The Scoop on Backup Dancing: 4 Dancers Dish on Tour Life

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Touring with a significant recording artist is on the prime of most industrial dancers’ bucket lists. What may very well be extra thrilling than getting paid to bop, journey the world and work with mega-talented movie star musicians? It appears glamorous, however most dancers don’t truly know what the job really entails till they’ve booked it. Is it as nice because it appears? Is it the appropriate match for you? Dance Journal obtained the within scoop from 4 touring execs.

Sosa getting glittered by JoJo Siwa. Picture by Ok.C. Siwa, courtesy Sosa.


TOURS: JoJo Siwa’s D.R.E.A.M., Season 16 of “So You Suppose You Can Dance”

GETTING THE GIG: Ezra Sosa met Siwa on “Dancing with the Stars” in fall 2021, when he was a professional and she or he was a celeb contestant. Siwa quickly requested him to affix her tour. “She informed me that I didn’t have to audition, however I informed her I wished to earn it. I’m a giant, tall ballroom dancer; what I’m recognized for is completely different from what JoJo does,” he says. Not lengthy after the callback, Sosa heard the excellent news. “I walked previous JoJo on the best way to my ‘DWTS’ trailer, and she or he stated, ‘Did you get an electronic mail out of your agent but? You bought the job if you would like it!’ ”

THE DAY-TO-DAY: Like most performers on tour, Sosa usually awoke in a unique metropolis than he fell asleep in. “I used to be at all times so disoriented—by no means realizing what day or time it was,” he says. As soon as Sosa put his issues in his dressing room, he would instantly go to Siwa’s dressing room to hang around and make foolish TikToks earlier than getting his hair and make-up accomplished. Every present was themed, and JoJo would do her male dancers’ hair (herself!) to coordinate. “If it was a Candyland theme, then she would put glitter and sprinkles in our hair,” he says. “She is so gifted!” By 2 pm, the performers hit the stage for tech. “JoJo was our dance captain, so she knew everybody’s observe,” he says. “She had a videographer movie the present each evening, then she would watch it again and have notes for us. She is accountable for each facet of her present.” After lunch and Siwa’s meet-and-greet, the artists would eat dinner after which carry out. A postshow bathe was important: “Getting all that make-up off would take like an hour!” he says. Then it was again on the bus to move for the subsequent metropolis.

SELF-CARE: “JoJo’s present is the toughest present I’ve ever accomplished,” Sosa says. “There have been 24 numbers, and she or he had us in 19 of them.” Although he relied on his Hypervolt massager and ibuprofen, he needs he had taken the time to heat up and funky down extra deliberately. “I’m paying for it now with weekly chiropractic appointments,” he says.

Sosa’s Prime Tour Suggestions

GIVE IT TIME: “Richy Jackson’s choreography appears superb onstage, but it surely’s difficult to select up. The primary 10 to 12 exhibits I used to be fairly burdened—continuously occupied with the choreography and formation adjustments. Finally, I obtained to a spot the place I felt nice.”

MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA: “There have been days when individuals on social media would say I seemed like a clown, and it actually affected me. JoJo helped me cope with the hate. She taught me that what different individuals say has nothing to do with me, and every little thing to do with them. She informed me to be unapologetically myself.”

Jeremy Hudson. Picture by David Odom, Courtesy Hudson.


TOURS: Pink, Woman Gaga, Kylie Minogue

GETTING THE GIG: When Pink wanted to exchange a dancer on her Lovely Trauma tour in 2018, her choreographers Nick Florez and RJ Durell pitched Jeremy Hudson, whom they’d labored with on a challenge for Katy Perry. “Pink noticed my reel and had me reply a couple of questions, and I obtained the job,” Hudson says.

THE DAY-TO-DAY: A typical day started with downtime in his lodge room earlier than­ heading to the venue round 2:30 pm to work by way of routines with the dance captain. “With the repetition of touring, you start to lose some high quality,” Hudson says. “We might at all times contact up particulars.” Then Pink would be a part of the solid for a rig verify—the opening quantity integrated bungees, which wanted to be secured earlier than the primary efficiency at every new venue—and sound verify, adopted by group yoga and a meal. “We had a catering firm touring with us who labored with everybody’s dietary restrictions,” Hudson says. Subsequent the performers had roughly 90 minutes to prepare. “Then we’d have a gaggle prayer with Pink and her children in her dressing room,” he says.

SELF-CARE: Touring is extremely taxing, so Hudson works with artists who help wellness. “I began touring with Pink after I was 30 years outdated as a result of she helps her village,” he says. “She is aware of what it takes to get by way of these exhibits and this schedule, and makes certain we’re all seen and brought care of.” Hudson travels with nutritional vitamins to spice up his immunity. “I’ve by no means had an understudy on tour,” he says. “There is no such thing as a time to be sick, and if one particular person will get sick, everybody will get sick.” He does Sugarfoot Remedy and commonly will get bodily remedy and therapeutic massage supplied by the tour. “You will get lonely on tour, so I FaceTime household and buddies, and work with my therapist,” he says. “I additionally actually get pleasure from breathwork and meditation.”

