Claire Grieve takes flight
Over the last couple of years, we’ve checked in with Claire Grieve to follow her post-college journey – a journey which keeps taking her back to the Caribbean. Here’s her story so far…
Claire’s first stage job after graduating in 2013 was playing Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After producing her showreel (below) and competing in professional dance auditions, Claire won her first international contract was at the 5-star hotel Breathless Resort in the Dominican Republic.
Watch Claire’s 2013 graduating youtube video and her 2019 aerial showreel (scroll down for more amazing aerial videos):
We first caught up with Claire while she was at Breathless, working as a Dancer/Aerialist:
Congratulations Claire! Did you ever imagine you’d be working in the Caribbean?
I’d always hoped my dance career would take around the world but I didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to work somewhere like this so soon after graduating.
Were you nervous before you left?
Yes I was but I was really excited too.
What is the Breathless Resort in the Dominican Republic like?
It’s a brand new 5-star luxury Resort. It has 700 rooms, 6 pools, 2 theatres, too many restaurants and bars to count, and it’s beautiful!
How many other performers are you working with?
I work with a group of 11 dancers- 6 girls and 5 boys- and our choreographer who performs with us in certain shows.
What is a typical day like for you?
Well, I haven’t really had a typical day yet! It’s been too manic with opening preparations and celebrations. But I do know that, depending on which show we are performing in the evening, we have two rehearsal sessions. One at 10am and another around 245pm but sometimes we get the morning off. At night we spend about an hour talking and getting to know the guests, invite them to watch the shows and then perform around 9.30pm.
We know you’ve only been there a few weeks, but do you have a favourite performance/project so far?
I love our ‘Night of The Stars’ show which is mostly commercial jazz with music by Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rhianna etc.
I also really love our ‘Cirque du Soleil’ show which involves additional guest circus performers. It’s so exciting to watch and also to be a part of.
Have you had time to see much of the island yet or do you plan to travel to places nearby in your free time/holidays?
I haven’t had a chance yet but I’m definitely going to try and see as many places as I can while I’m here. The other dancers already have a long list of places they’re going to take me!
What are you enjoying most out there?
Firstly, the dancing. The shows here are amazing and I’m having so much fun learning them. And of course, the weather!
Claire then returned to the Dominican Republic for a second season, working as a Dance Captain for the Hard Rock Casino and performing as a Dancer, Aerialist & Trapeze Artist.
How did you feel when that first contract ended?
I was sad to leave because I met so many great people and had learned so much during my time there. I knew I was going to miss the shows and dancing all day and also living in the tropical Caribbean climate! However I was ready to see my family and friends, return to normality for a while and I was already thinking about my next venture.
What were your highlights during that time?
Well firstly, the grand opening of Breathless Resort was really exciting. When I arrived in DR the resort had not yet opened and we had two weeks to learn and rehearse all of the shows in a different hotel; of the same company. There were a lot of important people around for the opening including the Kardashians who came to cut the ribbon to open the hotel. We had a grand opening show which combined the dancers, the circus (which regularly came to the hotel) and also a famous Mexican Singer. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever performed in; a great atmosphere and a lot of fun.
Another highlight was being able to travel around the country whenever I had free time. The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country and the culture and life here are very different to the UK. I saw some good things and also some bad as the country is very deprived in places, but it’s eye-opening and interesting to spend time with people for a completely different background to yourself and experience their way of life.
At Breathless I was the only dancer with gymnastic/acrobatic experience. Therefore my choreographer decided that I would be the one to perform the aerial hoop and cocoon in two of our shows. This was fantastic for me as it is something I had always wanted to learn and to be given the opportunity to perform it as well was very lucky.
Did you do any other performing or teaching before going back to the Dominican Republic?
Yes, during my time at home I did some cover work with the dance school I attended part-time before training at DFA. I didn’t perform at all when I was home, I spent some weeks in London taking different classes and also did a couple of aerial classes in Edinburgh as that was something with which I was very keen to continue.
We offer Aerial and Gymnastics as part of our Professional Dance Performance & Teacher Training Course – Audition & apply.
When you went back, were you at the same Breathless Resort hotel?
No, when I came back in November last year I was working in Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana. I stayed in that contract only three months before coming to 5-star Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach in La Romana where I will stay until November when my visa finishes.
What’s been different this time around?
This time around has been different in so many ways; all good reasons!
Firstly I’m more confident as I have experience in the industry and I now know much more about this kind of work. For example, all of the tips and tricks to do with costumes, hair, makeup, etc. That I picked up from the other girls I worked with at Breathless.
Also, I am much more confident and proficient with the language. I’m much more fluent in Spanish now and that has made a huge difference to the relationships I can have with my colleagues. I can properly converse with everybody here now even though they do not speak English. I feel this allowed me to be accepted in to the team more quickly when I arrived and made it much easier to make friends. It has also made learning the shows so much easier, at breathless it was much more difficult and stressful at times!
It looks like you’ve been doing some advanced trapeze work – did you have any experience of that before you went?
The only experience I had was everything I had learned in Breathless, which in fact was self-taught from videos and photos I found online. And I also had done a few classes last summer in the aerial silks.
