Dancer and choreographer Jamal Story has been touring with the pop icon off and on for 12 years.
I travel probably 60-65% of the year currently. That changes depending on what job I’m doing. In between the Cher tours I’ve done stationary gigs. It’s a hard career—a wonderful career. It’s hard to plan for consistency because you never know what your next job is going to be. I don’t know if I’ll be back on Broadway or teaching.
For the Broadway shows Motown and The Color Purple I was in the original cast, so I was able to be there for the creative processes. It’s sort of amazing to help create, and to picture yourself in the creation of something that will hopefully have some sustainability.
In advance of travel, I try to adapt all the things that I enjoy into a travel context. It’s kind of like packing your preferences and your lifestyle—not just packing your luggage. You pack all of it. Then you figure out how to transport it. And then life is easy and blissful on the road.
My favorite tour destination is probably still Amsterdam. I loved the international population there. I love the culture and the sense that I didn’t see any police officers around, because there isn’t much crime. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but not crime apparently—at least relative to the U.S. I got to meet people from parts of the world that I didn’t even know existed. The melting pot was just so delicious to see and hear and smell.
At home I have a rug—a really lovely alpaca fur rug in the front room right next to the stereo system—so I can relax. If I need to approximate that on the road, I might take a candle or something with me. I make sure I have some way to play music. I might make a playlist. And then if I don’t have a rug or carpet, I’ll make sure I have a durable, thick pair of sweatpants with me on the road, so if I have to sit on hardwood I can still give myself something I would have at home.
Every morning, regardless of whether I go to the gym or dance or anything, I typically role out of bed and do an abs workout. I do different variations of the same abdominal regimen with the intention of centering my body and getting it into alignment. That helps me to be extremely efficient and energetic throughout the course of the day.
I have a Samsung Galaxy G4 phone and I’m still learning how to exploit its possibilities. I have a few apps I use on the road. While on vacation with my mom in Austin I used an app called HotelTonight that helped us to find a good hotel for a lot less money than I would pay ordinarily. I use Instagram and Facebook to help my marketing and maintain me in the social media world. I use an app called Waze to get me places when I don’t know where I’m going.
I use my little Fujitsu laptop, because I don’t like tablets. It’s big enough to be an actual laptop and small enough to fit in my backpack.
The best way to maintain a relationship with your loved one is to adapt to the road some of the things that are already in place in your relationship. My other half and I like to go to the movies. When we’re apart, we both go see the same movie at the same time and we’ll sit and text each other. Then after the movie we do what you would ordinarily do: we talk about it in real time. We’ll go at a time when it’s not packed to capacity so that we’re not obnoxious to other moviegoers in our vicinity. It makes you feel like you’re having the experience together.
Jamal Story is the author of the novel Toss in the Ether.