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An Interview with... Harley Ruttledge

December 14, 2015

Could you tell us about your journey as a dancer?

I got on the cruise ships by auditioning in Manchester. After such a long day I finally made it through all rounds and was told "Congratulations somebody will be in touch" with that you think "great I've got the job I'm employed" ... No, at a cruise line audition so many girls get picked (but) there are only limited spaces on a number of ships, I realised this about two weeks later. Nothing a quick email containing a CV and show reel didn't sort out!

From this I was able to remind them of me and days later I was offered a 1 year two ship contract! My advice would be ‘always email to refresh them of your face!’ From the get go of training in college, to work on a cruise ship was always drilled into me that it was this amazing job that everybody strived to get. I guess you could say I like a challenge, I pushed myself for three years day-in-day-out to have myself ready for the auditions.

To work on a cruise ship was more like to say (more like saying) ‘you made it…you're employed and paid to dance finally!’

My experience prior to ships was that I had already succeeded in two auditions and completed two professional contracts already so that when the cruise audition came I was ready and knew what to expect!

Harley RuttledgeWhen or how did you develop an interest in dance?

I became very interested in dance when I realised that it was something that could never be perfect, something that could always be worked on and yet there was so many genres.

My favourites vary, I love hip hop and then I also love a good old school tap dance. I studied dance when I was a teenager in a local school where I learnt the basics and then later attended the ‘Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre’ for three hard years of in depth training, whilst competing with a local hip hop troupe ‘Cody Urban Dance’

Who are your main influencers?

My teachers were always my main influences when I was younger, every child dancer wants to be their teacher whether they admit it or not. Older dancers in their final year were always something to watch and want to be like too!

What performances have you done?

My performance contracts include:

Vice Gander UK Tour

Bollywood Dancer for Movies, Commercials, and Music Videos touring most of India.

Princess Cruises: Sun, Dawn, Grand, Golden and Star ships.

I love to dance so I feel blessed that I am fit and healthy and able to perform each day!

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

My performance rituals would be to have full make-up and costume pre-set and done earlier so that a full 30-45min warm up can be done. I also like to give myself 15mins before a performance call so I can relax use the toilet and be calm before entering the stage.

Do you get nervous before a performance?

The only time I get nervous for a performance is if I have family/friends watching or a certain manager/ agent. If I don't know anybody in the audience then I am completely fine.

What do you wear for performances / rehearsals?

For rehearsals I like to wear tight leggings, a good sports shoe and sleeveless tops. My favourite rehearsal brands I wear are Nike, Lulu Lemon, Capezio and Pink at Victoria Secrets.

For a performance on the other hand it is completely up to the employer, so I have been on stage in the tiniest of shorts and crop top wearing huge $5000 head dressers and back-packs!

Harley RuttledgeWhat is the most essential item in your dance bag?

My most essential item in my dance bag would be water, I get dehydrated easily and don't perform my best without it. I have to drink in between every quick change.

What do you find most difficult about performing?

The most difficult thing about performing is to avoid getting injured. The slightest ankle role can have you out for up to six weeks. So dancing on a moving ship in rough seas can be testing.

What do you find most rewarding about being a dancer / performer on cruise ships?

The most rewarding thing about working on a cruise ship is that in just under three years that I've been doing that (dancing on-board) I've seen most of the world. Working for cruise lines allows you to travel without expenditure. I get to educated myself on world poverty and other topics whilst making connections with future employees worldwide. I get to meet people from all walks of life and save money for future plans on land.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career on cruise ships?

My advice to anybody wanting to work on ships is to be determined also ‘to catch flights not feelings.’ Working miles away for months at a time away from family and friends is hard, it’s without a question of doubt that you have to have a determination quality to succeed!

What’s next in your career?

Next on my career is to finish my current contract with Princess Cruises. In three years’ time I see myself in a different department. I would like to put focus on to my acting as that’s another passion of mine. But who knows right now I am just happy to be fit healthy and employed.

Subscribe to Harley’s Youtube channel to follow her journey through dance!