Friday, August 31, 2012

Norma in Motion.....

Recently while working on the set of a film I was paired with another actress for a sidewalk scene in downtown Las Vegas. It was an all night shoot. By sunrise I had made an interesting new friend!

Her story is a perfect example of how actors, performers, and artists can support themselves by combining talent and hard work with a variety of bookings to carve out a unique and fulfilling career!

Norma Wood as a human fountain, Seattle, WA

Norma Wood, dancer, actress and model is currently performing at the Venetian/Palazzo as a "Living Vine".  This requires her to be in full character....while slowly dancing.... on STILTS.! Earlier this year she was the Winter Angel for "Winter in Venice", and was one of the human fountains called the Sirens, in an event in Seattle.  Many of her unique roles of late have been with Living World Entertainment.. Living World Entertainment provides living performance creations by Priscilla Stephan.

Look closely and you'll find her......Norma Wood as "Living Vine"
Norma's career did not start in entertainment. Thinking she should go to college for something "practical", she completed her degree in computer science, and worked for a large corporation as a systems analyst for over 3 years. She was unhappy in this role. At age 27 she said she had an "early midlife crisis", quit her job, and decided she was going to be a dancer!

"In the pursuit of my goal I ended up in Las Vegas, a place where I had no home, no job, no car, and knew no one. Despite all of this, I decided to stay, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made." Norma Wood

After moving to Vegas then realizing that she really didn't know how to dance, she enrolled in the dance program at UNLV in 1998 and finished in 2002. While attending UNLV she earned money dancing in small shows and performing with local bands. She even performed in China.

Norma's first big job was in Jubilee!...She was hired after her third audition. It was also during this time she got her Screen Actors Guild card appearing in a scene with Jim Belushi in the "Vegas Baby" episode of the second season of "According to Jim". After 2,000 performances in Jubilee! she decided to move on when offered a position as a magician's assistant to perform on cruise ships. After a year of working as a magician's assistant, Norma found herself unemployed....Now into her 30's she thought maybe her dancing days were over.

Fortunately, that wasn't true. Because next came one of her favorite roles to date as "Oscar the Grouch" with Sesame Street Live!.......Norma says, "I loved being Oscar the Grouch, I got paid to be grouchy, but being Oscar has not been my strangest role. I think that sliding down the erupting volcano at Margaritaville into their gigantic blender and being scooped out on a giant fish hook ranks pretty high as far as strange jobs are concerned."

Norma as Oscar the Grouch. Yes, she danced in this! She also played
Mr. Noodle, a dancing cactus, and a dancing fire hydrant. Like most performers in a
touring production, she played several roles in each performance.
This past spring I went to see  another one of Norma's talents on display; choreography. She choreographed the dance numbers for "Reefer Madness the Musical", performed in the former Insurgo Theater at the Plaza, Las Vegas. It was a weird and wonderful show, and her choreography was energized, detailed and dynamic!

Between bookings Norma is also a Clark County substitute teacher, which she thinks is a great backup job for entertainers. Although substitute teaching offers no medical benefits, the flexible schedule allows performers to attend auditions and work gigs only having to sub when extra money is needed. For more information on applying to be a substitute teacher for the Clark County School District, visit.

Advice from Norma to other performers and artists is to be open to trying a lot of different things. Some will be amazing, some not right for you, but you will always learn something valuable. She says to be sure to stand up for yourself and your rights in the business. Be professional at all times. There is a lot of work and equally as important, fulfillment, out there for those who reach for it.

Winter Angel, "Winter in Venice" December 2011     Photo by Peggy Palmen
Pictured: Norma Wood

Photo by Bill Hughes, Norma Wood and Gary Lunn

A review of this production can be found in CityLife 3/14/2012, 
by David McKee of the Insurgo Theaters production, "Faustus"

Living World Entertainment

Baskow & Associates

Norma Wood Website

Norma Wood is known as Norma Westwood in SAG/AFTRA.

Polynesian Dance

Dancing Fire Hydrant - Sesame Street Live

Aerial  - Margaritaville

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