A few months back, we met Julie in our store. As we spoke, we discovered the 30-year-old had spent the last 7 years performing in different Disney parks around the world as a dancer. Curious, we interviewed her to find out what it’s like working at the happiest place on earth.
Julie wears Birds Don't Sing Slip Dress in Horizon, size XS
What are you doing now?
I’m a dance teacher at a studio called Dance At The Difference. I teach ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop to the young children.
I was teaching virtual classes for three months because of COVID, but I was grateful to see my tiny dancers during the week. They range from 7 months to 7 years old.
Now that we are back in the studio there are lots of restrictions, but the kids have done really well maintaining their distance from one another thanks to the taped squares we have marked on the floor. They like the idea of calling the squares their ‘castles’ and dancing within their ‘kingdoms’.
Julie wears Heartburn Wrap Top in Horizon, size XS
How have you been coping with the new normal?
I’ve been keeping myself busy, even though I stay alone! Other than work, I do lots of yoga, facetime my family, been trying to learn mandarin and even write cards to my friends. I think it’s important not to wallow in the situation.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from a small town in Northern California. It was an adventure to get here!
Julie wears Swagger Jagger Skirt in Brown Eyes, size XS
How did you end up in Singapore?
A couple years back, I was dating a guy who was working at Universal Studios Singapore and I would come visit him. I met my now-boss and she contacted me last year about her need to hire another dance teacher. I was finishing up my contract in Hong Kong so the timing worked out perfectly!
Did you study dance in the US?
Yes, I’m classically trained and graduated from college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance.
When I was younger, I was considering a more traditional job like a dermatologist or veterinarian but it was my parents who encouraged me to get a degree in dance.
I’m really thankful my parents have always been so supportive of my love for dancing. In high school, I attended several summer dance intensives around the US. To be considered for these programs we would have to drive 2-4 hours away to attend an audition that was usually over in an hour and a half. And sometimes we did this a few times in a month during the audition season. So auditions have always been a part of my life.
Julie wears What You Did Ruched Jumpsuit in Brown Lines, size XS
I heard that you spent quite a bit of time at Disney. Tell me more!
I started working for Disney in 2012 after I auditioned for Disney’s A Christmas Fantasy Parade. It was my first audition for Disney and I was lucky to be hired!
I didn’t know anybody when I first started because I was new to the area, but it was the best way to make new friends! I am still so close to several people I met while dancing in the parades.
As much as I loved working at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, I was dreaming of working internationally. To work in the parks outside of the US you have to audition. They do a worldwide audition tour and I auditioned for Tokyo Disneyland Resort in LA. I was ecstatic to be offered a contract in Japan and it was the beginning of me working abroad.
I ended up working at Tokyo Disneyland Resort for 2.5 years and absolutely loved my time there. I was always amazed by the Japanese performers. They are the most dedicated performers I have ever seen and have the best work ethic. And the costumes and shows in Japan are pristine! After my time in Japan I returned to dancing in the parades at Disneyland in Anaheim. I continued to audition for international contracts and was so thrilled to be offered to work at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Hong Kong Disneyland was actually the first park internationally that I wanted to work at. I auditioned 7 times before I was offered a contract. I made it to the end every time I auditioned, but because the cast there is really small there aren’t many spots available. And once you’re offered, if you want to stay for another contract, you still have to audition and be offered again. It’s not like a more traditional job where you’re often there for several years.
Julie wears Cherry Cola Bubble Hem Dress in Yellow Lines, size XS
Do you remember the moment you finally got offered the job in Hong Kong?
Yes! I was auditioning for Universal Studios in LA that morning. It was a dance call so I woke up early, did my hair, got my coffee from Starbucks and was ready to dance!
When I got to the audition there were at least a hundred girls there. It was a dance call, but when they had us come into the audition room in groups, we ended up just standing there. The casting director walked along the rows of girls and then called a few numbers to stay-which didn’t include mine. I was so annoyed because I didn’t get to dance, but sometimes this can happen!
But as I was leaving, I got a phone call from an international number. It was the casting director from Hong Kong and she offered me the job! I had just walked out of my rejection into my YES.
What are auditions like in the US?
I was auditioning for all kinds of things, not just roles in Disney.
In the US, auditions can be all over the country. Sometimes I was awake at 5 am to get my hair and makeup ready and give myself enough time to deal with the inevitable LA traffic. Sometimes I would fly to New York and audition. And sometimes you would drive 9 hours to go to an audition. It’s a lot of effort and dedication to get into that audition room.
When I finally get there, they might say, ‘thanks for coming but unfortunately you’re not what we’re looking for today. Please come back and audition for us again!’ You have to stand there and bite your cheek and do it all over again.
Julie wears Sugar Puffy Sleeve Dress in Horizon, size XS
Auditions can be brutal. How did you manage them mentally?
When I go for an auditions, I look at it as a free class where I get feedback.
For me, if I show up for the audition, I have 50% chance to get that job. If I stay in bed, it’s 0%.
It’s also a chance for me to assess the company. If I was going to move my life somewhere, I want to see if the opportunity will allow me to grow and learn.
How do you feel in the room of a hundred girls auditioning for that one role?
You have to be motivated and persevering! If you’re passive, you just won’t be considered. I tell myself I deserve to be here and have something to show. I need to fight for the spot and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Thankfully I’ve made friends through auditions so we go through material together. We’d chat and find support in one another. You also never know who they have connections to that may be helpful in getting you a step closer to your dream job.
Julie wears Birds Don't Sing Slip Dress in Horizon, size XS
Do you just audition for one style of dance?
Oh no. You can’t just be a good ballerina. You have to be versatile so I will usually bring a variety of shoes in case they want to see me dance in tap or ballet. I have been in cruise line auditions that start with hip hop and then go to ballet, jazz, heels, and finish with tap.
How do you deal with rejections?
It’s okay to cry. You wanted it to happen but it didn’t! Usually, I’d call a friend to chat regardless of it being a good or bad audition.
Sometimes I am not offered work because I may not be the look the casting director wants. You cannot control these things and you just have to accept that you were not right for the job.
But I choose to be thankful for any ‘no’ because it’s a step closer to my ‘yes’. You need to have a lot of gratitude because things come into your life when you’re least expecting it!