertainment industry on board ships. She also managed to find the time in our tour for us to go to a live open dance audition which Royal Caribbean Cruises were also holding over the two-week period which we were in America. From taking part in these two auditions, I learnt very quickly how intense and particular the dance world really is. A lot of the time, whether you are offered a professional dance job or not isn’t anything to do with how you dance.
Majority is how you look. What companies are looking for in particular can vary from such as hair colour, eye colour, dress size, height, weight, shoe size. More often than not, the judging panel walks into an audition room already with a pre-conceived idea on exactly what kind of dancer they are looking for. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, you won’t be what they are looking for, and that is the way it goes. I also learnt that when you are in a room with 100 other female dancers who are all wanting the same job, you need to find ways to make yourself stand out from the rest. The most common one being – put yourself out there and stand at the very front, right in the judging panels eye line. This will automatically make them notice you and pay attention, as you are placing yourself close to them.
This is just an example of two audition techniques which I learnt on the LA World Class Dance Tours. By being in real audition situations, I could watch other dancer’s techniques for standing out, and who was offered professional contracts. This meant that when the time came for me to audition again, I had a head start over others who had never experienced an audition before, and apply these techniques which I learnt on the tour.
On both the Sydney and LA tour, many other seminars were run throughout the two-week period. These included money handling/management, the secret to a positive outlook on life, the importance of nutrition, vision boards, Agency talks, and many guest speakers from people who have been successful in the entertainment industry. These all provided in depth insight into some of the other aspects which go hand in hand with a successful career. I personally, found the money handling seminar interesting as it is known that dancers are never well paid. I now hold some skills which will help me to budget what I earn, as well as knowledge on how it is possible to make a low sum on money into a larger sum. I also loved learning about ‘The Secret’ and how a small change in thinking, can change your life. Through learning about this, I try and apply it to my everyday life.
Overall, both the Sydney and Los Angeles tours helped me in more ways than one. Not only did I learn many different dances from a range of well- known choreographers, I also gained audition tips, knowledge on how to handle money, the secret to a positive lifestyle, what agencies look for when they are hiring people for their books, and how many different opportunities are available for dancers. Mainly, I learnt that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
Before I went on these tours I had a lot of self-doubt. I wasn’t even sure if dance was the right career path for me. Throughout my dance life I was constantly told that I wasn’t good enough, and was always being compared to other dancers. I came home feeling fresh, inspired and more determined than ever to make dance into a professional career.
I am now currently three months into my second cruise ship contract as a production dancer, working for Costa Cruises. Working on ships is proving to be everything I thought it would be and more. Being able to do what I love in front of thousands of people every night, while travelling around Italy, France and Spain for 7 months at a time is amazing. I hope to continue working on ships for a year or two more, so that I can discover even more places in the world.
I have a lot to thank World Class Dance Tours for. Although I gained both of my cruise contracts through video audition, every live audition which I have done, I feel a lot more comfortable with since participating in these tours. Being inspired by other dancers and experiencing some of the opportunities available to dancers re-ignited my passion.
These tours created some of the best memories I have ever had, which I will carry with me. Not only do you get to travel and dance in some amazing places for two weeks, you also make friends which so many others who have the same dreams. I would recommend World Class Dance Tours in a heartbeat, as a tour that will change lives. I am very fortunate for the opportunity in which Kim gave me. She is an incredible woman to work with and this is not an opportunity you would want to miss.
– Kristi Dahm, Dancer