If you are just tuning in…Thanks! This blog is a haphazard auto-biography of how Dustin Anderson discovered the treasure of performing for children as the Purple Pirate….now on with the entry!
It was exciting to step off the plane and into famous Miami. I didn’t see Don Johnson but was impressed by the heat. I was put up into a hotel for the night and then boarded the Royal Majesty the next morning. When boarding a cruise ship you give your passport to an officer to hold while you are on board which was a little strange but I overcame it. The ship did 3 and 4 day cruises to Nassau, Key West, and Cozumel.
I remember briefly meeting the other dancers as they went about their lives on the ship. That night I would watch the show to see what I would be doing and then learn it over the next couple weeks. I was filling in for an injured dancer that had to leave.
I had just spent the last two years of having my mind burst open to the potential of self expression through the medium of modern dance and considered myself an “artiste”. Cruise ship shows are put on for their clientele which are not generally art connoisseurs and mostly not dance supporters. They are many people that are looking for the security that cruise ship companies promote. If the previous two sentences didn’t sound pretentious enough…I was a bit of a snob.
I watched the show that night with my room mate who was dating one of the female dancers. He asked me what I thought about the show and I replied almost…almost word for word “It sucks but I will do it”. I would choose a different course of action at this stage of my life but I do laugh at my incredible lack of tact and compassion. I have learned a lot since then.
Needless to say that my fellow cast members heard about it and didn’t like me. The dance captain, Karen, was quite kind and helped fit me into the show. Most of the dancers were from England with the exception of Steve, a Kiwi. At first he really didn’t like me but we became very good friends over time. I signed on for a seven month contract and it was starting out pretty rough.
The other male dancer had to leave and I didn’t know much of the show so Steve was dancing most of the numbers. It was fun to watch him stress during his very fast costume changes. I would laugh. Over time I got into most of them and the pressure was off him a bit. There were some fast costume changes and one night I went on for the curtain call and there were a bunch of passengers laughing and pointing at me…or rather my crotch as I had forgotten to zip up my pants and my shirt was poking out. A funny moment for all involved.
There was a real sense of powerlessness at times when we would be forced to perform in poor weather. Politics on ships is strange. I was dancing a latin number and my partner, Claire, was turning and the boat rocked causing her to fall over and sprain her ankle. Not knowing what to do I picked her up and took her back stage. The music was reel to reel and had to play through on a dark stage.
Another big seed was planted when I met a great magician Shawn Farqhuar and his lovely wife Lauri. I had never seen much magic before and this man is now a world champion and very generous and kind human being. Thanks Shawn! Check THIS out!
I had mixed feelings about the experience on the first ship as I really enjoyed the climate and it felt a little glamorous to be dancing on a ship. The biggest challenge was that I knew that it was a dead end job like fishing and the work was uninspiring for me….and way too many sequins.
In the circus show I would do back handsprings between the rows of passengers, walk on balls and walk down stairs on my hands. Steve and I started a hand balancing act while onboard as we both wanted more money and status that we were getting as dancers. We could do some crowd pleasing moves and really enjoyed it. We had our sites set on bigger ships. He had a contact on Costa and set himself up, jumped ship and got me an audition. I got the gig…I must have done a back flip. :0)
Overall I last 11 weeks of the 7 month contract…Then to Europe on the Costa Romantica….