Cast in the Chicago The Musical, professional dancer Hayley Martin is ticking off her career bucket list. Dance Writer enjoyed a chat with Hayley, where she revealed the inner-workings of this Australian production.
What have you found most exciting about being cast in Chicago The Musical?
This is one of the shows that was on my list before I knew it was possible to make a living from musical theatre. A career highlight for me, it is such an honour and privilege to be a part of it.
When did you start dancing? And when did you realise you wanted to pursue this as a career?
I began dancing at about three or four-years-old. It was a long trip to Mackay every Friday night to dance at the Leisa Payne School of Dance – such dedication.
I never had any doubt about what I wanted to do. I studied full-time dance at Dance World Studios in Melbourne then, straight after graduation, I auditioned for a show and booked it. Very lucky to go straight into working in a show, I remember thinking, ‘Is this a fluke? Will I get another show?’ But I have the mindset, ‘You get out what you put in’, and have lived by this to get me to where I am today.
Describe the audition and rehearsal process for Chicago The Musical? It’s a strong female show – what’s that like?
The audition process was amazing! It was a masterclass-style audition and everyone came out feeling they had achieved something, even if they did not book the show.
Rehearsal has been highly inclusive as the creative team works with the strengths of the company they cast. We have a great team on and off the stage; the whole cast gets along so well. I think everyone is super grateful to be part of it and has been very present throughout the whole process.
The incredible women leading our company (Alinta Chidzey, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Casey Donovan) are perfect for such a strong female show.
What physical, mental or emotional challenges have you faced during Chicago The Musical?
From the outset, being on stage for the entire show is a physical challenge in itself. The beautiful part of that is that you are supporting what is happening on-stage and watching the dynamics play out.
We navigated through those physical challenges during rehearsals to ensure we were in top physical and mental shape. It still is a challenge on our bodies but, essentially, we treat ourselves as athletes. What we eat and drink, how much sleep we get and allowing time for rest and recovery all work together to sustain us for the massive week of shows.
Rehearsals for understudies is basically a ninth show without an audience; it is to a full level. I enjoy doing Pilates for strength and conditioning but, most importantly, I believe that food is fuel so I make sure I feed my body with the right kinds of food to sustain my daily physical challenges.
Describe the choreography of Chicago The Musical—is it your classic Bob Fosse style?
During rehearsals, we begin with a 50-60 minute warm up, which includes stretching and conditioning in the Bob Fosse style.
The philosophy of the creatives is very much, ‘how the movements feel on the body is what will work’, rather than fixing it by looking in the mirror. If it felt uncomfortable or foreign to our bodies, we were probably on the right track! While dancing this style, we were told to think that, ‘We are a sewing needle rapidly ticking on the inside, but calm and still on the outside’.
I always leave rehearsals feeling very physically sore, but with a full heart.
Any advice for budding musical theatre performers?
Be brave, let go of the fear!
Do the research about your future path, do the classes and keep doing things that will attribute to your goals.
If you have a dream, you have to keep it in the forefront of your mind in order to achieve it. The biggest part of a dancer’s life is rejection. For me, I see rejection as just redirection; there is another path that I have to go down. We perform because we love it, so we cannot lose sight of that if we get rejected.
Believe in yourself and go for it!
For tickets to Chicago The Musical, book here.