Cruising in a different direction isn’t easy, but Lance Barker is finding the transition from cruise ship dancer to modern dance company member to “Newsies” cast member to be rewarding.
An energetic child, Barker started out playing soccer at roughly seven or eight and waiting at his sister’s dance studio for her lessons to finish. After dancing in place of one of the girls in his sister’s class, Barker discovered how much he liked to dance.
“I think it just made sense. I always liked moving around and gymnastics, using my body and expressing myself as a kid. And then, I think, as I started to really understand what dance was, and seeing more of it, that was when I was kind of like ‘Oh yeah, that is what I want to be doing — what I was supposed to do,’” Barker said.
That feeling of doing something right followed Barker through his time at the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts and the University of Utah, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Modern Dance. After his BFA, Barker performed as an aerialist with Saturday Night Fever as a dancer on cruise ships. He then worked with the Odyssey Dance Theater, where he got to perform his favorite routines: a solo to the Beatles’ “Mother Nature” and an aerial routine on a cruise ship that involved hoops and soaring over the audience. This year Barker is making the transition from working with a dance company to musical theater, an area he has always enjoyed.
“I’ve always kind of liked musical theater, too,” Barker said. “I’ve always really liked singing. After seeing the movie of ‘Newsies,’ I was very much like, ‘This is where I want to go. This is what I want to do.’”
For those considering auditioning for musical theater, a dance company or even a cruise ship, Barker has advice.
“If you want to go towards cruise ships or jazz companies like Odyssey or musical theater, anything like that, you need to be a triple threat. You need to take tap, you need to take jazz, ballet, modern. You need to know all of the history behind all of these things,” Barker said. “You need to know people’s names because you go in and they’re like, ‘Who’s Martha Graham?’ You need to know who these people are. Vocal lessons are a thing or acting lessons! There are more opportunities if you can do all these things — and tumbling. Tumbling is a thing. They want the whole package nowadays.”
Those who are already getting themselves out there should be prepared for anything.
Barker is currently in rehearsals for “Newsies” at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, which opens Dec. 1-20.