How a Norfolk woman beat 300 other dancers to land a part in the Thursford Christmas Spectacular
- Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson
Norfolk-based dancer, Megan Frances, first went to the Thursford Christmas Spectacular when she was eight years old, now she's about to embark on her second year starring in the show. Here she explains how she landed the part and reveals what it's really like to be a performer.
Name: Megan Frances
Job Title/Employer: Ballet trained professional dancer
Describe your job in a nutshell: I am a professional, self-employed dancer who has performed in a variety of shows including ballet, opera and musical theatre. I go wherever the job takes me, so I am very fortunate to have travelled to a variety of beautiful countries.
How did you get your job? I auditioned for The Thursford Christmas Spectacular in June with about 300 other female dancers. I had to go through an intense two-day period of auditioning, which involved a variety of assessments including; a jazz routine, ballet exercises, showgirl walks and Irish dancing. It was hard work, but I loved it! In an audition, you have to show the production team everything, not just the way you dance. The way your present yourself is important, as is the speed at which you learn the routine and your personality. It is vital to stand out from the other dancers.
What do you enjoy most about your work? I enjoy that every day is completely different; I am constantly learning new things and meeting new people. At Thursford, there is a wonderful sense of family as all the dancers, singers and musicians get on so well, which is important as we spend an awful lot of time together.
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What's the most challenging aspect of your job? The rehearsal period is tough, the days are long and are strenuous on my body. As a dancer this is what I strive off, the challenge may be tough and gruelling, but it is very satisfying when you finally get to the opening night, especially if you look at how far you have progressed. The audience sees the glitz and glamour, but as dancers, you know the blood, sweat and tears you have put in to creating a wonderful show. The shows are intense too. Most days at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, we perform twice a day, so we have to look after ourselves, eat properly, warm up, and cool down our bodies for every show.
Where do you find your inspiration? When I have free time I try to go to as many different dance classes as possible, different teachers inspire me in so many ways. I also like to go to the theatre as much as possible, it does not have to be dance, it might be a play or an opera, and I find there is always something that I can learn from watching different artists and studying their unique ways of performing. In the modern age YouTube is good for this too, as a performer you are always learning new styles and ways of moving.
I also read many mindfulness quotes, which give me a huge amount of inspiration and motivation.
Can you tell me something I might not know about your job? This is my second year performing at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular and this year I have a role as a 'swing' alongside three other female dancers. This means I learn all 18 of the girls' dance acts, which is a tough ask! I will be doing a different dancers' position each show, which will be intense.
What was your first job? My first ever role was as the Ice Princess in a play called The Snowman; it was one of the main dancing roles in the play, which was in the West End and went on tour.
What advice would you give to others looking to pursue a similar career? It is such a tough industry, so keeping positive and not allowing other people to put pressure on you is important. You know what is best for yourself; therefore, it is vital to concentrate on what you need to work on. As a dancer fitness is key, especially whilst out of jobs, because you never know when an audition will come up, and you have to be fully prepared for it. I would advise young dancers out there to embrace every challenge that comes along; it may turn into a fantastic adventure. It is inevitable that you will experience ups and downs, it is commonplace in life, however it is how you learn from your downs that is important, and will inevitably make you stronger.
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