Dance Advice

The secrets of being a showgirl: 6 tips for success

Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.
Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.
Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.

Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.

Feathers, diamantes and fishnets… The life of a showgirl may look glamorous, but it’s also a lot of hard work. One of Australia’s most successful showgirls, Alex Gray, began her career as a ballet dancer, after training with Christine Walsh in Melbourne. Although she went on to work with several ballet companies, Gray was always considered very tall for a classical dancer – and whereas it was seen as a problem for ballet, in the showgirl world it was an asset, and there was a lot more work available.

We asked Gray for her six top tips on making it in the industry.

#1. Technique counts. 

“The best thing you can do is keep up your ballet,” Gray encourages. “Technique is very important in showgirl work.”

#2. Read between the lines. 

Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.

Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.

“It’s important to always read your contracts carefully before signing them,” advises Gray. “You should always know what is required of you and be comfortable that you can fulfil it.”

#3. Breathe!

“Don’t stress too much,” Gray says. “What I wish I knew when I was starting out is that I’d always be employed. Sometimes dancers stress too much in the down time, thinking we might never work again!”

#4. Be ready to dance.

“Don’t assume showgirls don’t dance much,” says Gray. “Many people think that, but in reality showgirl work is more gruelling than many other styles. Most showgirls do 12 shows a week in extremely heavy costumes.”

#5. Enjoy the process. 

“When it comes to an audition, enjoy it,” Gray suggests. “Don’t just pretend to enjoy it, actually have a good time. Then you don’t lose, even if you don’t get the job.”

Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.

Alex Gray. Photo courtesy of Gray.

#6. Do your research. 

“There are a lot of big showgirl shows around the world that are thriving,” Gray shares. “I would definitely recommend auditioning for these first, as they have good pay rates and conditions. Companies like Moulin Rouge, Lido, Friedrichstadt-Palast and Royal Palace are great places to start.”

Alex Gray has worked at The Moulin Rouge, The Lido, Jubilee!, Palazzo Mannheim, and on cruise ships for Oceania and Norwegian Cruise Line. She has also worked in some ballet companies, including Ballet Novart, Le Ballet du Grand Theatre de Limoges, Cork City Ballet and Malaika Kasumi Ballet Theatre, Frankfurt. She spent a lot of her career in Australia working as a freelance dancer for artists including Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy, Vanessa Amorosi, Human Nature, Rikki-lee, Rhonda Burchmore, Paulini, Jade MacRae, Christine Anu, Wes Carr, Toni Pearen and Hi-5. She also worked with a lot of artists in the U.S., including will.i.am, lo Rida, Steve Aoki, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Avicii, Dirty South, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Angello, Rehab, Kaskade, Porter Robinson, Nervo, Diplo, Above and Beyond and Danny Avila; and on television shows such as Deal or No Deal, It Takes Two, Talkin’ Bout My Generation, the Kerri-Anne Show, Australia’s Got Talent, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, the Footy Show, Starstruck, Dancing with the Stars, Bogan Pride, Rove Live, NRA Fashion Awards, Abbamania, Greece Has Got Talent, Moulin Rouge television specials, Masters of Illusion USA and Miss Germany.

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

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