Here I perform the Aerial silks within a group of six- I’m the only girl. And I also do Trapeze and Silks Doubles.
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Are you helping choreograph?
Not at the moment however during my time at Hard Rock, yes. I was the choreographer and choreographed the night time shows which were fairly short and also our longer but more simple poolside shows that we would perform during the day.
Which shows are your favourite? And why?
I enjoy all of the shows here – we have 12! But my favourite shows are;
Moulin Rouge because the costumes are amazing and it’s very “show girl”/technical Jazz which I enjoy performing.
Akumbya (a latin/Dominican show) because I perform two solos, both Bachata which is my favourite kind of Dominican dance. It’s so passionate and the choreography is great; I do some really fun unusual lifts in those numbers.
Africa Viva because the costumes, set and choreography are great- and a little bit crazy too! A lot of face paint and feathers and the show has a good story too. It’s really fun to dance this show. And of course I also love performing the circus and mix shows because in those I perform the silks and trapeze.
Claire enjoyed the team social life and managed to fit in some travelling.
It looks like you’ve made some great friends! What’s been the best things about working (and living!) with your team?
Yes I have, you make really close friends so quickly in this sort I job because you are with each other all day every day!
I really enjoy working and living with people from completely different backgrounds and cultures. I like that sometimes in order to communicate with someone, we talk in three different languages! You learn to really appreciate the differences between yourself and others even though at first it can be really frustrating and confusing. It’s great that generally everyone you work with loves what they do and so every day is such good fun.
Have you managed to do some travelling?
Yes, I have travelled a little within the country when I have had days off. There are so many beautiful places and islands to see here and they are very proud of their countries natural beauty and want to protect it. It is difficult however to see the contrast between the wealth in the areas with a lot of hotels and tourism and the areas where Dominicans actual live. It is a poor country and although I knew that before I arrived here you can’t imagine how it will actually be.
Do you get homesick at all?
Not really, of course, I miss my family and friends but I keep in touch with everyone on Skype/Whatsapp etc. Most of the time I’m so busy I don’t have time to think about missing home!
Are you planning to go back? What’s next?
Well, I’m not too sure. Depending on how I enjoy my trapeze contract I might look for a new contract that’s dancer/aerialist rather than just dance. I want to continue dancing and continue travelling and I don’t mind too much where! I have really enjoyed my time in DR but I would really like to go somewhere else in the new year.
Claire continued to develop her aerial skills, including silks and trapeze, both solo and partner work.
Claire spent the Summer Season of 2016 performing as Dancer and Acrobat and working as a Circus Instructor at the Calalandrusa Beach Resort, Italy.
In Italy, Claire met Ivan Lorando, a fellow aerialist performer and they continued to work together in Claire’s next contract.
The Caribbean called Claire back, again with Viva Wyndham, but this time to the Bahamas. But 10 days in, hurricane Matthew passed through, closing the resort for a full month. In February 2016, Claire and Ivan were back at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach on Grand Bahama Island.
How long have you and Ivan worked together?
We’ve been working doing the duo acro about a year now – we do acrobalance and aerial silk/straps etc together, as well as solo performances and with the other artists and dancers. Our newest number is Triple Trapeze which we will perform tomorrow evening in the circus show!
What have your main roles been with this current contract?
On this contract, I am working during the day teaching flying trapeze lessons to children and adults and also training and performing on the flying trapeze. Then in the evenings, I dance in the shows and we have two shows in which we perform circus and acrobatic numbers. So here I am very much doing a bit of everything! 🙂
Do you have any favourite performances so far?
I’m not sure about ‘a’ favourite performance but every week here after the Circus Show we get such a great response from the audience, that’s really rewarding. There’s normally about 200 people come to see the shows at night but, for the circus show, the theatre is always full!
Also, we are working on some new shows here at the moment. Last night was our first Viva Disco! performance which went really well and in the next few weeks we will premier our Lion King show! Then in a month or so we have a new Trapeze Show to open, which is called Underworld; inspired by the film series with the same name. So that is all very exciting!
Any plans on the horizon for 2017?
As for 2017 as a whole, I am here until September on this contract so I haven’t thought much about what’s next yet! But I’d definitely like to continue in this direction of travelling and performing Circus/Trapeze and Dance together.
We wish you the best for 2017 & beyond Claire – thank you!
Updated with Instagram videos, June 2019.
Claire is one of our many graduates enjoying life as a full-time performer and teacher. Train with us.
“I feel so lucky to have been given such a versatile training because it has given me so much confidence going into the working world knowing that no new style is going to faze me… The intimate environment of Dance For All means you get so much one-to-one tuition within classes and establish great relationships with all of your teachers and classmates.”
Competing in tough auditions, our alumni win contracts to work in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Far East, Americas, Europe, Australia, UK, Middle East, India… performing with international cruise liner companies including P&O, Costa, Princess, Celestyal, Seacruise, Ibero Crueros, MSC, Disney, HNA, Carnival Cruises; performing at five-star hotels, in Bollywood films, touring with international dance companies and performing at theme parks, such as Disneyland Paris.
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