Oklahoma City University | Dance Alumna Halston Strange Talks… Skip to content

Dance Alumna Halston Strange Talks Celebrity Cruises

Alumna Halston Strange poses with an elephant statue.

Alumna Halston Strange on Life After OCU

When I graduated from OCU and started to work for Celebrity Cruises as a Production Dancer, I made sure to count all of my lucky stars (no pun intended). I had attended one of the greatest universities in the country, was newly employed, and knew that I was onto bigger and better meals than good ol’ ramen noodles. Starting my journey after college was a rush to say the least.

My contract began the day after my graduation, leaving me anxious, rushed, and quite panicked. But at the same time, I had never been more excited in my entire life. After I walked across the stage and hugged all of my lifelong lifelines goodbye, my family drove me straight to the airport (after a quick meal at Fuzzy’s, of course), and sent me on my way to Miami, Florida. Just like that I had started my post-grad life with the world’s puffiest face. (Crying and high altitude do not mix well, friends.)

Alumna Halston Strange poses in front of a waterfall.

Trusting Yourself

For all of those pursuing a career in performing, rock on! You are resilient, creative, and because I am very openly biased, you are just downright gritty. Auditioning can be scary and nerve-racking, but luckily you are prepared. Ask any OCU dance graduate — auditions are our forte, thanks to Jo Rowan and her trusty squad. Trust yourself and your ability and go into that cramped audition room and enjoy yourself, regardless if you make it past the first round or not. It is all a learning experience and if it does not go as planned, then it just means that another great opportunity is waiting for you around the corner.

Alumna Halston Strange in costume for her job as a Celebrity Cruises performer and holding a fan.

The Audition

My audition experience for Celebrity Cruises was surprisingly pleasant! I had petitioned to get out of all of my dance school classes (I could fill out one of those in my sleep) and booked a roundtrip ticket to New York City for a brisk two days. I didn’t even have time to try and win the Hamilton lottery, gosh darn it. I slept on an OCU alum’s couch and pretended like I had already graduated and that this was my new, awesome life.

The day of my audition there was a massive blizzard, and my hair and makeup went complete “Joker” style by the time I had reached the audition venue. Thankfully, a former OCU Star came to the rescue with a hair curler and extra makeup. The more I think about it, the more I owe her my career… (After reading this, I hope that you all learn from my mistake and take every Mac lipstick and Conair wand that you own to each and every audition.)

The audition started with around 100 women and ended with a whopping 5 women left. There were three rounds, starting with the technique round. It is usually a simple across the floor, which OCU Stars thrive at! After that there was a fun, upbeat jazz combination taught, and we danced it out in groups until they cut the numbers down again and again. After three sweaty rounds, I was absolutely gobsmacked to be standing as one of the final 5 women. A week later I received an offer to work with Celebrity right out of school. I cried and cried and cried, and my poor mother had no idea what I was screaming over the telephone for a good minute.

Alumna Halston Strange held up in the air above in dance pose with the ocean in the background.

Setting Sail with Celebrity Cruises

Come almost three years later and I am still loving my job with Celebrity. I am on my fourth contract and have had some amazing opportunities to grow as a performer, individual, and world traveler. I have visited the Caribbean, Alaska, Canada, the Mediterranean, India, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand, all by the mere age of 25! Like what the heck, I am still pinching myself! For all of those considering auditioning for cruise ships, I say go for it. The industry has grown tremendously over the last couple of years and the quality of entertainment is no joke.

If you are interested in traveling the world, saving a bit of money (great for student loans), and don’t mind living in a cozy little Harry Potter closet room then this could be the gig for you. To sell this job to you even more, you meet amazing people from all over the world and become so culturally immersed. There are currently 68 different countries represented in the Celebrity Solstice crew, and we celebrate everyone’s independence day like it’s the end of the world. It is truly beautiful to see everyone put their differences aside and become one large family, regardless of origin.

You're Ready for This!

I understand that I was incredibly fortunate in receiving a job right out of school, and I know that once I decide to move on from cruise ships there may be a big ol’ tidal wave of “NO” coming my way. But I am ready for that. And for all of those who may think that you are not, trust me, you are.

You are all attending one of the greatest universities in the country. Sure, you may go through a scary amount of Red Bulls and a tree-worth of tissues by the time you reach graduation, but this school will make you tough as nails. Whatever life throws at you, expected or not, you will be able to combat it with resilience and wit. Enjoy the time that you have now and get excited for all that you will do in the future.

To end this blog post, I would like to throw a very cliché, yet genuine and peppy, GO STARS! You’re the absolute best of the best.

Back to all blog
Back to Top