Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interview with Harry Potter World Dancer Isabel Power!

Is there anyone who hasn't secretly wished they lived in the world of Harry Potter? The streets of Hogsmeade and the halls of Hogwarts seem a lot more fun than real life...

For dancer Isabel Power, that fantasy is not so far off. The Florida native and recent Point Park University graduate performs as a Beauxbaton Dancer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios! Awesome! Isabel and I were at Rock together way back when...and what good times we had in ballet land ;) Read on to hear some of her adventures in a different magical world!


What was the audition like for Harry Potter World? In general, how do auditions work in the theme park circuit?

The audition to be a Beauxbaton dancer in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a very fun experience! There were over 100 girls, and they were looking for 4 girls. (There were already 20-30 girls currently performing that had been hired before the opening.) We started with a type-out: They had us do battements to the side, a double pirouette, and 2 entrechat quatres. Then we had to say something in a French accent since during the meet and greets we must speak in the accent if we are addressed. After the type-out they did a cut. Then we were brought in in smaller groups to learn a combo, It was very flowy ballet/lyrical. After we performed that, they made a second cut. For the final portion of the audition, we were arranged in groups based on height, and performed the combo in groups of four. Being almost 5'9", I was probably the tallest one left! In regard to other auditions in seems like many theme park entertainment positions start with you being a substitute, and if you enjoy it AND they like you then you have the potential to become full-time, or contracted. One thing I can tell you for sure though is that all the auditions I've been to in Orlando have been super fun! It's all about smiling and having a good time, because that's the feeling you want to project to the guests!

What's your role there and what was your rehearsal process like?

I am a Beauxbaton girl! If you're familiar with the Harry Potter story (which you should be ;),we are students from the Beauxbaton Academy of Magic, which we learn about in the 4th book, "Goblet of Fire." It is a school located in southern France and our headmistress is Madame Maxine. For rehearsals, we had some character/acting coaching and also a workshop on speaking in our French accent. Then for 2 weeks we learned the choreography. Since our dance is less than 2 minutes, we had a lot of time to focus on details and spacing and being exactly in sync. We also use wands/ribbons all through our dance, so we spent time on the correct hand and arm movements as well.

(See the Beauxbaton dancers at 3:26 in this video. Isabel's not in this performance get the idea.)

How often do you perform, and what's the best part?

Since I am a sub, I don't have a regular schedule. I was lucky enough to perform about 5 times a month from this past October-December. I also worked Christmas and New Year's! The best part is feeling like you're actually creating magic in people's lives -- because what is magic besides joy in life, which is what we as performers should transmit to audiences.

What's it like working at a dinner theater? How does it compare to your classical/traditional training?

Another thing I know about the Orlando performing circuit is that virtually everyone has multiple jobs. I was extremely fortunate to find another one about a month after I became a Beauxbaton. My second job is as a dancer/singer at Treasure Tavern. It is a classic dinner theatre where guests can enjoy fine food which we deliver to them as part of performance numbers. I love this job because while there is a lot of choreography, there are also times when we can improv and have fun! Working there has definitely been a shift from my classical training, but this job has been a great growing experience for me and has helped me transition from student to performer. I think this because in the show we don't have to focus too much on technique or form and can really focus on being almost over the top and working it and performing the heck out of it with tons of energy and enthusiasm! So I feel it has helped me stop manufacturing movement and actually perform and have fun!

Isabel (2nd from left) dancing at Treasure Tavern.
What other kinds of dance gigs are available in Florida and what's your advice for dancers hoping to work there?

There are production companies in Orlando and Miami that produce events for conventions and private parties etc. There are also other dinner theatres in the Orlando area. Theme park-wise there is Universal Studios, Disney, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens Tampa. My advice to dancers hoping to work here is to be very flexible and willing to take any opportunity you're offered. Also to be very versatile in that you can do all styles like ballet/jazz/tap/hip-hop/musical theatre and that you can sing and act! Acro and silk skills are also a plus! Most importantly, be smart and kind since, as they say at Disney, "It's a small world after all!"

What's been the hardest part so far of starting your dance career? The best part?

The hardest part for me was the rejection from audition after audition. I was turned down so much, and with my frustration people kept telling me that all I needed was one break. And they were right. Once you get that first job you start meeting people and networking and it just keeps rolling from there. The best part has just been the constant opportunity to perform. I'm full-time at the dinner theatre so 5 nights a week I'm getting to do what I am most passionate about. As a student I was only able to perform a few rimes a year in recitals or fall shows or spring concerts etc. But now performing is my job, and since I absolutely love it, it's nothing like a job, but, as corny as it sounds, more like a dream come true!

Any dance goals for 2011?

I want to continue taking all styles of classes on a regular basis and going to as many auditions as possible, both here and in NYC. Coming up soon I have an audition for the "Beauty and the Bast" stage production at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and as one of my goals is to be a dancer with Disney, this would be awesome. Wish me luck! ;)  (...Good luck!)

Isabel and I before a benefit at The Rock School, circa 2003-2004.

1 comment:

balletomane3 said...

Via The Winger, I have heard of The Rock School and I love their Tumblr. It is one of the few dance Tumblrs that I keep up with.

Oh and ... you both are hotties! :D