jessa blog
Meet long-time A4D member Mary Roberts. Her story of how she got through the industry shutdown will inspire you. Her can-do attitude carried her every step of the way through the darkest days of 2020 to her triumphant return to the work she loves!

In early, February 2020, I was learning production shows and receiving contracts for teaching and installing cruise ship casts with Norwegian Creative Studios. In late February,

I was working with Royal Caribbean on a vessel in dry dock in Cadiz, Spain installing events for the staff

and helping them discover their inner rock stars. When I wasn’t working onboard, I wandered Cadiz, stopping for tapas and cava, and thoroughly enjoying traveling as an integral part of my job as a freelance choreographer.

And then ... the pandemic happened.

On March 1, 2020, I flew back to the States from Spain. Over the next several weeks, every one of my upcoming contracts within the cruise line industry was suspended and then cancelled. So, what did I do when I realized it was all gone? I hustled. I pieced together a life raft of side hustles and part-time jobs to keep me afloat, knowing that at some point, the cruise line industry would return.

I relied on two things every dancer needs to keep in their back pocket: Perseverance and Resilience.

Thankfully, I did manage to survive, with side hustles ranging from Zoom trivia games to Ubering and Instacarting to teaching dance at local studios, to even cleaning an apartment clubhouse late at night. I refused to give up because I knew that WHEN the cruise line industry came back, I wanted to be on the front line.

Today, I just completed teaching two production shows for the Norwegian Gem, one of three vessels kickstarting the return to sail for Norwegian Cruise Lines. I am unbelievably grateful for being asked to come back in the initial stages.

I can truly say, that for all the dancers out there waiting to hear about contracts, get ready! Grab your heels, keep taking class or find classes online. Be that performer who shows up ready to do the job! Ships are beginning to set sail and you could be one of the first back to sea, back to performing, and back to traveling the world doing what you love!


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