I was a part of the “Random’s” Group. There were a few of us from around NZ, who had been accepted into the World Class Dance Tours program without a dance studio. We had to learn our choreography from watching a private YouTube link. We managed to put on a full-scale show with formations, solos, duets, costuming etc. We all united and bonded over our love for performance. That’s what these tours are about – having fun, meeting new people and learning all you can about the potential avenues to turn your passion into a sustainable career.
What did I love most about the tour?
I loved that I was surrounded by like-minded people that had as much passion about performing as I did. I loved the even balance of freedom and structure within the tours itinerary. I found that I had the perfect amount of time to be a part of the group activities and do fun things like take dance classes, climbing the Runyon Canyon, go out for meals, as well as take time to explore the area and imagine what it would be like to be a professional dancer living in Los Angeles. There were always so many opportunities available, and I really enjoyed the carefully thought out planning Kim put into our schedule each day – it catered to every personality and age group.
One of my favourite moments from the scheduled itinerary would’ve been the Disneyland Workshops. It provided great insight into the technicalities of a judging panel. It showed me that casting goes beyond talent, it can be based on look, personality and a foundation that has been built up from many years of hard work. I loved learning about how things at Disneyland were created such as the choreography for the evening light show. This was choreographed by Joshua Horner using a curtain and free movement. It was wonderful and inspiring to see how passion can be transformed into many different forms of art.
Furthermore, I really enjoyed the industry talks. We were fortunate enough to have people who were dancers, agents, musicians, producers, managers and/or people who were deeply integrated into the performing arts world. Not only, were they so willing to depart their knowledge on to us, but they were so open and passionate about helping us to succeed in our chosen fields.
What did I get out of the tour?
This tour was a great learning experience as it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I evolved so much as a dancer, friend, lady and all round person. It reaffirmed my current chosen path of being a professional dancer and aerialist. It challenged me to take financial risks to gain long-term security. I know truly understand what it means to “Invest in yourself to reach your goals”.
For those of you, contemplating the money aspect. I say, focus on your goals and dreams – and this tour is a part of helping you achieve that. When I first heard about the costs, I thought “How can I afford that?”. I put on a fundraiser show, sold confectionary, held sausage sizzles and sold raffles to earn the money. I utilised the resources around me to save up for the tour. This helped build my character, maximise my organisational and management skills to make my dreams come true. I am now living in Australia studying at the incredible Lee Academy School of Performing Arts. I am in my second year of my Diploma of Aerial, Acrobatics and Dance. I can confidently say that without this LA Tour and the experiences of living with people I’ve never met before, dancing in new environments and climates, and trying new things, moving to Sydney wouldn’t have even been something I would’ve considered.
I also received life-long friendships. Living with these girls for 2 weeks was incredible. We bonded like a sisterhood and all still keep in touch to this very day. It is beautiful to see what paths each of us have taken with some having moved overseas, performing for top of the line cruise-ships and some taking that next step in their life with entering an engagement! Most importantly, meeting all these people and being able to experience life as a professional dancer gave me the courage to pursue my dream because I observed how large the industry really is and where I fitted into it.
How has the tour/advice has helped you since?
As soon as I returned to New Zealand I started tap lessons. I believed it was the one thing that was limiting me from being a “versatile” dancer. At one of the auditions we went to, tap was one style of dancing I’d never pursued. This tour inspired me to improve myself as a person and continue evolving and growing my talents.
I gained an abundant amount of knowledge from this tour. Being from New Zealand, it is often easy to believe that there isn’t much out there to allow us to pursue our dreams of being a professional dancer, aerialist, actress and performer. That there aren’t enough jobs, training facilities or something limiting ourselves. Anytime, I question my path or doubt my abilities, I think back to this tour and all the valuable skills of trust, respect, courage, versatility, strength and wisdom I gained. I remember the hard hours I put into fundraising the money to go on this trip. I think back to the auditions we went to. I think about the Disney casting panel. I think about the beautiful friendships I made, the guest speakers advice and the endless opportunities I had. These moments, these experiences, keep me going and striving for my goals.
by Josephine Bonnington-Mailisi