Who could have ever expected to see me singing on a stage in front of an audience of up to 900 people; fortunately for the audience my microphone is not connected.
Life on the ship is rather exciting — the food is included pretty much all day and night, I have my private cabin with a window, the view from the top decks of the ship is most of the time magnificent, any time I want I can go to sauna and to gym. Sounds like a great place for a vacation, doesn’t it? While looking at the breathtaking sunset, indulging in the view and being grateful for the beautiful moment I take a look down on a card hanging down my neck and it says ‘CREW, Entertainment’ — oh, right, .. I get paid for it!!!
For all the concerned questions, like “Weren’t You studying something in university?” and “Weren’t You some kind of a scientist?” — not to worry, for I still have my job as a researcher and I am only transforming into an entertainer on a cruise ship while on a vacation.
I have been involved in dance groups before since the high school and I have also made a bit of cash, but this is the first time I have a contract as a dancer.
So how did I become to be a Dance Factory dancer on M/S Baltic Princess? Leaving aside the years of having dance as one of my hobbies, in this particular case it all started when I was taking photos of John’s performance at the very beginning of the year. The show was fun to watch and I was thinking myself that I believe I would be able to dance most of the choreography I saw. So when I saw a note of Dance Factory having a public audition in the middle of February, I was very excited to go and try, what I would be capable of. Then again, being aware that despite the enthusiasm my dancing skills were far from people who have actually studied dance, I was also scared I would just be seen as a pathetic joke at the audition. Nevertheless, I gathered my courage and decided to attend the audition.
After few of the first steps of the audition I was ready to quit and walk out. If I have to giraffe out my neck to see what a triple chainé looks like, I should take it as an obvious sign that the event is not for me. I felt like a color blind playing twister. Stubbornly I somehow made it until the end of the audition. At the end of it Mart (my friend and one of the choreographers of the company) came to me and in a rhetoric manner asked me whether I was seriously considering joining the company. I accepted it as a polite hint that this was the last I would hear from them. My body was killing me for a week after the audition!!!
Surprisingly, in some time I was invited to the second round of the auditions, a week long workshop. As from the second day I was the only guy left among the girls, I felt I got some special attention and care and with all that felt like I was doing a bit better in learning the choreography. Even so, I kept stumbling over the imperception of the dance vocabulary: “No, no, no!!! Not a plié, a grande plié!”. Meanwhile I heard some girls at a dressing room commenting on some age subject: “Yeah, as if some 30-year-old would be able to dance by such choreography (laugh…)”. The minimum age limit of the audition was 16 and by my estimation most of the girls looked like they had just barely met the limit. Somehow I did not feel like educating them by presenting a living and kicking 30-year-old, so I just sneaked out of the dressing room before anyone would have thought of asking my age.
To my surprise and excitement, in about a month I was contacted again and was invited to join the rehearsals of the summer shows!
With some extra workshops and a performance with another dance team that I am a member of, the first days of Dance Factory trainings were extremely exhausting. Having about 8 hours of intense trainings a day through the weekend I practised a lot of planking — that is how You call laying down at random places for a quick nap, right? Going through some complicated period, on couple of the days my brain activity in general was way below what would have been needed for adequate functioning. Somehow I made it through it and was accepted to be dancing on the ship!
As exciting as the adventure is for me, my self-esteem and confidence as a dancer has went through the deepest plunge. I used to think I was above average in learning choreography and performing as a dancer, but now I had to admit, either due to age that suddenly kicked in or lack of dance education (vocabulary and skills), I seriously suck at it all! After seeing videos of my second day on stage I was rather embarrassed and was close to tell my employers to cancel all my following performances. Oh well, I took my mood-swings outside, enjoyed the beautiful view, calmed down a bit and decided that I could study the videos and improve some of the things I was most embarrassed about. No, it is not complaining out of vain modesty while expecting some of You to jump in and praise me saying “You are a great dancer!” — after all of the first performances I got either patronizing or plain upset remarks from my colleagues and seemed like most of their effort on the performances was wasted on trying to manage my screw-ups. I even failed at the first and the simplest role of the day, an elephant of the children show, yet I seemed to perform like an elephant through the rest of the shows throughout the day. I have been trying hard to improve and I can only hope that what I have to offer on stage can be watched with enjoyment rather than pitying the ‘elephant’ cluelessly wandering across the stage.
There is one moment in the midnight show when most of the other dancers are lined up in front of me with some of those whom I had admired on stage half a year ago. At that particular moment, with a quite simple choreography, I get a moment to look at the line in front of me and every time I feel excitement in my mind: “Oh WOW, I really am one of them!!!”. And then, at the end of the midnight show I am introduced by name as one of “our amazing boys” — even if there are just couple people applauding and smiling to me while I cheerfully jump down the stage, it feels like a dream come true every time :)
Expecting some cool shots I took all my photo equipment along with me to the ship, but in fact I rarely get to do anything with it. Hence, a lot of the pics are from Instagram, which has been much simpler than carrying my camera with me the whole time. ** Thanks to Nikita who helped out with the camera and took over 1700 pics of our shows with my camera and * thanks to Olga for one of the photos.