Often times Ballet Dancers are taken out of their normal world and hired to do Movies, Television, Print Work or even Fashion Shows. Back in my days with New York City Ballet a bunch of us men were used in a huge fashion show when Armani introduced his first male line. One of my talented Dancers, Holly Curran was invited to be part of The Victoria Secret Fashion Show. Combining Television and Fashion. I thought it would be interesting for you all to read about her experience with all that. Please enjoy Holly’s Guest Blog below.
My Best- The Traveling Ballet Master.
Holly’s Victoria Secret Blog
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to be a part of the opening dance number for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2011 which will air on CBS on Tuesday Nov. 29th at 10PM. I thought you might be interested in the process of doing a fast paced 4 day commercial gig. The audition was spur of the moment; I was actually on a morning train to New York and grazing through my facebook when i saw that tutu.com had posted that Victoria’s Secret was looking for ballet dancers for this year’s show. I had nothing to lose so went over to the studio, joined the masses and signed in. The choreographer was Jermaine Browne, who is mostly known for his work doing music videos, awards shows, and dance within the fashion world, mostly with a hip-hop twist. All went well and you could tell right away that Jermaine, was cool, calm and funky. This was going to be a fun gig…..
Day 1 was one of the longest days – 10Am to 8 PM. Jermaine brought back all the choreography that we had learned in the audition but most of the day was spent putting us in hundreds of different formations and continually modifying the steps. I must have run around the room enough to qualify for a marathon. At the end of the dance day we were shuttled across town to Victoria’s Secret offices and fitted for costumes which included red Sansha pointe shoes. I normally wear Freed’s but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. We were fitted by VS’s style team who were mostly French and made lots of comments like “oh ze tutus, zey look so nice with ze pointe shoes” and “c’est bon”. After about 2 hours we left in exhaustion. We had sunday off….thank goodness, because i had a Nutcracker rehearsal that day.
On Day 2 Jermaine spent most of the day with the hip hop dancers who would be dancing with Nicki Minaj. We (the ballet girls) worked with 2 of his assistants learning additional choreography to another song. By early evening we were again shuttled, this time to the Lexington Armory, which is where the show was to be taped. We spent the rest of the night working with the stage space and how to best use it. The floor was carpeted and covered in glitter. A little scary with the pointe shoes….
Tuesday…… scratch everything and start all over. So, this is commercial work. Spend the morning studio time reworking entrances, exits and entire sections of new choreography. Over to the Armory and a first run with the models and OMG they are so tall and beautiful…all of the dancers are at least 5″7″, but the models tower over us, especially in their 6 inch heels! Scratch all of the new choreography once again – the number using the second song is being cut because the dancers are blocking the models. And this IS about the models. End of day.
Day 4 is the taping. 9AM call at the Armory. By 9:15, Jermaine pulls us away from our coffee to tell us in the hallway that the choreography from the first song must be changed. He wants something more dynamic and effective for the catwalk. What worked on a stage didn’t read the same for the cameras and audience below. Wearing our jeans and holding on to our coffee, we worked in the only empty hallway we could find, cleaning and perfecting the new stuff with his assistant Francesca, who was a godsend. We ran the opening number a couple of times and then went to hair and makeup. By that time the armory, front and back, was packed with models, media, crew, and celebs. Chaotic, but everybody seemed to know what they were doing… sort of. 4PM – first run. As we made our exit, Kanye gave us a thumbs up and said “good work ladies”. *Swoon*…..
Dinner during break between shows and I got a chance to spend some time with the backstage camera director and crew. They were shooting scenes using the ballerinas to be used in the opening and ending credits. During this time I got to talk to some of the models who were super friendly and just great. One of them, Candice Swanepoel, was a former ballet dancer herself, and was really interested in what we were doing. Second show at 8PM and the stage time flew. This time we watched the remainder of the show from backstage on the monitors. Beyonce came back to join JayZ after his performance with Kanye and to say she looked beautiful is an understatement. Yes, she’s that gorgeous! We all danced, including the models, backstage to Maroon 5 and Nicki Minaj while cheering on our hip hop dance crew. So much fun!
My time with BalletFleming has taught me so much about the fast paced reality of being a dancer. Working with Chris, I have learned to pick up and retain choreography quickly as he develops it for us. These are the life skills of a dancer and you don’t get that everywhere. I was able to put to commercial use everything he teaches on a daily basis. It got me through a really rigorous audition and work process and I can’t thank him enough.
Look for me on CBS on the 29th!
My best Holly Curran