Danielle Flahive has never been one to take off her dancing shoes.
She first donned them as a kid, growing up in Niskayuna, and she wears them six nights out of the week, performing in Las Vegas.
“I started dancing when I was 4 years old at a studio called Ramsey School of Ballet,” Flahive said.
Marilyn Ramsey, the Union Street school’s director and principal teacher, remembers Flahive was a driven student right from the beginning.
“She was really dedicated and really a good kid,” said Ramsey, who still teaches on Union Street.
“My mom would bring me after school and if she couldn’t Miss Ramsey would come and pick me up because she didn’t want me to miss a class,” Flahive said.
She had a very active childhood, as did her siblings.
“I’m one of three and all three of us at one point in time did ballet. She made my younger brother do ballet. She said ‘If you want to do any sport, you have to do ballet.’ That only lasted for about a year and [then] he was like ‘I will not wear tights, Mom,’” Flahive recalled.
She was in Ballet North, the school’s ballet company, which was only for advanced students and required dancers to be at rehearsals nearly every day of the week. Flahive didn’t mind the long hours and danced at the school for over a decade.
“I can be very introverted at times and also very extroverted and I think dancing allows me to do both. So, when I’m training or taking a class, I’m in my body, I’m in my mind and that physical movement feels very freeing. But then, when I get on stage when I can do that free movement that allows me to connect with people, there’s such an adrenaline rush when you realize you can put a smile on someone’s face or make someone laugh by entertaining them. It’s so satisfying to me,” Flahive said.
However, when it came time to head to college in 2003, she struggled to know how to move forward.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew that I needed to go to college and I still wanted to dance. I applied to a few different schools that had D1 dance teams,” Flahive said.
After auditioning for the team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she experienced an entirely different kind of dance.
“They run three miles every other day on top of a four-hour rehearsal and they have to learn routines in ten minutes. It was a really good experience to prepare me for auditions and get me in that headspace to be able to learn something quickly,” Flahive said.
She was on the team for two years before heading back to New York to study at SUNY Cortland. While she was home during the summers, she danced for the Arena Football League’s Albany Conquest dance team and worked at The Great Escape in Lake George.
“I got to do Wonder Woman by day and Albany Conquest at night. That was a really fun summer,” said Flahive, who was also a member of the Albany Patroons’ dance team.
After graduating with a degree in marketing and advertising, she took a chance on a marketing internship in Los Angeles. However, even then, she continued to dance.
“I went to work every day from 9 to 5 and then I went and took classes, just as I did growing up, until 10 or 11 at night then went home and did it all over again,” Flahive said.
She eventually met Jennifer Nairn-Smith, a Broadway dancer and choreographer, who became Flahive’s mentor.
“I was laid off from work but luckily she saw something in me. I would go to her house an hour early and walk her six dogs and she would give me free training even if there wasn’t a class that day. So I was thankful for her,” Flahive said.
Eventually, she decided to audition for a show called “Jubilee!” at Bally’s Hotel and Casino, the longest-running show in Las Vegas at the time. The show was extensive, with a huge stage and crystal-crusted costumes designed by Bob Mackie.
“I told myself I was only going to do one six-month contract and then move back to LA and get another real job and grow up. Now it’s seven years later and I’m still doing shows and I love it,” said Flahive, who is known in Las Vegas as Dani Elizabeth.
She’s also been able to dance with the likes of Cee Lo Green, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, both in Las Vegas and on the “Ellen” show.
“One of my favorite moments was when Jennifer Lopez came to town and before she announced her residency, chose a few of us from ‘Jubilee!’ to perform in her New Years’ Eve show and I got to work with her. She was such a sweetheart. She was so obsessed with ‘Jubilee!’ that she wanted to announce her residency on ‘The Ellen Show’ and have some of us come and be on the show with her,” Flahive said.
While “Jubilee!” ended its run in February of 2016, Flahive was hired by another burlesque show called “Crazy Girls” shortly after.
“I was [with ‘Jubilee’] for four years, up until the very last show. That show was aggressive. We wore costumes that [had] 20-pound headdresses. We climbed 1,200 stairs on a two-show night. The stage itself was a football field long. It was a massive production and we did two shows a night six nights a week. So I was injured by the end of it,” Flahive said.
“Crazy Girls,” is a much smaller show, with just a few dancers on stage at a time.
“‘Crazy Girls,’ is more about the body itself and the lighting, and it’s very intimate,” Flahive said, adding, “Both shows are topless, but ‘Jubilee!’ was more concentrated on showing off the crystals and the classic Vegas showgirl with the arms out and the feathers. This show is much more sensual.”
She hosts the show now, which means she also has to prepare essentially a standup routine, working with the show’s producer and her partner, Murray the Magician, who does a magic show and comedy routine in Las Vegas as well.
“It took a couple months to really start to get everything to come together. To this day, I still feel like things can be better. But it’s a lot of fun and it’s been an enlightening experience because when you’re a dancer and work in a show you do the same thing every night. With my monologue, I feel like it gives me a chance to connect with people every night and it’s always different people. So everything is changing. It keeps me on my toes every night, even after being in the show for three and a half years now,” Flahive said.
In the future, she hopes to go further with standup and possibly produce her own show. But for now, she’ll stick with dancing.
“While I’m still dancing and can dance because our physical bodies can only do that for so long, they always say that a dancer experiences two deaths in life; one when they stop dancing and then we actually die. While I can still dance I’d like to continue doing that. Because I’m in such a rare position with my show, I could see myself staying with the show for as long as I can,” Flahive said.
Seen on ‘Glow’
Some of the showgirl costumes seen on the third season of Netflix’s “Glow” were once featured in “Jubilee!” The show’s costume designer, Beth Morgan told Vulture that while designing for the show, she visited Las Vegas to see the costumes from the iconic “Jubilee!” designed by Bob Mackie, which were sitting in storage.
“Part of the reason why I got into costume [design] was Bob Mackie,” Morgan said.
Morgan herself designed two showgirl costumes for the show and was also able to rent some of Mackie’s costumes to feature in the show, according to Vulture.
“We are the only show that’s ever been able to rent stuff because ‘Jubilee!’ recently closed,” Morgan told the news outlet.