When you think of Las Vegas, images of casinos, hotels, nightclubs, and extravagant shows likely come to mind. The resort city is recognized worldwide for its endless entertainment options — and who better to explore it with than a Las Vegas showgirl? We followed Kelly O’Donnell to learn what it’s like to live, work, and entertain on the strip.
“When you tell people you’re a showgirl, sometimes they say things like, ‘Oh, are you a stripper?’ or they assume that we party all the time because we work on the strip or that we go out every night after every show, and none of that is true whatsoever,” says O’Donnell.
The first thing you should know about being a dancer in Vegas is that it’s not easy. Showgirls spend their lives perfecting their skill. Most have years of ballet and dance training, and many are former members of ballet companies or received a BFA in dance from college. “All of the dancers in town have that in common,” she says.
Another misconception about showgirls, she continues, is that they have just one job. In reality, these dancers can have up to seven jobs at a time. A typical day for O’Donnell starts with a late breakfast and a ballet class, followed by casting calls throughout the day and multiple performances at night.
“My car is my office where I keep everything I need,” says O’Donnell. “I have all sorts of things — extra pairs of dance clothes. I always keep, most importantly, though, my headshot and resume, because I never know when I’m going to have an audition.”
“It’s crazy and unpredictable,” she says, adding that she was shocked at first by how much she enjoyed being in a show in Sin City.
Follow O’Donnell through a day of rehearsals, costume changes, and performances above.