A Dedication to Dance: An Interview with Professional Dancer Jack IrelandPosted by Mike Schuck
Dance may not be thought of as a sport, but there's no denying the athleticism required, the high level of art and finesse, and the sheer amount of intense competition that's happening constantly behind the scenes.
It's a rare thing indeed when a dancer pushes through that constant competition to reach the highest levels of performance and share their art with audiences around the world, but Jack Ireland has managed to do just that.
Ireland has been selected to work with a large number of highly esteemed organizations and productions, including Celebrity X Cruises, Norwich Theatre Royal, The Cromer Pier Show, Funny Girls Blackpool, Costa Cruises, and Sani Resort Garden Theatre.
He is currently a resident Rehearsal and Install Director for Celebrity X Cruises.
In our recent interview with Ireland, he stressed the significance of the education, training, and dedication that has helped him reach this impressive level of success.
Read on to get all the details …
JamAddict (JA): What initially attracted you to dancing?
Jack Ireland (JI): From a young age, I loved to watch movie musicals, touring musical productions, and Christmas pantomime performances.
I very clearly remember my mum taking me to see the UK and Ireland touring production of Hairspray The Musical and it was at this point I realized I wanted to become a professional dancer.
Still to this day I remember the production so clearly and remember thinking that the dancers were so talented and clean. As soon as the production had finished, I purchased a program so I could research where the performers had trained and studied. It was from this moment on I knew that I had to dance for a living.
JA: Do you remember the exact moment when you realized that you could turn dance into a career?
JI: At the age of 16, I was accepted into Phil Winston’s Theatre Works College & Agency, one of the United Kingdom’s leading performing arts colleges where I spent three years studying musical theatre. During my time at Phil Winston’s, I was put through intensive training in Dance, Drama & Vocal coaching.
The days studying to become the very best I could be were long and hard, the phrase blood, sweat, and tears became extremely real at this point. I was lucky enough to have been coached by some of the United Kingdom’s leading professional performers who spent endless hours training me into the professional dancer I am today.
During my third year at the college, I was put forward for many Christmas show auditions across the UK by the agency, and luckily enough, I booked the job after my very first professional audition. It was at this point in my training I realized I could make a full-time career out of this.
JA: What has your work with cruise lines been like so far? Do you enjoy this performance setting?
JI: At the age of 19, I was offered my first contract with Costa Cruises onboard the beautiful Costa Atlantica to be a part of the first-ever World Cruise Cast to set sail from Shanghai.
From this moment on, I was hooked on the magical production shows and stunning theatres onboard the cruise ships that I got to perform in on a nightly basis. The theatres were full of gigantic sets and scenery, thousands of lights, and fully automated stages that could change position at a flick of a switch.
The stages I got to perform on were out of this world, and I knew I wanted to continue performing at sea for many years to come. After completing four contracts with Costa Cruises I was offered a new contract with Celebrity X Cruises, where I still work today as Dance Captain and Install Director for all the amazing production shows produced by Celebrity X Cruises Entertainment.
JA: How does dance relate to your own love for music?
JI: Music can change the way you dance a routine. For example, the tempo and genre of the music can impact the movement and style of the piece you are working on.
By listening carefully to the music and being able to pick out and emphasize certain accents, you can choreograph moves to complement both the music and dance routine, and when done correctly, this can be truly magical.
JA: Have you performed with live backing musicians before? If so, do you prefer this to performing to a recording?
JI: Throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to perform a majority of shows with a live orchestra. Working with a live orchestra during a show is truly an amazing experience as this adds a completely new element to the show and your performance.
For example, being able to perform a dance routine to the music of a live orchestra adds a rawness to the performance which you can feed off of during the show.
JA: Can you tell us about how dancers need to stay healthy and fit to perform at the professional level?
JI: Staying fit and healthy is a requirement for any professional dancer or performer. As a professional dancer, we spend years practicing to become the very best we can be, and this continues throughout your career as every day you are learning new tricks and moves from different choreographers and directors.
To be able to ensure you can be at the top of your game, a healthy and active lifestyle is a must. I train and stretch a minimum of six days a week to ensure I can continue to book the jobs I aim for.
JA: Has there been a specific routine in your career that you felt was the most creatively satisfying?
JI: The most creatively satisfying moment in my career was to be given the opportunity to train as an Install Director for Celebrity X Cruises. To become a Director for an international cruise line has always been a dream of mine, and to be given the opportunity for this dream to become a reality was truly amazing.
This moment in my career is most definitely one of my proudest achievements.
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