Choreographer and Dance Captain Brooke Barlow knows her stuff, and that’s thanks to many years of hard work in one of the most highly competitive entertainment fields out there.
Originally from Australia, Barlow has built her career around work, challenge, and success. Fittingly, dance professionals and audiences alike have taken notice.
She has worked extensively with Celebrity Cruises Entertainment for more than five years, and her professional pedigree also earned her the chance to choreograph for the Principal Academy of Dance & Theatre Arts and deliver lectures to its students.
Given Barlow’s range of experience in dance and choreography, we wanted our recent interview with her to explore the mechanics of performance: the prep, the pre-show butterflies, and the music itself.
You’ll find Barlow’s expert info and advice below. If you’d like to learn more about Celebrity Cruises Entertainment and Principal Academy of Dance & Theatre Arts, please follow the links included here.
Do you have any pre-show routines that have become traditions for you?
Barlow: When I was in college, one of my ballet teachers set up a floor barre sequence that we would come in and do as a warm-up before we started class with her. That sequence became a really good way for me to warm up my entire body and make sure I was all set and ready to go.
I continued to use this sequence as my warm-up throughout my professional career, and no matter how many times I would try other ways of warming up, I would never feel quite ready for a performance until I had done that specific sequence.
So it became a tradition for me that I would have to complete that warm-up sequence before showtime or I wouldn’t feel confident stepping out onto the stage.
Do you think there’s a natural sense of camaraderie that comes from performing with the same people for months or even years at a time?
Barlow: Oh for sure. It’s hard not to become connected to the people you are performing with night-in, night-out. You share so much with those people both on stage and backstage, and the longer you work together, the stronger that bond becomes.
Is feeling nervous before a performance a permanent reality for a performer or do certain dancers move past this?
Barlow: It is definitely something that certain people can move past. When I first began my professional career, I didn’t think it would ever go away, but it did. It’s like anything really, the more you do something, the more it becomes second nature to you.
Funnily enough, at first, it was performing to a crowd of strangers that made me really nervous, but the more time that passed, I found I would actually only get nervous if I had a loved one in the audience watching!
What genres of music have the easiest time making you want to dance?
Barlow: In general, I love anything with a fun, upbeat vibe, something you just can’t help but get up out of your chair and bop along to!
Professionally speaking though, commercial jazz is my favorite genre of dance and so in a show, if there is a piece of music that accompanies an awesome commercial routine, then I instantly love it!
Does professional dance still have an opportunity to thrive during the pandemic period?
Barlow: Professional dancers have taken a major hit during the pandemic. Without the ability to open large venues and draw large crowds like a live performance naturally would, it has been very hard for the industry to survive, let alone thrive.
My only hope is that, when it is safe to do so, people will be willing and ready to get out there and experience theater and shows again so we can start to rebuild.
Can you tell us about one or two modern-day choreographers you feel are doing really interesting work?
Barlow: I absolutely love Travis Wall and everything he creates. I first fell in love with him when he was a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. The way he moved was just so majestic.
Since then, keeping up with his choreographic career has been amazing and I feel like he puts out a really great, positive message to the community as well which I think is super important.
Some of our readers might have an interest in watching some contemporary dance but not know where to start. Do you have any suggestions for them?
Something as simple as typing ‘So You Think You Can Dance Contemporary‘ into YouTube will bring up a bunch of great stuff as well!
Do you have any upcoming performances or projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
Barlow: Sadly, like most people in the performance industry, I am waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to become controlled enough for large venues and live performances to be able to open again.
Once international travel returns and cruise ships are able to return to service, I will be able to return to work with Celebrity Cruises again, and I can’t wait!