All Aboard: Two Cruise Lines Are Investing in Top-Tier Dance Talent
Could the hottest new ticket in dance be at sea? While Virgin Voyages will offer immersive dance theater on its maiden ship the Scarlet Lady, Celebrity Cruises is bringing guests closer to the stars through a partnership with American Ballet Theatre. With these new ventures, Celebrity and Virgin will bring bespoke dance experiences to their guests, and dancers will have a chance to push their artistry off the proscenium stage while sailing between exotic ports of call.
Trenary performing a pas de deux from Le Corsaire
Courtesy Celebrity Cruises
Guests sailing with Celebrity Cruises will be able to see ABT members perform, take dancer-led barre classes and have intimate conversations with the artists about their lives and work. "We love the idea of meeting new audiences where they are," says ABT's executive director Kara Medoff Barnett. "There are 3,000-plus guests per week and many have never encountered ballet, so that delivers on our mission to bring the best of ballet to the widest possible audience."
Throughout the year, both during the season and on off weeks, ABT will send two dancers at a time to perform both classical and contemporary pas de deux. Cassandra Trenary and James Whiteside were the first pair to voyage out back in March. In total, 12 pairs will perform on various routes this year, with destinations from Alaska to the Caribbean. "While it is a casting and scheduling puzzle," says Medoff Barnett, "for the dancers, it is a chance to take a breather and have some fun." As for safety concerns, such as performing on pointe when the sea is rough, the dancers are given ultimate discretion over determining what they can do and when.
Pinkleton (right) rehearsing Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Evgenia Eliseeva, Courtesy ICM Partners
In preparation for the launch of their luxury Adult-by-Design cruise line in April 2020, Virgin Voyages and its Creative Collective have partnered with RWS Entertainment Group to bring a slate of brand-new productions to life from the likes of producer Randy Weiner (Sleep No More), Broadway's Sam Pinkleton and The Dance Cartel's Ani Taj, and circus group The 7 Fingers. In an email, Pinkleton and Taj wrote: "A cruise ship is a place where strangers come together and often end up heading back to their rooms at night dancing, sweaty and carrying their high heels in their hands. We couldn't imagine a more perfect—um—vessel—for our work." Pinkleton and Taj's UNTITLED DANCESHOWPARTYTHING is billed as a "hype music video disguised as an absurdist-style dance party." The audition tour for this, and other cutting-edge shows, happened in the spring; rehearsals are set to begin in January 2020.
I hate asking for money. I am tired of feeling like we, as dance practitioners, are constantly begging for every morsel of sustenance. We are often seen as the poor stepchildren of the arts, usually thought of as having nothing tangible to sell.
I have to admit, I've had a wonderful career. I've danced with The Royal Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet, done a stint on the West End in An American in Paris, played the Snow Cavalier in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms with Misty Copeland, and will soon be performing as Older Billy in the Australian tour of Billy Elliot: The Musical.
How did I get in this position? Through the eight international ballet competitions I've entered.
If you want to travel the world performing and doing what you love, competitions are your ticket to finding the freedom to dance wherever you want to go.
By the Sunday evening of a long convention weekend, you can expect to be thoroughly exhausted and a little sore. But you shouldn't leave the hotel ballroom actually hurt. Although conventions can be filled with magical opportunities, the potential for injury is higher than usual.
Keep your body safe: Watch out for these four common hazards.