Hudson’s Prime Tour Suggestions

GEAR UP: “One in every of Burton Snowboards’ luggage splits into two items, so you’ll be able to simply distribute your issues with out stressing about being chubby on the airport.

ENJOY THE ADVENTURE: “It’s a very enjoyable life. Connecting with so many various kinds of individuals all over the world is totally thrilling!”

Findlay McConnell backstage on McRae’s tour. Courtesy McConnell.


TOUR: Tate McRae

GETTING THE GIG: Findlay McConnell and McRae have been greatest buddies since assembly on the competitors circuit as children, so when McRae was in search of tour dancers, McConnell was a no brainer. “She FaceTimed me and requested me how busy my faculty schedule was,” says McConnell, who’s a pupil on the USC Glorya Kaufman College of Dance. “She stated, ‘How would you’re feeling about happening tour with me?’ ” McConnell responded with a resolute “I might completely like to!”

BONUS: USC Kaufman is giving him educational credit for residing his dream.

THE DAY-TO-DAY: McConnell spends most of his sleeping hours on the tour bus, then eats breakfast on the venue earlier than settling into his dressing room. He’ll loosen up, heat up and stretch earlier than heading to sound verify, then do his hair and make-up earlier than donning his costume. Publish-performance, he showers on the venue earlier than getting again on the bus. Throughout downtime, he’ll watch Netflix, FaceTime household and buddies, play card video games or make TikToks with fellow performers.

SELF-CARE: “You don’t need to run the danger of getting sick since you weren’t taking good care of your self,” says McConnell, who takes benefit of days off to loosen up. “Some days we simply chill in our lodge room all day as a result of it’s what we want,” he says. “Different days we really feel like exploring and buying. Sooner or later, all of us rented electrical scooters and went to Entire Meals and ate lunch exterior, and it was so good to get some contemporary air and hang around,” he says. He additionally makes certain to gas his physique earlier than a efficiency.

McConnell’s Prime Tour Suggestions

GET READY: Rehearsals for McRae’s tour have been solely a couple of week lengthy. Choreographer Michelle Dawley supplied footage of the choreography a month forward, so by the point the dancers got here collectively they already knew the motion.

IT’S A MARATHON: McConnell says method courses, cross-training and intensive rehearsals ready him for the stamina touring requires.

Shirlene Quigley. Picture by Jayme Thornton.


TOURS: Lizzo, Rihanna, Beyoncé

GETTING THE GIG: Shirlene Quigley’s most up-to-date tour was with Lizzo, as certainly one of her well-known “Huge Grrrls.” She was launched to the “Juice” singer at an audition for a dance phase with Lizzo on “The Ellen DeGeneres Present.” “I noticed that she was a giant lady and thought, Okay, she is gonna like me,” Quigley says. “I walked into the audition and she or he commented on how a lot she beloved my outfit.” Quigley booked the “Ellen” job, then joined Lizzo at Coachella. The subsequent factor she knew, choreographer Jemel McWilliams requested her to affix Lizzo on tour. “I’m 38 years outdated, and that is the primary time I really feel really snug in my pores and skin,” she says. “I waited 20 years to have a job that made me really feel so assured, and I’m so grateful for it.”

THE DAY-TO-DAY: Most mornings begin with waking up within the tour bus in a brand new metropolis. “Sleeping on a tour bus is cozy to me,” she says. “Rihanna as soon as requested me if I used to be mad at her as a result of I used to be spending a lot time in my bunk. I stated, ‘No! I simply like it right here!’” Quigley heads into the lodge, the place Lizzo’s administration offers a room for her to bathe and do laundry earlier than heading to the venue for sound verify and staging. “Then we do hair and make-up and eat,” she says. “There may be at all times catering, which I like.” In the event that they’re not staying the evening, after a postshow bathe, she packs and heads again to the tour bus for an additional lengthy drive. “I like touring the world, consuming new meals, assembly new individuals and having new experiences. After 20 years within the business, touring continues to be my favourite job.”

SELF-CARE: Quigley depends on her private religion to bolster her emotional well being on tour. “My morning devotionals are so necessary to me,” she says. Quigley goes to the health club to construct her stamina, and she or he makes a degree to eat wholesome. “I don’t do medicine, I don’t eat pink meat, and I like vegatables and fruits,” she says. “That mixture has been super-helpful for my bodily well being.”

Quigley’s Prime Tour Suggestions

KEEP IT FRESH: To make the choreography really feel new evening after evening, Quigley recommends creating tales out of the lyrics you’re dancing to and having enjoyable with it. For instance, when she dances to the tune “Juice,” she imagines herself squeezing oranges down in Florida and working on the seashore.

SPEAK UP: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions to be able to keep away from errors.”

Haley Hilton is a dancer and author primarily based in New York Metropolis.


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