Gordon with a painting of "Mein Schiff," her home on the high seas (courtesy Taylor Gordon)

Taylor Gordon Spills About Dance Life on a Cruise Ship

Name the dance job, Taylor Gordon's probably had it: The 27-year-old's resumé includes performances with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, off-Broadway productions and stints with concert groups like Exit12 Dance Company. But only this year did the New Yorker fulfill her longtime dream of dancing abroad, earning a spot as a dancer with TUI Cruises. What's it like to travel the world on a giant ship? Gordon documented the first few months of her seafaring adventures for Dance Spirit.

—Margaret Fuhrer

August 10, 2015

I'm in Berlin! It's the first day of my six-month contract with TUI Cruises. I'll be performing aboard the new Mein Schiff 4 cruise ship as it tours around Europe and Africa. First, though, we have a nearly two-month rehearsal period here in Germany. It'll be intense, but on the weekends I'll have the opportunity to travel to European opera houses and villages.

Today began with a meeting for the full cast: eight dancers, six singers, four acrobats and four actors. Only one other dancer is from the States. The rest of the cast is from all over, including Italy, Germany, Hungary, Austria and Ukraine. I'm excited to get to know such a diverse group. We have to learn 10 different hour-long shows (!), and we spent this afternoon working on “Beatles Forever," in which I have a featured role as the main character's daughter.

September 7, 2015

By this point, I have my Berlin morning routine down pat: I leave my Airbnb apartment at 8:15 am, grab a big coffee en route, rub on Voltaren for my back pain and go through my Pilates routine before 9:30 am class with the dancers from all the various Mein Schiff ships. Having daily technique class here is a luxury. When I'm freelancing in NYC, it can be tough to squeeze in training.

With 10 different shows, there's a lot of choreography to keep

organized in my brain, but that's a good thing—it means I'll never be bored on tour! Two of my favorites are “Musical Gala," which has fun musical theater repertoire, and “Varieté," which is based in ballet. There's lots of fast petit allégro.

The language barrier was challenging at first—most of our coaches are Italian. But Italians really do speak with their hands, and it's becoming easier for me to communicate through body language. I've learned the Italian words for arms, legs, fast, slow, jump and turn—all the dance essentials.

October 4, 2015

It's finally embarkation day! We boarded early this morning in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Spanish port we'll be revisiting weekly. Our cabins are in the bow of the ship. My room is tiny—the bed folds down from the wall—but I've lived in closet-sized apartments in Manhattan, so it wasn't too much of a shock. And having a two-floor commute to work will be great.

After lunch in the crew mess hall, we had a meeting in the theater. It's a beautiful space with several stage elevators and almost 1,000 seats. Then we had the first of many safety training sessions, and fittings for the more than 35 different costumes we'll be wearing.

Thankfully I found Wi-Fi onboard, so I could Skype one of my best friends—she's getting married today. I'm sad that this job means I'll be missing important moments back home, but happy to be starting a new adventure.

Courtesy Taylor Gordon

October 12, 2015

Tonight's opening night! From 10 am to 1 pm, we had a run-through of “Beatles Forever" with costumes and corrections. I'm slowly learning to adjust to the wobbly movement of the ship as I dance. Our final dress rehearsal was at 2:30 pm, and then I went to the gym—which has an ocean view—before the performance at 9:30 pm.

It was a great show. The energy the audience gives you makes all the time in the studio worth it. Afterward, we celebrated in the passenger area of the ship, where a lot of people recognized us from the performance. I finished the evening playing a German card game with some of the crew. Not a bad day!

November 3, 2015

Now that all the shows have premiered, we have a little more free time. The ship has traveled to Senegal, the Cape Verde islands off Africa and several small Spanish cities, but we haven't had more than an hour to disembark—until now. This morning we docked in Madeira, Portugal, and I walked through a beautiful garden before having lunch with the whole entertainment department at a restaurant called Kon Tiki. Its “beef on a stone" is one of the best things I've eaten on tour. So delicious!

My contract is half over, but the best part is just beginning. I'm excited to explore Morocco in a few days, and to spend the holidays in the Canary Islands. Performing and traveling for a living—what more can I ask for?

Gordon (center) and her fellow cruise dancers onstage (courtesy Taylor Gordon)

Latest Posts

Alex Wong (Collette Mruk, courtesy Alex Wong)

6 AAPI Dancers Share Their Stories

Last year, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 150 percent in many of America's largest cities. And last month, a mass shooting in the Atlanta area took the lives of eight people, six of them Asian women. Since then, the attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have continued, sparking a national movement to stop AAPI hate.

In light of this, Dance Spirit wanted to help amplify the voices of AAPI dancers. We asked six to share their thoughts about anti-Asian racism and how it appears in the dance world. Here's what they had to say.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
William Zinser works with a dancer at The Joyce Theater (Kristin Stevens, courtesy William Zinser)

How to Beat 5 Common Cheats Dancers Commit

Y'all, we get it. Dance is really, really hard. So what's the harm in taking the easy way out on a technical correction? Answer: an increased chance of injury, and a whole slew of new technique problems that could take a loooooooong time to fix.

Lucky for you, Dance Spirit has enlisted the expert help of Dale Lam, artistic director of CCJ Conservatory in South Carolina, and William Zinser, certified athletic trainer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in NYC, so you can start leveling up your technique the honest way.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
What happens if you are passed over for the opportunity when it feels like your time? (Getty Images/kf4851)

What to Do When Your Dance Teacher Says You're Not Pointe Ready

Since the day you pulled on your first leotard, you have no doubt been dreaming of the day you would attend your first pointe shoe fitting. Going on pointe is a rite of passage as a ballet dancer, and the result of years of hard work.

But what happens if you are passed over for the opportunity when it feels like your time? It's totally understandable to be disappointed and frustrated if your teacher doesn't move you on pointe, but don't lose faith in yourself. "I've seen a lot of dancers go on pointe over the years," says Josephine Lee, professional pointe shoe fitter and founder of The Pointe Shop. "I don't think I have ever seen a dancer who was held back from pointework feel like they were behind in the long run."

Ideally, your teacher has laid out clear guidelines for what makes a dancer pointe-ready. But if they haven't, there are some milestones that ballet professionals are looking for to give the green light for your first pair of shoes. Factors like your age, technique level, range of motion and strength all come into play. And the good news is that if going on pointe is a goal for you, there are proactive ways that you can get there.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search