> A WORLD OF DANCE > LIGHTING UP THE STARS
Imagine touring the world and experiencing countless countries and cultures and being paid to do so.
For most of us, this is nothing more than fantasy, but Carly Parish turned her desire to dance around the globe into reality, proving that if you can dream it, you can do it.
The Shepparton dance prodigy trained in classical ballet under the Royal Academy of Dance, and jazz and contemporary styles at The Daphne Learoyd School of Dance.
At the age of 19 she took a leap of faith and moved on her own from Shepparton to Queensland to pursue her love of dance.
“The Gold Coast seemed to have a lot of opportunities (and it’s beautiful), so I packed everything I owned and off I went; I knew no fear back then,” Carly, 27, said.
“I began performing in casinos in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, in theme parks, at Magic Millions (thoroughbred events), Sony, world cocktail competitions, BMW car opening and (from these experiences) an opportunity arose, and I was asked to audition for the role of a magician’s assistant and I was successful.
“(After) many hours of practice at being ‘cut in half’ and all the other weird and wonderful illusions — our show began touring on cruise ships.”
Carly said they were guest entertainers and would be on the ship for one cruise between eight to 13 days, performing twice a night.
When they weren’t performing, the entertainers had passenger status and could just enjoy the cruise.
“We would then disembark the ship, catch a plane to another country, board a different ship and repeat — yes, it’s as fun and exciting as it sounds,” she said.
After returning from the magic show and tirelessly auditioning, Carly was selected to join a show in Egypt in Sharm el Sheik — a top tourist destination.
“Politically, things were much calmer in Egypt at that time than they are now,” she said.
“The show was fabulous and I had such a strong bond with the dancers. Life in Egypt was tough though, we all lived in a big house together in a town called Hadibba. This was with locals not tourists — it was hard living. The food did not stay fresh for more than a day, the water out of the tap was not drinkable and the shower water was brown.
“One night there was a flash flood and our house flooded. We all sat on the dining room table holding onto our costumes, can-can skirts and tutus. We were laughing and telling jokes as our house filled with water — it was just one great big adventure.”
Carly said the company included dancers from all around the world, and each night they travelled to different tourist resorts to perform.
“Our biggest show was in the Four Seasons Resort, performing for the President of Egypt and his family and entourage.”
On returning from Egypt the adventure junkie decided more travelling was in order, and she worked on cruise ships for more than a year.
“I was on two different ships, it was only supposed to be for five
Our biggest show was in the Four Seasons Resort, performing for the President of Egypt and his family and entourage.
months, but I loved it too much so I extended my contract,” she said.
While it sounds glamorous, this lifestyle was not without its challenges.
Arriving on a new ship meant seven shows to learn, one week to learn them and around 35 to 40 different routines. A typical day included: 10 am rehearsals, a half-hour lunch at 1 pm, rehearsals again until 5pm, eat, shower, stage make-up, warm- up, a show at 7.30 pm and a second show at 9 pm.
Then, the team would be back on stage again for rehearsals at 10 pm, finish at about 3 am and repeat.
“It is like this for (about three weeks and) yes it is as hard as it sounds, (there was) a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but gosh it was worth it. The shows were phenomenal and I learned so much as a dancer. I became stronger and gained more skills,” Carly said.
“The icing on the cake — I was travelling the world at the same time. I would wake up sore and tired but then I would look out my window while eating breakfast and think, ‘Oh look, there’s Venice.’ ”
Carly said she saw more than 20 countries dancing on cruise ships, including Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Croatia, Brazil, Argentina and France.
Once she returned from that venture, her journey continued when she was selected by a dance company, which then led to her becoming an NRL Raiders Cheerleader, a back-up dancer for singers, a performer in large-scale shows All That Jazz and What Happens in Vegas, and a dancer in a number of music video clips.
Her next ventures will see her performing in Sydney and then travelling to Malaysia.
Carly’s advice to aspiring dancers is to never give up, even if the road gets tough.
“Don’t doubt your ability, know your worth. If you aren’t successful in an audition this does not necessarily mean you weren’t good enough, you just may not be exactly what they were looking for . . . try, try and try again.”
Carly Parish (centre stage) performing
in the opening number of the show Carrousel in the theatre of a cruise ship.
Carly (middle) and the dance crew enjoy a
moment in the sun on a beach in Brazil.
Carly on stage in her warm-up gear before a magic show. “In this show there was a magic number and I rode across the stage on a motorcycle with the magician, before he makes the motorcycle disappear.”
Dancers lift Carly during the can-can in Temptation.