Published: December 13, 2009
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SBF Member Katie Hurrey trained in the UK where she performed in numerous productions which include appearing with the Lewis London Ballet Company, playing Chrissy in Hair, Cinderella in Into the Woods and dancing at Her Majesty's Theatre. After winning Runner-up Miss Dance of Great Britain, Katie began working for Celebrity Cruises and then joined RCCL, where she was part of the original cast on four of the Voyager class ships. After several contracts as Dance Captain, Katie has become part of the team of rehearsal choreographers at the Royal Caribbean Production Studios in Hollywood, Florida, making her home in Miami....
Katie Hurrey

Quote Yesterday I was in the audience along with the old cast, who were extremely supportive. In fact I've never had a cast who hasn't been supportive of the new cast...
Photo from 'The Observer'
Lewis London Ballet Co auditions for the 'Nutcracker'
L to R: Catherine Hedley Hamilton, Joanna Laurie, Katie, Susie Mooney & Anita Johns
  • How old were you when you started dancing and what inspired you to take it up?
    Katie Hurrey: From the age of four I went to a local dancing school in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex. It was always just a hobby for me. At one point I did consider going to a stage school, however I decided to get my 'A' levels first and then I would decide what I wanted to do. After that I was offered a place to study English and Performing Arts at the University of Guildford in Surrey. Once I got the place, I thought that I would defer it for a year - that's what everyone did! - but I still didn't really consider dancing as a career. My parents always thought that I would end up with a professional job in an office, because that is what they did. So I deferred for a year and in that time I attended an audition for Celebrity Cruises and two weeks later I was on a ship and never quite got back to university!

  • Tell us about your dancing career?
    KH: I did a couple of contracts on Celebrity Cruises for Connie Dickmeyer, both on the Meridian and the Horizon.
    You always hear that Royal Caribbean is a good company to work for and it was THE company to be with back then and it probably still is now. So in 1998 I went to audition for them, got the job and moved over and I've been here ever since. I joined at a really lucky time, as in 1999 the Voyager ship came out, followed by all the Voyager Class ships and I managed to be in all the original casts of those ships. For a lot of these contracts, I was the Dance Captain. The Mariner of the Seas was launched in 2003 and after a contact on there, I disembarked from the ship and started teaching the shows in the Studios in Florida for the company and taking casts to the ships. When the Freedom of the Seas came out, I decided to go back and dance again. So I was Dance Captain in the original cast from its maiden voyage from Finland and then I went back to the Studios to teach.

    Katie on the Navigator of the Seas
  • How did you hear about the audition?
    KH: I saw the advert in The Stage newspaper in England. I've been really spoilt, I've done two auditions and got both the jobs. Nowadays, most of it is done through the Royal Caribbean website. The auditions are posted and we go all over the world finding people.

  • What does your role as a Rehearsal Choreographer involve?
    KH: I have about seven weeks in the studios in Hollywood, Florida teaching a new cast of singers and dancers. I have the whole cast and I teach them every aspect of the show that I can in a studio room, using floor tapes for dimensions. At the end of that process, they perform the shows that they've learnt to an audience made up of the Officers, the Casting Directors and all the other casts who are in rehearsals. We usually have anywhere between four to seven casts rehearsing at a time. So we have quite a big audience to watch this next step. Then I embark with the new cast. Firstly they have to go through a bit of training for the shipboard side of things and safety. In their first week they perform one of the production shows and from the second week, when the old cast disembarks, they take over and are fully into the shows. I stay on for three weeks to make sure everything runs smoothly and for rehearsals onboard. There was also a Vocal Director who embarks alongside me, to listen to the sound and rehearse with the singers. In the cast there's a Dance Captain and a Vocal Captain who, after we leave, will be in charge.
    Freedom of the Seas
Marquee, Cabaret
L to R: Cassandra Porter, Katie, Heather McGovern, Bryant Williams, Karina Loy, Kathleen Tillis, Michael McGovern, Colette Harris & Csaba Farago
  • Would you like to get into choreographing the shows?
    KH: Not yet! I come from a long line of teachers (on my mother's side) and I know my strength is in being versatile and teaching style. I might one day, but I'm very happy in doing what I'm doing now. These shows are very challenging, but they enable the cast to look really good at what they are doing. RCCL always have new projects and I'm lucky enough to be right there all the time, so I do get involved with anything that is going on. It's never got to the point where it's a routine and if it did, at that point, I would ask if I could do some new shows, for a new ship that was coming out - like I did with the Liberty of the Seas. I wouldn't like to get rid of the shows I'm doing now though, these are my babies and I love them too much!

  • After being on a ship with the new cast, is it difficult to disembark and do you ever wish that you could stay onboard?
    KH: A little, but I would say that I'm really lucky as I get a bit of both. I live in Miami, I've got a lovely apartment and a cat and I'm very happy here, but I get to come back and visit friends and be at sea for three weeks, which is perfect. I do miss the dancing though and I would still like to be performing the shows. You dance so much in ship shows, which you don't really get the opportunity in many other places. However, I get just as nervous sitting in the audience watching them, as I did when I was performing. Last night for instance, it was the new casts first night - I was in the audience along with the old cast, who were extremely supportive. In fact I've never had a cast who hasn't been supportive of the new cast.

    Freedom of the Seas
Katie in Once upon a Time
  • Have the new cast worked together before?
    KH: No. Some of them I know from other ships, but they have never all worked together as a cast before. They met each other seven weeks ago when they came for rehearsals in Florida.
    Quote RCCL shows are very challenging, but they enable the cast to look really good at what they are doing...
  • What nationalities are the new cast and will they stay together as a cast after this contract?
    KH: We have Argentineans, British, Americans and Canadians. At the end of this contact they will probably all go in different directions, some will do another Royal Caribbean contract, some will audition for Broadway etc.

  • How many Rehearsal Choreographers are there working for Royal Caribbean?
    KH: There are many of us, probably about 20 and we are all employed on a 'contract by contract' basis. I think that because I live in Florida, I'm pretty much contracted all year round. Other people might just specialize on a particular ship, for example they might just come back every six months and teach the Legend of the Seas shows and maybe they wouldn't do anything else in between. My ships are primarily the Freedom and the Liberty and then I jump around sometimes doing a show for the Mariner or the Adventure or wherever they need somebody. I'm lucky because having been in them, I know so many of the shows.

    Thank you Katie for this great interview!