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Chelsea Tough – Life as a Professional Dancer Aboard Marella Cruises Discovery Ship

Chelsea Tough, 2018 DFA graduate

We’re delighted to have an interview with 2018 graduate Chelsea Tough, who shares with us her experience performing onboard the Marella Discovery luxury cruise liner (operated by TUI) for Peel Talent production company. Read on as Chelsea also shares some fantastic audition tips.

Life aboard Marella Discovery

Congratulations on winning your current contract with Peel Talent! You won this contract just 3 months after graduating, how did it feel when you heard the news your audition was successful?

When I first heard that I had got this contract shortly after I graduated I was in absolute shock! I was on a phone call to a member of the company and literally all I could say was, “Oh My God” over and over! It felt so surreal that all my hard work had finally paid off and I was being offered my DREAM JOB!

During rehearsals at Peel Talent’s studios, what was a typical day like?  

During rehearsals, a typical day started off with a team vocal warm up in the morning (we started around 8.30 am every day) then we worked on choreography for whatever show we were on that week and one full vocal day every Sunday. With Peel/Marella we do 11 shows in total so my rehearsal period was 3.5 months. 

What’s life like onboard the Marella Discovery cruise ship? How’s life with your new Peel Talent family?   

Life onboard the Marella Discovery is absolutely amazing! It’s such a beautiful ship, everyone is so friendly and we get lots of lovely perks! My Peel Talent family is my real family now and I am so privileged to be working alongside so many other talented performers! 

Actually, my team on Discovery has been the highest-scoring ship for entertainment for most of the summer season this year!

How did you feel before you left Scotland? Were you nervous? Have you been homesick at all? 

When I was leaving Scotland, I was a little nervous but I was more excited if anything! I just couldnʼt believe it was all finally happening!

Surprisingly, I havenʼt been homesick that much, more so because I like being away and my Mum has visited me and is booked up to come on again for two weeks! I am enjoying everything, to be honest – the whole job is just fantastic and I feel so unbelievably lucky to have seen so many beautiful places and there is still so much more to come! 

What are you enjoying most at the moment – any favourite performance roles?

One of my favourite roles is my Tango De Roxanne number with the two boys, I literally spend the whole number above their heads and being thrown around (literally)!

“After following your progress for the last few years we could not be prouder for such a hard working and determined dancer. After only graduating from Dance For All in June [2018] its amazing to have secured your first contract so early on in your career. We hope you have an amazing time onboard and get to see some fabulous places!” – Stephen & Lindsay, SL Talent, September 2018.

Did you have any other professional dance jobs before you started this one?

Before I started this job, I spent summer doing small dance gigs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Revolution Glasgow. I then took part in Sleeping Beauty at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline at Christmas, which was so much fun! 

Auditioning + Dance Audition Tips

What was the audition like for Peel Talent? Were the ballet techniques you learned here at Dance For All College important?

The audition for my role was so much fun! The first round was a jazz routine and I’d say it was quite challenging and fast and they were 100% looking at performance and personality for this too, followed by a contrasting routine which was lyrical. So, yes, the ballet techniques I learned at DFA College actually came in very handy as the routine finished with pas de bourree, glissade, grande jete

Chelsea Tough performances onboard Marella

How did you prepare for it?

I didn’t do much to prepare for this audition, just the usual take all your shoes or what it says you need and most importantly just mentally prepare yourself! 

How did you feel during the audition?

By this one, it was my fifth audition so I had experienced the stress and anxiety of it all and the pressure and let it all go for this one and just went in really positive.

Do you have any tips for upcoming dance graduates?

  • Be confident, PERFORM, don’t be afraid to go to the front
  • If you miss something ASK! 
  • Do not be afraid to ask the choreographer questions if you need to! 

What about young people applying to dance college – do you have any audition tips or advice for them?

  • I would say just make sure you pick the right college for you! Donʼt go to one because someone else is, etc. Audition for a few and choose the one you felt was right! I knew straight away Dance For All was for me after spending a year at another! Most importantly, choose the one you think you will have fun at as well! 
  • I would also add, you donʼt need to be extremely extravagant at auditions. A colourful sports bra or something that makes you stand out a little is perfect, if it helps. I stuck to a pair of tight black shorts and a colourful sports bra (because any shoes look good with a bare leg) and it also shows your body to the panel!

Dance For All College Feedback

How did your full-time dance training help prepare you for starting your dance career?

DFA prepared me for the industry because in my two years* I learned so many genres of dance which in all helped with performance, style, and technique and in this industry you have to be versatile! 

*At our auditions, depending on experience, we sometimes offer places onto the second year of our 2-year course. Chelsea was accepted into 2nd year.

What did you love most about your time at DFA College?  

What I loved most about my training was, again, how many different styles I learned. We also did a lot of performances throughout the college year which means you always have something to work towards during training and not just the goal at the end, and I do love a performance! 

If you were to recommend us to your best friend, what would you say? 

Dance For All really is such a great college! I would recommend DFA to anyone who is looking for intense but fun training before going out to audition as a professional dancer. Also, there is the bonus of doing the ISTD teacher training if that is an interest to you.

Anything else you’d like to add?  

If there is any advice I would give to anyone going into training or stepping into the big world of professional auditions, it is to be confident, be yourself, do not stress and PERFORM!

All companies love to see a performance! Most importantly, do not be disheartened. You will get more ‘noʼs’ than you will (get) a  ‘yesʼ, it doesnʼt mean it’s your performance or skills or technique, you just might not be the right fit for what they wanted that day! What’s for you will not go by you! 


Thanks so much, Chelsea! It’s been wonderful to hear about your time as a new graduate dancer and your first international contract. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

Chelsea J Tough graduated from Dance For All in 2018. Within 3 months of graduating, she was offered a job as a professional dancer with award-winning Peel Talent aboard Marella Discovery (operated by TUI) and performing at the Wave Awards. Her contract includes learning 11 different shows and performing multiple shows aboard the Marella Discovery luxury cruise liner and she has been travelling the Mediterranean, Adriatic Sea (Croatia, Montenegro), Aegean Sea (Greece, Greek Islands), Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indonesian seas. Chelsea has explored numerous locations across the world, including Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and many more places, and has ticked off her bucket list, the Burj Khalifa, one of the 7 wonders of the world in Petra. Chelsea has also worked in Scotland as a dance teacher and coach and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Alhambra Theatre.

Photos: Barrie Spence Photography, Chelsea J Tough

Follow Chelsea on social media for behind the scenes, rehearsal and performance photos and videos on social media:

  • Instagram: @_chelseajtough
  • Facebook: Chelsea J Tough
  • “Follow my journey or feel free to message me for any questions or further advice!” – Chelsea.

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