it’s been two years since our last encounter…
I had the most amazing time at Mandalay Bay as part of the Grand Opening Team (GO Team). If I said It wasn’t hard work that would be a lie but then again nothing is truly appreciated unless it is earned.
This was my fifth working anniversary of Symposium. Every two years a new surprise, an experience, a memory that one never forgets. I arrived on a rainy Tuesday in what is usually sunny Las Vegas. Grabbed my two overstuffed suitcases (Yes, I’ll need everything in them. More than half are hair tools.) I hailed a taxi and scooted off to my home for the week, Mandalay Bay.
After devouring some food and checking my bags into my room I headed to the arena model room. The model room was being prepped for the artists’ and model arrivals. The model room is covered in plastic to prevent damage with rows of long tables, Redken hair color, styling and hair care products.
The first day or two is really getting acclimated to the space and pretty much like a reunion. I’ve known some of these people for years, have worked on past shows or projects or have been mentors/inspirations since my hair school days. Everyone is getting to know the logistics and flow of the show, schedule and expectations although these can change from one day to the next. Everyone starts to figure out their roles and we basically all work together. Once a project or a model is partially complete we move to the next model to prep them. Any given time a model/dancer will have 4/5 people working on them together or consecutively.
Backstage work comes in flows; at first the work is slow but then it revs up were you feel there are not enough hands on deck. I really enjoy those moments…It’s what really excites me and gets me going. Working with this team you feel the magic. You also feel exhaustion, hungry and are glad you chose to wear comfortable shoes.
In the model room everyone finds a spot to secure their tools and to work nearby but a lot of times you end up floating from space to space to support another artist working on a model or to finish that project. Team work is imperative.
I also love working with the models. They are young, energetic and can rock any hairstyle you give them. They are perfects muses and its fun getting to now them while prepping their hair. The work load gets busy and with deadline so are few missed meals were not uncommon. Plus I was craving bacon the entire time!!
The energy go the Redken artist tribe keeps you going. It was an honor and privilege to be here. I got to catch up with my peers while working. Making small talk and catching up on the past year or two.
Seeing the models/dancers come to life in wardrobe is amazing. Backstage you see the models/dancers between their wardrobe fittings and rehearsal so they’re always partially done until the day of.
It takes a village as model room coodinators, main stage artists, Corporate NYC staff were all working together in synergy to make this a smooth operation. It really takes a village and someone to lead such Suz Sturm who was in charge of running the show from start to finish and Chris Baran who oversaw all the hair that was to be viewed on stage at the grand opening. Wardrobe by Jeremie & Pascal. The grand opening team is comprised of artists from all over the world, have won hair competition awards, facilitate classes, create editorial work and specialize in finishing skills of braiding, haircutting, wig making, long hair dressing and so much more. Everyone worked so hard!!
The show featured five sequences with strong emphasis on music culture. It was also about dual personality and how the city life of NYC changes from the day as well as it’s inhabitants. We had team on both side of the side the night of the grand opening along with the team from wardrobe. As dancers would exit the scene we had to work together and very quickly to remove existing hairstyles, wardrobe and redress the dancers. It was chaotic, very hard to see in the dark corridors and your heart was racing. The bottom line was the show.
It all happened so fast and so successfully. You could hear the audience cheering. The entire week of preparing for this very moment. After finishing the final models we all raced ourselves to line up to walk out on stage in front of a massive audience. The feeling was surreal and exciting seeing the faces of 10,000 attendees cheering with excitement…this was the icing on the cake for me.
I will always cherish this experience along with all the other memorable ones. I am so glad I got to experience this with so many of my closest peers. You always re inspire me! I’ve had plenty of bacon upon returning home.
See you in two more years!!