Disney Cruise Lines: Dancing on the Decks

By Mirault, Don | Dance Magazine, September 1999 | Go to article overview

Disney Cruise Lines: Dancing on the Decks


Mirault, Don, Dance Magazine


Disney has gotten into the cruise line industry, and it means more work for dancers. The entertainment giant has put together a package so that families and friends can enjoy a couple of days at DisneyWorld and Epcot Center in Florida and then board a Disney Cruise Line ship for a four-day sail to the Bahamas to Disney's private island, then back up the Florida coast. The inaugural ship is Disney Magic and the second is Disney Wonder. Dancers on a Disney cruise sign on for six months and perform three shows a night, earning somewhere around $700 a week--more for principals--and receiving full health benefits.

Disney choreographer Rich Bittner filled us in on the dancer opportunities:

Dance Magazine: Give us a feel for the new cruise line. Will there be Disney characters all over the place, just like at DisneyWorld?

Rich Bittner: Not only will there be characters in the three major shows but they'll also be all around the ship.

D.M. Where did you hold the audition, and how many dancers did you hire?

R.B. We have twenty-two entertainers in the cast. Of course, we auditioned here in Florida. We also went to New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Toronto, and London, which really makes this an international cast.

D.M. Did you advertise in local papers and trade papers?

R.B. Yes. Especially in New York City, it was all over Back Stage.

D.M. What were you looking for and what was the most difficult part of casting?

R.B. Again, there are twenty-two in the cast. Ten to twelve are dancers and the others are principals. The shows are going to be very fable-oriented, with dance, song, and a story line.

The difficult part was that we needed very talented, very versatile dancers who not only had to be triple threats--sing, dance, and act--but also had to be the right type for the principal roles. Because every dancer will understudy a principal role, all had to be incredibly gifted.

D.M. What combination did you give the dancers at this audition?

R.B. The audition was just like any other audition. We gave two musical theater-jazz combinations and one that was a little more hip-hop. Then everyone had to sing, and in this particular job, it's not just carry a tune, it's sing. To audition, you need an uptempo song and a ballad.

Most dancers were prepared for the dance section but not for the singing, which was equally important. They would prepare only one song or they wouldn't know all the words to the song. We are very specific about what we need to hear, so dancers should take the singing as seriously as they would the jazz combination.

D. …

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