When former Mexborough School pupil Eleanor Bechthold started dance classes at the age of nine, she had no idea that it would take her around the world.
Eleanor has visited over 40 countries as part of her job as a dancer for cruise ship company Princess Cruises, and is now a newly appointed dance captain on one of the firm’s boats. The 29-year-old is currently on dry land in South Yorkshire as she prepares to take her first voyage in her new role which will see her on board the firm’s new 3,600 passenger flagship The Royal Princess which was officially christened by the Duchess of Cambridge.
The dance captain takes an important role with choreography and looks after the other dancers as their supervisor.
Eleanor took her first steps towards a career in dance when she joined Kathryn Down’s Academy of Dance in Hoyland, which she says made her want to be a ballerina and sparked her interest in the profession.
She continued attending dance classes at McMann’s School of Dance, in Swinton, during her time as a pupil at Mexborough School, and then at the age of 16 Eleanor joined the SLP performing arts college in Leeds where she studied full time for three years.
Formerly known as Studios La Pointe, Eleanor says the SLP college was a ‘great place’ for a dancer and taught her the discipline which is essential in her role as a dance captain.
She said: “It was a lot of hard work and I was in dance classes four or five times a week but I loved it because I got to do a bit of acting and everything really.”
Eleanor left SLP with a diploma in dance and from there got a job with dance company Ellite Performers, which provides dancers for events such as product launches or trade shows up and down the country.
Her big break came when she got a job with Princess Cruises, where she started as a dancer and has now worked her way up to the senior position of dance captain.
“The best part of my job is the fact I get to do something I love for a living. I’m looking forward to working as a dance captain and getting to look after 19 other dancers. With this job I get to travel to new places all the time, and I have friends from all over the world,” said Eleanor.
“When I was younger and was imagining what path my career as a dancer would take, I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about working on a cruise ships but it’s an amazing place to work for a dancer.”
“There’s this whole other world of dance on a cruise ship that I wasn’t aware of before having this job. I thought the best place for a dancer was the West End, but there’s so much more out there.”
Not only has working on a cruise ship led to Eleanor travelling the world, and landing her dream job, it is also how she met her husband Favio who works along side Eleanor as a sound technician.
The couple have been married for six years, and met when they were both working on board the Star Princess.
Eleanor said: “I saw this good looking guy every day and it all really happened from there.”
Canadian-born Favio moved to South Yorkshire for Eleanor, and the pair continue to work together now.
Eleanor will travel to Los Angeles in America in October to begin the six weeks of training for her first cruise as a dance captain on the Star Princess, which leaves Las Vegas on November 3 and sails around the Caribbean.
Her plans for the future are to continue dancing for as long as possible and then to return home to South Yorkshire to set up a dance school where she will pass on her passion and experience to a new generation of dancers.